Ten Rules for a Crime Novel

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I bumped into a fab page referenced on Facebook which was Raymond Chandler’s ten rules for writing a detective novel. As the article makes clear, Chandler wasn’t just providing a prescriptive list, he was being playful by having a go at those detective novels that had preceded him. In particular, he clearly had issues with Agatha Christie.

Funnily enough, although no-one is laughing right now, I too have issues with Christie. As a teenager I consumed a huge quantity of her output thanks to the resources of my local library. But no matter how hard I concentrated on each word on every page, when it came time for the big reveal, I never predicted the bad guy apart from the odd lucky guess. Why? She hid essential information from the reader to make her detective appear smart.

Not impressed. Seriously not impressed.


2 thoughts on “Ten Rules for a Crime Novel”

  1. I am always disgusted with authors who deliberately withhold information in crime novels to make the detectives appear smart. Part of the fun of the genre is using the information given to figure out “whodunit.” I stopped reading A. Christie years ago…

    1. Corine

      I totally agree. The most annoying thing about Christie is the effort she put into laying the trail along with the red herrings.


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