Thursday, April 1, 2010

Closing in on the World's Favourite Detective - who will it be?

As I've mentioned a couple of times recently, fellow book blogger Jen from Jen's Book Thoughts is currently running a very interesting tournament to find the "World's Greatest Detective"

The knock-out tournament consists of weekly contests similar to the college basketball tournaments that have been going on the past month in the USA ("March Madness" as it is affectionately known ) - or similarly to the FA Cup competition in the UK, for you European readers. It started with 64 nominated detectives a couple of weeks ago, and there have been weekly knock-out votes. In each round the detectives are paired up, and blog visitors can vote for their favourite from each pair.

Jen has got a huge response to her competition - with around 900 crime fiction afficianados from all over the world voting each week. She's also set it up so there can't really be any of that 'vote stuffing' of things like All-Star games or American Idol (where people vote multiple times). There have been some fascinating results, and several big names and 'heavy hitters' have fallen by the wayside. And now, we find ourselves at the quaterfinal round (Elite Eight in March madness terms), with 8 beloved detectives currently battling it out for a place in the Final Four.

In my post of 11 March, during the first week of voting, I said "It will be interesting to see who makes it through to the final rounds - will the winner be a classic detective like Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, or Hercule Poirot? Or will a modern bestselling titan like Bosch, Rebus, Alex Cross, or Dave Robicheaux take the title?"

Interestingly, six of those eight I mentioned are in the final eight, and this week's voting round provides an interesting historic detective vs modern detective match-up in all four contests:
  1. Harry Bosch vs Sam Spade
  2. Sherlock Holmes vs Lincoln Rhyme
  3. Elvis Cole vs Phillip Marlowe
  4. Hercule Poirot vs. Dave Robicheaux
You can vote for your favourites here. Interestingly, I could have unintentionally predicted 7 of the final 8, if Rebus had beaten Rhyme in the last round.

It will be very, very interesting to see how the voting goes this week. From previous weeks, the voting has been (surprisingly, in some cases) very close in most contests. My gut feel is that Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch probably has the inside running to win the title overall, given that he has been the most dominant overall in previous rounds (most rounds have been 50-something% to 40-something%, but Bosch has been winning by 80-90% each time, even against very popular adversaries).

But there have been plenty of surprises along the way, and just like March Madness or the FA Cup, there's still plenty of potential for upsets.

On a side note, it's not too bad a top eight, considering history, importance to the crime genre, and currently popularity. It's not necessarily my own personal Top 8, but several authors here would be in my list - and generally I could see and understand arguments for the others here, even if I had other preferences. Though in my opinion Rhyme does seem a little bit of an abberration, given the company, and talking about the 'World's Favourite Detectives'.

So what do you think of the Top 8, as voted by hundreds of crime fiction fans around the world? Is it an acceptable lineup, or is there a glaring oversight? Can you live with this 8, even if it's not your preferred line-up? Who should win from those that remain?


  1. Craig - Thanks for this update. I have to admit, I am very much a Poirot fan, as well as a Harry Bosch fan. So I am glad to see my top two in the "Final Four." It will, indeed, be interesting to see who wins...

  2. Not enough X chromosomes in that list, in my view. (or in the longlist from which people could vote)

    I also think that the way the voting choices were set up was a bit strange, an apparently random division into groups from which one could choose one from group 1 and one from group 2, but not two from group 1 or two from group 2.

  3. It was set up as a knockout format Maxine - like the FA Cup, or Wimbledon, etc, so Group 1, as you call it, was just the 'match' between those two, and Group 2, as you call it, a separate match.

    I hear what you're saying, in terms of some of the pairings being 'a bit rough' - I had a few early on where I would have preferred both detectives in a head-to-head to get through, and neither from another 'match' to go through - but that's just the way it is I guess. Like if Liverpool and Man Utd get drawn against each other early on in the FA Cup, but then Burnley gets to play Birmingham, etc...

    And as for the lack of X chromosomes, well I hear you on that too. But in the end, Jen selected the 64 detectives that received the most nominations from more than 200 nominated, and then people voted.