What’s a Whodunit?

Excerpted From Wikipedia

whodunit (a colloquial elision of “Who [has] done it?”) is a complex, plot-driven variety of detective story in which the puzzle regarding who committed the crime is the main focus. The reader or viewer is provided with the clues from which the identity of the perpetrator may be deduced before the story provides the revelation itself at its climax. The investigation is usually conducted by an eccentric, amateur, or semi-professional detective.

Whodunit “Guidelines”

There is an informal set of rules defining a Whodunit (written in 1929 by Ronald Knox) which include:

  1. The criminal must be mentioned in the early part of the story but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to know.
  2. All supernatural & preternatural forces are ruled out as a matter of course.
  3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowed
  4. No undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any weapon or tool which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
  5. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.
  6. The detective himself must not commit the crime.
  7. The detective is bound to declare any clues which he may discover.
  8. The “sidekick” of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal from the reader any thoughts which pass through his mind: his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.
  9. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.

In this blog, I’ll be concentrating on the Golden Age of Detective Fiction which was from approximately 1840 to 1941. There are some excellent stories that I hope you’ll enjoy.

– Mark Bielecki aka Dr. Whodunit