Who doesn't love a good whodunit? Mysterious characters, smoking guns, and red herrings galore are all part of the genre we know as detective fiction. Although the term whodunit wasn't coined until the 1930s, classic literature was rich with exciting mysteries and fascinating literary detectives long before.
Ready to add some detective fiction to your reading list this year? It seems like Sherlock Holmes has had a bit of a monopoly on classic detective stories lately, so we've rounded up a few other great literary detectives (who aren't Sherlock Holmes) for you to enjoy!
1. Maigret — Georges Simenon
Belgian writer Georges Simenon's detective novels are the definition of a slow burn. But the methodical way in which Detective Maigret solves mysteries is part of their appeal (and one reason why he's one of the greatest literary detectives of all time). Every Maigret novel contains little slices of life and domestic bliss coupled with the dark underbelly of murder and mayhem in 1930s France. Add to that Maigret's penchant for a wide variety of alcohol and his no-nonsense attitude and you've got a gripping mystery on your hands!
Recommended reading: Maigret and the Headless Corpse
2. Dupin — Edgar Allan Poe
Poe is most widely known for his terrifying horror stories, but the writer also enjoyed a good detective story! In fact, Edgar Allan Poe is considered the 'father' of the detective story and his intelligent, analytical Detective Dupin the first literary detective. Dupin was also the prototype and inspiration for future great literary detectives—including Sherlock Holmes. Poe's three short detective stories aren't necessarily action-packed, but a discussion on the science of detective reasoning. This makes for quick but satisfying reads!
Recommended reading: The Murders in the Rue Morgue
3. Marlowe — Raymond Chandler
Raymond Chandler is considered a pioneer of hardboiled detective fiction. Philip Marlowe, the private eye and main character of his novels, is about as fast-talking, hard-living, and grim as you'd expect. But Marlowe lives by a moral code, even while navigating the seedy underbelly of 1930s and 40s L.A. This streak of goodness makes him an endearing character to spend time with, and earns him the label as one of the greatest literary detectives!
Recommended reading: The Big Sleep
4. Gently — Douglas Adams
Like Poe, Douglas Adams isn't particularly well-known as a detective writer. It's his series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that made him one of the most popular sci-fi authors of all time. But, Adams also had a hand in penning a pretty great literary detective named Dirks Gently. He's a quintessential British detective with a twist: Dirks Gently travels through time to solve mysteries. Would you expect anything else from Douglas Adams?
Recommended reading: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
Do YOU have a favorite? Tell us in the comments 👇 who you think deserves the title of greatest literary detective!
And if you're a fan of dark and macabre literature, check out our Edgar Allan Poe art print! This wall poster is created using the text of three of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories. The perfect gift for any horror (or cat) lover.
Who are we? At Proseposters, we take the words of your favourite books and transform them into stunning works of art. Whether it’s art prints and posters to hang on your wall, or postcards and diary planners for every day use, we are passionate about creating bookish art that brings a new dimension to beloved literary works. You’ll never look at your favourite classic books the same way!