| 
  • If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Finally, you can manage your Google Docs, uploads, and email attachments (plus Dropbox and Slack files) in one convenient place. Claim a free account, and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) can automatically organize your content for you.

View
 

Introduction to Crime and Detection

Page history last edited by Juergen Lull 12 years, 6 months ago

INTRODUCTION to Crime and Detection (1926) by E. M. Wrong

 

THE detective story is of respectable antiquity if we judge it by its remote forebears, though it is recent times only that have made it into a branch of art. Two early examples lie in the Apocrypha: in one, Daniel's cross-examination saves Susanna from the false witness of lecherous elders ; in the other, the same Daniel establishes the deceitfulness of Bel's priests. The modern reader, accustomed to subtlety of plot and tangled clues, finds these tales elementary, for the crimes that they record are so obvious that Daniel unravels them by the simplest of methods. Yet, as the pace of the detective story must always be set by the criminal and not by the detective, and since Daniel did solve both cases submitted to him, we are probably justified in regarding him as the remote ancestor of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Thorndyke.

A story of crime and of unusual methods to discover the culprit can be found in Herodotus. An enterprising Egyptian with his brother robbed the royal treasury by a secret entrance ; the brother was laid by the heel in a trap, whereon the hero cut off his head to prevent identification. A few days later he fuddled the guardians of the body with drink, stole and buried the corpse. He ended by escaping from the king's daughter turned prostitute to extort a confession ; he was pardoned and married the princess, having proved himself a bolder and more successful, though possibly a cruder, Raffles than any of recent times. Here are the twin themes of detection and crime sketched in their essentials. Why was there no flowering under the Roman Empire, when an urban population sought amusement in the butchery of the circus, and might have been more cheaply appeased by stories of law-breaking and discovery ? Perhaps a faulty law of evidence was to blame, for detectives cannot flourish until the public has an idea of what constitutes proof, and while a common criminal procedure is arrest, torture, confession, and death.

Whatever the cause, the art of detective fiction lay for centuries untouched, and its effective history is crowded into the last eighty years. Defoe would have made an admirable detective writer had he been drawn to the subject, for his love of piling detail on detail would have concealed all relevant clues from the ordinary reader while leaving them in plain view the whole time. Balzac flirted effectively with crime in Vautrin, but his criminal was much abler than his police. Our ancestors indeed took a great interest in homicide. The stir made by Eugene Aram, by Burke and Hare, shows that, as does De Quincey's famous essay on murder. But it was sensation rather than reasoning that they sought, and crude sensation is better provided by real crimes than by imaginary. So the detective story was left for modern times to develop into an art with a technique and a code of its own.

There are still some, though fewer than a few years ago, who deny that it is or can become an art. They stand in their contention partly on the illiteracy and bad logic of many detective stories, partly on the nature of the theme. But artistic achievement must be judged by the best, not by the average, or else the popularity of any form that attracts incompetent practitioners would lower its place. Robert Montgomery injured not poetry but himself. As to the theme, the detective story is obviously not concerned with any very exalted actions, but The Ring and the Book finds its subject in the Old Bailey of Rome, and Agamemnon's quarrel with Achilles did not spring from lofty motives. Some criticize detective fiction because it is not realistic, gives inadequate scope for character drawing, looks chiefly to one thing only, and that mechanism. That is its nature, but there can be an art of plot as well as an art of the mimicry of life ; art is not limited to realism but can show itself in diverse forms.

Detective fiction as we know it begins with Poe. When one studies the slightness, the lack of effort, in the three stories that Poe wrote between 1841 and 1845 and then turns to the multiplying progeny of his invention, the effect is impressive indeed. Poe set for all time one of the two lines on which the detective story has grown — a private investigator chronicled by an unimaginative friend; he did this in three stories only, and then he either wearied of the game or his audience was unresponsive, and he turned from the rich pocket of gold into which he had dipped his hand to other and more barren fields. He had begun one of the two orthodox traditions of to-day, but it was not developed and made popular for over forty years — not in fact till 1887, when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published A Study in Scarlet.

It was the other and less rigorous form that flourished till Sherlock Holmes was to revive the Dupin canon, and its leading English follower was Wilkie Collins. In 1860 The Woman in White made a happy connexion between villainy and detection; in 1868 came The Moonstone, more orthodox because more of a pure puzzle. The criminal theme attracted Dickens, worn-out though he was with popular lecturing, and in the autumn of 1869 he began what some regard as potentially his greatest novel. The first number of Edwin Drood appeared in April 1870 ; two months later Dickens was dead, and his mystery had not got as far as the discovery of the corpse. There are some who even deny that there is a corpse to be discovered, and speculation ranges still over the identity of Datchery. Whatever the secret, every lover of detective fiction would sooner have the unwritten chapters than all the lost books of Livy.

Meanwhile a considerable development went on in France. Gaboriau wrote his police tales between 1866 and 1873, Fortuné du Boisgobey took up the theme between 1872 and 1889. Stories of crime became common in England and America largely, it appears, through the influence of Collins and Gaboriau. That they were popular in the 'eighties, even before Sherlock Holmes, Anna Katherine Green's stories show, and if further proof is wanted it can be found in Stevenson's unsurpassed romance, The Wrong Box. We read there that Gideon Forsyth had written a detective tale called Who Put Back the Clock ?, and that only three copies of it had passed into circulation — if the British Museum can be called circulation when the work is secreted behind a false catalogue entry. Now Forsyth's way of disposing of a troublesome grand piano does not stamp him as a man of great penetration of mind, and we know moreover that his attempt at musical composition was an echo of Tommy, make room for your uncle. ; he had in fact no originality. He would assuredly not have tried the detective form of composition had it not been popular. The Wrong Box appeared in 1889, and Forsyth's literary adventure must have been at least a year or two earlier, perhaps in 1887, the great year when Sherlock Holmes broke upon the world.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's name must stand, in the history of the detective story, only a little lower than Poe's. He wedded plots nearly as elaborate as Gaboriau's to the methods and tradition of Poe ; from the marriage was produced Sherlock Holmes, to become in a few years a universally recognized character of English speech.

Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona, but we have forgotten them, and tend to think of the pre-Holmes detectives as of the pre-Shakespearian drama ; to call them precursors only. Holmes was a really great achievement. From him dates the expansion of the last thirty years, and the crystallizing of one type of detective story. The canon is not exclusive but it is fixed ; a friend of the detective tells the tale, as he did in Poe ; he sees or can see all that the detective does, but never understands what deductions to draw from the facts. Thus the chief relevant incidents are in reality concealed from the reader though there is an ostentatious parade of openness. The detective's friend acts in the dual capacity of very average reader and of Greek chorus ; he comments freely on what he does not understand.

For a time it seemed that this might become the only accepted form of detective fiction. Mr. Morrison followed it in Martin Hewitt, softening the detective's eccentricities, making him more of a business man, and giving him a less striking coadjutor than Dr. Watson. Dr. Austin Freeman took the same line with Thorndyke, improving on Sherlock's science, raising the narrator to average intelligence, and providing mysteries more cunning and obscure. Miss Christie's Poirot follows the tradition, though he distrusts the laboratory and relies on ' the little grey cells ' of his brain ; he is assisted by the most admirably foolish of all Watsons, Captain Hastings. But some writers have revolted against the domination of a Boswell-Watson, and have preferred to tell their stories in the third person. A school has arisen modelled more on the Collins-Gaboriau tradition than on that of Dupin-Holmes, and the technique of the art has of late widened considerably.

This second school divides itself unequally into two parts. Most of its adherents concern themselves with external clues; industry and mobility take the place of the instantaneous deduction loved of Holmes ; Mr. Mason's Hanaud is a fine example of this kind, though he is like Holmes in one way — while his actions are not described by his admirer, only such actions are recorded as his admirer has seen. Better examples of the new mode are the painstaking sleuths of Mr. Crofts, who by careful inquiry and a lavish use of transport facilities explode the, most detailed alibis known to fiction — alibis moreover that might easily go unquestioned in court. Mr. Bentley's Trent worked (in his last case, which is the only published one) chiefly on similar lines, although he refrained from arresting the suspect because his judgement of character made him come to doubt the evidence of his eyes.

A less common and rather more subtle type is that of the intuitionist detective. England knows only two of these worth mention, Mr. Chesterton's Father Brown and Mr. Bailey's Mr. Fortune. Father Brown needs no lengthy method of proving guilt for he can guess the secret of the crime from his wide knowledge of sin. Mr. Fortune feels atmosphere more keenly than any other detective, and is marvellously accurate in his judgement of character. These men leap to conclusions while others limp behind. Those who like them like them very much indeed, even though they admit that many of the crimes discovered by Father Brown were impossible, and think Mr. Fortune perhaps too ready to assume the responsibility of granting life or death. They are at any rate the most brilliant talkers among modern detectives, not only in what they say but also in their pregnant silences.

Some other detectives share their intuitional ability, though none possess it in as high degree as these two. Miss Christie's Poirot, Mr. Mason's Hanaud, are at times helped by it ; so is Mr. Bra-mah's Max Carrados, who combines in one person all the remarkable abilities of all the blind men of history. Mr. Milne's Antony Gillingham has a visual memory that brings almost the same result as intuition. Yet all these last depend mainly on external things, and are detectives of exploration rather than of instinct.

Forsyth found, Stevenson tells us, that ' it is the difficulty of the police romance that the reader is always a person of such vastly greater ingenuity than the writer '. This remains the cardinal problem, but it has been fairly met and defeated many times. Technique has improved so that things once permissible can be no longer allowed, and there is now a kind of code of what is fair play to the reader. Yet even so the old problem is still too often evaded. Clues are given that are meant only to mislead, and whose existence is never explained. Criminal and victim, one or both, will behave as no sane person would ; corpses turn out to be alive, and secret passages provide a surfeit of alibis. Father Knox's The Viaduct Murder was difficult to solve largely through improbable false clues, concealed passages, and inept action by the murderer which made his actions unlike those of the ordinary sensible man ; eventually he was hanged through his own stupidity. That happens, it is true, often enough in real life, but art should be better than actuality.

The detective story has now joined the novel of realism and the tale of passion as fit and proper reading for evenings and holidays, and its most devoted adherents are found principally among the highly educated. Partly this is because the modern age prides itself on its ingenuity. It enjoys mechanism and is attracted by the neatness of a good mystery. Economy, tidiness, completeness — these are qualities possessed by every good tale of detection, and they are qualities conspicuously lacking in some forms now much cried up, especially in Russian novels and English vers libre. Reacting against works of art with little beginning and no end but only a yawning middle, and in some measure rebelling against the discrepancies so common in real life, we go for solace to the detective of fiction. His appeal is chiefly intellectual, but there must be some emotion in it too, or else our sympathy might lie as much with the hunted as with the avenger of society. Yet the heart must be less moved than the brain or our pleasure will be the less.

A detective story involves a problem which must nearly always be criminal, the guilty man must be discovered by the detective and brought to justice unless his breach of the law was technical rather than moral. Commonly the matter is not taken beyond arrest, and this for various reasons. Sometimes the chain of evidence that satisfies a reader would fail to convince a jury, or might not even stand the rules of cross-examination ; when this seems likely the criminal sometimes commits suicide once his capture is certain. Even when this objection to a trial does not exist an author seldom brings his culprit into court. The atmosphere of a trial would not accord well with the feelings roused by the chase, and the sight of a remorseless system grinding to pieces the man who has, after all, provided half our entertainment, might swing our sympathy to his side. Even arrest is dispensed with at times ; a confession is enough for Father Brown, who is concerned more with laying bare the heart of man than with the crude matter of punishment. In fact the detective is not often a sociologist, and tends to shun the drab side of crime, its atonement. The number of criminals in fiction who come to their end by accident or suicide is very great, and points to some laxity by the detective after he has made his arrest.

Of the crimes to be detected murder must always come first, for it is more mysterious and dramatic than any other. Yet one cannot hold that every detective story must centre round homicide, for that would rule out many of our best stories. In the early days of detective fiction murders and attempted murders were much rarer than they are to-day. Only one of Poe's three tales was about murder, and the killers of Marie Roget remained in fact undiscovered. Sherlock Holmes and Martin Hewitt were more often consulted about small crimes than are the chief modern practitioners. Time has in fact exalted murder, which used to be only one of several offences, to a position of natural supremacy.

There are good reasons for this. What we want in our detective fiction is not a semblance of real life, where murder is infrequent and petty larceny common, but deep mystery and conflicting clues. Murder has removed one party to the secret, and so is essentially more mysterious than theft. Moreover, it involves an intenser motive than any other peace-time activity : the drama is keyed high from the start for the murderer is playing for the highest stake he has, and can reasonably be expected to tangle the evidence even to the committing of a second murder. The law places murder in a category by itself, not necessarily because it is more wicked than other crimes — the murder of a blackmailer appeals to us, at least in fiction, as a beneficent act — but because it is more desperate and final. When the death of a man is compassed either the victim or the slayer is generally a villain, and either the motives or incidents of the deed, save when it is due to animal passion or to drink, are nearly always interesting. The motive for robbery, covetousness, is almost too common ; most of us know it well. Hatred that is strong enough to bring murder is familiar enough to be intelligible to nearly every one, yet far enough from our normal experience to let us watch as detached observers, for we do not feel that it is our own crimes that are unmasked. So for many reasons murder is advisable, though not necessary. The author, if he withholds its appeal, must give us compensation in some other way. This is admirably done in Mr. Croft's The Ponson Case, where three excellent alibis make accidental death more than tolerable.

One temptation the detective novelist does well to avoid ; many have walked into it and few have escaped with their artistry unblemished. It is that of including in the same book a Napoleon of crime and a Wellington of detection, drawing a master-villain who controls a huge organization of iniquity and impartially directs robbery, forgery, blackmail, and murder. It is an attractive theme, for it provides an explanation of the most improbable crimes, since anything may be part of a campaign against civilization. Yet it does not do, for all that. A small objection is that a man with the intellectual resources of the master-criminal would naturally take to politics or business rather than to crime. A greater one is that we never have the organization or the motives of the captain of evil exposed to us ; we see him only in sporadic operation and near his fall, his true greatness we have to take on faith. Greatest of all is the fact that were the enemy the intellectual prodigy he is painted, he would begin operations by snuffing out the detective before the detective knew of his existence. Moriarty could have had Holmes murdered a number of times if he had not stayed his hand until Holmes's plans were nearly complete. In fact one suspects Holmes, whose reasoning was not always perfect, of exaggerating both the power and brains of the Professor of Mathematics. And lastly, the detective who fights a universal provider of crime has to make more use than is quite proper of the official police. The final struggle is one of organization against organization ; it is never really described for us, and we get instead violent but often clumsy attempts to kill the detective when the time for that is over, and the criminal's real danger has shifted from Baker Street to Scotland Yard.

Criticism of the Moriarty theme does not mean that the criminal must play a lone hand and be passive once his work is accomplished. He may have a gang, provided it does not grow into a departmental store, and he may attempt the life of the detective. A counter-attack makes the problem dynamic rather than static, and gives life to the story. The greatest master of tales where the criminal fights to the end is Dr. Austin Freeman : in The Silent Witness he achieved a unique success, an unsuspected man fearing that his identity was known made detection possible by his needless struggle. Such a war is better than a tame pursuit.

Tales of giant conspiracy against civilization share many of the defects of the master-criminal theme. Like it they have a pleasant side — they make the detective run for his life. We may get a little tired of the security of our detectives who take the money while the criminal runs the risk. So we are glad to see him fleeing either because his particular Moriarty is after him or because he has trespassed on some vast design against the state or society in general. A good chase described by the fugitive, though it falls a little outside the ordinary scope of detective fiction, is in some ways better than the plain narrative of pursuit, and Mr. Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps and The Power House contain such hunts in classic perfection. Possibly it is unfair to complain that the revelation of such mysteries when it comes is never quite up to the chase. The spy story has been well developed on the lines of pursuit of the pursuer before and during the war ; when peace made the Teuton innocuous, author and reader turned for similar enjoyment to Russian communist agents. They have on the whole brought a poor return. We knew what the spy wanted, he had an intelligible purpose ; but these new conspirators, supposedly subtle and dangerous, never quite convince. What do they hope for ? Their organization is generally far too large for their secret, which in itself never is convincing. In an attempt to explain conduct that is sometimes foolish, always unusual, the author may tell us that these villains work from a pure passion for ' evil ', it is for this that they abduct, assassinate, and rob. But this ' evil ' remains inexplicable, and we can only guess its power from the dark deeds of its apostles. So intellect though reluctant will creep in and complain that the mystery does not explain the action. It is, one may remark, time for a pause in subtle Bolshevik plots ; the other side should have a chance, and there is room for a tale of the unmasking of a dastardly capitalist intrigue by some bright spark in the labour movement. Mr. Wells in When the Sleeper Awakes approaches such a theme, and Mr. Baines in The Black Circle comes very near it. From the habits of the great detectives of fiction it is possible to draw some general rules, provided they are not made too dogmatic to cramp genius. The relations of an investigator to the police have varied a good deal since Poe. Dupin and Holmes were private citizens with an extreme contempt for their salaried rivals. Dupin retired or died soon after his failure to solve the Marie Rôget problem ; Holmes continued in occasional practice till 1914, and gradually established a more friendly relationship with Scotland Yard. The greatest detective now in business, Thorndyke, works freely with the police, and has always been willing to use them as his instruments. Mr. Bailey's Fortune has gone further and become himself an official, though it is not easy to define his exact position ; he has a freer hand than most civil servants enjoy. Mr.Mason's Hanaud goes further still and has never engaged in genuine private practice. The tendency is clear, it is towards greater laxity and away from a rigid convention. Yet the detective should be careful, lest he become swallowed up in the government machine and lose the freedom to take a case when and as he will.

When the tale follows the Poe canon and the story is told by the detective's Boswell, certain obvious advantages follow. The narrative of an eye-witness attains a dramatic quality more easily than does an impersonal record. The clues can, as we have seen, be described not as they really are, but as they appear to a man of average, or generally less than average, intelligence. This parade of openness pleases while it deceives. Yet if there is a Boswell he must be present at all times, and this may prove inconvenient. The intuitionist detective like Father Brown or Mr. Fortune would only be hampered by him. It is true that they often need companions, partly as foil, partly to share in the conversation. But they get assistance as it is required, Fortune from the police, Father Brown from Flambeau, who was a prosperous thief till he reformed and became an unsuccessful detective. Mr. Bramah's Max Carrados generally operates with a private investigator called Carlyle, who is competent in a normal divorce case but quite at sea against subtlety.

The habit of running in couples, generally very ill-matched couples, at first sight appears strange. Why should a client seek out Holmes in some very private affair, and never object to Watson's presence at the most intimate revelations — guessing (as he must) that Watson's help will be negligible ? But man in general likes telling his secrets to an interested audience, and there is more difficulty in checking confidences than in extorting them. Moreover, a great detective's help can only be obtained on his own terms, and if he insists on companionship he must have it.

Dupin began the practice of instantaneous deduction ; Holmes continued it, became overconfident, and was rather lucky that his occasional non sequiturs avoided exposure. A criminal who had grasped his methods could have defeated him. Holmes knew which way a bicycle had gone because the back wheel's impression was deeper than that of the front wheel ; the fact is true but, save possibly on a hill, contributes nothing to the question of direction. Holmes guessed that two persons, not three, had drunk out of three glasses because all the lees were in the third, but two clever men could have drunk from all three and avoided this, or three might thus have masqueraded as two. Many have discerned a weakening in Holmes's powers as he grew older, and attributed this to a fall over a cliff at the hands of Moriarty. But in fact he never had such a fall, and if he deteriorated it was probably through his long addiction to cocaine.

What one loves in Holmes, in truth, is not his logic but his habits and his colleague. No detective has been so successfully eccentric as he was. None has had as satisfactory a companion as Watson, who is not quite the fool he is often thought. Once, as Mr. Vernon Rendall points out,1 Watson deceived Holmes and induced him at St. Luke's College to detect an imaginary bit of cribbing for a scholarship examination. Watson is in fact a remarkable person, and his stories, like Boswell's Johnson, are the records of not one but two great men. His brain remains consistently a trifle below the average ; his restraint, devotion, and character are constantly above it, and his medical practice is obliging if not lucrative.

Holmes dabbled in science, but his knowledge therein bears the same relation to Thorndyke's as his pocket magnifying-glass to the latter's research case. In Thorndyke we have complete use of all the resources of the laboratory, coupled with a logic that is safer than that of Holmes because it is less cock-sure. The chief blemish in Thorndyke is the deplorable habit his associates possess of falling in love in the course of an investigation. The record of detection should in general be as cold as a scientific experiment, and to mix romance with it is in some measure to spoil it. A detective ought to remain single or at least not obtrude his own family affairs on us, and the same applies to the victim, the criminal, and the associate, save only when a love affair forms an integral part of the mystery. For in a detective story the true beauty is in mass and line, not in irrelevant ornament without structural value : that should be left for the realists to exploit.

Few other detectives need specific mention, but it may be worth pointing out that Miss Christie's Poirot has twice been mistaken on a point of English law. He thinks that arrest for a crime relieves a man who is discharged of all further risk, and he may find his tasks easier in future if he learns that only trial and acquittal have this result.

One last problem remains : should a detective tell all, lay bare his clues as they are found, with all their significance, or may he keep them secret till the revelation scene when all is made clear ? Real life could give but one answer ; the detective would have to explain the position from day to day, else with his death from murder or accident the fears of the criminal would perish. But in fiction it is another matter, and almost the only detectives who take us fully into their confidence are those of Mr. Crofts. Holmes was extremely secretive ; Thorndyke makes a parade of openness but keeps his special knowledge, on which the meaning of his clues depends, to himself ; Hanaud not only conceals all that he can, but even starts every quest with some special information not known to the reader. Father Brown may only see what his companions see, but it is by no means described as he sees it. Lord Gorell's Humblethorne and Evelyn Temple 2 let us know what they know as they learn it, and so to some extent does Mr. Bentley's Trent, but all these investigators were proved wrong, so their honesty was a subtle kind of deception. If the rules of art are made by the artiste, a detective is entitled to secrecy provided it is not too flagrant.

The detective story has proved capable of high development and has become a definite art ; the same cannot be said of the tale of crime with the criminal as hero. Why is there this difference ? Why is Holmes a greater figure than the late Raffles ?

There are several reasons. A detective thrives on difficulties, cannot be great without them, but does not make his own. A criminal is in a different position. The better criminal he is, the more thoroughly he plans his campaign, every chance is allowed for, all goes smoothly, and as a result there should be no story. An account of his greatest successes would be as even and undramatic as the life of a stockbroker. Therefore many crime stories have by the nature of things to deal with episodes that should never have occurred were the criminal . a true superman ; the author may cry ' Here is a great though misguided intellect ', but our reason stirs uneasily. Then there is the question of morality. Perhaps art in general should have no moral purpose, but the art of the detective story has one and must have ; it seeks to justify the law and to bring retribution on the guilty. The criminal must be unmasked, the detective represents good and must triumph. To make a hero of the criminal is to reverse the moral law, which is after all based on common sense, for crime is not in fact generous and open but mean. Robin Hood may have robbed the rich and given to the poor, but his accounts were never audited, and the proportion of his charity to his thefts remains obscure. Raffles stole principally from unpleasant people, but steal he did ; not even success can make robbery appeal to us as a truly noble career. Is the criminal then to try other crimes than theft ? Blackmail hardly provides a fitting career for a hero, and we are driven back on murder. Now it is possible for murderers to show courage and resource, to be less mean than the pickpocket or forger. But murder to be successful must be selfish, the victim cannot be given a chance, so a narrative of successful murders, like a narrative of successful robbery, leaves us at the end with a bad taste in our mouth. If each murder is to be done from the highest motives (as those by Mr. Wallace's Four Just Men) it will not be easy for there to be enough of them to keep our interest and approval. Even the Four Just Men began public life by killing a fairly harmless Secretary of State to prevent the Cabinet, of which he was but one member, from carrying a bill through Parliament, We might wink at this if we disapproved of the bill, but can it be called justice ? Was this the only way ? After all, if we are to regard murder as just, we must credit the murderer with an omniscience that we deny to our courts of law. Even if he thinks himself omniscient has he any business to act on his own opinion, regardless of the consequences to the innocent ?

It is probably for some such reasons that the crime story has on the whole been a failure as compared with the tale of detection. Even Raffles, supposed to be a Bayard of crime, did many mean things, and caused great unhappiness to innocent policemen and amiable wives. If we analyse him we find that he took to crime because he preferred it to honest work, for it is futile to assure us that a man of his abilities could not have supported himself in a more orthodox way. Morally Raffles stood much lower than the Bunny he despised and led astray ; Bunny was not an admirable citizen ; but he had as great courage as his leader and seducer and far greater unselfishness. Mr. Barry Pain's Constantine Dix was a better man than Raffles for he had the decency to play a lone hand, and to spend his non-professional hours in trying to stop others walking down the road he had taken. Yet even he, a good man save for his profession, does not quite do as a hero. In fact the tale of crime is best seen from the detective's angle.

 

1 Vernon Kendall. The London Nights of Belsize, 1917, pp. 147-57.

2 In the Night

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.