Conventional Characteristics of Amateur Sleuths
One characteristic of all amateur sleuths is independence of thought. The sleuths may lack financial independence or their situations may make independent action difficult, but they always think for themselves. Amateur sleuths possess a strong ethical sense and show respect for conventional views, but although they approach others politely, they refuse to be cowed by authority. Generally, they trust their instincts about people and situations, and failure to do so often leads them to peril as the culprit tries to exploit some area of vulnerability, either physical weakness, personal insecurity, a checkered past, or concern for a child or a close family member.
Amateur sleuths usually get involved in mysteries for one of two reasons. The first is that they may simply be at the wrong place at the wrong time and need to have their own names cleared after they are unjustly accused of crimes. The second reason for their involvement is their need to investigate to win the release of friends from jail. Amateur sleuths have faith in their own knowledge of human nature, especially within their own families or restricted social groups. Consequently, these sleuths exhibit loyalty to friends, believing them innocent of whatever charges are leveled against them. Although amateur sleuths often employ skills developed from their occupations or other life experiences, their success actually results from their own personality traits. They notice discrepancies and persist in asking questions, never settling for the easy answers. Polite as well as inquisitive, they know when to let people talk, and they gather information from even the most innocuous conversations. At times, the sleuths simply stumble on solutions to crimes. Often these cases place the sleuths in physical jeopardy. In such situations, sleuths must use their wits in order to escape from danger and alert legal authorities. However, their friends occasionally must come to their rescue.