Unlicensed sleuthing: a brief appreciation of the amateur detective

Photo by Flickr user Carla216, shared under a Creative Commons license

Amateur mystery solvers of the world, I sing the praises of thee.

Wrong has been done!  And, as all good people must, you seek to right it, solve it, punish it, avenge it, etc.  Anyway you slice it, justice must be rendered, and you're just the person to do it.

Some think this should be the sole purview of the criminal justice system, but you're certain that law and order can't always be maintained by Law and Order (dun-DUN).  In your experience, the police are always overlooking clues (obvious and otherwise), or making assumptions based on incomplete (possibly inaccurate) information.

"It's an open and shut case, stay out of it!  And besides, you're just the medical examiner, a doctor at a nearby hospital, a kid, a writer, maybe even a priest!  What's it to you, anyway?"

For many, this admonition would be enough.  They would drop the issue, not get involved, go back to doing the crossword or to their lucrative medical practice.  But not you, would-be detective!  Your tangential relation to someone in law enforcement, years spent observing the human condition, unique-yet-strangely-applicable skill set acquired from years in an oddball profession, or even just near obsessive need to insert yourself into literally everyone's business makes you ideally qualified to save the day, whether those in power see it or not.

But you're not content to just let the cases stumble into your line of vision, even if they tend to with an almost episodic regularity, and sometimes you need to take the show on the road; amateur Mystery Solver becomes Itinerant Mystery Solver! The reason why isn't important, though it's usually an out-of-state friend in trouble, an upcoming vacation or to a conference, or maybe you've finally burned every figurative bridge with local law enforcement and just need to get scarce for a bit.  What does matter is that you've got that sweet conversion van of yours gassed up and sitting in the driveway, ready to take you on to new locales, friendships with 1970s character actors, or - best case scenario - maybe even a crossover with some other sleuthy busybody.

Is this dangerous?  Sure.  Careless?  Perhaps.  Foolhardy?  Oh yeah, no question.  The fact that you haven't gotten yourself killed yet is nothing short of miraculous.  It's also surprising how few of these matters you're falsely implicated in, given the sort of bodycount your life seems to be acquiring.  No wonder the local police want you out of town and people everywhere else you go wish you would just stay home.  Let's face facts here: you're pretty much the Grim Spectre of Death Itself.  If you've noticed a real drop-off on the number of Christmas cards you've received in recent years, that's probably the reason.

You know deep in your heart you're interfering with due process and that a shocking number of innocent, otherwise uninvolved people have been killed because of your actions, but you carry on fighting the good fight.  Despite the stream of misery and suffering you leave in your wake, it cannot be denied that you have done a lot of good.  You cause as many problems as you solve, but your average trends toward the positive, so you've got that going for you.  Nice job.

Rest assured, amateur mystery solvers of the world... they would've gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for your meddling.