Why did crime fiction first establish itself on the basis of a distinction, or even opposition, between the character of the detective and that of the police officer? This article explores the series of Sherlock Holmes stories published by Arthur Conan Doyle and analyses the relationship between the emergence of crime fiction and the strengthening of nation-states. Nation-states, with their bio-political projects, aim at ensuring that reality is both ordered and predictable. Mysteries stand out on this backdrop of supposedly calculable reality. Social reality is structured by the tension between law and order and the class society. Police officers embody law and order, to which all subordinates have to abide by. The detective, using extra-legal means, solves mysteries affecting upper class members of society. The detective is the state’s ordinary state of exception.
Keywords: Crime Fiction; State; Exception; Reality; Mystery.