We started back in August, with readers of this blog nominating sleuths of their choosing to be put into a series of gladiatorial head-to-heads that would result in an overall favourite from detective fiction’s Golden Age, and finally, in January, we have our winner.
I don’t intend to drag this out, but thought I’d run some numbers to see how the overall process has been received as it’s progressed. For instance, the number of votes cast in the quarter-finals took a significant upswing in comparison to the earlier rounds, so I thought I’d see if there was a trend there…and, sure enough, the average number of votes per poll round-by-round does generally increase:
First Round: 218 (top half)/148 (bottom half)
Second Round: 218
Third Round: 212
Equally, I wondered if the eventual winner — and, yes, you’ve probably scrolled down to that already — could be divined ahead of time by seeing who the most popular character was in each round of voting:
First Round: Lord Peter Wimsey (271 votes)
Second Round: Hercule Poirot (231 votes)
Third Round: Hercule Poirot (181 votes)
Quarter-Finals: Lord Peter Wimsey (254 votes)
Semi-Finals: Jane Marple (302 votes)
Our final, remember, was between Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple, and from this is seemed that Poirot started off the more popular but Marple got something of a boost as the rounds went on. Was there anything in that? Well, the head-to-head round-by round looks like this…
…so, yes, it really does look as if Aunt Jane’s star was on the rise.
So, how’d that play out? Well, drumroll, please…
Yup, we started with over 100 names, and after 5 months, six rounds of voting, and 13,526 total votes being cast, the World’s Favourite Golden Age Sleuth is…M. Hercule Poirot!
It’s pretty close, too, making it far from the walkover that might well be suspected, and showing that there’s much to be found in both of Christie’s sleuths which appeals to the fans and maybe, just maybe, contributes to these characters being so beloved all these years after their first appearance. Hell, given another couple of days or a slightly wider reach of the sharing of this poll, it wouldn’t be beyond reason to expect the opposite result.
So, let’s do it again! No, no, I jest.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank-you for coming with me on this quest, even if everyone will claim to know how it was going to turn out in the end — for your simply entering into the spirit of the thing, I am very grateful.
Crikey, between this and the Reprint of the Year 2023 has been a big year already, fraught with uncertainty, nervousness, and the eventual release of revelation, however crushing that might be; let’s hope things settle down now so that we can just enjoy our normal lives, eh?!
See you soon…
14 thoughts on “#1012: The World’s Favourite Golden Age Sleuth – The Result”
As the man himself would say, “Quelle surprise!” Dolores called it back in August, and now it’s official. Still, my heart is warmed by the closeness of the final vote. Perhaps nobody ever succeeded like Christie at presenting two such brilliant – and brilliantly contrasting – sleuths!
A mystery writer is lucky to have 1 successfully known detective to the level of Poirot, but to have 2 . . . 2?!?!?! This isn’t a normal occurrence. That’s lighting in a bottle that just doesn’t happen and at best, it’s very rare . . . very rare, and easy to do. But Agatha Christie accomplished many feats not only as a writer but a playwright, feats that many writers wish they could achieve in a lifetime. Agatha Christie is a special writer with 2 special sleuths.
If Fell can’t win, I’m pleased Poirot did, as I have a huge fondness for the little Belgian who was instrumental in introducing me to classic detective fiction. Maybe if we do this in another 50 years Ambrose Chitterwick will rise to the top of the pile, but no-one can have any complaints, I feel.
This was kind of inevitable, but I would liked to have seen Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple facing a non-Christie detective in the finals. Even then, Poirot or Marple very likely would have still won the poll. I think the only detective characters who could beat them are Sherlock Holmes and Lt. Columbo, but neither are Golden Age characters.
Maybe you could do an after match. Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple vs. Sherlock Holmes and Lt. Columbo in a tag team match.
Funny you should mention Sherlock Holmes; something is coming next weekend…
Not exactly the least likely suspect but makes a lot of sense and great to see how the voting patterns evolved. Thanks Jim – and well done!
Now I just have to find something to fill the void that the completion of this poll leaves in my life.
Shocking!!! You won’t believe the winner!!
I am not 100% sure who I think should have won, but perhaps someone else? I am not a massive fan of the excentric detective trope to be honest, and in particular I find Poirot annoying at times.
Maybe you can rerun the competion in a couple of years, inevitably the format and coincidences can influence the result so we might get a different result.
I think we share some common feeling here, in that I don’t mind eccentric detectives so long as they’re detecting — when their scenes become just a list of the frivolous and hi-larious things they do that mark them out as such an individual card….well, then my patience wears thin.
I think that might be why the stolid, dependable Superintendents in the Battle and Joseph French school impress me so much: their authors have to work that much more carefully to make them interesting, rather than simply throwing a bag of tics and twitches at the page. But this is a comparison for another time and place.
Her ability to create compelling detectives is just amazing. I know I toggle between the two of them—and Mr. Quin/Satterthwaite—as being my own favorite. Thanks for a fun race!
I’m a big fan of Mr. Quin. Mind you, with the possible exception of Nigel Strangewats, I’m not sure there are many detective characters I actively dislike.
Ooo, maybe that’s the next poll…
Mr. Strangeways would be up on such a list for me as well—the temptation to make a detective even more of a know-it-all than their position dictates certainly seems like one to be avoided.
It is great to see Miss Marple perform so well. I (mistakenly) thought that Poirot would have an easy time of it in the final. Marple was the intuitive one with an instinctive conviction based on life experience. Poirot’s little grey cells yielded a logical method moving from general ideas to specific conclusions. Two very different styles that have enduring popularity over a 100+ years.