Sarah Cauthen

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Joseph Conway

Committee Member

Colleen Noletto

Committee Member

Anna Weber


Detectives in literature, Detective and mystery stories--History and criticism, Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), Agatha Christie (1890-1976), Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961), Raymond Chandler (1888-1959)


In this thesis, I trace the historical timeline of detective fiction and how it has progressed since its introduction. I show how certain authors, such as Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler, have shaped the way mysteries are represented to readers, as well as what each writer has left behind through their works’ legacies. I argue that the plot’s framework in detective stories is molded based on “the art of framing lies,” a phrase introduced by Dorothy L. Sayers. In doing this, the mystery author doesn’t directly lie to the reader, but deceives them by telling the story in such a way that the reader is unable to see the truth until the story’s denouement. What Sayers’ phrase reveals about detective fiction is that nothing is quite what it seems, which makes the genre all the more enjoyable.



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