Detective stories are a genre of fiction built around a protagonist who solves crimes. Often, the protagonist is involved in investigations of murder, although other types of crimes may be investigated as well. Many detective stories feature a formulaic outline which typically includes a sidekick, several wrong turns, and thematic elements which remain consistent through a series. For example, a series might revolve around a character who runs a bakery and solves mysteries on the side, in which case baking will be a recurrent theme in the books.
The history of detective stories is quite old. Some of the oldest come from Asia, where detective stories were especially popular in China, and from the Islamic world. In the English-speaking world, an explosion of detective stories occurred in the 19th century, when many were published in the form of serials which people could read in inexpensive newspapers. The Sherlock Holmes novels are a particularly well-known example of detective stories from this era.
Detectives may work independently or as part of an agency in these stories. Often, the author has created some sort of quirk or unusual characteristic which is designed to make the character more dynamic and interesting. For example, a detective series might feature a female protagonist working as a detective in an era when this sort of work was frowned upon for women, or it might feature a protagonist who struggles with depression while working on mystery cases.
One curious quirk of detective stories which many readers have noted is that they often take place in small rural communities with a murder rate which is nothing short of alarming. Readers are sometimes left wondering how anyone is left alive to be murdered after a certain point, or why law enforcement authorities from the national government investigating the unusually high murder rate don't appear in the books. This issue aside, many detective stories feature a rich cast of characters whom readers may grow very attached to.
Many people seem to enjoy detective stories, and new entries in this genre are constantly being released. Long-running series can include scores of books, and people also write short stories for anthologies and short story collections. Some characters have become so beloved to readers that they have been brought to life on television, stage, and screen. Some notable names in the genre include Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Wilkie Collins, Raymond Chandler, Ellery Queen, Dorothy Sayers, and Dashiell Hammett, among many others.