Sherlock Holmes complicates the idea of the forensic scientist. Much of the scientific techniques attributed to Holmes are established forms of forensic science utilized by contemporaneous police departments. However, there is one element of forensic science that was truly innovative on the part of Conan Doyle in the Holmes canon: the representation of what we would now call the field of forensic linguistics. This article takes an interdisciplinary approach to the Holmes canon to interrogate Conan Doyle’s engagement with and occasional rejection of the scientific process in his development and representation of forensic linguistics. Five short stories (“A Scandal in Bohemia,” “The Man with the Twisted Lip,” “The Boscombe Valley Mystery,” “The Adventure of the Reigate Squire,” “The Adventure of the Dancing Men”) serve as case studies that in particular illustrate Conan Doyle’s innovation surrounding language and the detective process.


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pp. 77-98
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
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