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The first detective novel, with Inspector Bucket the prototype of the literary detective—Bleak House is both a literary classic and a classic of crime
The case of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce—a dispute over a vast fortune left by a miser who died intestate—has occupied the Court of Chancery for years. When Lady Dedlock faints upon recognizing the handwriting in one of the documents pertaining to the case, her sinister lawyer, Tulkinghorn, immediately suspects a hidden secret, and an opportunity for blackmail—but he is playing a dangerous game, and is soon found dead: a victim of murder. It is down to Detective Inspector Bucket to solve the mystery. Dickens was fascinated by the sensational crime cases of his day. His preoccupations—with crime and the legal system, with social injustice—are dramatically evident in Bleak House: at once a classic crime novel and a classic of world literature.
"Bucket can claim to be the first detective proper in English fiction . . . with his fat forefinger, his false bonhomie, his omniscience and his indifference to everything other than solving the crime." —John Sutherland, author, How to Read a Novel