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Devoted to the Truth

Four Brilliant Investigators

by Hugo G. Walter (Author)
©2022 Monographs X, 230 Pages

Summary

This book is a collection of great essays which discuss four brilliant and impressive investigators and detectives in literary masterpieces by Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy Bowers. The focus of this book is on Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple, and Dan Pardoe. These highly intelligent, perceptive, problem-solving, resilient, and resourceful investigators are committed to examining the evidence in any situation carefully, fairly, and honestly and devoted to searching for and discovering the truth in various criminal cases, even though such heroic endeavors frequently threaten their own lives. In Chapter Seven of Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Hercule Poirot agrees to accept the case which is presented to him only if he may "go through with it to the end" and search for "all the truth." In numerous investigations Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple, and Dan Pardoe demonstrate not only an extraordinary commitment to searching meticulously and valiantly for the whole truth but also the absolute genius to discover it.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Sherlock Holmes
  • Chapter 2. Hercule Poirot
  • Chapter 3. Dan Pardoe
  • Chapter 4. Jane Marple
  • Conclusion
  • Works Consulted
  • Index
  • Series index

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Acknowledgments

I would like to thank my literature and humanities professors at Princeton University, Yale University, Old Dominion University, and Drew University for their guidance and inspiration over the years. I would especially like to express my gratitude to the following professors (some living and some very sadly deceased): Theodore Ziolkowski, Michael Curschmann, Carl Schorske, William G. Moulton, Robert Ready, John Warner, Sara Henry, James Pain, Victor Lange, Douglas Greene, John Kuehl, Linda McGreevy, Karl Knight, James McNally, Sandra Bermann, John R. Martin, David Coffin, Peter Demetz, Jeffrey Sammons, Harold Bloom, and Geoffrey Hartman.

I am very grateful to Professor Horst Daemmrich of the University of Pennsylvania for his inspiration and supportiveness of my Peter Lang publications over the course of many years. I would also like to thank Anthony Mason of Peter Lang Publishing and Professor Ginny Lewis for their support of this new publication.

I very much appreciate the excellent work and helpfulness of the Production Department of Peter Lang in the production of the manuscript.

And I would like to thank the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and the Division of Continuing Studies at Rutgers University for their encouragement, kindness, and supportiveness. ←ix | x→

I would like to acknowledge the following institutions for permission to reprint from the following works:

Sanctuaries of Light in Nineteenth Century European Literature, by Hugo G. Walter, Copyright © 2010, Peter Lang Publishing, reprinted with the permission of the publisher.

Magnificent Houses in Twentieth Century European Literature, by Hugo G. Walter, Copyright © 2012, Peter Lang Publishing, reprinted with the permission of the publisher.

Sanctuaries in Washington Irving’s ‘The Sketch Book,’ by Hugo G. Walter, Copyright © 2014, Peter Lang Publishing, reprinted with the permission of the publisher.

Saving Endangered Heirs and Estates, by Hugo G. Walter, Copyright © 2020, Peter Lang Publishing, reprinted with the permission of the publisher.

Various revised passages from Saving Endangered Heirs and Estates appear in Devoted to the Truth.

←x | 1→

Introduction

The thematic focus of this book, the heroic, devoted, and diligent endeavors by several extraordinary characters in twentieth-century European literature to search meticulously for the truth in various criminal cases and civil problems and to examine the evidence in these situations carefully, is not only very important in the contexts of these literary works but also highly relevant for our contemporary society. For the truth is occasionally undervalued, devalued, disregarded, manipulated, or sacrificed in public and private discourse or in the public arena of our contemporary society by individuals who are motivated by self-interest, personal prejudice, socioeconomic expediency, materialistic greed, or malevolent intentions. However, if the evidence in a criminal situation or civil problem is carefully, comprehensively, and objectively examined, thus implying an interest in discovering the truth, then fairness and justice may or will be properly served and implemented.

A resolute and enduring capacity to devote oneself completely to searching for and discovering the truth about a criminal problem or civil situation even when one is threatened physically, verbally, emotionally, and psychologically is one of the distinctive qualities and hallmarks of a superior investigator. Sherlock Holmes exemplifies such a commitment in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles and in other criminal cases. Sherlock ←1 | 2→Holmes always demonstrates a meticulously holistic approach to a case and is dedicated to examining all of its aspects, characters, evidence, facts, and features and to achieving a complete resolution of the criminal problem or situation. Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple, two extraordinary investigators in various narratives by Agatha Christie, and Dan Pardoe, an exceptional law enforcement official in several novels by Dorothy Bowers, exemplify the same spirit of exceptional inquisitiveness, perceptiveness, persistence, imaginativeness, insightfulness, attentiveness to the evidence, and commitment to discovering the truth which Sherlock Holmes shows. The devotion to search for and ascertain the truth which Hercule Poirot proclaims in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is essential in an investigation is shared by Sherlock Holmes, Jane Marple, and Dan Pardoe. In Chapter Seven of Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Flora Ackroyd asks Poirot to find the murderer and says that she wants “All the truth” (76). Hercule Poirot only agrees to accept the case under those circumstances and with precisely those expectations, also declaring that “I shall go through with it to the end” (76).1

In Chapter 1 I discuss the exemplary endeavors of Sherlock Holmes, a brilliant, perceptive, insightful, and courageous consulting detective who frequently works with law enforcement officials, to examine the complete range of evidence and to search devotedly for the truth in various criminal cases even though he is physically and emotionally threatened in these situations. Such dedication to the truth and commitment to apprehending a malevolent criminal are especially exemplified in The Hound of the Baskervilles, “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches,” “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” “The Adventure of the Reigate Squires,” and “The Adventure of the Empty House.” In Chapter 2 I explore the devotion to the truth of Hercule Poirot, a highly intelligent, observant, methodical, and intuitive private investigator who for many years was a distinguished, prominent, and successful member of the Belgian police force. Hercule Poirot always searches carefully for the truth and examines the evidence meticulously in each challenging and dangerous scenario, for example, in such cases as The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Peril at End House, Murder in Three Acts, The ABC Murders, Cards on the Table, and Death on the Nile so that he may achieve an understanding of the emotional and psychological motivations of the sinister ←2 | 3→or evil characters involved as well as a complete resolution of each investigation. In Chapter 3 I discuss the commitment of Chief Inspector Dan Pardoe of New Scotland Yard, a very wise, well-organized, thoughtful, and professional investigator and law enforcement official in Dorothy Bowers’ Postscript to Poison, Shadows Before, Deed Without a Name, and Fear and Miss Betony, to search for and discover the truth in a criminal case, to question all of the suspects and other relevant individuals in a case fairly, to review all of the evidence carefully, comprehensively and objectively, and to capture the malevolent villains in a timely fashion.

In Chapter 4 I examine the dedication to the truth of Jane Marple, a private citizen with an exceptional capacity for investigating crimes and an extraordinary understanding of human nature, in The Murder at the Vicarage, 4:50 at Paddington, The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side, and other narratives—Miss Marple is sometimes exposed to very malevolent and wicked individuals who physically threaten her well-being and her life. While Jane Marple is not officially a detective, she is an exceptionally observant and perceptive resident of everyday life in St. Mary Mead who has developed over the course of many years an insightful understanding of people and their inclinations, desires, ambitions, and schemes. Although Jane Marple’s instinctive investigative capacity is sometimes undervalued and devalued, it is certainly appreciated by various people in society. For example, at the conclusion of Christie’s “The Thumb Mark of St. Peter” after Jane Marple has explained how she discovered the truth in this case she is praised by Mr. Petherick, the lawyer, as being “amazing” (91). Directly after this praise Miss Marple is celebrated by Sir Henry Clithering, the former Commissioner of Scotland Yard and a friend, who asserts that he will recommend that Scotland Yard come to her for advice in the future.

In this Introduction I will now briefly discuss five literary masterpieces by Charlotte Brontë, Arthur Conan Doyle, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Agatha Christie which illustrate and exemplify the central issues and themes relating to a devotion to the truth which are explored in this book. These issues and themes include the following: the devotion of a detective, a law enforcement official, or an unofficial private investigator to discovering the truth in a criminal or in a civil case; aiming to achieve a fair and honest assessment of a character who is a suspect or a possible suspect in a criminal or civil case; aiming to achieve a fair and honest assessment of a threatening action or a deadly event in a criminal or civil case; examining all of the evidence in a criminal case or civil situation fairly, objectively, and comprehensively; ←3 | 4→aiming to gain a proper and chronologically valid understanding of the evidence and the facts in a case; being instinctively a highly intelligent and very perceptive individual and investigator who is very observant of details in the world of everyday life; having an awareness of the fact that some people may try for various deceitful and dishonest reasons to provide false information and misinformation in a case to misdirect, undermine, or ruin the integrity and validity of an investigation; having an awareness of the fact that some people may try to tamper with the evidence or manipulate the evidence in a case to transform what should be a positive interpretation of the evidence into a false and negative perspective; achieving a correction or reparation for a past misdeed or criminal act which was committed by a cunning and deceitful individual to deprive another person of his or her appropriate reward or financial compensation in a professional context; achieving the resolution of a criminal case in challenging circumstances which endanger the life of the detective or investigator or which endanger the lives of multiple investigators or detectives in a case; the issue that an individual may be permitted to walk around openly in public and to have access to the information and evidence in a criminal case until he or she is actually determined to be a suspect or is officially charged in a case; the devotion of an individual who is not a detective or law enforcement official to searching for and discovering the truth in a criminal case or civil situation; the theme of an individual who is committed to the truth and who has a strong investigating capacity not being believed or being to some extent doubted by a law enforcement official when she or he provides evidence or offers a compelling theory suggesting the guilt of a specific person in a criminal case; the issue of an investigator, a detective, or an individual with a strong investigative capacity who is not officially a detective travelling a considerable distance to search for evidence and information which might or could be relevant in a criminal case; the issue of an individual who believes in and who is devoted to fairness, honesty, and truth and who strives to achieve a devotion to fairness, honesty, and truth in his or her own everyday life being abused and mistreated by dishonest, deceitful, and malicious people; the issue of a dishonest, deceitful, and malicious individual motivated by jealousy, greed, prejudice, or insecurity trying to manipulate the evidence and the information in a case to conjure up a false and negative view of another individual and cause financial hardship or emotional distress for her/his victim; the theme of a deceitful, dishonest, and manipulative individual in a prominent position in an institution, in an organization, or in society using or exploiting her or his authority to unfairly and unkindly abuse, devalue, ←4 | 5→and mistreat a nice, kind, honorable, intelligent, and quietly productive individual in that community or society; the theme of a dual personality, that is, of an individual who might appear or does appear to be relatively pleasant, energetic, and respectful in public but who in her or his private life is really a cruel, malevolent, and evil person; the theme of a courageous, determined, and heroic individual who revitalizes and saves an undervalued life, several undervalued lives, an underappreciated house or mansion, a forgotten and abandoned garden, an emotionally and psychologically diminished family, or an ancestral estate by searching devotedly for the truth in a criminal case or a civil situation; the capacity and determination of a detective, a law enforcement official, or a private investigator to comprehensively and thoroughly examine all of the evidence in a case and all of the aspects and features of a case, including events which occurred at one or more locations relevant to the investigation, information about various characters and possible suspects, conversations between various individuals who are directly or indirectly connected to the case, images and objects of conspicuous or implicit interest to the investigation, or even pieces of information which might seem mundane or trivial but which actually could have special significance.

The search for the truth may be enhanced and strengthened when one has a place of sanctuary or serenity where one can recover from the mistreatment, struggles, and tribulations which such a search inevitably entails. The idea of a sanctuary is important to Jane Eyre from the beginning of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, for she is emotionally, physically, and psychologically mistreated by members of the Reed family as an outsider and needs to have a place where she can recover from the consistent abuse which she receives. Such abuse encourages Jane to develop a sense of imaginative vitality to compensate for and to transcend the anguish of her emotionally painful environment. Helene Moglen makes the insightful observation in Charlotte Brontë: The Self Conceived that Jane feels that she can only liberate herself from the hardship and suffering of her present life “by withdrawing into fantasy and illusion” (110). Jane’s imaginative explorations are very important to her, her sense of self, and her emotional wellbeing. Of the importance of the imagination for Jane, Moglen writes in Charlotte Brontë: The Self Conceived that the “universe of imaginative possibility enthralls Jane because it offers her a landscape of the mind rather than a canvas of social interaction” (110). The residence of Sherlock Holmes in London, the apartment of Hercule Poirot in London, the house of Jane Marple in St. Mary Mead, and Brideshead Castle represent notable places of sanctuary and security for the investigators in other narratives.←5 | 6→

In the opening pages of Jane Eyre the happy seclusion and sense of physical and intellectual sanctuary which Jane Eyre feels behind the curtain is soon disturbed by John Reed who abuses Jane verbally and physically. Even though John is the aggressor and hurts Jane, she is blamed for the altercation and compelled to spend time in the red room as a punishment for her actions. The intensity of Jane’s sufferings in the Reed household can be seen in the fact that she says to John that he is like a murderer and a slave-driver, or even like one of the more brutal Roman emperors. Jane is the person who speaks the truth in this situation and pleads for an honest assessment of the evidence; yet she is punished for daring to speak the truth about the person who hurts and mistreats her. In Chapter 4 Jane similarly defends herself against the verbal abuse of Mrs. Reed, who dishonestly claims in her conversation with Mr. Brocklehurst that Jane is a deceitful child. In her response to this false criticism Jane declares that Mrs. Reed treated her with “miserable cruelty” (38). Jane also accuses Mrs. Reed of having no sense of mercy or pity, for she compelled Jane to be locked in the red-room, even though Jane was in “agony” (39) and “distress” (39). One positive consequence of the emotionally intense conversation between Jane and Mrs. Reed in Chapter 4 is that Jane is so upset that she asserts that she is very unhappy at Gateshead and begs to be sent away to school. Jane’s responses to John Reed and Mrs. Reed demonstrate that she is willing to stand up for, support, and promote the truth, even though it is challenging and dangerous for her to do so.

Details

Pages
X, 230
Year
2022
ISBN (PDF)
9781433193385
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433193392
ISBN (Hardcover)
9781433193378
DOI
10.3726/b19105
Language
English
Publication date
2022 (January)
Keywords
Detective Fiction Brilliant Investigators Exceptional Detectives Searching for the Complete Truth in a Criminal Case Examining the Evidence in a Criminal Case Thoroughly; Classic Mysteries Twentieth Century British Literature Twentieth Century European Literature
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2022. X, 230 pp.

Biographical notes

Hugo G. Walter (Author)

Hugo G. Walter has a B.A. from Princeton University, an M.A. from Old Dominion University, a Ph.D. in literature from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in humanities from Drew University. Dr. Walter teaches literature and humanities courses in the Division of Continuing Studies at Rutgers University. His publications include Magnificent Houses in Twentieth Century European Literature (Lang, 2012) and Saving Endangered Heirs and Estates (Lang, 2020).

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