Investigating Sherlock Holmes: Using Geographic Profiling to Analyze the Novels of Arthur Conan Doyle

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Abstract

Central to spatial analysis of crime is the assumption that the offender has visited the locations analyzed. We show that even if this is incorrect, meaningful patterns can be identified. Using 390 locations from the Sherlock Holmes stories, we show that geographic profiling (GP) ranks Conan Doyle in the top 13 percent of 2,678 historical figures in London, despite the fact at the time of writing he had not visited all of the sites. Restricting the analysis to thirty authors contemporary with the Sherlock Holmes stories, Conan Doyle ranks first, with a hit score of 2.8 percent (above Holmes’s address at 221b Baker Street). Finally, we show that GP prioritizes sites strongly associated with Conan Doyle (example.g., his home) compared to those more tangentially associated with him, even when sites are close together. Our analysis, although mostly for amusement, underlines the ability of GP to extract useful information from complex data.

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APA

Stevens, M. C. A., Ray, G., Faulkner, S. C., & Le Comber, S. C. (2020). Investigating Sherlock Holmes: Using Geographic Profiling to Analyze the Novels of Arthur Conan Doyle. Professional Geographer, 72(4), 566–574. https://doi.org/10.1080/00330124.2020.1758575

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