Dear Associates,

I am the literary critical detective.

In my work I examine the mise en scene of classic detective stories carefully, paying attention to the smallest metaphorical detail, sifting through the facts and then distorting them according to my whim.
My friends have been kind enough to express some interest in my observations and so to this end I am making this journal available. I hope that you might also find it of some interest.

The Literary Critical Detective.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Work In The Field

I am out working in the field again. This is something at which I have always excelled. In a former life I even won an award for it. Of course, my field now is very different. Where, once, I stood on a rainy hillside on the Isle of Arran, auger in hand, I am now working in studies and libraries, unearthing new kinds of sense and non-sense in literature, remarking upon textual auguries of great significance.

I am now better equipped to work in this rough critical terrain. I have my leather bag. I have also now received my new study books. The first of these is a small green pocketbook, to be used for making brief notes and recording ideas as they come to me. For the literary critical detective as much as the fictional detective, there are great flashes of insight, moments when things fall together, when the little grey cells set to work. I will now be sure of saving those moments, confident in the preservation of my vision.

My second book is a larger decorated volume that I intend to use as my case book. Here, bound together in one space, I will be able to make my notes; I will be able to plot the connections and connect the plots; I will be able to order and disorder my thinking. Such a superbly crafted item is a treasure, and one that shall not leave my desk.

Finally, I have received my splendid new business cards. When I call on an associate only to find him or her not in I will now be able to leave one of these at the door. I will also include them in those missives that I send out to my colleagues.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The Literary Critical Detective receives a package

I sat in my study and looked about me. My books, ever present, covered the walls. In front of me my desk was crowded with notes, half-recorded thoughts and musings. An empty cup lay abandoned on the side.

It occurred to me in that moment that if I was to be successful as the world’s first and only consulting literary critical detective then I would need some new equipment. I duly set about ordering this. I am pleased to announce that my first parcel arrived this morning.

It was wrapped carefully in brown paper and had been stamped with the name of the store it had come from on the reverse. Inside was a beautifully hand-crafted leather bag, designed and made by Mr W Blaikie of Bespoke Leather in Somerset. I had seen this bag in his shop window and guessed that it would perfectly suit my purpose. Seeing it again this morning, in my room, I did not doubt that it would serve me well through the coming years. I cannot recommend the work of this master craftsman highly enough.

My new neighbours have already begun to comment on this new possession. Mr Davenport was suitably impressed, although I suspect that he was thinking more of the image of professionalism and income that it conveyed than any practical benefit it might have for my work. Mr Thistleton, a more Romantic soul, remarked that it improved my silhouette and that it threatened to transform me into a character from a fin-de-siècle short story. I took this as a compliment.

Monday, 3 January 2011

The world’s first and only consulting literary critical detective

My meeting with that great philosopher and theologian Mr Benjamin Thistleton has forced me to re-evaluate my entire project. I have explained the reasons behind this in my account of our developing friendship and  association: ‘The Literary Critical Detective Meets an Associate’. I would direct you to that text for a full explanation.

However, allow me to publicly announce my important decision here. I am, as you will know, the first literary critical detective. I would now like to declare myself the world’s first and only consulting literary critical detective. I am now taking on cases brought to me by others.

So, if you know of a particular classic literary detective case that you would like me to examine then please contact me. I will start a discussion thread on the Facebook group page ‘The Literary Critical Detective’. Please leave your requests there. Alternatively, post a comment on this journal or write to me at my postal address:

I cannot promise to take on your case. As Holmes disregarded seemingly important cases for those that merely interested him, so too I will only re-investigate and criticise those literary cases that I think might produce imaginative results. I cannot prescribe my approach or my findings; nor can I make any grand claims that I will ‘solve’ anything. I will certainly not set out to answer any specific questions. Whilst my readings will certainly be wrong-headed they will also be inspired. If I do take on your case you can trust to the fact that I will commit all my energies to it; I will not rest until it is done. You can also rely upon my depth of reading. Should I need any help my growing network of associates will be able to supply me with texts and knowledge.

Some important points to bear in mind. I will only take on ‘classic’ literary detective cases. This means Doyle, Christie, Marsh and, at a stretch, Chandler, but nothing past this. If you have any questions, please contact me through the usual channels. Also, the findings of my research, my written accounts and all related original documentation will remain my property.

If you decide to visit me in person with your case, please inform Françoise of the reason for your visit and hand her your card. Should I be playing the piano when you call I will not admit you.

Until then I remain

Your loyal author,

Dr James Holden
(Consulting Literary Critical Detective)

Saturday, 1 January 2011

The Literary Critical Detective Meets an Associate.

I have finally moved from my cluttered house into a new suite of rooms in town. The move was, I admit, something of a strain on my nerves, taking as it did the best part of a weekend. However, now that I am firmly established in my new study I cannot understand why I did not brave the change earlier. The fresh surroundings have enlivened my brain. Perhaps more importantly, they have brought me into contact with new people – including the gossiping spinster Mrs Sharp, the American businessman Mr Davenport and Mr Cohen, all of whom share the Hôtel with Françoise and myself.

Amongst the great fog of new neighbours I have had the great fortune to happen across a fellow writer and thinker, a man who, to my great surprise and delight, was familiar with my work as a literary critical detective from these pages. I am speaking of the great theologian and philosopher Mr Benjamin Thistleton. We have shared a meal together and have found that, despite my initial misgivings, we have much in common. He has asked that I consider him an ‘associate’ and that, should I require an help in my work, I come to him for advice. I am immensely flattered.

I have taken the time to write a full account of my move, a description of the characters that I am now surrounded by and my chance meeting with Mr Thistleton. If you would like to read this account I am happy to make it available to you. Please send an email to my special postal address: Alternatively, leave a message on the wall of the Facebook group ‘The Literary Critical Detective’.

My meeting with Mr Thistleton has occasioned a great change in my approach to my work. This change is described at length in the written account referred to above. I will also take the liberty of describing it here in subsequent posts. It is of the utmost importance that you are aware of this so please keep checking for more information.