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The Case of...

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And now, my friends, we examine ''The Case of the Stock Mystery Title''.

Starting the title of your work with the magic words, "The Case of..." is a great way to tell your readers that what they are about to encounter is a mystery or involves mysterious events. This is particularly common in Detective Fiction, where the detective is presumed to have a collection of case files, which some fictional biographer may be sorting through for publication.

One common variant is to interject an adjective before the word "case". This adjective will usually serve to heighten the sense of mystery. Words like "Curious" or "Strange" are common choices.

In detective fiction, the name may also be preceded by the name of the detective: Inspector So-and-so: The Case of the Intriguing Title.

"A Case of..." does not, for whatever reasons, carry the same connotations. "The Case of..." is clearly a mystery of some sort; "A Case of..." is just something that happened (or possibly an infectious disease).

This is also a case of a The X of Y Sub-Trope.

The Case of the Eccentric Examples Opens:

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  • In a commercial for Miller Lite Beer, crimewriter Mickey Spillane is at a party when someone steals an entire case of the advertised beer.
    Spillane: It started out as a party, but turned into... The Case of the Missing Case!

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  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • The Hardy Boys used this a few times, with titles like The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals and The Case of the Psychic's Vision.
  • Nancy Drew had a few, like The Case of the Disappearing Diamonds, and The Case of the Vanishing Veil.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
  • Harry Turtledove's humorous Alternate History Hardboiled fantasy, The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump.
  • The Encyclopedia Brown series has used this many times, with titles like Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Dead Eagles and Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Disgusting Sneakers.
  • An early proto-example from before the trope was properly codified is "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar", a horror short story by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • The Hank the Cowdog children's mystery series began using this beginning with the eighth book in the series, The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse. At this point, the majority of the books in the series follow this template.
  • The Western Mysteries uses this naming scheme, with The Case of the Deadly Desperados and The Case of the Good Looking Corpse.
  • While none of the individual Sherlock Holmes stories use this template, the last-published collection, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, at least suggests it.
    • This is possibly an example of Beam Me Up, Scotty!, as virtually every Sherlock Holmes pastiche or parody uses the format, yet the actual stories almost always use "The Adventure of X" instead. Though "A Case of Identity" comes close.
    • In Dead Man's Land by Robert Ryan, Winston Churchill tries to interest Dr. Watson in what he calls "The Case of the Man Who Died Twice".
  • Baroness Orczy (author of The Scarlet Pimpernel) published a collection of detective stories called The Case of Miss Elliot, which was also the name of one of the stories.
  • Almost all of the books in The McGurk Organization series by E.W. Hildick were titled this way.
  • One of John Dickson Carr's Dr. Gideon Fell mysteries is The Case of the Constant Suicides.
  • Every single one of the eighty-two Perry Mason novels used this format, starting with 1933 and The Case of the Velvet Claws. In fact, the Perry Mason books are the Trope Codifier.
  • The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, first book in the Origami Yoda series.
  • Find Your Fate! Mystery #7 was called The Case of the House of Horror.
  • The third collection of Isaac Asimov's "Black Widowers" stories is Casebook of the Black Widowers.
  • Anthony Boucher was very fond of this naming pattern. The majority of his novels used this, including the first, The Case of the Seven of Calvary and the last, The Case of the Seven Sneezes.
  • Whateley Universe: The Case of the Poisonous Patent
  • Of the 12 Miles Pennoyer stories by Margery Lawrence, 8 keep to "The Case of..." naming convention. Those are The Case of the Bronze Door, The Case of the Haunted Cathedral, The Case of Ella McLeod, The Case of the White Snake, The Case of the Moonchild, The Case of the Young Man with the Scar, The Case of the Leannabh Sidhe, and The Case of the Double Husband.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Supernatural had an episode named "The Curious Case of Dean Winchester".
  • CSI season eight had an episode named "The Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp".
  • Every episode of the Perry Mason series followed this template, following Erle Stanley Gardner's novels.
  • The Case of the Dangerous Robin was a humorous 1960's adventure series about an insurance investigator who chased thieves.
  • Ever single episode of NASA Sci Filesnote  was named in this pattern. "The Case of Zany Animal Antics", "The Case of Great Space Exploration", "The Case of Barking Dog"...
  • The Avengers (1960s) had an episode called "The Curious Case of the Countless Clues"; in the story a killer seeded his crime scenes with false evidence and, in the guise of a detective, implicated someone else for the murders.
  • The Mathnet segments on Square One TV were generally named this way, though in the first season they were usually named "The Problem of..." instead.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985) has an episode entitled "The Curious Case of Edgar Witherspoon".

  • The BBC Radio 2 spoof series, The Newly Discovered Casebook of Sherlock Holmes has used this pattern a few times in episodes like "The Case of the Clockwork Fiend" and "The Case of the Deranged Botanist".

    Tabletop Games 
  • 1971's The Case of the Elusive Assassin, a board game based on the writings of Ellery Queen.
  • The Crimefighters game introduced in Dragon magazine #47. A sample adventure in the magazine was called "The Case of the Editor's Envelope".

  • The 1899 play, Sherlock Holmes, or The Strange Case of Miss Faulkner by William Gillette, one of the first adaptations to be loosely based on Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. (Note that Doyle himself never used this naming convention.)
  • Tennessee Williams has a one-act play named The Case of the Crushed Petunias.
  • SQS episode 5: The Case of the Disappearance of Takamura Shiki

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  • Bad Machinery is about two trios of young teenagers who are obsessed with solving mysteries. All the chapters take the form of ''The Case of the..."

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