What Makes Great Detective Fiction, According to T. S. Eliot

At the end of his 1944 essay, Edmund Wilson suggested that it was no accident that the Golden Age of detection coincided with the period between the two World Wars: in a shattered civilization, there was something reassuring about the detective’s ability to link up all the broken fragments and ‘know just where to fix the guilt.’ Such tidy solutions were to Wilson the mark of glib and simplistic genre fiction. But to Eliot, who in ‘The Waste Land’ wrote of the fractured modern world as a ‘heap of broken images,’ it seems possible that Golden Age detective stories offered above all a pleasing orderliness—a way of seeing ghastly disruptions restored to equilibrium with the soothing predictability of ritual.
— Paul Grimstad