1894 – 1961
Dashiell Hammett’s eight years working as a Pinkerton detective (between 1915 and 1922) taught him invaluable lessons about clever – and not so clever – sleuthing.
On one occasion, the man he had been hired to tail wandered into the country and managed to become quite lost; Hammett himself was obliged to direct him back to the city.
Once Hammett was engaged by the defense during the Fatty Arbuckle rape-and-murder trial. He also once foiled a heist (of $125,000 in gold) when he found the booty stuffed down the smokestack of a ship about to embark for Australia.
Mary Roberts Rinehart
1876 – 1958
Mary Roberts Rinehart is credited with writing the first book in the ‘Had-I-But-Known’ school of mystery writing, The Circular Staircase (1908). In her books, she also created a costumed super-criminal called ‘The Bat’, who was cited by Bob Kane as one of his inspirations for Batman. Rinehart is the source for the phrase, “The butler did it” and was the first to say “Trouble is my business”.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 1859 – 1930
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes, often told self-deprecating stories about himself.
Having stepped into a taxi in Paris one evening, he was surprised to hear the driver address him: “Where can I take you, Mr. Doyle?” He asked the driver whether they had ever met. “No sir,” the man replied. “I have never seen you before.” Had he been recognized from a photograph? No. The replied. “I have never seen you before.” Had he been recognized from a photograph? No. The puzzled Doyle then asked what had led him to the conclusion that he was in fact Sir Conan Doyle.
“This morning’s paper had a story about you being on vacation in Marseilles,” the driver explained. “This is the taxi-stand where people who return from Marseilles always come. Your skin colour tells me you have been on vacation. The ink-spot on your right index finger suggests to me that you are a writer. Your clothing is very English, not French. Adding up all those pieces of information, I deduce that you are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”
“This is truly amazing!” Doyle enthused. “You are the real-life counterpart of my fictional creation, Sherlock Holmes!”
“There is one other thing,” the driver admitted. “What is that?” Doyle asked. “Your name,” the driver replied, “is on the front of your suitcase.” (anecdotage.com)