The novelist who created Inspector Morse writes about Bleak House for the Guardian's series "A book that changed me":
"I have . . . religiously read the novel from beginning to end three times, and with ever-increasing delight and understanding. It was, and is, the greatest novel of the lot. Why? First, the quality of the writing; second, the complexity of the plot; third, the extraordinary insight and honesty of the characterisation."
Here's a fun tidbit from the London Particular (the Dickens Fellowship Newsletter), submitted by Dr. Christine Corton: An episode of the British TV series Endeavour, titled "Neverland,"showed Morse, the main character, entering a firm of solicitors called "Vholes, Jaggers and Lightwood." Looks like they've got a Dickensian on the writing staff!
When people talk about early detective novels, and Dickens's influence on the genre, they usually tend to bring up Inspector Bucket of Bleak House. The Inspector has been called "the first important detective in English literature," and there's little doubt he merits the description.
But there's at least one other detective figure in Dickens's work who seems to be almost completely overlooked: Sissy Jupe in Hard Times.
I realize, of course, that Sissy is not a professional detective. But the detective canon is full of amateur sleuths, and I would argue that the humble "stroller's child" deserves to be listed among them.
(I'm going to put some major spoilers below the cut, so proceed at your own risk!)