I’ve read The case of the pool of blood in the pastor’s study and The case of the registered letter, which are both short stories about Joe Muller. Ever short story starts with an introduction to the main character in these detective stories (so yes, Joe Muller is a detective). These introductions starts as follows:
Joseph Muller, Secret Service detective of the Imperial Austrian police, is one of the great experts in his profession. In personality he differs greatly from other famous detectives. He has neither the impressive authority of Sherlock Holmes, nor the keen brilliance of Monsieur Lecoq. Muller is a small, slight, plain-looking man, of indefinite age, and of much humbleness of mien.
We learn that Muller at a time in his life was falsely accused of a crime, and this is one of the reasons he is so good at his job.
There are two ways these detective stories differ from the other detective stories I have
read. One is the character of Muller himself. The closest comparison I’ve come up with is Miss Marple by Agatha Christie. Ms. Marple was meant to be the quiet underdog, the ordinary person to show that should not be deceived. Yet Ms. Marple do represent the stereotype of the old town busybody (I love her and her books, but you have to admit that’s what she is). Muller is not that and in that becomes even more bland. He is supposed to not be noticed and through his keen observation and intellect he figures out what has happened. An interesting twist on a quit common trope.
The other way this differs is that we are much more in Muller’s head. We get to join him on his calculations, not just observe a man receiving the eureka face and storming off. The reason they usually do that is to save if for the great reveal, where the other character and we as the reader are supposed to marvel and be impressed on their dizzying intellect. Augusta Groner manage to keep us along, keep us in Muller’s head, yet keep the “reveal”. It’s not really a reveal scene, but they serve the same purpose. They’re still enough left of the mystery for you to want to see it through to the end.
And to me, playing with the mould, still giving the reader what they want and keeping you interested shows the talents of Augusta Groner.