Heroes and the Mystery Novel

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By Jennifer Hallmark

September is the month of heroes on Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!, and October villains. It might be the way my eclectic mind works, but when I think of heroes in books or movies, the mystery novel comes to mind. When I think of villains, my mind goes to science fiction and fantasy.

My personal favorite novels and heroes when it comes to mysteries are from the British mysteries of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.

Authors such as Sir Author Conan Doyle [Sherlock Holmes], Margery Allingham [Albert Campion], Agatha Christie [Poirot, Miss Marple], and Dorothy Sayers [Lord Peter Wimsey] enjoyed great success with their heroes predominantly during the 1920’s and 1930’s. This week, I’ll be talking about Dorothy Sayers and that British gentleman detective, Lord Peter Death Brendon Wimsey.

“Lord Peter” as he is referred to by most of the other characters in the book, is described as being of average height, with straw-colored hair, a beaked nose, and a vaguely foolish face. Behind the foolish face, however, lie keen analytical skill, athletic prowess, and unmatched persistence. He uses his royal stature, the son of the Duke and Dowager Duchess of Denver, as an aid to gathering information and gaining access to help him solve cases that puzzle the local police and Scotland Yard.

This character is endearing to me, a real hero, for several reasons. He has weaknesses, but keeps moving forward in spite of them. During his time as a young man in service during World War I, he suffers shell shock or what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder. When Lord Peter is overworked or tired, he struggles with relapses from the war in the form of nightmares and physical ailments. This only makes me want to cheer for him more.

Another reason is his love for Harriet Vane. After taking up her case, he proves her innocent of the crime of murdering her ex-boyfriend. Lord Peter saves her from the gallows, but she believes that gratitude is not a good foundation for marriage, and politely but firmly declines his frequent proposals. After solving some cases together over a period of several years, she finally accepts his proposal in the novel, Gaudy Night, a personal favorite.

What makes a hero to me? A strong gentleman or lady with weaknesses he or she overcomes and persistence in his or her work and relationships. Lord Peter Death Brendon Wimsey fits the bill.

Today’s Writing Prompt: Think of one attribute that you think makes a hero heroic and invent a character with this attribute.

Don’t forget to leave a comment and be entered in a drawing for a gift card. Our twist this month is to challenge you, if you win, to donate the card to a ministry or foundation of your choice and be their hero. Don’t feel you have to give up your prize, but just know this option is available to you.

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2 thoughts on “Heroes and the Mystery Novel

  1. Now I haven’t watched the latest movies they’ve put out on Sherlock Holmes. Just the previews show that they are getting away from his mental prowess and making it an action movie which is so wrong…I do like the series on CBS, Elementary 🙂

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