Aug. 13th, 2006

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This came up after a conversation on a board about the Inspector Lynley books* and aristocratic detectives. So, there are obviously a ton of books which have the aristocratic detective and working class sidekick scenario (Lord Peter, Campion, the Lynley books, etc.). Are there any which reverse that that anyone can recommend? Mainly I think you are more likely to get it in American detective novels which, at least in classic hard-boiled form, tend to have more problems with wealth (as in the Philip Marlowe books) and the power it brings. But I'd be intrigued to read something English that does make the working class person the leader - and the smarter - in this partnership.

Sometimes I think that if you look at older detective fiction it tends to be more socially liberal than the books which appeared in the 1930s and 40s, and did not have such an obsession with the aristocratic detective. Maybe that's because the job itself is so much more socially ambiguous - I'm thinking of Holmes and the weird class stuff that goes on with the Duke of Holdernesse in The Priory School, where he is very emphatic about getting paid properly there. And that really early detective series (1827) - Richmond: Scenes in the Life of a Bow Street Runner has a really rather shady and lower class detective.

*Confession: I read part of one of this series and there are no words for how much I loathed it. Whoever the writer is she's not exactly a fan of the working class, is she?

ETA: So far I've got a couple of excellent suggestions: the Anne Perry novels with William Monk and others (I read some of these and really enjoyed them) and Foyle's War (I've also seen a few bits of these and thought they looked great). And I'd like to sing the praises of the Fforde book I am reading The Big Over Easy which has some fun with famous detectives and their sidekicks and nursery tale characters. I really recommend it.


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