Where do novels like Da Vinci Code, And Then There Were None, The Tell-Tale Heart and Sherlock Holmes all come from?
The famous mystery novel first made its appearance during the Industrial Revolution.
The invention of mystery novels is generally attributed to Gaboriau, in 1865 with “L’Affaire Lerouge”. This was the first novel where a progression of a police investigation was seen; the author goes back in time to recount the events leading up to the crime. A mystery novel has a plot which incorporates a strange series of events that lead to a crime to be resolved. The heroes must restore logical order: for each action done, the character gives a rational explanation. With this method, the detective brings back the unknown to the known. Also, it can be noticed that crime fiction always has a moral: the discovery of a criminal gets the world rid of a malicious creature that needed to be punished.
For writing a mystery book, authors like Agatha Christie did not just make something up. There are “rules” that mystery novel follows. Some of these include:
- The reader must have equal opportunity with the detective for solving the mystery. All clues must be plainly stated and described.
- No willful tricks or deceptions may be placed on the reader other than those played legitimately by the criminal on the detective himself.
- There must be no love interest. The business in hand is to bring a criminal to the bar of justice, not to bring a lovelorn couple to the hymeneal altar.
- The detective himself, or one of the official investigators, should never turn out to be the culprit.
- The culprit must be determined by logical deductions — not by accident or coincidence or unmotivated confession.
And there are several more! (See the link down below for the rest of the rules for detective novels.)
In the 1800s, when Napoleon created police headquarters, there was the emergence of the criminal police. This inspired the idea to write novels concerning them and what their job entailed. At a time where there were no televisions, computers or tablets, these books contained a life, an intensity, an amusement that permitted their authors with a simple typewriter to make the public vibrate, to distract it. These authors of paraliterature had qualities that were almost forgotten, nevertheless vital: imagination and creativity. In the 1920s, crime novels were particularly read in train stations and were considered as “disposable”. In other words, once the book was read, there was no need to keep it. But, they were intriguing and exciting stories so passengers waiting for their train began reading them. After all, what better way to “kill the time” while reading a good mystery novel?
Rules for detective novels: http://www.openculture.com/2016/02/20-rules-for-writing-detective-stories.html