The Overall Nature of the Detective Genre

Traditional detective fiction includes several basic elements that are found in myriad reiterations of this type of narrative. Some of those components include:

  • detective character with an eccentric disposition that contrasts significantly with keen intellect
  • a high-profile or complicated case 
  • important repositories of information to assist in the solving of cases, or other consultants that work alongside the detective
  • a murky investigation riddled with red herrings, false trails, and dangerous excursions
  • several subplots that weave together into the final storyline

Although detective stories generally follow these particular features of interest, aspects differ to make each story unique. This exhibit offers two examples of novels that differ significantly, but still fall under the Detective Fiction category: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams and Storm Front: Book One of The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Their differences are explicated below.

  • Each book falls into a different subgenre. That is, Dirk Gently is science fiction, whereas Dresden is urban fantasy. 
  • The types of detective firms differ considerably too, in that one is concerned with the holistic nature of the world, and the other is a consulting wizard for Chicago. 

This exhibit is designed to explain components of Detective Fiction, and as a result, give browsers a better idea of the notion of Detective Fiction as a whole. In turn, it gives an understanding of the literary element of genre, as it explains a particular one in the form of detective narratives. 

The Overall Nature of the Detective Genre