Speaking of Murder, She Wrote, there’s a real-life novelist who’s claimed to have solved a murder mystery. British novelist P.D. James claims to have conclusively solved the Julia Wallace murder, a cold case that also puzzled Raymond Chandler and which was the inspiration for James’s own 1982 novel, The Skull Beneath the Skin.
James is not the only mystery novelist who’s tried to solve a cold case. Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, solved cases in his spare time, and American thriller novelist Patricia Cornwell once claimed to have figured out the true identity of Jack the Ripper:
James’s “absolute conviction” echoes the “100%” certainty of Patricia Cornwell, who in 2002 claimed that British painter, Walter Sickert, was Jack the Ripper. Cornwell was convinced that she had fingered Sickert for the murders with a theory based on a specifically watermarked letter; but she drew accusations from a curator at the Royal Academy of “monstrously stupidity” for tearing up a Sickert painting in an attempt to prove her case. Cornwell spent £2m buying 31 Sickert paintings, letters and his writing desk.
“Mounstrous stupidity” aside—how badass is this? Many dream of being published novelists; but how many novelists also solve crimes?