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Detective

The detection of crime. This category is divided into subgenres that include the hard-boiled private eye, the cozy, the true crime novel, police procedurals, historical detectives, female detectives, and perhaps a few others.

The Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The first widely popular series of detective stories was serialized in victorian magazines. Sherlock Holmes is a brilliant practitioner of the art of observation and deduction. He draws seemingly impossible conclusions from apparently meaningless details. Accompanied by his friend Dr. Watson, Holmes aids the police, in the person of Inspector Lestrade.

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The Nero Wolfe series by Rex Stout

Nero Wolfe is a morbidly obese licensed detective who is a gourmand and an orchid fancier and who rarely ever leaves his Manhattan brownstone. His eyes and ears on the street is Archie Goodwin. The mysteries are satisfying, but the personal interactions between Wolfe and Archie are even more of a reason to read and enjoy these stories.

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The Philip Marlowe series by Raymond Chandler

Philip Marlowe is a pessimistic and cynical observer of a corrupt society who uses his brains, his gun, and his brawn to solve crime according to his somewhat tarnished ideals. This is called the “hardboiled detective” genre. Seven novels feature the hard-drinking wisecracking tough guy. "The Big Sleep" is the first and best of this genre, first introduced in the 1920’s.

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The Miss Marple series by Agatha Christie

Miss Jane Marple is an old spinster who acts as an amateur detective, and lives in the small village of St. Mary Mead. This is an example of the “cozy” genre, since the violence is always off screen and Miss Marple uses her intellect to solve the mysteries, usually from the comfort of a cozy chair over a pot of tea.

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The Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton

Award winning series about a female detective who has the training and license to practice what is normally a male-dominated profession. She makes good use of the female strengths; she is not physically threatening, she listens well and asks the right questions, and she makes use of feminine intuition.

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The Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters

Cadfael is a Welsh monk in the twelfth century English abbey at Shrewsbury. He became a monk late in life after soldiering in the Crusades. His assigned duties include providing medical care to the brothers and the townspeople and he is an herbalist. These stories are the best example of the “historic detective” genre. Cadfael works with the sheriff Hugh Beringar to deduce culprits, question suspects, and as a sort of medical examiner.

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The Choirboys by Joseph Wambaugh

An exploration of the effects on young and idealistic police officers of their exposure to the seamy side of life involved in urban police work. Although this is a parody in the form of a black comedy, it is an award winning example of the “police procedural” genre.

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In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Kansas in 1959, wealthy farmer Herbert Clutter, his wife, and his two teenage children were murdered by two ex-cons who mistakenly thought there was a large amount of cash on the premises. Capote went to Kansas and spent years following all the details to write this “true crime” genre novel.

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Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi

In 1969, Charles Manson and his “family” of followers invaded two Beverly Hills mansions and murdered seven people in a gruesome bloodbath. Vincent Bugliosi, the LA County Deputy District Attorney successfully prosecuted the perpetrators and wrote this “true crime” narrative of the crime and the trial, for which he received the Edgar Award.

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