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Mystery Writer Detective

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"There are two kinds of folks who sit around thinking about how to kill people: psychopaths and mystery writers. I'm the kind that pays better."
Richard Castle, Castle (2009)

Simply put, a mystery writer who solves actual crimes. After all, who better to unravel all the twists and turns of a mystery than someone who creates them for a living? Possibly a result of Write What You Know.

In real life, police detectives do sometimes bring in civilian consultants to help bring new perspectives into an investigation.

One example of a mystery writer getting involved in an actual case is when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle became concerned that police had pinned the murder of Marion Gilchrist, a rich, old woman on the wrong person. A small-time thief, Oscar Slater, was caught selling a piece of her jewelry soon after her death, and he seemed to be a logical culprit. Doyle thought the case had to be more complicated than a burglary-gone-wrong. He worked on the case and found out that police had hidden evidence that could have implicated her family members. He managed to get Slater out of jail for murder, but the true killer was never identified.

Compare Most Writers Are Writers, Interdisciplinary Sleuth. See also Mystery Fiction and Detective Fiction.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Case Closed: The protagonist's father, Yusaku Kudo, is a mystery writer who occasionally steps in to solve mysteries when his son is stumped.
  • The leads from Kamen Tantei kind of subvert this. Yes, they're mystery writers who investigate mysteries. But the female lead, especially, is a "fairplay" mystery writer living in a world where ghosts, psychic powers, "all a dream" endings, and fictional characters come to life (including the title character) make it impossible to use logic and common sense to actually solve mysteries.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Kaye Daye, one of the Mystery Analysts of Gotham City.
  • Gabe Webb from The Maze Agency. Well, True Crime Writer to be accurate, but close enough.

  • In the 1959 film version of The Bat, Cornelia is rewritten as a mystery writer renting the mansion for some inspiration, which she gets in spades.
  • In Big Driver, Tess decides to use her skills as an investigative writer to find out the reason behind what happened — if she was a random or targeted victim — and, especially if the latter, how best to use that information to her advantage.
  • A Double Subversion appears in Dial M for Murder. Mark Halliday, a crime author, manages to independently formulate Tony's murder plot entirely by accident. Rather than trying to solve the crime, Mark thinks of a story that Tony can tell the police to exonerate Margot, which just so happens to be exactly what transpired, approaching Tony with the idea under the assumption that Tony (who Mark thinks is innocent) will do anything to save his wife. However, Mark quickly realizes that his fabricated plan was what actually happened.
  • Paula from The Ex-Mrs. Bradford. Although she's not the best detective and needs the help of her husband, she's pretty good at finding great clues.
  • Lady on a Train: While in a train halted at a station, Nikki Collins witnesses a murder committed in a nearby building. When she goes to the police they think she's read one too many mystery novels. She then enlists popular mystery writer Wayne Morgan to help with her sleuthing.
  • In The Mad Magician, Alice Prentiss writes murder mysteries. When a murder happens in her own house, she sets out to solve it. She does a very creditable job and contributes at least as much to the solution of the crime as Lt. Bruce.
  • In Ring of Fear, Wallace calls in Mickey Spillane (playing himself) to investigate the sabotage at the circus because of his fame as a mystery writer.

  • Ariadne Oliver, a self-insert parody of Agatha Christie, is a mystery crime writer who occasionally gets involved with real murders. Deconstructed in that she admits that her writing doesn't prepare her well for the real thing, since she's so used to "stacking the deck."
  • Ellery Queen, whose adventures were further publicized by his two creators using the byline "Ellery Queen", is at least the Trope Codifier.
  • In Chris Ewan's The Good Thiefs Guide series, Charlie Howard is a thief who solves murders who has written several mystery novels about Faulks, a thief who solves murders.
  • Harriet Vane from the Lord Peter Wimsey novels is another example. Her first appearance is as a suspect, after her recent ex is killed by the same method she is researching for a story.
  • In the Michael Slade novel Ripper, a whole bunch of mystery writers gather for a Mystery Dinner event on an isolated island, and end up hunting — and being hunted by — a killer in their midst.
  • A case could be made for Dr. Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories, as he writes stories about the crimes he helps solve.
  • In Carter Dickson's Sir Henry Merrivale novel And So To Murder, William Cartwright is a detective novelist hired to work for a film studio, only to find some unknown person is trying to use his plots as actual murder methods.
  • Ian Ludlow in the Monk novel Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants has a consulting contract with the LAPD, and turns out to have used his side gig to commit murders which he frames other people for, then writes novels based on them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Temperance Brennan, from Bones. She writes mystery novels, and she also helps solve crime. Although her career as a forensic anthropologist is probably more important to her ability to solve crimes than her alleged skill as a writer.
  • Castle (2009) has the famous mystery novelist Richard Castle who works with Detective Kate Beckett of the NYPD using his knowledge of criminal methodology to solve real crimes.
  • The Ellery Queen novels were adapted into a television series.
  • In the German TV series Graf Yoster Gibt sich die Ehre, the titular British Count Yoster is a well-known mystery writer. He also moonlights as an amateur detective, helped by his chauffeur and bodyguard Johann (a former petty criminal) and sometimes his niece Charlie.
  • Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote is a little old lady mystery writer who encounters and solves murders wherever she goes.
  • McGee on NCIS is a special agent, who wrote a best-selling novel... which he would have preferred his coworkers never knew existed. Once they know, however, it becomes useful; in one episode, he is able to use his fame to get into a club as part of an investigation, something the other agents wouldn't have been able to accomplish. He continues to write additional novels, one of which forms a plot in a different episode where one of his readers takes things a bit too seriously.
  • Maxwell Beckett (Edward Woodward) in Over My Dead Body. He's a former Scotland Yard researcher (although everyone seems to think he was an inspector) who became a mystery novelist, and at the beginning of the series is approached by a reporter who came to him for help after witnessing a murder through her window and because he was her favorite author. After they solve this mystery, they became fast friends and begin to work together as amateur sleuths to solve crimes.
  • The Snoop Sisters aired monthly as part of the Wheel Program NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie. In it, A spinster and her widowed sister, who are both mystery writers solved crimes.
  • Queens of Mystery: All three aunts of detective Matilda Stone are mystery writers and amateur sleuths.

  • BBC Radio show Foul Play pitted three mystery writers to guess who's the murderer in the short skit they presented.
  • Parodied in Old Harry's Game, when Satan summons the spirits of Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie to solve Edith's murder, but they turn out to be completely useless. Dame Agatha suggests her own plots, regardless of their relevance, and Sir Arthur keeps going on about ghosts and fairies.
    Agatha: I'm sorry, but I'm doing my best here. Usually I know who the killer is before I start out.
  • Paul Temple from Send For Paul Temple, plus its various spin-off films, television series, novels, and comic strips.

    Video Games 
  • AkaSeka: Edogawa Ranpo is basically this trope personified. Not only is he a mystery writer who solves crimes, he is also obsessed with solving them, to the point where he actively seeks out cases to solve, acts like a little kid being given candy when asked to investigate crimes, and whines when no mysteries are taking place.

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    Real Life 
  • A Real Life partial example might be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. From The Other Wiki: "Conan Doyle was also a fervent advocate of justice and personally investigated two closed cases, which led to two men being exonerated of the crimes of which they were accused." See here.
    • Granted, Conan Doyle had actual forensic training, and he had been a detective and lecturer himself before writing the Sherlock Holmes stories.


Video Example(s):


"Murder, She Wrote" Intro

When she's not writing mysteries, Jessica Fletcher is solving them.

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Main / MysteryWriterDetective

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