Holmes’s notable autistic tendencies have frequently been pointed out: in particular, his lack of social interests but remarkable concentration and eye for detail where a crime or mystery is concerned.
Indeed, Holmes seems very much the epitome of an Asperger’s savant: a relentlessly single-minded loner possessed of a “photographical” memory and described in 'A Scandal in Bohemia' as “the most perfect reasoning and observing machine the world has seen.”
However, writers on autism have also pointed out that Miss Marple, another of the immortals of detective fiction, seems in every way the opposite: solving crimes by intuition rather than analytic deduction. By contrast to Holmes or Agatha Christie’s other principal detective, Hercule Poirot, you could describe Miss Marple as something of a psychotic savant. As I argued in a previous post, such people excel in mentalistic, “people skills” rather than in the mechanistic, “things-thinking” of autistic savants.
Indeed, the remarkable success and continuing fascination of detective fiction might find an explanation in the way in which it combines extremes of the two parallel modes of cognition. — Christopher Badcock, Ph.D., "The Genius of Detective Fiction," PSYCHOLOGY TODAY, January 21, 2010
Category: Detective fiction