Have you noticed the detectives in mystery novels are getting older?

Have you noticed the detectives in mystery novels are getting older?  Take Reginald Hill’s Andy Dalziel, first introduced forty years ago.  Most reviewers of Midnight Fugue (2009) don’t mention Andy’s aging, only that he’s fatter than ever.  However, Richard Marcus, writing for Blog Critic (Nov 28, 2009) gets it.  The Superintendent has returned to work after a long hospitalization due to injuries in Death Comes for the Fat Man (2007). Marcus says:

Unfortunately, as anybody who has missed any amount of work could have told him, he discovers that in his absence not only hasn’t the world ended because he wasn’t there to keep it in one piece, his junior officers have begun to learn how to survive without him.  Worse yet he begins to wonder if Pascoe’s thought that he might have returned to work a little early might not be correct.   what else would explain him rushing out of the house on a Sunday morning to ensure he’s not late for his Monday morning conference?
. . .
For the first time in his life Andy Dalziel is actually slowed by self-doubts,
. . .
Andy Dalziel [is] sitting in a cathedral contemplating his life. . .

Who at 70 could not love Andy? Who at 70 could not wish for a cathedral?

Some famous fictional detectives were created as “old” whether or not they were in fact.  Inspector Morse is one grumpy example.  Sad to say, he had to die when the TV actor who played him died.  The author, Colin Dexter, is, happy to say, still alive.  (I’ve met him!  He kissed me on the cheek! Twice!)

Miss Marple, of course, is the first wise elder sleuth anyone thinks of.  There are others, and I especially like “Hetty Wainthropp” from BBC, starring Patricia Routledge.  The origins of this socially conscious, spirited problem-solver in contemporary northern England is a novel titled Missing Persons by David Cook, and the incidents were “inspired by his own mother’s real-life experiences,” (according to Wikipedia).

Hetty Wainthropp is a retired working woman “who has a knack for jumping to conclusions and solving crimes of varying bafflement which often are too minor to concern the police.” (again Wikipedia).  But she does seek their advice.

My retired librarian, Sophie George, is in her genre.  While she is sympathetic to the stresses and strains on her aging peers, she is entering her second career at over-65, and developing a working relationship with a grumpy police detective.  As their partnership grows, they learn more about themselves and each other.  That’s what I hope will happen to my readers.

36 comments to Have you noticed the detectives in mystery novels are getting older?

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