#985: The World’s Favourite Golden Age Sleuth – Round 3

And then there were 16…

The second round having now reduced our original 64 names to a mere quarter of that number, who’s left and how close are things going to get from here? Let’s find out…


That perishin’ good fella Philo Vance ate into the lead Dr. Gideon Fell enjoyed in his first round victory over Supt. David Hadley, but not enough to make this a competition, with the gargantuan number 1 seed stalking on his canes into an early lead and never having cause to look over his shoulder (probably just as well, he’s not a very agile man). And, in a face-off that earned the exact same number of votes, Archie Goodwin once again belied his low seeding to triumph over Perry Mason, who couldn’t convince the jury of readers that he had a case worth supporting this time.

Archie Goodwin getting through to the above vote raises the enticing possibility of him going head-to-head with his boss Nero Wolfe next round if both win in these first two head-to-heads, crime fiction’s best-loved gourmand and orchid-fancier stealing a march on Agatha Christie’s bright young(ish) thing Tommy Beresford. And Lord Peter Wimsey got strong support with over 200 votes again — this poll received the highest total votes of this round — in wiping the floor with his professional gentrified equivalent ‘Handsome’ Roderick Alleyn, who can now go home to Agatha Troy and put his feet up.

In the showdown between competent, unshowy professional men, it’s Christianna Brand’s Inspector Cockrill who just gets his nose in front of Sir John Appleby — this was being won (or lost, depending on your perspective) by a single vote at one point…which, I suppose is true of every poll if you think about it, but seemed more notable because of the number of votes cast at the time. And as the second of only three characters to poll over 200 votes in the second round — and the second of only two to pull in those numbers two rounds in a row — M. Hercule Poirot very nearly destroyed poor old Inspector Richard Queen by a ratio of 10:1, and can be reasonably assured of strong support going forward. Receiving more votes than any other character in this round…do we have a winner already?

Margery Allingham’s man of mystery Albert Campion saw off a spirited challenge from Alan Grant, but I question the extent to which he’s a sleuth in the Golden Age tradition…not, I suppose, that my opinion matters in any way, as this poll is about pure popularity and Mr. Campion certainly has that in spades. On the other side of this, I’m delighted to see Freeman Wills Crofts’ Inspector Joseph French triumph over Philip Marlowe, given how much of a “character” Marlowe is — perhaps a triumph for the archetypal GAD detective after all. Soapy Joe will have his work cut out for him this round, however, as Campion has outscored him twice and will likely make short work of my favourite police detective.

Ellery Queen carries the family name into round 3 with an increased number of votes improving his good showing from round 1, with poor Reggie Fortune leaking acolytes and off for a sit down in a quiet corner, hopefully to be rewarded with some reprints in the next couple of years. And the vote which seemed to generate the least interest, garnering the fewest total responses, was, in many ways, the most interesting, as Roger Sheringham and Nigel Strangeways ended up separate by a mere three votes. Sheringham led by just one vote on several occasions, too, so don’t start getting complacent as these rounds progress…

Gervase Fen’s popularity increased almost 50% against Hildegard Withers compared to the previous round, and he’s going to need all the support he can get given how much more popular Aunt Jane was in this second round. She actually has beaten Lancelot Priestley by a better than 10:1 ratio, so you pity anyone who comes up against this wily old lady in the future. The sheer margin of victory here is staggering…are we set for a Poirot/Marple face-off in the final round?!

The patient, human approach of Jules Maigret continues to go down well with audiences, although, as the second-least popular vote in this round, it’s fair to say that his dust-up with Peter Duluth has hardly captured the public imagination. And Tuppence Beresford will at least be able to keep her husband company as they travel home together, with sanity prevailing here and the incomparable Dr. John Thorndyke seeing off his part-time opponent. This match-up, I feel, is going to go down to the wire…and the winner of this vote will have their work cut out for themselves in the next round.

In the choice between the Church and Science, it’s rationality that suffers, as Father Brown barely even notices the challenge put up by Dr Basil Willing, who got half the votes this time as he did in round 1. On the other side, the battle of the peers cause heartache for some of you, but in the end it’s Sir Henry Merrivale who triumphed by quite a margin over Dame Beatrice Bradley. Interesting to note that Merrivale received the exact same number of votes as in the first round, so clearly there are 128 of you out there who will not be swayed from your purpose; more converts will be needed to topple the Church, though, as Brown has outpointed H.M. in both rounds to date…


I’m sure you got your votes in as you scrolled through all that, but — just in case — don’t forget to cast your vote and spread the world about these polls…we’re getting near the sharp end now, and no-one is guaranteed safe. Except maybe Piorot, Wimsey, and Brown. And Marple. And Ellery Queen. And H.M….oh, so maybe these results aren’t so obvious after all, eh?

Interesting to note, though, that the final 16 names in this poll are the characters seeded 1-15 — so, the ones who received the most nominations when this undertaking started — and number, er, 48. Had Archie Goodwin not beaten Perry Mason we’d have numbers 1-16 remaining, so it’s nice to see a little disruption creeping in.

These votes will remain open until 12:01 a.m. UK time on Saturday 12th November, and the quarter-finals will be up for your voting please on Saturday 26th November.

21 thoughts on “#985: The World’s Favourite Golden Age Sleuth – Round 3

    • Fen/Marple is a tough choice, I agree. As a huge fan of Thorndyke I’d find that one much easier, but I have a feeling Commissaire Maigret is going to wipe the floor with poor Dr. John in this round.


      • Iā€™d be happy if both Maigret and Thorndyke ended up in the top 5 or so. I am much more enthusiastic about Jules Maigret than you are, and probably equally enthusiastic about John Thorndyke as you are. Their detection style being so different only makes the choice even tougher for me (and much easier for you, I infer from previous comments).


  1. I was hoping EQ would make the semis but that’s obviously not happening if he has to face Marple in the Quarterfinal. But I don’t understand why we always have to wait so long for the next round?


    • I’m delighted that you anticipate future rounds so eagerly, Neil, and I apologise that the material I put up in between times is so disappointing for you. The perils of blogging, eh?


    • Thank-you! It’s fun spotting patterns like H.M. getting the exact same number of votes in the first two rounds…I wonder if that will be repeated again.


    • I remain conflicted about Brown’s involvement, but it’s lovely to see one of the foundational characters of the genre still so appreciated. Who knows how far he’ll go?!


  2. A couple of tough choices by this stage of course. In a way I’d be tempted to stop here šŸ˜ Perhaps inevitably, nearly all the ones I picked were characters I was well-versed in by the time I was 15 years old (with the one exception of Maigret) …


    • You can’t bail now! We need people who are well-versed to ensure that we get a sensible result…though, in fairness, the remaining names are mostly good choices, and it would be difficult to find too much to object to whoever wins. Not to remove the peril or anything…


    • Oh, I’m devastated that French and Thorndyke don’t stand a hope in hell this round. I never expected either of them to win, but I had harboured a vague hope that they might make the QFs at least. But, as this means I don’t go with the herd, I’m just going to take it is an indication of my cool firebrand nature šŸ™‚


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