Friday, 30 November 2012

She's Fantastic Miss Fox: The endearing tame animal who thinks she's a pet dog

  • Young Russian dog trainer teaches rare tame foxes to follow commands
  • Foxes can 'sit', 'stay' and 'lie down' at her direction
  • The animals come from a unique facility that breeds domesticated foxes
By Sam Webb

Snow baby: Anna the fox has lived with Russian scientist Irina Mukhamedshina since she was a cub. She has been trained to follow as many commands as a pet dog
Snow baby: Anna the fox has lived with Russian scientist Irina Mukhamedshina since she was a cub. She understands as many commands as a pet dog
Like any well-behaved pet, she understands words such as 'sit', 'stand up', 'lie down' - and knows her own name.
But Anna is no ordinary domesticated animal. She is an endearing and impeccably mannered fox who has been trained to live alongside humans.
The woman responsible for her unlikely transformation is Irina Mukhamedshina, a 22-year-old Russian scientist who adopted her and another fox called Elma from  the Novosibirsk of Cytology and Genetics, which has studied how animals evolved from their feral ancestors to live alongside humans.
She saw animals at the institute, which began taming foxes in the 1950s and now has more than 50 generations in its breeding programme, waggling their tails and clamouring for human attention in the same way as dogs and wondered if they could also be trained like them.
Both her subjects were tiny cubs when they came to her but quickly grew into a companion that Irina views as halfway between a cat and a dog.
'I needed them to be young, because then I could use food motivation to train some basic commands,' Irina, an experienced dog trainer, told The Siberian Times.
Her first task was getting the animals to come close to her, a process she found easy.
After this she moved on to basic commands, which took the foxes three weeks of 15 minute sessions to master. They soon began to recognise their own names and would come to her for affection.
Her work attracted international fascination. A Japanese film crew recorded Irina's work with foxes and were amazed at her achievements.
She has now written an essay on her experiences and hopes to continue exploring the ways that foxes can be trained.
Some of the foxes, like Anna, have been sold to curious animal lovers.
Others have been sold to fur farms because they are less distressed in captivity.
She said: 'Psychologically I understand them better now. Tamed foxes are not quite like dogs, they are more in between dogs and cats in how they respond to humans.'
The Cytology and Genetics farm is in Akademgorodok, the academic region of Siberia's largest city, Novosibirsk. It is unique in the world as it has several hundred tamed foxes.
Its groundbreaking work began in the 1950s, when Soviet biologist Dmitry Belyaev gathered foxes from fur farms and bred the friendliest and least ferocious animals. He wanted to test a theory by Charles Darwin that domestication physically changes animals.

By the mid-1960s, the foxes had gone from wild to not fearing humans to actively seeking to befriend them. His team started to notice not only behavioural changes such as wagging their tails and licking their human caretakers to show affection, but also physical changes, such as spotted coats, floppy ears, and curled tails.

The effect has been dubbed the domestication phenotype. His research drew the ire of Cold War politicians, who saw genetics as a western science, and he was lucky to be able to continue his work until his death in 1985, when it was taken over by Irina’s mentor Dr Lyudmila Trut.

Science: Anna selected the animals at an institute that has been researching domestication on animal behaviour for more than 50 years

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Redheads: A Russian scientist and dog trainer has trained foxes to follow simple commands in the same way as a pet dog
Science: Anna selected animals at an institute that has been researching domestication on animal behaviour for more than 50 years
Redheads: Anna understands such basic commands as 'stand up', 'lie down' and 'sit' and responds to her own name when she is called
Pounce: Anna plays in the snow. She comes to humans for affection and is little different from any other pet
Pounce: Anna plays in the snow. She comes to humans for affection and is little different from any other pet
Loving: Anna affectionately nuzzles her trainer's outstretched hand
Stay: Anna demonstrates dog-like behaviour, a trait that the foxes at the institute she was born in share
Experiment: Irina said that it was essential the foxes came to her when they were cubs so she could train them
Lie down: Training the foxes to obey basic commands took 15 minutes a day for three weeks, shocking Irina at how quickly the animals learned
Lie down: Training the foxes to obey basic commands took 15 minutes a day for three weeks, shocking Irina at how quickly the animals learned

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How to Manifest – FOR REAL!

We are always manifesting. Each thought we have creates an energy flow within and around our physical being. This energy attracts its likeness. So if you’re thinking, “I suck,” then your energy kinda, well, sucks–and you attract sucky experiences.
The opposite experience occurs when you think high-level thoughts like, “I rock!” When you think and feel, “I rock,” you exude an energy of confidence and in turn attract great experiences into your life. Each thought you have informs your energy, and your energy manifests into your experiences. Your thoughts and energy create your reality.
Manifesting Mishaps
Manifestation has become a buzzword lately. Though it’s totally awesome that the Law of Attraction is now trendy, it also can be a bit misleading for folks who are unwilling to do the heavy lifting. If you truly want to use your energetic power to manifest greatness, you must clear all that blocks you from believing in your greatness.
A Course in Miracles teaches that on some level, you’ve asked for everything that happens in your life. Your intentions create your reality. There’s no need to beat yourself up: simply recognizing how your low-level thoughts negatively affect your life is the first powerful step toward changing your experiences. Begin your manifesting process by getting honest about how your low-level thoughts, energy and feelings of disbelief block you from receiving what you desire. Once you get clear about the blocks, you can begin to clean them up to clear space for positive manifestations to occur.
Many people, when trying to manifest, focus too much on the outside form rather than the internal condition. From A Course in Miracles’ perspective, what’s important is our internal experience: whether we choose to experience love or fear. When we commit to our internal experience of love, we begin to attract more love. Many people approach manifestation from a place of “How can I get something to feel better?” Instead, the focus should be: “How can I feel better and therefore be an energetic match for attracting more greatness into my life?” The emphasis must be placed on healing the internal condition, not getting a hot new car or boyfriend.
The Five Principles for Manifesting Your Desires
Below are my five key principles for genuine manifesting. When practicing these steps, make sure to stay committed to the goal of feeling good first and attracting stuff second. Continue to remind yourself that when you feel good you energetically attract goodness into your life. When your primary function is to be happy, then whatever comes to you is irrelevant. Happiness is your true manifestation.
Principle One: Clear Space
Before you begin the manifestation process you must take the necessary time to release all your disbelief in your power to be happy. One of the best ways to clear the blocks of disbelief is to pray for release. Begin a daily prayer practice of asking the Uni-verse to set you free from all the limiting beliefs that block you from believing in your greatness. Stay open for signs from the Uni-verse and show up for the assignments that are brought to you. Uni-versal assignments come in many forms. Maybe you’re guided to the relationship that brings up all your shit so that you have to finally heal your fear. Or maybe you lose your job so that you can learn the lessons of self-reliance and strengthen your self-love. Trust that these assignments, however tough at times, are incredible opportunities for you to clean your energy and clear space to call in what you desire.
Your job in this step is to pray for guidance to clear all that blocks you from believing in your greatness. Then allow the Uni-verse to help guide you to whatever assignments you need to aid in the healing process. Show up for the assignments and trust that the more you clean your thoughts and energy, the more positive experiences you will attract into your life.

Principle Two: Get Clear

Clarity is king when it comes to manifesting your desires. You must have clear intentions for what you want to call in–otherwise you can manifest a lot of what you don’t want. Focus on what you desire and then make a list of all that goes along with it. If you’re getting clear about the job you want, make a list of all the things about the job that make you happy: the office, the people, the salary, etc. Be unapologetic about what you want. This list helps you clarify your intentions and access a vibrant mental picture of what you desire.
The most important part of this step is to clarify how you want to feel. When you get clear on how you want to feel, you can begin to access that feeling. That feeling is what makes the manifestation come into form. You can write a thousand lists and make a million vision boards, but if you don’t clearly feel what you want to experience, it will never truly manifest into form.

Principle Three: Think It, Feel It, Believe It!

Now let’s put these steps together. Take your clear intention and spend time every day sitting in the feeling of what it is that you desire. You might access the feeling through meditation and visioning exercises. Or call on the feeling when you’re in nature or doing a form of exercise you love. Let the thought inform the feeling and let the feeling take over your energy. The more you feel the feeling of what you desire, the more you believe it is on the way. From a metaphysical perspective, if you believe it then it is already here. So make time for contemplating, thinking, feeling and believing.

Principle Four: Chill!

The next step is crucial to the manifestation process. In order to truly manifest your desires into form, you gotta chill out! A Course in Miracles teaches: “Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait and wait without anxiety.” Take this message with you and allow your faithfulness to guide you into the belief that what you desire is on the way. Also trust that the Uni-verse has a much better plan than you do. Though you are clear about what you want, you cannot control the timing or the form in which it comes. Stay calm, relax and trust that the Uni-verse has your back!

Principle Five: Know the Uni-verse Has Your Back

When you’re in the know, you’re deliberate about what you want. When you’re in the know, you no longer vibrate energy of fear or disbelief. You just know. As your disbelief wilts away, wanting is replaced by knowing. Getting into the know happens naturally. When you diligently practice steps one through four, you will clean house, get clear and feel happier. This process is healing and powerful, and it leads to a deep inner knowing that you are right where you need to be. Accepting your greatness in this moment, right now, is what manifests more greatness. Being in the know helps you accept that you already are living in your desired manifestation. When you feel it, you live it–regardless of what is happening on the outside. In time, the Uni-verse catches up with your energy and your desires come into form. This process of allowing the manifestation to follow your internal faith is the true process of co-creation.
Stay Committed to Happiness
Stay committed to this five-step process and trust that you’re exactly where you need to be. Is your main desire to feel good? Trust you will be given everything you need to create that feeling. Know that feeling good is the true manifestation–and everything else is the icing on the already delicious cake!
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Gabrielle Bernstein is the bestselling author of Spirit Junkie and Add More ~ing to Your Life. If you want to learn more about Manifesting you can join her FREE group coaching course starting Monday. The course is called How to Manifest Your Desires in 2013. When you order her new book May Cause Miracles you’ll gain access to the course on manifesting. Details here.


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Traditional Sloe Gin Recipe

Traditional Sloe Gin Recipe
This Sloe Gin recipe differs from the modern versions, in that traditionally very little sugar is used. This allows the true flavours of the sloes and gin to come through, rather than being masked by lots of sugar.
Not that the modern versions aren’t nice, they are. But this sloe gin recipe is a little bit different and takes us back to how we used to drink it back in the old days, when more folk lived closer to the land.
  • 300g sloes (frozen)
  • 1litre gin
  • 4tbsp of sugar
Suggested Instructions
  1. Take your frozen sloes and batter them with a rolling pin until smashed up, then transfer them to a Kilner jar.
  2. Add the sugar, and then pour in the gin.
  3. Shake vigourously and leave for a minimum of 3 months, but best if left for a year. Shake occasionally when you remember.
  4. Check the taste and if you feel like it, add more sugar if you think it needs it. But really this is a different Sloe Gin recipe to the one you are mostly used to.
  5. Strain and bottle for later use.
Makes: 1 litre

Let Your Heart Be Your Guide. ~ Carolyn Riker

Photo: Angi Unruh

The Challenges Are Doors to Be Opened.

The “bad stuff” is over. It’s time to accept that I have choices. I am no longer a victim. I am a heroine. I am intelligent. I have thoughts, ideas, wit, interests and opinions. I also have feelings, and for the first time it feels okay to feel them. I am female and will no longer be walked on or ordered around. I won’t be a servant. I give not to be taken advantage of, but because I care. I’m not heartless. I’m full of heart.
It takes courage to explore what is real—the real that has been kept quiet for lifetimes. My anger runs deeper than any chasm on this planet; so does my grief. The frustration of being a victim has caused an avalanche of other bodily, emotional crap, but it didn’t and won’t take away my soul. I have a vision. I have a light and it comes from within. I will not, nor do I have to, put up with anyone’s shit.
The tears and rage went deeper. She saw it as an end and not as a beginning.
Recently, I caught a glimpse of a new future. While on a mini excursion, my perception shifted. The walls, doors and windows all seemed to open. I followed a bluish-gray slate path wedged into the earth. At the end I stepped into a portal where insightful conversations ensued.
There was a quiet cottage with a quality of warmth. It was a safe respite, tucked neatly beside heirloom apple trees and massive walnut trees. The wisdom of nature was palpable. A ribbon of fall-faded saffron and pale white dahlias grew along the backside, overlooking distant peaks. The air was damp and crisp. Wooden fences wrapped around the weary veggies. Paths were strewn with cedar pine needles. The smell was intoxicating. Clarity penetrated the metaphors of my life. Possibilities seemed endless as synchronicity hummed.
In this future, life is moving forward. The story slips purposefully on the pages. Deliberate strokes strike a chord of liberation. It is prose streaming through my heart—fluid and unique. The pine floor boards are flawed, and the wooden beams exposed, while herbs dry freely. There are open fields and animals milling around. Flowers and vegetable gardens permeate. The fireplace—a real fireplace is stoked with aged wood. I can smell the happiness. It’s a meaningful life filled with like-minded, intelligent, aware, spiritual, genuine people, coming and going.
Life, purpose, unique, flawed, exposed, open and free
I relish the quiet and being in nature. It steadies my mind and fills my heart. I also enjoy sharing my home and having friends over for leisurely gatherings. Whatever happens will happen. No more panic. No more rules. No more fanfare. Present to the moment. I realize simplicity is good and not wrong. There’s no need to justify my beliefs.
My center is multifaceted. Life isn’t about being plastic. I choose to swim against a current of lies. My body, mind and soul echo an ebb and flow as I change. When resting, my breasts lull east and west and when standing they dip south. My stomach is a relaxed soufflé of sorts, coupled with a maze of stretch marks, outlining my tenacity. My forehead is vertically supplemented with years of growing intuition and wisdom. The skin around my eyes is creased, and the creases fill with joy, not with some artificial crap that diffuses my age. There’s a growing softness and trust in the soul of my eyes. Laughter comes easier. Trust will too.
The moments have built around me for years, letting me know the past is over. Difficult as this process is, I will listen to that inner voice. She has been there all along. There is a growing freedom. I no longer have to shield myself from what was. That past is no longer. The moment I accepted this, I entered a flowing stream of now. I am readjusting the navigational balance and the course of my life.
Four corners
Four points
Like a tree
Roots solid
Branches lifted
Like the universe and infinity
The leaves swirl to an imaginary dance
The veins of life or leaf, pulsate
Even in a withered petal
Dormant in rest
Yet Alive
Hidden in slumber
Yet revealed
The challenges are doors to be opened
Change is here.

I am a mom, teacher and gardener. I’m a closet writer who’s finding her voice. I’m also finding balance through Yoga and Ayurveda. I can be emailed at

Bake Off's Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry: 'We argue over every cake'

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood photographed in London SE1.  Photograph: Pal Hansen for Observer Food Monthly Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood photographed in London SE1. Photograph: Pal Hansen for Observer Food Monthly
Read by 360 people
Sunday 18 November 2012

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood are the year's unlikeliest TV stars after the success of The Great British Bake Off. But even they're not sure why it's been such a huge hit

Getting to speak to Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry is not easy. If you imagine trying to persuade the pope to pose for photographs alongside Madonna, Barack Obama and all five members of One Direction, you get some small idea of the hype surrounding these two unexpected stars of the small screen.
The Great British Bake Off was the hit of the year – a soufflé of niceness in the midst of schedules dominated by talent show nastiness – and Paul and Mary, the show's judges, have been catapulted into the celebrity firmament. Their diaries are filled months in advance with TV appearances, radio interviews and cooking demonstrations. I grab an hour with them in the green room at Radio 2, just after they've appeared on the Chris Evans breakfast show and just before they are bundled into a car with blacked-out windows to be driven to Loose Women. Is it strange, I wonder, suddenly being this famous?
"I think the nicest thing is that you'll be walking somewhere and someone will just touch you on the shoulder and say 'I love the show,'" says Mary diplomatically.
"You've got to watch what you put in your shopping basket, that's for sure," adds Paul.
Has he ever been caught out? "Pork pie," he says, dolefully.
We meet on the day of Bake Off's final, in which 7.2 million viewers saw law student John Whaite triumph with a towering chocolate chiffon cake. Paul, 46, with his steel-grey hair and piercing blue eyes, has already become something of a sex symbol (the baking woman's crumpet, if you will). Mary, 77, is a bona fide fashion icon – when she wore a £29.99 silk bomber jacket from Zara on screen, it flew off the shelves and similar ones were being sold on eBay for £200.
"I think it's hilarious really," she says. "I mean, I just buy what I like. And all the scarves I wear are purely because I have a scraggy neck."
They can barely go anywhere these days without getting mobbed by amateur bakers asking for advice on the moistness of their lemon drizzle cake. Paul has even been recognised while standing at a urinal.
"They want to shake your hand, which is not ideal really."
Mary gasps. "No!" she says, half-shocked, half-delighted at the thought.
They make an unlikely double act and yet something about the two of them together just works. Watching them argue playfully on screen or in person is both entertaining and somehow reassuring, like eating hot buttered toast in a perfectly heated bubble bath. BBC bosses are aware they have struck TV gold – The Great British Bake Off Christmas Masterclass will be on BBC2 over the holiday period, and next year, Paul is embarking on a mysterious "solo project" while Mary is making two programmes about her life.
"It's terribly difficult trying to remember what you did when you were little," she says.
Paul interjects naughtily: "Especially before television in 1820."
She taps him sharply on the leg.
Both will spend Christmas with their families, eating turkey with all the trimmings. It is, one imagines, the first bit of peace either will have had for a while.
Paul has already made his Christmas pudding. "The secret is the moistness," he says. "I like alcohol but it has to be cooked out. The last thing you want is to have too much of it because it takes your breath away, takes the flavour away from anything that you're trying to eat. And a good mix of fruit. I like lots and lots of sultanas in mine and the sixpence has got to be in there as well."
It is knowledge like this – unpretentiously expressed, easily shared – that made Bake Off, presented by Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, so watchable. It helps that, unlike some primetime talent show judges, Paul and Mary know what they're talking about and care enough to want to communicate their knowledge to a wider audience.
Paul is a former head baker at the Dorchester, born and raised in Wallasey, Merseyside. Mary is the daughter of a former mayor of Bath. She has written more than 70 cookery books and received a CBE in October. The success of their Bake Off pairing relies in part on these complementary differences: he the straight-talking Liverpudlian and she the kindly rosy-cheeked grandmother we'd all like to have.
"But basically we think alike – we want to achieve the very best baking," says Mary. "It's got to be the right texture, the right flavour, it's got to look good, to tempt, the crumb's got to be right – everything's got to be right. And they [the contestants] also have to follow what they've been asked to do. But within that, they've got to be creative and individual."
They've also got to avoid the baker's nemesis: the soggy bottom. "To me, soggy bottom is not acceptable and it spoils the whole of the bake," says Mary briskly.
Paul is generally the sterner critic. In the three series of Bake Off, he has caused more than a few wobbly chins. Does he feel guilty when he upsets people who have poured their body and soul into a flabby beef Wellington?
"No. I'm not having a go at them, I'm having a go at the bake. I'm not being horrible, it's constructive. They can disagree with me." Pause. "They're wrong, but they can disagree with me."
Still, if Mary disagrees with you, you wouldn't think she was wrong? He laughs. "It comes down to opinion."
Mary pats him on the knee. "He is difficult," she says fondly, as if talking about a mischievous child. "But we respect each other. I would never argue with him over a loaf of something because he knows the science of it, how they've achieved it and everything."
Paul: "I'll argue with Mary over every cake she makes."
Mary [rolling her eyes]: "Oh yes, he'll argue with me."
And yet they get on famously – Paul will stay at Mary's pied-a-terre when he comes to London from Kent, and they obviously enjoy teasing each other remorselessly.
"I took Mary to a drive-thru McDonald's yesterday," Paul says at one point. "Yeah, she loved it. Big Mac, large fries, six chicken nuggets, barbecue sauce, strawberry milkshake, a Dunkin' Donut..."
Mary: "I had nothing!"
Paul: "… and then she went back for an apple pie."
Neither of them is entirely sure why The Great British Bake Off has been such a success – the format has already been sold to eight countries, including Sweden which, Paul says, has the best-looking contestants.
"There's no one thing," he continues. "It's a sum of its component parts. You take out one of the cogs and it wouldn't work. It's a mixture of everything – so many different elements, down to the music, the setting, the tent, the bakers, Mary Berry, Mel, Sue, me, the challenges, the contestants – the whole thing together with the atmosphere, with the British countryside, even with the rain, it works."
There is a gentleness to it that is deeply appealing, as well as a sense that baking represents far more for the contestants than simply eggs and flour in a tin. There was a moment in this year's final when Brendan, a hot contender for the title, became speechless with emotion trying to explain why he had been inspired to bake a "family reunion" cake. It was an understated scene and all the more powerful for it.
"The whole show is totally honest," agrees Mary. "It's not hyped up, we don't want people to cry… it's a totally true programme and people make friendships among all the bakers. And if you look at them, as they're baking, they're never cross with each other – they're sympathique. I think it's lovely."
Paul: "I think baking's far easier than cooking, and because of that it's more approachable."
Mary: "Rubbish! Honestly."
Paul: "Making cake is one of the easiest things in the world."
Mary [vociferously, shaking her head]: "He's very grumpy isn't he? No, I don't agree with that. I think baking is very rewarding and if you follow a good recipe, you will get success."
One thing they do agree on is that they would like to see home economics become part of the national curriculum. "It needs to be put back on so that people have a basic understanding of what we're eating," Paul says. "It makes a huge difference."
"Particularly as the country is obese," Mary adds.
"Yes it's a fat country!" Paul laughs, then slaps his own stomach. "Says Mr Slim here."
Will they be signing up to a new series of Bake Off? For a few seconds, there is an awful silence.
"I'll be doing it," Paul says finally.
"We'll be there," adds Mary brightly. "The team will be there."
A nation of bakers breathes a sigh of relief.
Try Paul and Mary's Christmas recipes

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Great Gumshoes: A Guide to Fictional Detectives

by Beth Carswell

Sherlock Holmes created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Recently The Guardian reported that in 1945, at the behest of the Ministry of Information in Britain, Agatha Christie wrote an essay lauding the excellence of British crime fiction. In what was essentially a piece of post-WWII propaganda meant to showcase the English culture and way of life, Christie did indeed lavishly praise several of her contemporaries, including Ngaio Marsh, John Dickson Carr, and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Apparently reluctant to be entirely glowing and gushing, she also included some less flattering words for fellow crime-writer Margery Allingham, whom she charged with over-developing her characters at the expense of the plot, and for Dorothy L. Sayers, whose recurring character Lord Peter Wimsey was a good example, Christie asserted, of “a good man spoilt”, and that any early interest he held was eventually replaced by run-of-the-mill handsomeness and dullness.

Most surprising were the harsh words Christie reserved for her own creation, the much-beloved Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. While Poirot is widely considered the most famous detective in literary fiction (except for, perhaps, that one fellow), Christie stated in the essay that she had become bored to tears of him, and even considered him something of an embarrassment. She acknowledged the ardent affection reserved for Poirot by fans, but went on to caution would-be writers: “Be very careful what central character you create – you may have him with you for a very long time!”

Christie herself may not even have realized, in 1945, just how extensive Poirot’s longevity was to be. The famously fastidious and mustachioed character still has legions of fans today, and is among the most beloved fictional characters in history – his obituary was even published in the New York Times on August 6th, 1975, two months before the release of the last Poirot novel, Curtain. The obit ran as front page news, under the headline: “Hercule Poirot Is Dead; Famed Belgian Detective; Hercule Poirot, the Detective, Dies

Mike Hammer, created by Mickey SpillanePoirot is far from alone. There are numerous fan clubs, both physical and electronic, dedicated to fictional detectives (fic-dicks?). Whether police detectives, private eyes, or amateur snoops, readers eat them up. The same Peter Wimsey whom Dame Agatha was so rough with above has countless fans all over the globe, and stacks of copycat fan fiction written about him by admirers.

Likewise Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe and Mike Hammer. Something about the detective genre seems to inspire the creation of long-lasting repeat characters, heroes in possession of varying ratio of admirable qualities and flaws, to whom readers everywhere can relate. We get to know them, and glimpse what makes them tick. We cheer for them, we fear for them, and we look forward to their next adventures.

Some sleuths have been collaborative efforts as well, coming from more than one contributing mind. The most obvious example is keen-teen sleuth Nancy Drew, the amateur adolescent whose investigative adventures have intrigued gaggles of pre-teens  for generations. Nancy Drew’s creator is listed as Carolyn Keene. Keene, along with The Hardy Boys’ series author Franklin W. Dixon, doesn’t actually exist. Both are collective publishing pseudonyms created by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a book-packaging firm who puts out the stories, which have actually been written by a collection of ghostwriters. However, both The Hardy Boys (since 1927) and Nancy Drew (since 1930) have gained popularity and loyal devotees, eagerly following their next clue alongside them. It was always a special treat when a book included both Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys teaming up to solve a particularly stubborn case.

Even the more dark and hardboiled detectives have their admirers. These anti-hero types were the antithesis of the wholesome, fresh-faced appeal of Nancy Drew and her cohorts. They too investigated crimes and mysteries, but the superficial similarities stopped there. These gritty gumshoes knew their way around guns, and were as often as not halfway to the bottom of a whiskey bottle. They were not afraid to get rough with an informant or give a hysterical dame a good shake when necessary. Two of the most well-known of that ilk are Dashiell Hammet’s Sam Spade and Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. Interestingly, Humphrey Bogart played both of those characters in film adaptations.

A fun variation on the theme is the little old lady, most famously personified by Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. Jane Marple is an elderly unmarried woman, deceptively innocent in appearance and demeanor, who  uses her keen intelligence and ability to go unnoticed to her advantage when solving baffling crimes and grisly murders. Another excellent example is Emily Pollifax, the title character from the series by Dorothy Gilman. Technically a spy, Mrs. Pollifax is a vaguely depressed aging woman at the beginning of the series, who finds herself enormously cheered and revitalized after a series of misunderstandings lands her a job with the CIA and sees her sent off on a wildly unbelievable mission, ending up in Albania, which (naturally) she happens to survive, while tidily solving the mystery and landing herself a job in the meantime.

Whether your preference is debonair and dashing, deceptively demure or downright dastardly, there is a fictional detective to fit the bill. If the genre is anywhere near as much fun to write as it is to read, it’s small wonder we’ve so many to choose from.

Literary Detectives Not to Be Missed

Albert Campion created by Margery Allingham
Albert Campion
created by Margery Allingham
Nero Wolfe created by Rex Stout
Nero Wolfe
created by Rex Stout
Ellery Queen created by Daniel Nathan (Frederic Dannay) and Manford Lepofsky (Manfred Bennington)
Ellery Queen
created by Daniel Nathan and Manford Lepofsky
Henry Gamadge created by Elizabeth Daly
Henry Gamadge
created by Elizabeth Daly
Sam Spade created by Dashiell Hammett
Sam Spade
created by Dashiell Hammett
Philip Marlowe created by Raymond Chandler
Philip Marlowe
created by Raymond Chandler
Emily Pollifax created by Dorothy Gilman
Emily Pollifax
created by Dorothy Gilman
Hercule Poirot created by by Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot
created by by Agatha Christie
Anthony Gethryn created by Philip MacDonald
Anthony Gethryn
created by Philip MacDonald
Precious Ramotswe created by Alexander McCall Smith
Precious Ramotswe
created by Alexander McCall Smith
Roderick Alleyn created by Ngaio Marsh
Roderick Alleyn
created by Ngaio Marsh
Lord Peter Wimsey created by Dorothy L. Sayers
Lord Peter Wimsey
created by Dorothy L. Sayers
John Rebus created by Ian Rankin
John Rebus
created by Ian Rankin
Adam Dalgliesh created by P.D. James
Adam Dalgliesh
created by P.D. James
Nick and Nora Charles created by Dashiell Hammett
Nick and Nora Charles
created by Dashiell Hammett
Roy Grace created by Peter James
Roy Grace
created by Peter James
Miss Marple created by Agatha Christie
Miss Marple
created by Agatha Christie
Guido Brunetti created by Donna Leon
Guido Brunetti
created by Donna Leon
Alex Cross created by James Patterson
Alex Cross
created by James Patterson
Brother Cadfael created by Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter)
Brother Cadfael
created by Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter)
Father Brown created by G.K. Chesterton
Father Brown
created by G.K. Chesterton
Inspector Morse created by Colin Dexter
Inspector Morse
created by Colin Dexter
Tom Barnaby created by Caroline Graham
Tom Barnaby
created by Caroline Graham
Marcus Didius Falco created by Lindsey Davis
Marcus Didius Falco
created by Lindsey Davis
Dalziel and Pascoe created by Reginald Hill
Dalziel and Pascoe
created by Reginald Hill
Gideon Fell created by John Dickson Carr
Gideon Fell
created by John Dickson Carr
Tony Hill & Carol Jordan created by Val McDermid
Tony Hill & Carol Jordan
created by Val McDermid
Agatha Raisin created by M.C. Beaton (Marion Chesney)
Agatha Raisin
created by M.C. Beaton (Marion Chesney)
Inspector Jack Frost created b R.D. Wingfield
Inspector Jack Frost
created by R.D. Wingfield
Kay Scarpetta created by Patricia Cornwell
Kay Scarpetta
created by Patricia Cornwell
Hieronymus 'Harry' Bosch created by Michael Connelly
Hieronymous 'Harry' Bosch
created by Michael Connelly
Spenser created by Robert B. Parker
created by Robert B. Parker
Lew Archer created by Ross MacDonald
Lew Archer
created by Ross MacDonald
Perry Mason created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Perry Mason
created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Kinsey Millhone created by Sue Grafton
Kinsey Millhone
created by Sue Grafton
Elvis Cole created by Robert Crais
Elvis Cole
created by Robert Crais
Charlie Chan created by Earl Derr Biggers
Charlie Chan
created by Earl Derr Biggers
Jules Maigret created by Georges Simenon
Jules Maigret
created by Georges Simenon
Harry Hole created by Jo Nesbo
Harry Hole
created by Jo Nesbo
Kurt Wallander created by Henning Mankell
Kurt Wallander
created by Henning Mankell