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Agatha Christie and the golden age of detective fiction
Agatha Christie and the golden age of detective fiction

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5 Does Christie break ‘the rules’?

The front cover of the book ‘The murder of Roger Ackroyd’ by Agatha Christie, featuring an image of a woman and the text ‘Poirot’s master stroke!’.
Figure 5 Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (London: Collins, 1926).

Earlier, when reviewing the origins and development of detective fiction at the start of this course, you considered the implications of ‘the rules’ or the ‘Ten Commandments’ of detective fiction assembled by Ronald Knox in 1929. Endorsed by the famous Detection Club of British mystery novelists, these rules have been hugely influential, not just for notions of ‘fair play’ in the composition of crime narratives but also for the understanding of the creative process behind modern detective fiction. You will now look in more detail at Knox’s schema of rules for writing detective fiction.