Before the Acronym Became a Television Show
I’m a huge Miss Marple fan. What? What's she got to do with Sherlock Holmes, you ask? I'll tell you! She was the heroine of some of the first adult cozy mysteries I read. But even though she's one of my favorites, I have to admit that she didn’t use science like one of the very first literary sleuths ever--Sherlock Holmes.
Sir Author Conan Doyle gave his sleuth a brilliant scientific mind, and his crime scene technique was years ahead of real crime science. Take fingerprints, for example. Scotland Yard didn’t start using fingerprints until 1901. Sir Author Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes using fingerprint evidence in the Sign of Four, published in 1890. Holmes was also the first to analyze typewritten documents. In A Case of Identity, published in 1891, Holmes recognized that letters were typewritten, with no signature. He obtained a typewritten note from his suspect and analyzed the idiosyncrasies of the man’s typewriter. Case solved. The FBI only started a document section of the bureau in 1932.
If you want to learn more about the science of Sherlock Holmes and how he influenced the crime scene investigating field, there is a fascinating PBS show called How Sherlock Changed the World that you can watch for free if you're an Amazon Prime member, or you can buy the DVD.
And here are a couple of interesting websites, if you’d like to read more about the science behind Sherlock Holmes:
To close, sometimes, in my author-ish mind, I imagine what it would be like to talk to a fictional character. To spend time with them and follow them around. If I had to choose between Miss Marple and Sherlock Holmes, I'd choose Miss Marple, despite Sherlock's abilities. I admire his intelligence, and I love to read the stories because they're well written and fascinating (and I also like Dr. Watson), but Sherlock is an unlikable guy. Sociopathic in my opinion, which is probably how Doyle meant him to be. Miss Marple, on the other hand, is warm. She has people around her that she cares for. Both characters demonstrate a basic understanding of human nature, but her acumen came from core of warmth. His seemed to come from cynicism. Besides, I've dealt with enough sociopathic people in my life. I don't want to imagine spending time with one.
This is just my opinion, of course. I'd love to hear what my readers have to say.