Sherlock Holmes represented the full development of the detective, but Doyle’s work by no means established that other major stage in crime fiction, the insistence on death as the major crime. The two first novellas, A Study in Scarlet (1887) and The Sign of Four (1890), did involve gruesome murders, but many of the short stories focused on crimes against property or frauds of some kind. As Doyle wrote on, and squeezed his imagination for material, the stories became at times more blood-curdling, but his third novella, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), did not include a murder — a malice-induced heart attack and a mistaken dog-mauling were as far as the villainy actually went. Other short stories of the period also usually deal with theft and fraud, but it is noticeable that the novels of the later nineteenth century, from Lady Audley’s Secret (1862) on, often deal with murder. It may be that the novel’s extended plot needed a more serious crime than jewel theft, and mysterious murder could allow the involvement of more characters and so fill more space.
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