When Fictional Sleuths Text ;-)

When Sleuths TextWith email and texting, to say nothing of other social media, it’s easier than ever for people to communicate with one another. It all happens instantly, and it’s possible now to include documents, photographs, and much more.

I wonder what it would be like for fictional sleuths to use that sort of technology. Sometimes texts and other social media can give real insight into the way sleuths communicate. So, if you’ll ask your disbelief to go walk the dog, let’s take a look at what happens….


When Fictional Sleuths Text


I Nero Wolfe (Rex Stout)

Wolfe: Where are you? It is 11:00am.
Goodwin: @Lily’s. Taking her to lunch. C U later.
Wolfe: Flummery! I need you here now.
Goodwin: It’s all jake. Our meeting w/ new client isn’t until 2. C U then.
Wolfe:  Pfui!!


II Inspector Morse (Colin Dexter)

Morse:  Are you finished with that interview?
Lewis: Yeah, should be back in the office in a bit.
Morse: Not the office. Opening time is in twenty minutes. Meet me at the Crown and Feather.
Lewis: Right. Could you give me address?
Morse: It’s ‘could you give the address to me!’


III Phryne Fisher (Kerry Greenwood)

Inspector Jack Robinson: Stopped by your house, but you’re not here. Where are you?
Phryne: I’m at a tea this afternoon. Very big do.
Robinson: Not likely. You’re not nosing into that case again are you?
Phryne: Certainly not!  Smiles, puts her telephone back in her handbag and goes back to searching a suspect’s rooms.


IV Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)

Holmes: Watson, are you free to join me on a case?
Watson: Most certainly.
Holmes: Excellent. Once you’ve seen to that patient you’re expecting, we’ll get started.
Watson: How did you know I was about to see a patient?
Holmes:. It took you ten minutes to respond to my text. At this time of day, you were no doubt consulting your notes before your patient arrives. Colonel Smitherington, isn’t it?
Watson But how did you know that?
Holmes: Smitherington had an appointment with you last week, which you told me he cancelled. He would be likely to reschedule.


V Commissario Guido Brunetti (Donna Leon)

Paola Falier (Brunetti’s wife): You’ll be home soon, right?
Brunetti: Not sure – about to interview a witness and I don’t know how long it’ll take.
Paola: My Women in Writing meeting is tonight.
Brunetti: I’ll do the best I can.
Paola: I’m cooking risi e bisi
Brunetti: Home in 15 minutes.


VI Jane Marple (Agatha Christie)

Raymond West: How are you, Aunt Jane?
Miss Marple: Very well, thank you, dear.
West: Excellent. Thought I’d pop by and look in on you. That all right?
Miss Marple: Lovely. When?
West: This afternoon.
Miss Marple: Em, perhaps tomorrow? There’s a meeting of the Ladies’ Church Group today.
West: Tomorrow, then.
Miss Marple puts on her hat, picks up her handbag, and goes off to follow a murder suspect.


Got any you’d like to add?


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37 responses to “When Fictional Sleuths Text ;-)

  1. Makes me wonder what later generations will think about the technology mentioned in today’s crime fiction. Will later generations understand what a payphone is or what about a pager?

    • Now, that’s a good question, Mason! It’ll be very interesting to see what technologies come after what we have now, and what people in the future will make of it all.

  2. Hilarious as always Margot and very astute. My favourites are Morse and Holmes. Imagine if they were texting each other! Of course in the modern dramatisation of Holmes featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, Watson and Holmes do in fact text and sometimes it’ very funny. Holmes is laconic in the extreme.

    • He is, indeed, D.S.! And thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I think that’s one interesting thing about the new iteration of the Holmes stories: they do have modern trappings such as texting. And I agree about Holmes and Morse; it’d be really funny if they were able to text each other.

  3. Terry Hickman

    Love these! But speaking of outdated tech: a friend was seeing his young daughter off as she backed her car down the driveway – then he thought of something he’d meant to tell her so he ran after her making the hand-rolling gesture we have all used, I think? Meaning “roll the window down”? Well, she did stop the car, pushed the window-down button and said, “What the heck -” she gestured like he had “- does *that* mean?” That’s when he realized his daughter had never even *ridden* in a car with a hand-cranked window.

    He told me this and we both felt old.

    • 😆 Oh, Terry, what a story! Now I’m feeling old, too! I clearly remember hand-cranked windows. Of course, that’s the way technology is. My daughter can’t imagine a time before you could record shows that you couldn’t (or didn’t want to) watch live.

      Thanks for the kind words – glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. Haha! Brilliant! Especially Holmes – wouldn’t he have been the most annoying friend in the world? But you missed a couple…

    Siobhan: John, I’m on the killer’s tail. Should I arrest him?
    Siobhan: Press reply
    Siobhan: Now type your answer
    Siobhan: Press send!
    Siobhan: I’ve arrested him.
    Rebus: Good. Meet me in the Oxford Bar in an hour.

    Hastings: I’ve tracked him down. He’s in the farmhouse. Are you coming?
    Poirot: Nom d’un nom d’un nom!
    Hastings: In English, please, Poirot!
    Poirot: But I shall get mud on my patent leather shoes!
    Hastings: You can borrow my Wellington boots.
    Poirot: Nom d’un nom d’un nom!

    • 😆 😆 Oh, FictionFan, those are fabulous! I love ’em! Both are excellent. I can just imagine Siobhan having to walk Rebus through a text. And Poirot’s reaction to getting mud on his shoes (or wearing Hastings’ Wellies) is absolutely priceless. Thanks for making this post better. And for the kind words – glad you enjoyed. Oh, and yes – Holmes would be a very annoying text-friend!

  5. Haha! Very funny Margot. Makes me think Holmes would be a dud in Twitter, though. He could never confine his deductions to 140 characters 🙂

    • 😆 That’s quite true, Angela! Holmes really wouldn’t be able to keep it to just 140 characters, would he? Thanks for the kind words – I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  6. mudpuddle

    mrs. mudpuddle kicks me when i giggle; after reading this post i have a bruise on my left leg…

  7. Reblogged this on e. michael helms and commented:
    Don’t dare miss mystery writer/blogger Margot Kinberg’s ‘When Fictional Sleuths Text’!

  8. What a hoot, Margot–really enjoyed this one! My protag, ex-Marine Mac McClellan, hates cellphones with a passion. He (like his creator) has NEVER sent a single text in his life! Badgered by his boss, Frank Hightower, he finally gives up his basic cellphone (after it takes a bullet for him) and gets a “smartphone” which he quickly renames “stupidphone.” Reluctantly, he learns the value of snapping photos with it, but he still refuses to text. He’ll talk on it, but be damned if he’ll punch those tiny little letters and numbers on that keyboard!
    Loved the post! 🙂

    • Thank you for the kind words, Michael
      🙂 And your Mac McClellan is by no means the only one who doesn’t care for smartphones. That’s a great name for it, too – ‘stupidphone.’ It’s in keeping with his character. I like it!

  9. Great idea Margot, really enjoyed these, especially the Holmes and Watson – 🙂

  10. Col

    Would Morse have a pint emoji, maybe Rebus too?

  11. This is great, Margot! I see that the sleuths have take a technological leap from handwritten and typed notes and letters to emails and texting, bypassing faxes and pagers along the way. Of course, we know they are not office secretaries or doctors to use the latter two modes of communication.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Prashant. And yes, it’s interesting to see how sleuths handle modern technology like texting. You make an interesting point about faxes and pagers, too. Funny how those were so popular at one point, but now, just about relegated to relic status.

  12. What a clever idea! It was a lot of fun to read this post… 🙂

  13. I think James Bond would be a one for some short no-nonsense texts:
    To M – need body disposal soonest
    To Q – need new gun
    To Bond girl – Drink? – (with martini glass emoji, h/t Col above)
    To villain – Bye.
    To car dealer – please send replacement of best model asap
    To casino – reserve place at top table, to right of dealer
    To aquasports specialist – send diving equipment to Bahamas

    — I think Fleming could’ve made a book out of those.

    • Oh, I love these, Moira!! Thank you!! They’re wonderful! And just exactly like Bond. 🙂 – And you’re right; Fleming could certainly have made a book from these.

  14. This exchange cracked me up…
    Paola Falier (Brunetti’s wife): You’ll be home soon, right?
    Brunetti: Not sure – about to interview a witness and I don’t know how long it’ll take.
    Paola: My Women in Writing meeting is tonight.
    Brunetti: I’ll do the best I can.
    Paola: I’m cooking risi e bisi…
    Brunetti: Home in 15 minutes.

    So funny! Texting could be a great way to add humor to an otherwise dark and scary story.

  15. Spenser: Hawk – Just called by a new client, Ms. Redmond, who has been threatened by the Mob. Are you available to go see Joe?
    Hawk: Yes
    Spenser: Good. We need to be well armed. Make sure you bring the heavy artillery.
    Hawk: K
    Spenser: I expect Joe will be resistant to our entreaties to lay off Ms. Redmond and may try to intimidate us.
    Hawk: LOL
    Spenser: I’ll pick you up in half an hour.
    Hawk: Bye
    Spenser: Will you ever answer with more than one word?
    Hawk: Only if multiple words are required to provide clarity to my response to your query.
    Spenser: K

  16. tracybham

    Another clever post, Margot. One of the things I don’t like about most contemporary mysteries is the use of such technology, and that is probably a reason I read older books mostly. But it is fun to imagine what might be said.

    • Thanks, Tracy. Very glad you liked this post. There is something appealing about older crime fiction, isn’t there, just because it doesn’t have a lot of technology.

  17. kathyd

    These are all a lot of fun, the blog’s post and comments. Very clever are the gaggle of mystery writers and readers.
    I like Brunetti’s as I’m a fan of his series, and Paola Falier’s home-cooked meals get him home every time.
    Now I don’t know if Salvo Montalbano would text or not, probably not. But he is another detective who’d be home in 15 minutes if a pasta and pesce dish was left in his oven by his housekeeper or his friend, the local trattoria owner told him about a special dinner menu.

    • Oh, I think he would, too, Kathy! In fact, I almost did one of these scenes featuring him. In the end, I didn’t, but it would’ve been fun to speculate. Thanks for the kind words, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  18. kathyd

    Oh, gosh, whenever I read about Brunetti or Montalbano, I want to rush out to get Italian food. It’s hard to stop myself.

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