The First Detective Story

From The Writer’s Almanac:

“It was on (April 20,) 1841 that the first ‘detective story’ was published: The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe.  

“In the story, C. August Dupin reads about the murder of a mother and daughter in a Paris street. The police are baffled and Dupin decides to offer his services. He finds a hair at the crime scene that he realizes does not belong to a human and, eventually, he pieces together enough evidence to solve the case.

“The story is narrated not by Dupin but by his slightly less competent sidekick — just as Dr. Watson would narrate the Sherlock Holmes stories that first appeared 45 years later. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the Holmes stories, said, ‘Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?’ “

“Poe wrote two more stories featuring the detective C. August Dupin, although the word ‘detective’ did not exist yet: The Mystery of Marie Rogêt in 1842 and The Purloined Letter in 1844.



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