Is Heathcliff a Murderer?: Great Puzzles in Nineteenth-century Fiction by J. A. Sutherland
Readers of Victorian fiction must often have tripped up on seeming anomalies, enigmas and mysteries in their favourite novels. Does Becky kill Jos at the end of "Vanity Fair"? Why does no one notice that Hatty is pregnant in "Adam Bede"? How, exactly, does Victor Frankenstein make his monster? Why does Dracula come to England rather than neighbouring Germany? Why doesn't the invisible man make himself an invisible suit? Why does Sherlock Holmes, of all people, get the name of his client wrong? In "Is Heathcliff a Murderer?" (well, is he?), John Sutherland investigates 34 conundrums of 19th-century fiction. Applying these "real world" questions to fiction is not in any sense intended to catch out the novelists who are invariably cleverer than their most detectively-inclined readers. Typically, one finds a reason for the seeming anomaly. Not blunders, that is, but unexpected felicities and ingenious justifications.