The beaming brilliance of Holmes and Poirot

Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot are the two most famous (fictional) detectives out there, and there’s no reason not to love them.

I’ve always loved the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. They’re both well-written and a delight to read about in their many adventures.


I’ve always loved the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. They’re both well-written and a delight to read about in their many adventures.

By Daimler Koch, Online Editor-in-Chief

For much of my life, I’ve been fascinated by the mystery genre. I’ve read nearly everything from the Hardy Boys in my childhood to the Maltese Falcon in my early teenage years. Out of all the novels I’ve read and all the films I’ve watched, however, there are only two detectives who stand out among the rest, and those are Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot – and for good reason. Any avid mystery reader – or any avid reader, period – will tell you that there’s just something so unique, so compelling about these two characters that it’s no wonder that they’re both so celebrated in the minds of readers everywhere.

Let’s take Holmes, for example, since he’s by far the most popular of the two. It’s clear that he’s a genius; his very silhouette conjures images of incessant sleuthing and deep thinking near a warm Victorian fireplace. What adds depth to Holmes, however, is that he knows he’s smart, and is willing to go to any lengths to preserve that genius. He smokes his favorite pipe near the fireplace if he’s stuck on a problem. If that same problem is still bothering him after a few puffs, he locks himself in a separate room and plays the violin. And if the mystery is still nagging him after that, he will sit himself down, starve himself for the rest of the day, and then inject himself with a shot of cocaine, all of which supposedly send blood rushing to his brain so that he can think faster. The gumption of Holmes is simply unparalleled. It’s impossible not to love the dedication Holmes puts to his business, even if some of his attempts to keep his intelligence together seem horribly misguided at best. 

Poirot is lovable, too, although in a different way. The way his mind works is splayed out over each and every page in every single one of his adventures. His clothing, for example. Whenever we first meet Poirot, his author, Agatha Christie, will always make it a point to have him well-dressed, whether he’s vacationing in dusty Mesopotamia or sloshing around in the London rain. He’s tidy and straightlaced, to the point of being almost OCD. He must have symmetry in all objects; that’s why he hates abstract art. He’s well-mannered and formal, in an old-fashioned Victorian way, which is awkward in the casualty of the 1930s (when most of his stories are set). And of course he’s an egotistical nosy little detective who causes disdain among much of the police force in England. There’s just so much charm injected into Poirot, and it’s lovely. Christie transformed the stock character of a wise old man into a person that, frankly, can’t be replaced.

It’s clear that I’m a fan of both detectives, and many others could probably say the same. Both have sidekicks that aid their respective detectives greatly. Both have shrewd powers of observation, where no detail, no matter how small, escapes them. And both, naturally, have workhorses of minds, chugging out fact after fact linked by logic, spitting out bit after bit of useless information. And we lucky mortals are able to experience it all. 

There’s no rhyme or reason to this Quick Take, I guess. I’ve been itching to write something about these two characters for quite some time. I don’t even want to compare and contrast them to see who’s better (although I was tempted by the idea). Perhaps the only goal I would’ve had when I clicked out the first word was to inspire someone to pick up a story of theirs. It would be a great disservice otherwise, for these two have wormed their ways into readers’ hearts everywhere, as they clearly have in mine.