The Chill 3: Is Archer a detective?


This isn't a normal crime novel, in that it's not really about solving a crime. Dolly's disappearance is resolved within 25 pages. It's not a whodunnit or a locked-room mystery: there are no deep or clever puzzles for the detective to solve. 

Similarly, it's not a police procedural book, where evidence is collected and interrogated, using tried-and-tested procedures. 

Instead, Archer just moves through the situation, asking questions of people and putting together what they say. He doesn't so much investigate the situation as just shake trees and rattle cages to see what reaction he gets. 

Does Archer count as a "detective"?


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    Well, clearly not in the Sherlock Holmes or Poirot sense of detective, but he's definitely an investigator and fits the Private I model. I think it is very much a 'whodunnit' because, even after the initial problem is solved, there's still a tangled web, and Archer is never satisfied that the current story makes sense - so he keeps working the tangle. Eventually we learn there's someone at the heart of 3 murders and that person is still at large. It's unlikely, by the time we learn that, that it's going to be a new character we haven't met, yet (that would go against the 'fair play' principle) so we know it's someone in our circle - but who?

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    Your question reminds me of the old academic joke about a philosophy finals question:
    Q: Is this a question?
    A: Yes, if this is an answer.

    I strongly suspect that this is apocryphal (pace @Apocryphal) and whether the student passed or failed depends on who's telling the joke.

    I have to admit I found it hard to care much about the various crimes or their victims, and after about 1/4 through was reading it more for the enjoyment of the prose than out of a desire to know whodunnit. But then, I don't generally read much of any variety of detective/police book so don't have much to compare it to.

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    To ask the question another way: does Archer bring any special "investigator" abilities to the situation, beyond his improved access to experts like the psychiatrist and lawyer? If, say, the story was about Alex Kincaid's attempt to discover the truth behind his wife's problems, would things have played out very differently?

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