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  • Writer's pictureHannah Zunic

Finding Out Who the Best Detective is Once and For All: Sherlock Holmes V. Hercule Poirot

Updated: Feb 28

Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.

 

We are taking a break from Illéa today because we got a Versus Match, baby! I’m bringing you the very first Versus Match of 2024. It’s a special day! It’s a day to celebrate!

 

Let's Get Ready to Rumble!

Please give a warm welcome back to my friends Katie, Amanda, and Frankie. You know them, you love them, I love them; and you know what that means! It’s time for an off the wall conversation that makes you question how you ended up here.

 

So what are we debating today? What brings us all together? Sadly this is not a death match, this is a simple debate regarding who is the best literary detective of all time: Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot? Two iconic literary detectives with incredible success rates. But who is the best? Who is the GOAT? Find out today in RHRML’s Best Detective Versus Match.

 

As always, I have provided my friends a list of pros and cons of these two characters. They know the strengths and weaknesses of both detectives. My friends are prepared. They’re ready. They know who is going to win this Versus Match. No one is going to die today, but someone’s pride will be hurt. Find out now!

 

Let's get ready to rumble.
Let's go, baby!!!

Hannah: Welcome to the Versus Match, not a Death Match, between Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. We’re going to find out who the best literary detective is.

 

Amanda: Hercule Poirot!

 

Frankie: Is that whose side you’re taking?

 

Amanda: Yeah, I’m taking Hercule’s side.

 

Katie: Good cause I was going to pick Sherlock Holmes cause I’ve never heard of the first guy.

 

Amanda: Agatha Christie.

 

Frankie: Murder on the Orient Express. Death on the Nile.

 

Katie: Never read them.

 

Frankie: The one that has the n-word in the title. That’s upsetting and a little disappointing, Agatha Christie.

 

Amanda: Yeah! The Nile!

 

Frankie: Yep, that’s the n-word I was talking about.

 

Katie: I’ve heard of Agatha Christie but I’ve never heard of her detective man.

 

Hannah: He had an obituary in The New York Times. Front page!

 

Katie: Well good for him but I don’t read The New York Times.

 

Frankie: He’s a prolific fictional character.

 

Katie: Not prolific enough for me I guess.

 

Frankie: A literary icon.

 

Katie: I’m sure he is, but I’ve never read a single book with him in it. I’ve read a couple of Sherlock Holmes stories, so I’m going with the only man that I know.

 

Frankie: He’s a literary icon. Anyway, I’m on Sherlock Holmes’ team.

 

Amanda: What!? I’m the only one on Hercule’s side!

 

Hannah: Frankie, why are you Team Holmes? Amanda, why are you Team Hercule?

 

Amanda: Well, first of all, you actually don’t have the world’s greatest detective on here cause you don’t have Batman on here.

 

Hannah: Well is he a literary icon?

 

Amanda: If you consider comic books literature then yes. Doesn’t matter though, I’ve already lost.

 

Frankie: No you haven’t, you can still win. It’s easy to win. Now let me tell you why Sherlock Holmes is the greatest literary detective, better than Hercule Poirot. This is a battle less of strengths and method, and more a battle of accomplishments. I think, Sherlock has a perfect record. Hercule? He’s failed a couple times. Based on the number of books written about him and the number of cases you [Hannah] have given that he has solved, at a minimum, he's failed three times in written form. We know he’s failed more because he’s admitted to having failed. Which you [Hannah] list as a pro, and I have to  congratulate him on being able to admit to failure. However, another argument against Hercule that while he is able to admit to his failure, his is unable to be a grown man and take responsibility for his failures. He has excuses! And Hannah has listed them in a nice little quote. Which thank you for that, Hannah.

 

Hannah: You’re welcome. And for our readers that quote is: “I have been called in too late. Very often another, working towards the same goal, has arrived there first. Twice I have been struck down illness just as I was on the point of success.”

 

Frankie: Illness I can excuse. Everyone gets sick. We’re all simply human. Although Sherlock Holmes can starve himself and work through that, that’s fine. Don’t do that, by the way. But the sentence I want to draw attention to is, “very often another, working towards the same goal, has arrived there first.” He’s not even the best of his contemporaries!

 

Amanda: No, no, no, no, no. He’s not admitting that he’s been beaten by others.

 

Frankie: Yes he is. He just admitted to it.

 

Amanda: Never does he say he was bested by them.

 

Hannah: No, he’s just saying someone else got there first and took the case before him.

 

Frankie: No, he says they’re working towards the same goal and they arrived there first. Isn’t the goal solving the case?

 

Amanda: But you have to take the case.

 

Frankie: No matter, he let a jewel thief escape because he was smitten with her.

 

Katie: How very Batman of him.

 

Frankie: He let four other people just get away with their crimes.

 

Amanda: Are you talking Murder on the Orient Express?

 

Frankie: That is one of them. And that was murder. That is a capital crime.

 

Amanda: I think it was deserved. That murder was deserved. Have you not read the book?

 

Frankie: I have. My issue being, he’s not the judge or the jury. He has a precise role to play, he’s the detective, he’s there to solve the crime. And the reason as to why I would put Sherlock Holmes as the stronger detective is actually because of something Hannah has listed as a con that I think is a strength. “Willing to bend the truth and break the law in order to solve a case.” He’s a private investigator. A private investigator is someone you go to when you don’t want to be constrained by the rules the police have to follow.

 

Amanda: Woah, woah, woah, woah. By bending the rules, he obtaining that evidence illegally.

 

Frankie: Not his job to get a conviction. And lying to the police isn’t a crime.

 

Amanda: What!? That’s not a crime? Feels like it should be.

 

Frankie: Breaking into a house if needed? Okay, yeah, that’s fishy.

 

Hannah: Concealing evidence is a crime. That’s called obstruction of justice.

 

Frankie: Yep, that’s a crime. But he’s concealing it from the police so he can finish his investigation; which will be better than the police’s investigation.

 

Amanda: How do you know that?

 

Hannah: It’s Victorian London.

 

Frankie: One: it’s Victorian London. Two: there’s a reason he was called onto the case rather than just letting the police solve it.

 

Hannah: Before we get to Amanda’s argument, I have a question for Frankie. Sherlock Holmes solved 60 cases. In comparison, Hercule Poirot solved 81.

 

Frankie: Quality over quantity. Plus Sherlock has a perfect score. He’s solved all his cases. Based on the numbers you’ve given me, he’s got a 100% solve rate. Those are hall of fame numbers right there. Hercule, while also having hall of fame numbers, has failed three times, has let criminals walk away thus adding to his failures. There’s levels to this. He may have hall of fame numbers, just like Sherlock Holmes, I’ll admit to that. You’re not going to say every basketball player in the hall of fame is the same as Michael Jordan; they’re not. So while they’re both in the detective hall of fame, one of them is the GOAT. And that’s Sherlock Holmes.

 

Katie: That’s right. I have to agree with Frankie. I think it’s better to have a 100% success rate. Also I’m seeing here, your man Hercule did a murder. That’s no bueno. Sherlock Holmes does some shit, but there is no murder of his on the cheat sheet.

 

Amanda: I don’t remember reading any book where Hercule killed somebody.

 

Hannah: So this is his last book where he dies in the end. He was very upset with himself for doing this and “forgot” to take his medicine. Now, Amanda, tell me why Hercule is the best detective.

 

Amanda: Well, aside from his books being way more interesting, and his cases being more interesting, Death on the Nile had me shook. The thing that I like about him is he digs into the reasons why the human nature behind the crime is what it is. He gets into “what was this person feeling”? To be fair, I as a therapist, I appreciate that.

 

Hannah: You like the psychology behind it.

 

Amanda: Yeah. I think it’s interesting. And Sherlock Holmes, especially in his books, I don’t think does that. He [Hercule] has a moral compass. Like Batman, he has a moral compass.

 

As is tradition with Versus Matches, we lose the plot at this point and Amanda and Katie go on a long tangent about Batman and the DC Universe.

 

Amanda: Hercule has a moral compass. Which I think is great. It shows that he is human. Sherlock Holmes sounds like a robot! I would much rather have someone who understands empathy and emotions and looks into why someone did what they did instead of looking at cold hard facts; I think that makes someone a better detective, in my opinion.

 

Frankie: I think that makes Hercule a better person.

 

Katie: Yeah.

 

Frankie: It doesn’t make him a better detective.

 

Katie: Yeah. You want an objective detective.

 

Amanda: Does Sherlock Holmes know why people do what they do?

 

Frankie: The reason why to him is less important, it’s about solving the puzzle. Yes, he finds the motive, you always gotta find a motive. But he doesn’t look at, and I’m gonna put this as Hannah puts it in her notes, Sherlock doesn’t look at “why particular crimes are committed by particular types of people.” However, I’d say that’s a bit of a detriment. That sounds like profiling. And profiling, while it can be good in some cases, can also lead you to holes. As in, you may think since a certain crime has been committed, it must have be committed by a certain type of person when in reality it was someone else you never thought of cause they didn’t fit the mold.

 

Amanda: You’re just assuming that he’s profiling people?

 

Frankie: It says, “he uses human nature to weed out criminals, inquiries into the nature of the victim and/or the psychology of the murderers; certain crimes are committed by particular types of people.”

 

Amanda: But he likes to talk to people so he would have still figured things out. Everybody is a suspect.

 

Frankie: Everybody is a suspect. Another weakness I’d like to add to him. The only reason everyone is a suspect to him is because he solves a lot of closed-circle mysteries where the only possible person who committed the crime is on the plane, on the train, or locked in the house. Sherlock doesn’t have a specified list of suspects. He has to go out and find the suspects. Hercule, for a good amount of his cases, is given a pre-selected list of suspects and is able to whittle it down from there.

 

Hannah: I see the point you’re making, Frankie, I don’t know if it’s fair to debate genre sub-types.

 

Frankie: We’re debating who the best detective is. I think it’s a strength to be able to craft your own list of suspects and then solve the murder.

 

Amanda: Hasn’t Sherlock had a locked room mystery?

 

Hannah: I have no idea if all of Hercule’s mysteries are locked room mysteries nor do I know if Sherlock Holmes ever solved a locked room mystery.

 

Amanda: Don’t worry, I looked it up. In “The Adventured of the Speckled Band,” he solved a locked room mystery. He’s actually solved a lot of them. **Pause** We are debating who the best detective is, in the world that Agatha Christie has created, it seems that all the crimes are locked room mysteries. It’s not my fault that that’s all Agatha Christie wrote and the main thing Hercule Poirot solved.

 

Frankie: Yeah, but if there’s a weakness to the character–

 

Amanda: I know where you’re going with that sentence, and I don’t think it’s fair. I think we’re getting into the context of how the books were written.

 

Frankie: But you have to look into how the characters are written.

 

Amanda: I am!

 

Frankie: Ok, well most of those mysteries are closed-circle therefore he’s working with a suspect list he didn’t craft. I think that’s a bit of a weakness on his end.

 

Hannah: I’m not going to count this as part of the argument because I feel like what we’re talking about is more the genre than the character.

 

Frankie: Fine. Let’s look at Death on the Nile then. In Death on the Nile, we see another weakness of Hercule’s. He solves the crime, great, congratulations, but then Jacqueline proceeds to shoot Simon and then herself to escape justice. Hercule reveals at the end that he knew about the pistol! And allowed her to kill herself! He’s just letting people commit further murders and then kill themselves.

 

Amanda: And? They were going to die anyway.

 

Frankie: Not great. It’s not a great thing as a detective to do, in my opinion.

 

Amanda: He solved the case! You said yourself, it’s not his job to be judge, jury, and executioner. He solved the fucking case!

 

Frankie: But you’re the one over here saying Sherlock Holmes is out there running around all lawless. Is it not unlawful to knowingly allow a crime to be committed?

 

Amanda: Can you prove in a court of law that he knew exactly what she was going to do with that pistol.

 

Frankie: I can, actually.

 

Amanda: How?

 

Frankie: Because, when he was pressed about it, he reveals that he always knew she had a second pistol and chose to allow her to take her own life.

 

Katie: Oof, if he admitted it that’s pretty not good.

 

Frankie: I also think that Sherlock Holmes brings a couple of things that are needed to be a private detective. As a private detective you’re going to be encountering a lot of criminals, and a lot of those will be violent criminals. Sherlock Holmes not only has the mental capacity to be a detective, but the physical skills to get out of situations. He’s a swordsmen and a boxer. He’s good at hand-to-hand combat and combat with a weapon.

 

Amanda: You don’t have to be good at combat to be a good detective.

 

Frankie: I’m not saying to be a good detective, but if you’re a detective then you’re bound to be caught in a situation with violent criminals. Sherlock has the ability to solve the case, catch the criminal, and not be put in a situation where his life is at risk as Hercule’s would be in the same situation.

 

Amanda: I’m sorry, I in good conscious can’t say that Sherlock Holmes is the best detective when the guy is a misogynist, an asshole, a loser–

 

Frankie: Woah, you can’t call him a loser!

 

Amanda: Sorry, he’s a sore loser.

 

Frankie: Listen, he’s not winning a personality contest. This is a detective contest.

 

Amanda: Morally speaking, I would much rather have my detective have some moral ground and not be just all logic and numbers and dumbass-ery. Fuck Sherlock Holmes!

 

Frankie: I would rather my detective be a full force of nature able to solve a case and singularly focused on that. Is Sherlock Holmes a bit of an asshole? Yeah. Is he not a great human being? Yeah. But, him being not a great human being doesn’t mean he’s not a great detective.

 

Amanda: No, here’s the thing I like about Hercule. Whenever he brings his moral compass into it, and finds a reason–the real actual reason as to why people are doing the crimes they are doing­–it brings to light a problem, and when you find a problem you can fix the problem so that things like this don’t happen again.

 

Frankie: Does he do that? What does he prevent from happening? I’m going to go back to Death on the Nile, he solved a murder but didn’t prevent another murder from happening by the same mastermind of the first murder.

 

Amanda: What was she going to do? She was going to be hung anyway.

 

Frankie: She was going to be hung, but she didn’t have to kill Simon and take him down with her. **Beat** I’d just like to also add in my Sherlock defense, I like that Sherlock Holmes is socially inept. I like that he can look at a crime scene and understand the motivations of why the crime took place. I like that he can be singularly focused on solving this crime, yet be so poor at interacting with human beings; it makes him such an interesting character and a better detective because he has to overcome these weakness, and he is yet still able to solve these crimes.

 

Katie: Yeah, Sherlock is a more interesting detective to watch because he has some pretty significant flaws as opposed to Hercule. Sherlock Holmes is not a goody-two-shoes type of character which is pretty boring.

 

Hannah: **Having been doing nothing but nodding along for at least the past twenty minutes** Sorry, I just realized I haven’t said anything in ages.

 

Frankie: Oh don’t worry, I figure me, Amanda, and Katie took over. We’re gonna write the blog now.

 

Hannah: Oh cool, cool, cool.

 

Katie: Well I think it was more you [Frankie] and Amanda more than me.

 

Hannah: Yes, Katie, why else do you like Sherlock?

 

Katie: Frankie had a lot of good points.

 

Amanda: No he didn’t.

 

Frankie: I love you, Amanda.


Amanda: I’m mad at you right now cause I know you’re using your stupid lawyer boy shit on me right now and I hate it.

 

Hannah: Katie, please continue.

 

Katie: I like that he is objective. Yeah, he doesn’t get along with people so he’s going to be pretty objective when it comes to solving crimes. He’s in it for the mystery itself, not to help the police or whatever, he’s in it because he likes a good mystery. Of course you want to read a good mystery about a detective who like solving mysteries. As for the misogynist stuff, he does kinda get over that a bit.

 

Hannah: True, that is fair, some people do put him in his place regarding that.

 

Katie: He’s not a good person, generally, but he is a good detective. But as Frankie said, it’s sorta good that he’s not a good person cause that makes him a better detective.

 

Frankie: I’d like to make another attack on Hercule.

 

Hannah: Ok.

 

Frankie: In one of his cases, he is warned repeatedly that a murder is going to occur. And it does. Like three people die before anything is done about the crime. He gets a letter that details a crime that is going to be committed, and then that crime is committed. He doesn’t solve it fast enough to prevent any of these deaths. He’s unable to move quick enough to stop them.

 

Amanda: Private detectives are not supposed to stop crimes. They’re supposed to solve crimes.

 

Frankie: Ok. I’ll give him a pass for not being able to stop the first death. Maybe even the second death. But the third, and the forth death especially, he should have been able to stop them. And the forth death happens way in the future.

 

Hannah: It’s at this point I want to call for final remarks. This is your last chance to sway me one way or another.

 

Amanda: I got one. This is from Reddit by the way. Since no one else is on my side, I gotta use Reddit. “From the book “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle,” the story takes place close to Christmas and Sherlock allows the true perpetrator of the crime, a thief and a coward who attempted to frame an innocent man of his crime, to go free in the spirit of Christmas.”

 

Hannah: Oh, so he has let someone get away.

 

Amanda: I’m not done. “Not so bad seeing as the only victim was an obscenely wealthy woman who could afford to offer a reward that was the equivalent to 20-years of income for the working classes. While he’s confident that the case against the accused, innocent man will collapse, he chooses not to bring the information to the authorities thus letting the innocent rot in a jail for Christmas. He avoids this issue. He does get the framed man out of prison, but keeps the stolen Carbuncle as a souvenir. As stated, the reward for finding this object is worth 20-years of income for the working class. The man who brought Sherlock the Carbuncle did not get the reward as Sherlock never returned the item, nor did Sherlock pay the reward money himself.”

 

Hannah: Ok, so let me get this straight. He let a thief go cause Christmas.

 

Amanda: Right.

 

Hannah: So he has technically let a criminal go. But then an innocent person was in jail for the crime

 

Amanda: For the crime during Christmas!

 

Hannah: And he didn’t do anything for a while, but did eventually get the guy released.

 

Amanda: He did eventually get the man released, but he missed Christmas with his family because of Sherlock.

 

Hannah: And he also kept the rich lady’s jewel. Main point is though, Sherlock Holmes has let a guilty party go free.

 

Amanda: Yeah, fuck you, Frankie! Sherlock also does a shit ton of drugs.

 

Frankie: I don’t think that should be a con against him.

 

Katie: Yeah, it was the times. Everyone was doing drugs back then.

 

Hannah: He was a Victorian era gentleman so he was doing cocaine for the common cold.

 

Katie: Everyone was doing absinthe and shit. He was just vibin.

 

Amanda: Yeah, until he offered poor Watson some of it. Poor Watson was going to be an addict because of him.

 

Katie: Everyone was an addict back then.

 

Hannah: Final call once again.

 

Amanda: I got one more. In the original short story “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Millverton,” Holmes prevents Watson from rendering aid to Millverton after he is shot, ensuring Millverton’s death, and then covers up their involvement.

 

Hannah: Ok.

 

Frankie: A bit of context there, Millverton has been blackmailing many women. Therefore, Amanda, you can’t come in here and say Poirot let that woman shoot herself and her partner, and that’s a better form of justice, and then dismiss this where the person who shoots Millverton is one of the women he victimized. Because she was victimized and couldn’t afford to pay him, he revealed her secret which caused her husband to die. So she shoots Millverton and Watson goes to stop the shooting but Sherlock stops him stating, “this is no affair of ours that justice had overtaken a villain.”

 

Amanda: Watson went to go render aid–

 

Frankie: Hang on, that’s not from the original short story. What happens is Watson goes to stop the shooting, but Sherlock intervenes.

 

Amanda: I’m fighting against your argument that Hercule is bad because he let that woman shoot herself and partner. Holmes lets the same thing happen.

 

Frankie: So those two things knock each other away, right?

 

Hannah: Correct.

 

Amanda: Right.

 

Frankie: Counterargument, you keep pointing out all of these flaws that Sherlock is a horrible person, that he’s not good with other people, that he’s a drug addict, that he starves himself and takes care of himself poorly. All of those things are true. He’s socially inept, it’s hard for him to connect with people like Hercule is, so it may be harder for him to gain information in the same way Hercule can. He’s prone to spurts of laziness, and moodiness, and all of these other things, but he gets the job done every time despite his weaknesses. He’s able to overcome all of his weaknesses that may make it harder to be a detective and still manages to solve the case.


Amanda: Hannah’s notes are wrong. Holmes has failed five times. He’s failed five out of 60 times.

 

Frankie: Ok, say he has failed. So has Hercule. Sherlock Holmes is then able to admit that he lost to the criminal whereas Hercule has excuses for his failures.

 

Hannah: They’ve both failed then. Sherlock is not 100%. We don’t have that 100% success rate we initially thought.

 

Frankie: Yeah, but does Sherlock have excuses like Hercule does?

 

Hannah: I don’t care. I’ve made my decision. Drum roll please!

 

Drum Roll.

Hannah: The Literary Best Detective of All Time is…Hercule Poirot.

 

Amanda: Are you serious!?

 

Frankie: I’d like to lodge a complaint.

 

Katie: Is it that this is your first loss?

 

Frankie: It is my first loss, but no. My best argument was taken away from me very early on.

 

Hannah: I’m not sorry for your loss. I believe that because Hercule is more empathetic, proves he’s not a machine, that his humanity is what makes him a better detective than Sherlock Holmes.

 

Amanda: I’m actually crying.


And she was. 

 

Hannah: Good night, everyone, I broke Amanda.

 

The End

Thank you very much for joining me and my friends today. I hope you all enjoyed your stay here at RHRML and had fun with this Versus Match. Tell me, do you agree with my pick? Or do you believe Sherlock Holmes is the better literary detective? Let me know in the comments below. Also drop a comment thanking my friends for doing this. Without them these Versus Matches wouldn’t exist.

 

If you liked this Versus Match then you are in luck as I have quite a few other matches here on my site. I highly recommend the Halloween Death Matches. Those are always a good time.

 

Also, if you found this amusing, and want to know what my voice sounds like along with Frankie and Amanda’s, then you can check out our podcast Nothing to See Hear. Right now we are exclusively on Spotify and Youtube. We talk about Scooby-Doo, pirates, weirdos in history, cryptids/urban legends, and gay vampires. We have a real fun time there and I think you’d all enjoy it.

 

With that, I shall bid you all adieu. I shall see you next week in our return to the world of Illéa. Get those tiaras ready, Book Nerds!

 

Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.


Bears waving.
See y'all then, bye!

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