I have recently read the Cormoran Strike novels by “Robert Galbraith” (who is actually J. K. Rowling) and I will discuss those books in more detail soon. However, in this writing I want to discuss what I would call the detective’s dilemma, something which came up when reading The Cuckoo’s Calling.
The detective’s dilemma is the following problem. A private detective needs to be known among the general public in order to attract clients and the greater the reputation of a certain private detective, the more clients he or she can attract – or at least those who are willing to pay more. However, on the other hand in order to do his or her job properly, a private detective should not be known too widely, as this would raise suspicion among those people subject to investigation.
Suppose that someone widely known such as, say, Barack Obama would become a private detective. Because the former POTUS is virtually known by everyone, people will recognize him wherever he goes. This heavily undermines his ability to shadow people. The latter requires that the people to be followed are unaware that they are under surveillance. Otherwise they would not do anything they should not do…
Fame is thus quite an issue for a private detective, in particular for the fictional ones – real private detectives tend to avoid publicity – as they usually appear in multiple books and are often involved in spectacular cases, which necessarily attract media attention. Hence a crucial question for any writer of crime fiction is how to solve the detective’s dilemma.