I came across this book by P.D. James and was intrigued. P.D. James, you may remember, died last year after a long and prolific career in writing.
Although there wasn't an official detective force in England until one was established in 1842 by the Metropolitan Police, there are many amateur sleuths depicted in mysteries before this time. The Brother Cadfael series comes to mind.
P.D. James mentions many Golden Age detective mystery writers (between WWI and WWII) such as E.C. Bentley who wrote Trent's Last Case, Agatha Christie (Poirot) and Dorothy Sayers.
Most people have heard of Sherlock Holmes written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He used, as his inspiration, Dr. Joseph Bell, a consultant surgeon at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Hospital.
Later, we have the popular Inspector Morse series by Colin Dexter and Prime Suspect by Linda LaPlante, both of which have been made into television series.
Unlike the British Detective Mysteries that are usually confined to a small area (Miss Marple, Inspector Morse) the American Hard Boiled Mysteries are set in a thriving metropolis which has made Raymond Chandler (The Long Goodbye) and Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon) popular.
And what do all these mystery novels have in common? Usually a motive resulting from money, lust, loathing or love (avenging someone deeply loved.)
More motives for murder
If you love mysteries, take a look at this book, it will give you lots of ideas for reading detective mysteries by new and old authors. One I'm anxious to look at is a series of Tudor Crime by C.J. Sansom.