We explain what the detective novel is, its characteristics and its origin. In addition, its structure and the main representatives.

What is the detective novel?

The police novel or detective story is a literary fiction about crimes and crimes, which emerged in the early nineteenth century . It consists of an enigma that unfolds, little by little, as the story unfolds. Upon reaching the end, the mysterious crime is revealed.

In 1841 the first detective story called "The Murderers in Morgue Street" was published , written by Edgar Allan Poe. The detective profession was still a recent activity at that time and it is estimated that Allan Poe was inspired by the first detective office founded in Paris in 1817 by François-Eugène Vidocq.

Characteristics of the detective novel

The detective novel is characterized by:

  • The plot based on a crime. The mystery of the fact of a crime is what drives the story. Other crimes such as robbery and theft are also common. It should be a credible story that the reader can connect with.
  • The hero . The most prominent character is usually the detective or person who manages to solve the mystery of the crime.
  • The suspect. It is the character that fuels the suspense and intrigue during the story.
  • The red herrings . They are resources that are used to persuade the reader so that they cannot solve the mystery quickly and continue reading the story.
  • The criminal. He is the essential character who is usually very intelligent and cunning, but who goes unnoticed until the end of the story.

Structure of the detective novel

Structure of the detective novel

The detective novel has a defined structure, even when the narrative does not respond to the chronological presentation of the events. It is made up of three parts:

  • Introduction . General features of the crime or crime are presented.
  • Knot. Multiple questions are raised, different possible suspects and the investigation is delved.
  • Outcome . The killer is discovered or the riddle is solved.

In its beginnings, the detective novel focused on the plot, so that the plot was opening due to the deduction of the reader and the investigator or main character.

With the advance of time, the interest began to focus on the psychological analysis of the events and the characters , such as behaviors, thoughts and traumas, to finally focus on the realistic and violent aesthetics of the elements that define the enigma and its unveiling.

Main representatives of the detective novel

Main representatives of the detective novel

Among the main representatives of the detective novel are:

  • Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849). He was an American writer, poet, and journalist. He is considered the creator of the police genre and stood out with works such as: "The well and the pendulum", "The black cat", "The tell-tale heart" and "The crow".
  • Agatha Christie (1890-1976) . She was a British writer and playwright who specialized in the detective genre. His work with 66 novels and more than 150 short stories gained international recognition. He stood out with works such as: "The case of the anonymous", "A corpse in the library", "An assassination is announced" and "The trick of the mirrors".
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 - 1930). He was a British writer and physician. He stood out for creating the renowned character of detective Sherlock Holmes and for works such as: "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes", "Study in Scarlet", "The Lost World" and "The Return of Sherlock Holmes."
  • Wilkie Collins (1824-1889). He was an English novelist and playwright. He stood out for writing 27 novels, 14 plays and more than 60 short stories. Among his works, the following stand out: "The Moonstone", "The Lady in White", "The Law and the Lady" and "Basil".
  • Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965). Known as TS Eliot, he was a British poet, playwright and literary critic. He stood out for works such as: "The wasteland", "Four quartets", "The hollow men" and "Ash Wednesday".
  • Raymond Chandler (1888-1959). He was an American writer who specialized in the crime novel. He stood out for works such as: "The eternal dream", "The long goodbye", "The lady of the lake" and "The sinister window".
  • Dashiell Hammett (1894 - 1961). He was an American writer of crime novels, short stories, and screenplays. He stood out for creating characters such as: Sam Spade, the agent of the Continental and detectives Nick and Nora Charles. His works include: "Red Harvest", "The Maltese Falcon", "The Curse of the Dain" and "The Agent of the Continental".
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 - 1881). He was a Russian writer who was noted for his works that explore human psychology and political context. His works include: "Crime and punishment", "The demoniacs", "Memories of the subsoil" and "Poor people".
  • Henning Mankell (1948 - 2015). He was a Swedish novelist and playwright. He stood out for his 12 internationally recognized crime novels. His works include: "Assassins without a face", "The false track", "The dogs of Riga" and "The white lioness".
  • Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995). She was an American novelist who stood out for works such as: "The Talent of Mr. Ripley", "Strangers on a Train", "Carol" and "Imaginary Crimes".

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


Veronica is a culture reporter at Collaborative Research Group, where she writes about food, fitness, weird stuff on the internet, and, well, just about anything else. She has also covered technology news and has a penchant for smartphone stories. .

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