Some time ago I came upon a definition--I don't recall where--that I often cite when the subject of aging comes up: "Middle age is ten years older than I am now."
Lately I've been noticing that this standard may be pushing my own arrival at middle age past the boundary of strict plausibility. So I've been heartened to read recently a spate of articles--written by baby boomers, I suspect--extolling the "new middle age."
One notes a BBC survey saying that people consider middle age to begin at age 55 and run to age 70. No, to age 80, one pundit says. Wrong, another insists, it's not until 85 that we say goodbye to middle age and become old. Really, others opine, there's no specific start or end point; it's a matter of attitude. In other words, age is all in our minds.
Which brings me to the subject of senior sleuths.
I was going to cite some examples of intrepid fictional detectives who solve crimes later in life, after giving a shout-out to two such sleuths created by my fellow LadyKillers: Gladdy Gold, who leads a merry band of Florida sleuths in the Getting Old Is ... series by Rita Lakin, and retired Texas police chief Samuel Craddock in Terry Shames's new novel, The Killing at Cotton Hill.
So I Googled the term "Senior Sleuth" and found list upon list of them. After eliminating duplicates, I was surprised to see that I had come up with more than 150 names, and I'm sure I've just scratched the surface. This is a more popular subgenre than I had realized--a well-established tradition going at least as far back as Agatha Christie's Miss Jane Marple, who made her debut in 1926 in a short story called "The Tuesday Night Club."
It makes sense that people past the blush of youth could make good detectives. They bring many helpful qualities to that enterprise, whether they're operating in a professional or amateur capacity. They're likely to have encountered more aspects of human nature and to have dealt with a wider range of situations than most younger sleuths. Young people are often certain that their first impressions are accurate, their assumptions are infallible, and their beliefs are always correct (just ask any parent of a teenager). Older people, or at least many of them, have enough experience to look beyond the easy answers. There's a reason for the saying: You're not getting older, you're getting wiser.
Then, as I scanned one of the lists I found, I saw this description after the name of one of the sleuths on the list: "A 50-plus detective." Seriously, 50? What happened to middle age ending at 85? Sure, what I said in the previous paragraph applies, but at 50 you're still years away from getting a discount at the movie theater. Shouldn't a character at least be eligible for Medicare before being called a "senior sleuth"?
On the other hand, it's a catchy and alliterative label. "Middle-aged sleuth" just doesn't have same ring.