The Sleuths


O. Henry

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Tonight, we’ll read a light-hearted O. Henry short story that creates a pastiche out of the popular Sherlock Holmes stories.

In this story, a man searching for his missing sister in New York realizes the official police detective can’t help him. Only one man can: the famous private consulting detective named Shamrock Jolnes.

Although many of O. Henry’s stories involve crimes or contain some elements of mystery, the author never actually wrote detective fiction.

The character of Shamrock Jolnes also appears in O. Henry’s short stories "The Adventures of Shamrock Jolnes" and "The Detective Detector".

In reading about these stories, we found different but similar terms like pastiche, parody, spoof and satire. While both parody and pastiche imitate the works of others, pastiche does so respectfully. It is used to highlight and pay homage to the original works while not stealing directly from it. Parody, on the other hand, mocks and ridicules the original works. It exaggerates its form and language, often replacing serious subjects with silly ones. And whereas a parody imitates a specific work, a spoof imitates a general genre. Finally, satire is similar to parody in that it uses ridicule, exaggeration and irony, but instead of poking fun at a specific creative work, it comments on society, religion and politics.