Detective Sayings and Quotes

Below you will find our collection of inspirational, wise, and humorous old detective quotes, detective sayings, and detective proverbs, collected over the years from a variety of sources.


The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.     

Arthur Conan Doyle

The detective and his criminal wear versions of the same mask.     

Jane Roberts

Many investigators feel uneasy stating in public that the origin of life is a mystery, even though behind closed doors they admit they are baffled.     

Paul Davies

The instant they say something you don't expect or already know, you should drop into detective mode.     

Emmett Shear

To read of a detective's daring finesse or ingenious stratagem is a rare joy.     

Rex Stout

The main purpose of a significance test is to inhibit the natural enthusiasm of the investigator.     

Frederick Mosteller

Read like a detective and write like a conscientious investigative reporter.     

David Coleman

The criminal is the creative artist; the detective only the critic.     

Gilbert K. Chesterton

The detective story is the normal recreation of noble minds.     

Philip Guedalla

Most investigators don't even know what the word means. You stop the cops from using informants and the only crimes they'd ever solve would be those by deranged postal workers who come to work once too often.     

Andrew Vachss

You can always tell a detective on TV. He never takes his hat off.     

Raymond Chandler

Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.     

Marcus Aurelius

It is ridiculous to set a detective story in New York City. New York City is itself a detective story.     

Agatha Christie

The investigators are gathering evidence all the time and they've put together a package of evidence.     

Doug Graham

The trouble is that all the investigators proceeded in exactly the same spirit, the spirit that is of scientific curiosity, and with no possibility of telling whether the issue of their work would prove them to be fiends, or dreamers, or angels.     

Robert Strutt

What the detective story is about is not murder but the restoration of order.     

P. D. James

The valuable attributes of research men are conscious ignorance and active curiosity.     

Willis R. Whitney

You do not mess with the special investigators.     

Lee Child

O human creature,you are the investigator without knowledge, the magistrate without jurisdiction, and all in all, the fool of the farce.     

Michel de Montaigne

A really good detective never gets married.     

Raymond Chandler

With the Great Detective, to think was to act, and to act was to think. Frequently he could do both together.     

Stephen Leacock

Investigation may be likened to the long months of pregnancy, and solving a problem to the day of birth. To investigate a problem is, indeed, to solve it.     

Mao Zedong

Every man at the bottom of his heart believes that he is a born detective.     

John Buchan

Writing detective stories is about writing light literature, for entertainment. It isn't primarily a question of writing propaganda or classical literature.     

Stieg Larsson

Only once in a generation does anything as fresh as a vomiting detective come along.     

Dean Koontz

Unless you are good at guessing, it is not much use being a detective.     

Agatha Christie

Investigators have discovered that dogs can laugh, which can't be too big of a surprise.     

Tony Snow

A working detective has no hope of understanding what even experts who devote their lives to the study of criminal psychology can't figure out.     

Mark Fuhrman

A detective sees death in all the various forms at least five times a week.     

Evan Hunter

You need a crime, a detective, and the solution.     

Kerry Greenwood

Detectives are only human; we're not Gods that know everything. When detectives tell their theory, in reality, most are rather anxious. Thinking that there's always possibility that they could have missed something, somewhere... But in return, the excitement you experience when your theory's smack bang correct is twice as great!     

Gosho Aoyama

You're right on the money with that. We're all like detectives in life. There's something at the end of the trail that we're all looking for.     

David Lynch

Where there's a will there's a detective story.     

Carolyn Wells

There is little novelty in the detective who cannot solve himself.     

Ben H. Winters

A detective sees death in all the various forms at least five times a week.     

Ed McBain

Operating in an unlit world, the unconscious mind is a brilliant detective.     

Jo Coudert

To read of a detective's daring finesse or ingenious stratagem is a rare joy.     

Rex Stout

Obviously, it touches detectives and officers in a special way when you're talking about people who cannot fight back, who cannot defend themselves against someone like this.     

Debra Brown

My eyes have been trained to examine faces and not their trimmings. It is the first quality of a criminal investigator that he should see through a disguise.     

(Sherlock Holmes) Arthur Conan Doyle

The reason why detectives in detective stories are so preternaturally intelligent is that they're angels. Guardian angels of society; avenging angels for the murder. Everyone is guilty of something, so all the major character are suspects.      

Northrop Frye

Crime isn't a disease, it's a symptom. Cops are like a doctor that gives you aspirin for a brain tumour.     

Raymond Chandler

Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science, and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you worked a love story or an elopement into the fifth proposition of Euclid.      

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I had an interest in death from an early age. It fascinated me. When I heard 'Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,' I thought, 'Did he fall or was he pushed?'      

P.D. James

The detective novel is the art-for-art's-sake of our yawning Philistinism, the classic example of a specialized form of art removed from contact with the life it pretends to build on.      

V.S. Pritchett

Naturally a detective doesn't want to look like a detective, and give the whole thing away right at the start.     

P.G. Wodehouse

Any spoke will lead an ant to the hub.      

Rex Stout

Armchair detective, what's your synopsis? / Hoping you'll tell us how we can stop this / Nobody wants to look stupid today more so than usual / To say something clever is of such importance, to say something clever is crucial / Ignorance is bliss, folly to be wise / What's the best course of action? Waiting for advice. / Kneejerk reactions are invoked today more so than usual.      

Alan Smyth; Alex Turner; Jon McClure

We are detective / we are select / We are detective / come to collect / Somebody's after me / he left his footprints by the garden tree / Last night when I got home / I got the feeling I was not alone! / Someone is on our tail / we think they're opening up our morning mail / And now each time the telephone rings / we think of frightening things.      

Alannah Joy Currie; Joseph Martin Leeway; Tom Bailey

You're an unusual suspect now and may be right / The kind all men cannot recollect or forget at night / You're the rough detective with the smokey eye / Where the person you are after is the other guy / The apprentice is the master and the cop's a con / You hear me laughing in the background.     

Jack White; Alison Mosshart; Dean Fertita

The name's Detective Chase / I'm working a cold case / The clues have led me / To this empty house near White's Ferry / I can't tell you what's wrong / All I know is something ain't right / Six murders spanning sixty years / All converging here / The front door / Opens of its own accord / I feel threatened / I draw my weapon / They're coiled on the chairs / Crawling down the stairs / Squirming everywhere / The snakes are black / Red diamonds on their backs / A single serpent / Fills the basement / It speaks to me / It knows my name / Detective Chase / Intruder in the House of Snakes.     

J. R. Hayes; Scott Hull

If I am to use an old cliché, as homicide detectives we get to speak for the dead.     

Detective Barling

The big secret of detective work is that you've got to get somebody else to tell you what happened.      

Lt. John Cornicello

My ongoing investigation is far from an obsession, but an excellent opportunity to provide a platform for applying modern science to a very old, highly visible case in the hope that we might learn something that could help solve modern crimes.     

Patricia Cornwell

The Ripper case is not one to be conclusively solved by DNA or fingerprints, and in a way, this is good. Society has come to expect the wizardry of forensic science to solve all crimes, but without the human element of deductive skills, teamwork, very hard investigation, and smart prosecution, evidence means nothing.     

Patricia Cornwell