Favorite Fictional Detectives-Book Division

Poll to follow later from top twenty.
Who are your top three fictional book and/or magazine detectives, private or governmental? I’m looking for your personal favorites, not the ones you think are the best they are at what they do. It’s o.k. if they have also appeared on television, radio or in the movies, but stick to the characters as they appear on paper, please.

  1. Nero Wolfe-Good food, good beer, and a good right hand man in Archie Goodwin makes for a damnfine detective book.
  2. Irwin Maurice Fletcher-If you can strike those gawdawful movies from your memory, the Fletch books by Gregory McDonald are a real treat.
  3. Aloysius Xingú L. Pendergast-With a name like that, you’ve really got to wonder what the “L.” stands for. He first appeared in a horror book titled Relic, and authors Preston and Child have built up a weird fictional world(18 books so far) on this walking X-File of an FBI agent.

Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot is a dandy.
Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret is a treat.
Elizabeth George’s Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley is an Earl.

The flaws in fictional detectives are what make them interesting. I like the Poirot’s outrageous ego, Maigret’s drinking and comfort seeking, and Lynley’s unintentional snobbery.

I’ll second Nero Wolfe.
Phillip Marlowe
Sam Spade

1.) Sherlock Holmes – predictable choice, I know, but I love him.
2.) Judge Jien Jeh Dee – Robert Hans van Gulik’s T’ang dynasty official. He really did exist, and just last year they released another movie inspired by him (with a ridiculous amount of wire work)
3.) Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin. What can I say? I’m listen to one of his audiobooks now.

Ellery Queen’s Ellery Queen
John Dickson Carr’s Sir Henry Merrivale and Gideon Fell
Craig Rice’s John Malone

Second Marlowe and Spade, and add Lew Archer.

Lord Peter Wimsey, by Dorothy L. Sayers
Joe Leaphorn, by Tony Hillerman
Sherlock Holmes, as written by Laurie R. King

Henry (I’m not sure if his last name is ever given), from Asimov’s Black Widower stories

Seconding Sherlock Holmes: Without him, the genre wouldn’t even exist. Yes, I know that Poe’s Dupin came first, but he wasn’t nearly in Holmes’ league.

Encyclopedia Brown: Many a child’s first introduction to mystery stories. There have been a great many imitators, but Brown is the one with staying power.

Fr. William of Baskerville, though I admit that only appearing in one book is a point against him.

Reginald Hill - the Dalziel & Pascoe series.
He also writes under other names.

Sherlock Holmes
Nero Wolfe / Archie Goodwin
Father Brown

with an honorable mention from my boyhood self to The Three Investigators (Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw, Bob Andrews)

His last name is a spoiler:

Jackson, as revealed in the first Black Widower story.

Harry Dresden from Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. Being both a smart ass and a wizard puts him on my top 3 list.

Rachel Morgana Morgan from Kim Harrison’s the Hollows series. While not a detective in the classical sense, she solves her share of mysteries, including discovering the history of elves, demons, and witches. From the way the storyline is heading, she’ll soon be discovering how to give vampires their souls back too.

John Taylor, from Simon Green’s Nightside series. Another smart ass, with powers that can lead to all kinds of humorous situations.

My top three are Holmes, Spade, and Charlie Chan. I was pleased to see Encyclopedia Brown get a mention, though.

  1. Marlowe
  2. The Continental Op
  3. Holmes

If the Continental Op had a name I suspect he would be on a lot more lists.

[li]Sherlock Holmes[/li][li]Judge Dee[/li][li]Garret P.I.[/li][/ol]

  1. Wolfe
  2. Holmes
  3. Marlowe
  1. Sherlock Holmes

  2. Hercule Poirot

  3. William Monk

1: Lord Darcy, of Randall Garrett’s excellent alternate universe detective series.

2: Garret P.I.

3: Harry Dresden.

If there was 4, I’d add Nightside’s John Taylor.

Ellery Queen by Ellery Queen
Sharyn McCone by Marcia Muller
Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

Nero Wolfe, what makes him great is that Archie is a damn fine detective all by himself, and Inspector Cramer is no dummy.

Lord Darcy. Great alt-hist too. Look for the in-jokes, Nero Wolfe is there.

For the dark horse let me suggest Master Li, from

Psst Garret fans- it’s a take-off on Nero Wolfe, the Dead Man is Wolfe.