Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Brian McCuskey


Brian McCuskey


Christine Cooper-Rompato


Jessica Rivera-Mueller


Food in detective fiction functions in multiple ways. It can heighten realism, enhance the setting, and even act as a murder weapon. While there are books and published articles dedicated to analyzing food as a literary device in detective fiction, this essay investigates how the culinary knowledge of a detective can signify larger ideological meanings regarding gender, class, and identity. For example, a dinner of curried mutton acts as a clue to the mystery for Sherlock Holmes in “Silver Blaze,” but for readers the meal can illustrate Holmes’s relationship with Victorian masculinity and imperialism. This essay builds on the work of authors such as Pierre Verdaguer, Beth Kalikoff, Andrea Hynynen, Angelica Michelis, and Silvia Baučeková. I compare the culinary knowledge of two professional male detectives – Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot – with the culinary knowledge of an amateur female sleuth – Miss Marple. This analysis differs from scholars such a Baučeková's by looking at more than one author and focusing on the culinary knowledge of a detective as well as the food they consume to gain larger cultural context. With all the clues, weapons, and red herrings found within detective fiction, it can be difficult to look beyond “whodunit.” This essay points readers to specific instances and dishes in the works of Arthur Conon Doyle and Agatha Christie where food proves to be more than a clue to the mystery.