Today, Len Tyler follows up on his guest post on Monday with his proposed new ten commandments for classic detective fiction. Enjoy!
1 No violence should take place on the page when it can take place off the page and be reported back without too much upsetting detail.
2 No sexual activity should be included that cannot be easily replicated by a typical crime reader at home, with the aid if necessary of items that are readily obtainable from Waitrose.
3 While not actually denying the existence of modern scientific methods of detection, the crime should as far as possible be solved by logic, ingenuity and sheer British pluck.
4 The police should tolerate, and preferably welcome, the assistance of an amateur detective, especially one who has never come across a murder before.
5 No clue should be discovered by a police officer if it could reasonably have been discovered by the amateur detective.
6 The employment of secret passages is permitted, so long as they are not the entire solution to an otherwise inexplicable murder.
7 Identical twins may be introduced into the book, provided they are knowingly referred to as ‘the Knox brothers’.
8 Nobody shall be murdered in a town if they could have easily traveled to a small village to be murdered.
9 Any technology not available during the Golden Age (mobile phones, internet etc) must fail just when most needed.
10 Snowstorms shall, as a matter of course, last long enough for the amateur detective to investigate all aspects of the case before the police can arrive.
I hope this revision of the rules will be of value to traditional crime writers and of some interest to those who read their books. Those who would like further discussion of these issues - and who might enjoy a fictional killing or two - may like to consider reading Farewell My Herring, the ninth instalment of the Herring series, available (as they say) from all good bookshops and the usual vendors of ebooks