In the 1890 novel The Sign of Four, the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes explains to his companion Dr John Watson his approach to the science of detection.
“Oh, didn’t you know?” he cried, laughing. “Yes, I have been guilty of several monographs. They are all upon technical subjects. Here, for example, is one ‘Upon the Distinction Between the Ashes of the Various Tobaccos.’ In it I enumerate a hundred and forty forms of cigar-, cigarette- and pipe-tobacco, with coloured plates illustrating the difference in the ash. It is a point which is continually turning up in criminal trials, and which is sometimes of supreme importance as a clue. If you can say definitely, for example, that some murder has been done by a man who was smoking an Indian lunkah, it obviously narrows your field of search. To the trained eye there is as much difference between the black ash of a richinopoly and the white fluff of bird’s-eye as there is between a cabbage and a potato.
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