A study on the detective story
The pattern of most detective stories is the same, whether the tale is a novel, a novelette or a short story. The author presents the crime, [...]
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The pattern of most detective stories is the same, whether the tale is a novel, a novelette or a short story. The author presents the crime, the detective and several clues and suspects. The climax of the story comes when the detective reveals the criminal and tells how the mystery was solved.
Certain conventions have developed from the detective story pattern. The author is expected to "play fair" with the reader. That is, the reader should be given exactly the same information that the detective uses to find the criminal. Readers can treat the story as a battle of wits between themselves and the detective .
The detective in most of these stories is not a professional police officer, but a private consultant. For example, G.K.Chesterton's Father Brown is a priest, Rex Shout's Nero Wolfe is a gourmet and an intellectual. Fictional professional detectives include Wilkie Collin's Sergent Cuff, John Creasey's Inspector Maigret.
Romance or financial gain may be a factor in a detective story, but the main theme is the mystery and its solution.
Some of these characteristics and some others will be discussed while analysing Agatha Christie's The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb (in chapter III). The detective story above mentioned belongs to the well known "Whodunnit" which is one of the 4 types of detective fiction, together with "the hard boiled detective narrative", "the police procedural", "the metaphysical detective narrative".
Whodunnit, the British detective fiction is usually a detective puzzle that presents crime exclusively as a riddle to be solved through the "Wh-" train of questions (i.e. Who, Why, How, Where, When).
The term Whodunnit (Who done it ?) was coined by D.Jordan in the American News of Books in 1930. It refers to a form of writing invented by Edgar Allan Poe in "The Murder of Rue Morgue" (1841).
The mystery is very important, emphasized whereas the writer must follow a set of guidelines that require fair play in the telling of the murder, presentation of the clues and the withholding of the identity of the murderer until the end.
The art of the "whodunnit" comes in the pursuit of the murderer through the skillful presentation of clues. The writer is expected to adhere to the standard of fair play. Which is, the writer must present to the reader all the clues necessary to reveal the significance of the clues. The writer can misdirect the reader by emphasizing the unimportant clues. Margery Allingham, the mystery writer went on to single out an smaller group of essentials for a murder mystery belonging to the "Whodunnit" type in the preface of "The Mysterious Mr. Campion" (1963): a killing, "a mystery, an inquiry, and a conclusion with an element of satisfaction". « mai multe referate din Engleza