There’s good detective work, and there’s inadequate detective work. A detective should never assume or rush to conclusions. They must see the crime from all possible angles and ask questions, not only of the suspect(s), but of themselves as well. When Detective Rhonda Boney enters the house of Nick and Amy Dunne, she does so in a very humble, unassuming and cordial manner. Nick shows her the broken coffee table and the over-turned footstool, then the upstairs bedrooms. And then the kitchen where a blood splatter is discovered. Boney begins to suspect, but she does not cast judgement. Evidence points to that of a struggle taking place and being washed clean. Something is not right. Something does not ring true with what Nick Dunne is telling her, yet he appears genuine and honest with no hint of fabricating a story. Boney and her partner, a detective in training, immediately recognize the staged characteristics of the crime and in their minds they would like to escort Dunne to a jail cell in handcuffs, but the evidence has not been tested and analyzed yet and Rhonda Boney is willing to give Nick the benefit of the doubt. She takes Dunne to the station for questioning in hopes that he might slip and say something without a lawyer present that will indict him. Such is the work of a careful and calculating detective. “Innocent until proven guilty”, isn’t that the workings of the law? Now comes the part where Rhonda Boney must prove that her suspect is guilty.
In a Study in Scarlett, the first Sherlock Holmes detective novel by Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes arrives at the scene of the crime and immediately begins to collect evidence. He paces back and forth on a path that leads to the apartment of a murdered man. He studies the body for wounds and finds none. He collects samples from the floor and he uses his magnifying glass to inspect a word that’s been written upon the wall in blood: RACHE. He is careful and calculating in his work, knowing that the evidence collected at the scene of the crime will out the murderer. However, Holmes’s colleagues, two Scotland Yard detectives, decide to follow the only visible path, the one that is laid out directly in front of them and points towards the murdered man’s missing secretary. It makes sense though, doesn’t it? A man was murdered and then his secretary coincidentally goes missing. Perhaps there is a connection. But the detective’s theory proves wrong when they find that the secretary has also been murdered. It was a common and logical start by the Scotland Yard detectives, but an inadequate one. They rushed to a conclusion and were not careful, and risked framing the wrong man for murder.
In the first half of Gone Girl a mystery is played out. Detective Rhonda Boney remains patient despite the urgency of the case and she waits for the right time to make an arrest. Her partner is like a nagging devil that rests upon her shoulder, suggesting that Nick Dunne is guilty. Why wait and give the man an opportunity to evade the law? Arrest him now while he is present and put an end to his “charade”. But Boney wants to collect all possible evidence in order to convict Dunne of a crime in which there is no body. She’s patient and calculating. She listens to the evidence as well as herself, and the other half of her says that Dunne could be innocent. She’s a modern Sherlock Holmes and the actress, Kim Dickens, brings a maturity, humbleness, and authenticity to the role, portraying the character as not your cliched, one-dimensional detective, but three-dimensional and human. Boney is a working woman with a job to do and she respects the work and wants to do it correctly, therefore I respect and admire her. That’s some damn-fine detective work, Detective Boney.