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Introduction: The Most Moral Form


Murder mysteries are, among other things, our most moral form of entertainment.”

--Orson Welles



I grew up reading the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and eagerly watched each week’s new Ben Matlock case. In my teens, I enjoyed Columbo and Dragnet. As an adult, Father Brown, Monk, and a slew of other detective shows came into my life. I continue to discover even more shows as host of the Great Detectives of Old Time Radio podcast, where I share my passion for these detective stories with thousands of people all around the world.

The best detective stories make their protagonist more than a puzzle-solving machine or a pile of clichés and toughness. To read Nero Wolfe, or to watch an episode of Columbo or Monk, is to take a journey with an old friend. We may be disappointed if the mystery seems too contrived, but we enjoy the trip.

In the pages of this little book, we’ll examine seven of these great friends from literature, radio, and television: Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, Father Brown, Boston Blackie, Dan Holiday, Columbo, and Monk.

Every good detective will be just and tenacious, but the greatest detectives also have unique character traits that make them stand out and provide instructive life lessons.

We'll learn time management from Nero Wolfe, clear thinking from Sherlock Holmes, devotion from Adrian Monk, and much more. Many of these lessons are hardly original to detective fiction, but through their fascinating stories, we can see these virtues and proverbs in a new way.

Each chapter begins with a brief overview of the detective’s history and then proceeds to examine one or more lessons from their career.

Let’s begin our journey where any good book on detectives should start: 221B Baker Street.

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