The greatest examples of the genre provide not only the pleasures of a gripping, whodunit plot, but they are also an examination of complex psychology and civilization when the tranquility of everyday life has been shattered.
Was he poisoned or did he die accidentally? Why were the labels removed from his clothes? Was he a secret agent or a jilted lover? Intriguingly, a slip of paper was found in one of his pockets with the printed words "Tamám Shud," meaning "ended" or "finished" in Persian.
Sherlock Holmes may be the world's greatest fictional detection, but the principles behind his approach to solving crime are very real, indeed. Listen to him explain his method of thought to Watson, and chances are, you'll come away with much the same impression as the good doctor: of course!
And as if the more than half a million real-life murders a year around the globe (some 17,000 in 2010 in the United States alone) somehow constituted a lack of violent death, fiction novels add a never-ending supply of made-up stories of murder and mayhem to the count.
What, for instance, would be Poe's take on the whole Casey Anthony circus or other unsolved, high-profile crimes, particularly in the way these stories are being covered in our age of real-time, mass, multimedia world of Twitter and Facebook?