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Literature, Popular

Literature, Popular

The field of forensic science initially developed as a scientific application to the legal profession in the nineteenth century. It is probably not a coincidence that the writings of popular fictional literature with regards to detective work also began that same century. E. F. Bleiler, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, and Arthur Conan Doyle were among some of the nineteenth century writers who popularized established law enforcement and early forensic science theories and practices in the detective stories they wrote about. Further detective writings of this literature expanded into the twentieth century and now into the twenty-first century.

In the 1827 book Richmond, Bleiler wrote about circumstantial evidence that links a person to a crime when someone else is in reality the guilty person, as did Dickens in Bleak House. Like other writers in those early years of detective stories, Dickens employed physical evidence to implicate suspected criminals. Poe, who is generally credited with establishing the category of detective fictional literature, wrote numerous books involving fictional crime solution including The Murders in the Rue Morgue, where the crime centers on an unlikely location, and The Purloined Letter, which uses the principle of ratiocination (reasoned train of thought). Poe also introduced the detective C. Auguste Dupin, who is frequently considered the first fictional detective.

British physician and novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the famous detective Sherlock Holmes in four novels and fifty-six short stories that highlighted the sound deductive reasoning of the investigator. Among Doyle's books are The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Hounds of the Baskervilles. Because of the popularity of Doyle's investigative hero, the detective-type story has remained a very popular form of storytelling. In fact, the brilliant detective stories of Doyle are generally considered the beginning point when discussing classic detective books.

Other detective writers who followed Doyle into the twentieth century include G. K. Chesterton (who created a series of detective stories relating the escapades of mild-mannered Father Brown, a Roman Catholic priest turned crime fighter), Arthur Morrison (who invented investigator Martin Hewitt), M. McDonnell Bodkin (who created the first detective family), and R. Austin Freeman (who introduced the first science-based detective, John Thorndyke).

Later on in the twentieth century, other writers weaved tales of detective work including Agatha Christie (who is remembered for her complicated plots and her memorable detectives, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, and for such books as Curtain and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd ), Dorothy L. Sayers (who created the charming detective Lord Peter Wimsey featured in such books as Whose Body? ), Raymond Chandler (who created the tough detective Philip Marlowe), Erle Stanley Gardner (whose lawyer-detective Perry Mason appeared in over eighty books such as The Case of the Deadly Toy and The Case of the Duplicate Daughter ), Rex Stout (who created the stout detective Nero Wolfe), Dashiell Hammett (who wrote about private eye/detective Sam Spade in such books as The Maltese Falcon ), and the collaborate writers of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee (who wrote under the pseudonym of Ellery Queen while writing about legendary detective Ellery Queen in such detective books as The Roman Hat Mystery ).

A notable writer of 2005 is Kathleen (Kathy) Reichs, who has taken her experiences as a forensic anthropologist and turned it into another career writing best selling novels on real-life aspects of forensic anthropology . As one of only a select number of forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, Reichs has traveled worldwide in order to assist critical forensic investigations on such incidents as the United Nations Tribunal on Genocide in Rwanda and the September 11, 2001 disaster in New York City. With her lead character, Temperance Brennan, Reichs has published such popular fictional books based on forensic science as Déjà Dead, Death du Jour, Deadly Decisions, Fatal Voyage, and Grave Secrets.

see also Literature, forensic science in; Television shows.

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