How would you solve a crime using five-element diagnosis was the question posed by my colleague Sharon Eckman, she of (Bel)Shazzer’s Feast, leading me to thoughts of the criminal tendency of the Five Elements of Oriental Diagnosis. We have one more than the Greek Four, but they pretty much match, in your opinion.
And the criminals: what would their predominant element be? Predominant because we each and all of us are made up of all four or five. And then we must consider the elemental nature of the detective solving the crime so I’ve picked a few of the more popular.
And then the criminal seasons: what would you be more likely to commit in spring? Why are most burglaries done in winter? What would be the robbery season? And when for murder: September is the favourite month for starting wars. Or does institutional murder not count?
Let’s start with crimes of passion, crimes of the heart, and so Fire. The Earth element I think could work for poisoning because of its relationship with the organs of digestion, or should it be Wood that filters toxins? No, I think I prefer to keep Wood for crimes of violence: the associated emotion is anger. And Wood feeds Fire so that would go with passion. Metal is another candidate for poisoning, being the element of alchemy, although it could qualify for violence being the material of sharp instruments. But it’s also to do with money so let’s keep it for financial crimes such as fraud, embezzlement, bribery and corruption. That leaves Water, associated with fear: blackmail? Mugging?
In considering the crime we focussed on the negative aspect of the element. Should we go for the positive in the detective? Not sure: the positive of Fire is love and joy. There again, Fire also governs aspects of communication. How about Colombo? Wood is kindness and forgiveness, possibly with love and joy disqualifiers for the job. But Wood also covers decision making and detection is surely a series of micro-decisions. Why not Mickey Spillane? Earth is serenity: Magnum? Or Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote? Metal could only be the master of analytics Sherlock Holmes. Water is the element of adaptability, turning from solid ice through colorless odourless tasteless liquid to steamy vapour. This one I leave to you: who would you pick?
Matching detective to crime invokes the elemental cycle of Control: Fire controls Metal (ask any blacksmith) so we’re setting Colombo to investigate fraud etc. So he usually does murder? OK, many of his cases are to do with the perpetrator making some financial gain. Metal controls Wood (snip snip the pruning shears): Sherlock for violence. Mickey Spillane for Wood solves poison, Earth. And should we choose Magnum or Jessica for blackmail of Water? (Mugging we leave to the police.) Who did you choose as the Water detective? He or She goes after the crimes of passion, Fire. Maybe Hercule Poirot for Water?
A moment of perfunctory research yields the information that rape and assault tend to occur more in the summer most everywhere. Other seasonal tendencies are localised. Where do you live? Have you locked your door and hidden your passwords, avoiding the need for detection?
I realise I have not answered the question. To do so would depend on the crime, non? Even if the criminal is not yet known. Of course if they were known it wouldn’t need so much detection, would it?