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Ian Nelson

Comparison Task

12/5/13

One of the most famous fictional detectives of the 20th century, Hercule Poirot, was inspired by another investigative idol of earlier decades, Sherlock Holmes. Agatha Christie, Poirot’s creator, admitted that she “was still writing in the Sherlock Holmes tradition – an eccentric detective, stooge assistant, with a Lestrade-type Scotland Yard detective…” in the foreword to Agatha Christie (2013). But how alike are they in their methods, ideals, and plots plots? Starting with the ethics, one of the things that fictional detectives are forced to do is do bad in order to do good. Sherlock Holmes’ methods often include manipulation of evidence, questioning, and analysis of the crime scene. In The Hound of the Baskervilles (Doyle), Holmes sends Watson ahead to the manor and the doctor reports back to Holmes almost daily. Watson does not know that Holmes is secretly betraying Watson, taking in the crime scene behind his back, which causes Watson to believe Sherlock “use*s+ him, and yet he does not trust *him+” (167). Poirot too, is forced to betray a friend to reveal the truth at the conclusion of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Christie), when his “ami”, the protagonist and narrator Doctor Shepard is found guilty as charged. Not only are Poirot and Holmes forced to admit the truth, they are also forced to admit that, in the solving of a case, there is always someone who wants to stop them. All of Christie’s and Doyle’s detective novels feature some form of villain. These people hide their aggression and, most of the time, cover it with a false truth. In Ackroyd, Poirot’s initial suspicion is Ralph, a man who, in heavy debt, stands to take his stepfather’s estate. Many critical pieces of evidence point to Ralph as a culprit. In the end, a plot twist sends the story in a whole different direction with the introduction of Shepard’s false narration. After leaving the house, Shepard takes a 20-minute walk, but the reader is not informed of what happens during this walk. At the end of the book, it is revealed that Shepard killed Ackroyd within this 20-minute timespan, and the second-to-last chapter reveals that Poirot knew this all along. Sherlock’s villain in The Hound of The Baskervilles was Jack Stapleton, who, under the guise of a

Ian Nelson

Comparison Task

12/5/13

naturalist, had killed Selden, Charlie Baskerville, and Beryl, his wife. Stapleton is definitely a evilintentioned person, despite his guiltless claims. In mystery novels, not only is murder a recurring theme, but so is a trail of clues. Ackroyd’s false narration was a major clue, but so was a bootprint outside the sitting-room window, a ring and other objects found in the summer-house, and a fingerprint found on the knife used to kill Ackroyd. In a similar fashion, Doyle has Watson notice Stapleton and his “sister” look nothing alike. This is a big clue, but so is Selden being in the house, Stapleton telling off Watson about the hound’s calls, Stapleton’s wife telling off Watson thinking he was Sir Henry, and the mysterious letter signed “L.L”. A lot of these clues are alike, showing that the cases of these fictional detectives are alike in some way or form. It’s not a coincidence Poirot was directly influenced by and similar to Sherlock Holmes: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created recurring themes that still hold true today. The Sherlock Holmes novels were renowned and most likely still be renowned in the future. From that, we can happily infer all suspense novels, past, present, and future, will be influenced by these 2 characters.

Works Cited
Christie, Agatha. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. New York City: Dodds, Mead, and Company, 1926. Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Hound of the Baskervilles. London: George Newnes Ltd., 1902.