Holmes and Poirot

Mystery Literature

Minor Paper


Both Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie were pioneers in the mystery genre. Each used an above average if not extremely intelligent character co-stared by a run of the mill Joe. Doyles’ Sherlock Holmes and Watson characters are a perfect combination of wit and ingenuity, likewise with Christies’ Mr. Hastings and Hucules Poirot from The Mysterious Affair At Styles. Doyles’ Final Problem is where Holmes is disenchanted because somewhere out there a man named Professor Moriarty is still head of organized crime. Holmes is determined that before he retires he will in fact catch this Mr. Moriarty. Christie starts off by introducing us to “The Styles Case”. Mrs. Ingelthorp was tragically poisoned by somebody living in her house. Hastings and Poirot must figure out who had committed this act. In both of these stories wit wins in the end.

In The Final Problem Watson acts like the narrator, very much how Hastings is the narrator for The Mysterious Affair At Styles. Watson wants to tell everyone “what really took place between Professor Moriarty and Mr. Sherlock Holmes.” (Doyle 76). While Holmes was helping out cases for the “Royal family of Scandinavia” (Doyle 78) he came upon a mastermind that he felt had to be put away. Professor Moriarty was his name. Holmes had tried to catch him in every act but for no luck could not come up with sufficient evidence to bring him to trial. Holmes came to Watson for help in the matter. Getting frustrated by Holmes, Moriarty came to Holmes and told him “It has been an intellectual treat to me to see the way in which you have grappled with this affair, and I say, unaffectedly, that it would be a grief to me to be forced to take any extreme measure.” (Doyle 81). Holmes certainly knew that Moriarty would be after him. He and Watson took a trip to Meiringen, a town in Switzerland. Holmes had made a messenger come to them and gave Watson a letter saying that a British woman needed medical aid. “It was impossible to refuse the request of a fellow-countrywoman dying in a strange land.” (Doyle 88). Watson left Holms at the falls, where they were. When Watson got to the hotel, he found that there was no women who needed aid. He went back to the falls and found only “Holmes Alpine-stock still leaning against the rock by which I had left him” (Doyle 88). The letter confirmed his death and Professor Moriarty’s.

In the beginning of The Mysterious Affair At Styles, almost all of the characters were introduced in a positive manner accept for Mr. Ingelthorp. “He certainly struck a rather alien note” (Christie 5) Hastings described. Miss Evelyn Howard said, “The man’s twenty years younger than you, and don’t you fool yourself as to what he married you for. Money!” (Christie 8). I thought it was quite too obvious that Mr. Ingelthorp was pinned from the beginning as being the murderer. Or at least being set up as the scapegoat.

Now one of the most important ingredients to any mystery is motive. In this case money was the initiative, but who would do it, or more importantly when could they have done it. Later John and Lawrence Cavendish, who are Mrs. Ingelthorps’ sons, mention the fact that they are both strapped for cash, more so with John then with Lawrence. “My dear Hastings, I don’t mind telling you that I’m at my wit’s end for money.” John said (Christie 10). Since money was the issue of “whodunit” the reader could rule out anybody that wouldn’t of been in the will. Christie keeps us guessing throughout the whole book of who did it. She gives up small clues that could implicate numerous people in the house. While she was doing this she took the readers attention off of Mr. Ingelthorp. She even gave him an alibi. Mr. Ingelthorp said in reply to Hastings question of “Where have you been?” (Christie 24). “Denby Kept me late last night. It was one o’clock before we’d finished. Then I found that I’d forgotten the latchkey after all. I didn’t want to arouse the household, so Denby gave me a bed.” (Christie 24). Now to the reader he was