My love for television detectives has been well-documented here in my blog. I can’t help it. I was raised on Perry Mason, Mannix, Columbo, The Streets of San Francisco, and many other series. My preference is for the police detectives, though private investigators certainly have their charm. Over the years TV has presented us with professionals, whether public servants or P.I.s. But we’ve also had the talented amateurs to entertain us. Sometimes they work with the police. Sometimes they’re just nosy busybodies. And sometimes a sense of justice drives them.
The amateur sleuth has become a staple in literature, from Miss Marple to Brother Cadfael to Anna Pigeon to dozens and dozens more. Whether we like matching wits with someone rather like ourselves or we just like to see the bad guy get caught, these adventurers keep us coming back for more.
I have a few favorites among the non-professionals. You probably do, too. And I’m sure there will be some people who read this list and think, “Where’s Monk/Rockford/Magnum?” But I’m limiting this to sleuths who do this for fun or justice or to prove a point or protect an innocent person. So I’m leaving out cops and P.I.s and even ex-cops – except for Laura Thyme, who was a cop but never a detective and she works with Rosemary Boxer who’s never been a cop and, yeah, I’m being inconsistent. But this is mainly for the talented amateur who brings a fresh point of view to a case.
So who are your favorites? Police? Private eyes? Amateurs? Whatever your preference, there’s something for everyone. Enjoy!