Roll Up For the Mystery Tour*

You’re probably very much aware that culture (including art, music, and the like) have a powerful effect on crime fiction. That makes sense, too. Authors are members of cultures, and those cultures impact how authors think, what they value, and so on.

Interestingly, crime fiction also impacts culture. Culture, of course, has a lot of dimensions, many more than space permits. But even if you look at one of them, music, you see that impact. There are actually mentions of famous crime-fictional characters and authors in a lot of songs.

Here are just a few examples from different sub-genres of music. They may not all be to your taste, but they all show that impact.


Red KrayolaSherlock Holmes

It’s hard to discuss crime fiction without mentioning Sherlock Holmes. This song puts a sort of experimental, psychedelic-rock twist on the topic…



The LucksmithsEnglish Murder Mystery

This Australian indie-pop band pays homage to Agatha Christie and the traditional ‘English village’ murder mystery. Interestingly, there’s also a mention of Peter Falk as Lt. Columbo in the song.




The Toy DollsJames Bond Lives Down Our Street

Punk rock has its say in this song that pays tribute to Ian Fleming’s iconic spy. There’s even an integration of the famous James Bond theme into the song in a few places.



Tavares  – Whodunit

In this R&B/Funk song, the narrator asks several famous sleuths, including Charlie Chan and Ellery Queen, to help find out who stole his girlfriend. Admittedly, it’s more a love-gone-wrong song than a murder mystery, but there are some interesting mentions of iconic sleuths.



The Alan Parsons Project  – Tales of Mystery and Imagination

The Alan Parsons Project took the literary reference to a new level with this release. Each song refers to one of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories. And, since Poe is largely credited as a founder of the modern detective story, it seemed right to include one of the tracks from this release. This one’s called (The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether



See what I mean? Even if you don’t care for modern/popular music, it’s fascinating to see how crime fiction is woven into it. These are only a few examples. Got any to share?


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour.


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22 responses to “Roll Up For the Mystery Tour*

  1. Col

    Brain freeze, nothing from me I’m afraid.

  2. These are fun – I shall enjoy listening to them all. No proper examples of detectives in songs from me, but you reminded me of this one. Peter May’s book Runaway was largely based on the events that happened to him and his friends when they ran away from home to London in the late ’60s. To go with the release of the book, he and one of his friends (one of the ones he ran away with) wrote and performed a song telling the true story…

    • Oh, thanks, FictionFan! This is great! Folks, do check out this video. I love it that May tells us a little about the background to the novel, and with wit thrown in, too. It’s clever and original.

  3. First thing that sprung to my mind was the Coasters song, “Searchin'”:
    “Well, Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade got nothin’, child, on me
    Sergeant Friday, Charlie Chan and Boston Blackie
    No matter where she’s hiding, she’s gonna hear me comin’
    Gonna walk right down that street like Bulldog Drummond”
    The song got up to number 3 on the 1957 pop chart and was the number one R&B song for twelve weeks. Its also been on the soundtrack of approximately fifty billion movies and tv shows.
    -Robert Smith

    • Thanks, Robert. That’s a great example of what I had in mind with this post. And that’s a song I’ve not heard in a long time! Thanks for adding it to this collection.

  4. Thanks for posting such an interesting piece. I love ‘James Bond lives down our street’!

  5. Interesting post (again) Margot! I was wondering if your audience might know, or be interested, where the British rock band, Pink Floyd, got their name.
    “Pink Floyd” was taken from two early east coast (or Piedmont) bluesmen); their respective names were: Pink Anderson, and Floyd Council. Both of these early bluesmen, along with several others, were influencers of the band’s origins of music. I realize that may be hard to believe, but MANY British groups were greatly “touched” by the USA’s early blues artists. Just thought you might like to know. 🙂

    • Thanks, Michael. And glad you enjoyed the post. Blues musicians have certainly had a strong impact on modern music in a lot of countries. And it’s interesting to learn how Pink Floyd got the name.

  6. So impressed that you found so many examples! You really know your stuff (as if we were in any doubt…).

  7. I don’t think I have any examples for you Margot so I’m extremely impressed with your finds!

  8. kathy d.

    I love r&b so I listened to Whodunit and it’s very good. Somehow I missed this singing group.
    I’ll check out the song for Runaway.
    I can’t think of any additions to this list although I certainly listened to enough songs about violence and crimes committed, such as Bob Dylan’s “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.” And then there’s Joan Baez’s “Silver Dagger.” And there’s Bob Marley’s, “I Shot the Sheriff.” And then there are songs about the murder of Emmett Till and there must be many about the deaths of other Civil Rights leaders and activists.
    I can’t think of any songs about crime fiction writers but there have been many songs here about crimes against people in many genres – folk, blues, country, r&b.

    • You’re right, Kathy, that there’ve been plenty of folk and other songs about crimes. And you’ve given some great examples, so thanks. As to the Tavares song? I liked that one, too.

  9. Wow. You never cease to amaze, Margot. Music and writing go hand-in-hand, it seems. Even though he’s a cartoon, I think Inspector Clouseau deserves his rightful place. LOL

  10. Honestly, Margot, how can it be that your knowledge of popular music is as encyclopaedic as your knowledge of crime fiction? How are there enough hours in the day?

  11. Pingback: Writing Links 6/12/17 – Where Genres Collide

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