In many ways, murder mysteries have a lot in commn with Shimer. In fact, they have an enormous amount in common with liberal education more generally, and I do not mean only because there are so many set on campuses -- or so many set in Chicago.
What then do I mean?Well, there are at least 4 characteristics of murder mysteries that seem to have to do with Shimer.
First: the genre called cozy mysteries (often including those featuring Miss Marple) are set in small towns, and are a variant of domestic mysteries. While not at all domestic (in my humble opinion), certainly Shimer is a small community -- and there are many who function a bit like Miss Marple, seemingly inoccuous smart people who are terrifically observant and able to . . . put 2 and 2 together.
Second: many commentators believe that murder mysteries are, in part, about ethical or moral quandaries. They are, some argue, case studies in debate about the distribution -- restorative and/or retributive force -- of justice. Certainly these are topics within the Shimer curriculum and, in fact, part of the struggle to live within its ethos.
Third: mysteries often pose problems that are -- shall we say -- interdisciplinary. Science, humanistic understanding, and social science can come to bear in a solution -- in the case of detective novels, balanced differently by various authors in the guise of their investigators. They require the "right" balance of specialist and generalist, breadth and depth of context in thinking about circustances.
And, of course, murder mysteries, detectives stories and the like are in part a genre of literature (controversial though that ststament may seem to some) that focuses (in some sense) on rationality -- on reason -- on thinking. That is, they are about what Poirot more or less indicated was "the functioning of little grey cells." While one might not limit rationality directly to the cells that make up the brain, certainly thinking is a crucial part of all this -- even when stretched to include intuition.
Murder mysteries vary in their commitment to positivism, of course. And the rules of detective stories call for requiring clues to be there for readers to trace.
But: again Poirot -- the little grey cells. Shimerian? In my view yes. And, not because of the fact he was Belgian, nor because of the way he was played for years on PBS, but because he too fits within the rubric of the core of what we do. We think together about texts - and the world in which we live.