I’ve always had a thing for detective fiction. As a 7 year old I wanted to grow up to be Sherlock Holmes (not *a detective* but specifically Sherlock Holmes). I ended up becoming a researcher at various places, but never really followed that urge to be a detective.
I’ve been struck recently by the way the that the fantasy of the investigative journalist has been played out in science fiction and noir.
The investigative journalist and the private detective do have quite a bit in common. The autonomy to follow one’s nose, to find out secrets that will embarrass someone, to have a hands-off benefactor who funds your jaunts with only a directive to find the truth are all part of the fantasy. The reality of the roles are very similar too – lots of boring work going through reams of data searching for that elusive bit of telling information, pressure from the funder to get results, incomplete data and insufficient time and coming up against the tawdry realities of human existence. And, of course, a worrying tendency to end up dead.
What really strikes me though is the way in which the detective in some of my favourite novels functions as a journalist, and vice versa.