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Gaslight and Fog

John Pemble: Sherlock Holmes

26 January 2012
The Ascent of the Detective: Police Sleuths in Victorian and Edwardian England 
by Haia Shpayer-Makov.
Oxford, 429 pp., £30, September 2011, 978 0 19 957740 8
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... Umberto Eco. He even made it into Edmund Wilson’s bedroom. Although Holmes is a private detective, he’s frequently consulted by Scotland Yard and repeatedly succeeds where it fails. This leads HaiaShpayer-Makov to read in the Holmes saga a powerful argument for privatising the police. Its message, she claims in The Ascent of the Detective, is unequivocal: ‘Effective crime investigation ...

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