Hot on the Trail of Iconic Detectives

Hot on the Trail
Thompson Library
Thompson Gallery (Room 125)
1858 Neil Avenue Mall
Columbus, OH 43210-1286

May 24, 2017 - September 17, 2017
Exhibit Hours: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM
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The game is afoot! Hot on the Trail of Iconic Detectives explores popular depictions of fictional detectives over the last 150 years. Curated by English Librarian Jennifer Schnabel, the exhibition examines detectives in 19th-century dime novels, young adult fiction, comic books, film, and contemporary Japanese manga.

We often associate the traditional detective character with Sherlock Holmes and his concealing overcoat, deerstalker hat, pipe, and magnifying glass. Hot on the Trail reveals the creation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s character and his iconic look as well as highlights diverse representations of detectives on the page, stage, and screen, including:

  • Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Victorian detective
  • Nancy Drew, the teen sleuth created by Carolyn Keene
  • Dick Tracy, the comic book hero first drawn by Chester Gould
  • Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson, Chester Himes’s Harlem detectives
  • Shinichi Kudo, manga author Gosho Aoyama’s boy detective 

These investigators reflected the social issues of their time. They went on to influence the cultural environments in which they first appeared, and their adventures continue to engage audiences today.

This exhibition would not have been possible without the support of the curators, staff, and student workers in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute, the Medical Heritage Center, the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection, and the Libraries’ Area Studies, Preservation & Reformatting, and Communications departments.

For further reading on fictional detectives, visit


Photo of Jennifer Schnabel Jennifer Schnabel
Associate Professor