Sherlock's pharmacy : drugs in detective stories, 1860s to 1890s
This work examines the significance of drugs in Victorian stories of detection through a selection of detective fiction published between the years 1860 and 1890. The main purpose of the work is to show how these texts make a specific link between drugs and detection, and use this link to engage themselves in questions concerning reading and the consumption of fiction. I wish to argue, first, that drugs play a significant role in Victorian detective stories as a device to produce a sense of mystery and excitement in these texts. Secondly, I shall hope to show how this is achieved especially by presenting detection as having the drug-like qualities of intoxication and addiction. And thirdly, I shall examine how this particular characterisation of detection evokes a conception of detective fiction as a drug and invites the reader to consider her experience of reading in terms of an experience of drugs. In short, drugs, in these narratives, do not appear as a mere theme or a plot element, but can be seen to affect the very narrative form and structure of the fiction.