Martin Hewitt
Created by Arthur Morrison (1863-1945)

"It was, of course, always a part of Martin Hewitt's business to be thoroughly at home among any and every class of people, and to be able to interest himself intelligently, or to appear to do so, in their various pursuits."
--
the importance of the common touch, explained in The Loss of Sammy Crockett

Well, I just stumbled across another P.I. who's not on your site. I guess sometimes it DOES pay to judge a book by its cover. I spotted this book called Martin Hewitt: Investigator on a recent book-buying spree. It's a 1971 reprint ( the original dates back to 1894) by a publisher that's probably long gone by now, but the cover was so damn cute that I just had to check it out.

And it turns out this guy's pretty interesting. In the wake of the unprecedented success of Sherlock Holmes, there were a whole slew of other detectives who popped up in the pages of the British popular magazines of the time, all hoping to cash in. And one of the great shining lights was MARTIN HEWITT, who actually appeared in The Strand, the same mag in which Holmes himself had originally made his debut, just a few years earlier. The stories were even illustrated by the same guy, the great Sidney Paget.

Hewitt was a lawyer who discovered he had extraordinary deductive abilities. And so he decided to become a private detective, with offices close to the Strand, near Charing Cross station. Hewitt was a stout, clean-shaven man of medium height and cheerful countenance, but as the 1971 dustcover says "he shrewdly solved many crimes in a manner that would have done credit to the Great Detective himself."

In fact, that first collection of Hewitt stories is considered one of the important cornerstones in the development of the detective short story and has won an enviable position as such in Ellery Queen's memorable Queen's Quorum, which had this to say: "Of Doyle's contemporary imitators, the most durable (indeed, the only important one to survive over the ages) is the private investigator, a man of awe-inspiring technical and statistical knowledge, in Martin Hewitt, Investigator."

Arthur Morrison was born in Kent, England, and served in the civil service, before joining the staff of the National Observer in 1890. His first book, Tales From Mean Street, was a series of realistic sketches of London's slums, soon followed by his first collection of Martin Hewiitt stories, and three subsequent volumes. He also created another early private detective, the "cheerfully unrepentant sociopath" Horace Dorrington.

Morrison also wrote a number of other novels and even three plays, and assembled a fine collection of Chinese and Japanese art still on display in the British Museum.

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Another scoop by Nathalie Bumpeau!


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