Most famous detective fiction is useless for the purpose of understanding ways to debug software. The world’s most popular writer of detective fiction is Agatha Christie. She wrote dozens of highly entertaining novels and dozens more short stories as well.
Her characters, however, aren’t helpful in teaching us about the process of detecting. Miss Marple is an acute observer of human behavior and a cunning eavesdropper, but her methods of mental association are baffling. Hercule Poirot is always talking about how he uses “the little gray cells” to solve crimes, but he never tells us how those gray cells operate.
Other writers of detective fiction pose similar problems. Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett wrote beautiful prose, but their detectives find the villain mostly by beating up and shooting people. While some may find this entertaining, few will find it educational. To find wisdom for debugging software, we focus on two erudite fictional detectives. These two detectives not only solve baffling mysteries, but they also often explain how they do it in the process.