Both Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in their respective novels, explore the relationship between detective and criminal. Many mystery novels employ this opposition, but in ‘Sherlock Holmes: The Major Stories with Contemporary Critical Essays’ and ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd,’ the authors, while spending appropriate time with this juxtaposition, add additional elements by spending a majority of their time investigating the idea of justice. Justice is the central theme of both respective novels because both Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot attempt to discover the truth regarding their respective cases by any means necessary.
Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot are the central detectives in their respective novels. Both men employ the method of deduction, scientific investigation, and the idea of logic to solve cases. In addition to employing their respective talents, both men must contend with their respective places in regards to the investigations. Much of Sherlock Holmes’ work is conducted outside the realm of the local police. Opposite this fact, Hercule Poirot, while somewhat independent of the police must contend and assist mainly with police assistance.
The idea of justice is explored when Poirot is invited to join the Ackroyd murder investigation. In a broad sense, justice is the pursuit of truth, by any means necessary. It appears that the police resisted assistance, any sort of assistance at first; thus, they reject justice. For example, in ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd,’ after the body of Roger Ackroyd had been discovered, the initial investigator was quite acidic toward the employed staff of Roger Ackroyd. Ackroyd’s butler, in an attempt to ascertain facts declares, “I don’t think so, sir, but I’ll make inquiries.” The inspector responds “No, thanks. I’ll do my own inquiring.” This line of dialogue is repeated when an inspector on the Ackroyd murder quips, “Not the least need for amateurs to come butting in. You’d think any fool would have seen the way things were last night, and then we shouldn’t have lost twelve hours.”
In addition, after the butler is chastised and before the Inspector makes his remarks about “amateurs” Hercule Poirot is invited to join the investigation by Flora Ackroyd, “They [the police] might make a mistake now, I think. Please, M. Poirot, won’t you help us?” All these remarks emphasize the idea of justice or lack there of because the police contend that a person not associated with the police force could not be intelligent enough to solve the crime. Of course, the fact that Dr. Sheppard is never sought by the police as a suspect and only exposed as the murderer of Roger Ackroyd highlights several themes in their own right.
While the remarks to the butler and Poirot, respectively are there to add drama and antagonizing factors to the novel, in “The Speckled Band,” Sherlock Holmes is free from that type of critical eye from law enforcement. Helen Stoner approaches Holmes and...