How does Sherlock Holmes make a good literary detective in relation to other detectives? What qualities does he have?  

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Sherlock Holmes is a good literary detective because he is entertaining.  He has a complete understanding of human nature, but at the same time a complete disregard for other people’s feelings.  He is as self-centered as he is brilliant.  His deductions and interesting cases make him fun to read. 

Your topic is a little vague, so I am not sure what you mean by other detectives.  By comparison to Watson, who is not really a detective, Holmes is much more intelligent.  He is the one who solves the cases, and Watson follows along and assists.  Watson is always enamored of Holmes and believes him to be so brilliant that he doesn’t mind his personality quirks, including the insults Holmes seems to throw his way. 

“I am afraid, my dear Watson, that most of your conclusions were erroneous. When I said that you stimulated me I meant, to be frank, that in noting your fallacies I was occasionally guided towards the truth...." (The Hound of the Baskervilles, Ch. 1) 

Sherlock Holmes was a model for many other literary detectives, including Nero Wolfe, Rex Stout’s American version of Holmes. Wolfe was similar to Holmes in that he was brilliant and quirky.  He, too, was antisocial.  Both of them could be languid, staying home for days at a time either pouting or thinking.  While Holmes dabbled in drugs, it was food that pleased Nero Wolfe.  Neither liked women.  Both had a trusty assistant, but Nero Wolfe’s assistant Archie Goodwin did most of the legwork.  Wolfe rarely left the house.  He was as fat as Holmes was thin.

Besides Nero Wolfe, Sherlock Holmes inspired scores of other literary detectives in books, radio, television, and movies. Some of these are adaptions, such as the BBC's Sherlock, which modernizes Holmes and Watson by bringing them to present-day London, and others are just detective procedurals.  One thing is for sure:  People seem to love a good mystery with a quirky detective.

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