You have an Amateur Sleuth
or an Exotic Detective
. And to prove just how smart he is, not only can he solve any case just by scanning the crime scene, he can also solve crimes without ever having to visit the scene. The Phone-In Detective is the detective who is able to do some of his sleuthing over the phone due to being away for some reason. Full time Phone-In Detectives are rare, often the detectives will only have to phone in very few of their cases their whole life and will only do so for special cases. It is not completely necessary for any phones to be involved, however.
Will sometimes be the only interaction the lead has in a Lower-Deck Episode
Not to be confused with detectives who are "phoning it in", ie doing an incredibly lazy half-assed job.
- The Bone Collector. Quadriplegic forensics expert Lincoln Rhyme (Denzel Washington) uses police officer Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie) as his eyes and ears to catch a serial killer.
- In Copycat, Dr. Helen Hudson is a respected field expert on serial killers who has become an agrophobic shut-in after being attacked by serial killer Daryll Lee Callum. When a new series of murders spread fear and panic across San Francisco, Inspector M.J. Monahan and her partner Reuben Goetz solicit Helen's expertise. Initially reluctant, Helen soon finds herself drawn into the warped perpetrator's game of wits.
- Early in Sherlock Holmes, the titular character hasn't left the flat for months after capturing Lord Blackwood having no interesting cases. Watson tries to get him interested in some cases, only for Holmes to brush him off having already solved them with the information in the letters alone.
- R.O.T.O.R.. 75% of Detective Coldyron's scenes involve him being on the phone with another character. Often, after he hangs up on one character, he goes ahead and dials another immediately.
Manga and Anime
- Sherlock Holmes
- Mycroft Holmes, though even more gifted than his brother in observation and deduction, "has no ambition and no energy. He will not even go out of his way to verify his own solutions, and would rather be considered wrong than take the trouble of proving himself right."
- Also Sherlock's primary MO for the majority of his 'Consulting Detective' commissions: the reader generally only hears about the ones interesting enough for him to bestir himself, but many stories open with Holmes ranting about how the lack of decent crime has once again reduced him to pathetic challenges he can resolve from his armchair.
- Edgar Allan Poe's C. August Dupin solved The Murder of Marie Roget by reading newspaper accounts.
- Encyclopedia Brown sometimes, especially when solving cases for his father over dinner.
- Nero Wolfe who rarely left his brownstone, having Archie Goodwin act as his leg man and collect all the information he needed to solve the crime.
- And Nero Wolfe had an Expy in the Lord Darcy stories: Darcy's cousin the Marquis of London. As brilliant a mind as Darcy, but lazy (and cheap). So much so that he once had Darcy's assistant Master Sean arrested for murder so Darcy would be forced to solve the crime in order to prove his innocence.
- Darcy countered by proving that the most likely suspect was Lord Bontriomphe, the Marquis's personal assistant (the Goodwin expy).
- Parodied in The Areas of My Expertise with a detective who never leaves his bathtub.
- Hercule Poirot once solved a crime without leaving his room for a bet. No phone was involved though, he just asked for police reports (and used his friend Hastings to run errands). On another occasion he was in bed with flu, and contacted Hastings at the scene via telegram.
- The Argentine detective Don Isidro Parodi, created by Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares under the pen name H. Bustos Domecq, is a man unjustly imprisoned whom friends (and friends of friends) come visit at his cell with stories about mysteries and crimes, which he never fails to solve just by listening to their reports.
- Henry, of Isaac Asimov's Black Widowers mysteries, can solve any mystery after hearing it described over dinner.
- Another Asimovian detective, Wendell Urth, was so afraid of travelling that he, like Nero Wolfe, worked almost entirely from home.
- The Old Man in the Corner stories by the Baroness Orczy, creator of The Scarlet Pimpernel. A classic armchair detective, the Old Man relies mostly upon sensationalistic "penny dreadful" newspaper accounts, with the occasional courtroom visit. He narrates all this information, while tying complicated knots in a piece of string, to a female Journalist who frequents the same tea-shop (the ABC Teashop on the corner of Norfolk Street and the Strand). They enjoy an antagonistic relationship, as the Journalist attempts to cut the Old Man's ego down to size and the Old Man trumps her every time.
- Agatha Christie had Tommy and Tuppence solve one case in the style of the Old Man in the Corner in Partners in Crime.
- In The Roman Mysteries, Kid Detective Flavia solves several mysteries this way in some of the short stories, though in the regular novels she generally investigates mysteries on the scene.
- The manga Remote was about such a detective—he'd developed agoraphobia, so was assigned a young policewoman with a two-way radio who did the leg work.
- Death Note: L has been in hiding his entire career, and communicates via phone, computer and his intermediary Watari, emerging only on special occasions for particularly complex crimes or particularly helpful assistants.
- Victorique from Gosick isn't allowed to leave the Academy until later in the story, so she often solves crimes based on descriptions of the circumstances given to her by witnesses.
- Shinchi from Detective Conan pretends to be this sometimes when Conan reveals the answer to a case, but is actually there at the crime scene himself (as Conan).
- Kyouko Kirigiri in Danganronpa solves the bulk of the third case after hearing about it once, in which she'd mysteriously disappeared for the entire incident. She looked like she was going to pull off the same in the fifth trial, but that was a Hopeless Boss Fight in which none of the students had the information necessary to make it solvable.
- Officer Flim Flanagan will often arrive on the scene of a crime committed by the Fox after The Hunter has solved it.
- Similarly, the animated Dick Tracy shows up right after one of his irregulars (Hemlock Holmes, Go Go Gomez, Joe Jitsu, Heap O'Calorie) wraps up a case.
- British computing lore tells of an engineer who, back in the days of massive mainframe computer setups, could diagnose which modules would need to be repaired just by listening to a description of the symptoms (as opposed to the usual technique, which was basically trial and error). Having discerned the problem in this way, he would head out to the installation site, unfold a big diagram of the hardware, and toss chicken bones over them like a fortune teller. Invariably, to the confusion of the customers, the bones knew which parts to replace...