In 1930, a group of Britain’s greatest minds in detective literature assembled themselves into a club that would change the world of mystery writing and crime fiction: they called themselves The Detection Club. Wanting to provide support to each other within their literary community, great minds like Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Freeman Wills Croft and more came together (oath-bound over a real human skull, no less) to bounce ideas and hone the technical aspects of their mysteries. In doing so, they created the guiding light for all mystery writers, which they called the Commandments.
Since the 30’s, however, not all mystery makers have stayed faithful to these guidelines. So, we present you with five films and TV shows that, though steeped in murder and mystery, have strayed from the genius formula of the Detection Club Commandments (and, yes, there are lots and lots of spoilers ahead, so you’ve been warned!).
Commandment Broken: #1, “The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.”
Despite being one of the most highly favoured mystery shows among teens and young adults, we can’t say for sure if members of the Detection Club would have been big fans. According to research, PLL broke not one, but two commandments. For those who know how the story ends, the “A” we had been investigating for five seasons was not what we had expected. As for the discovery of “Uber A” in Season 7, fans were even more confused; we can’t help but think that it probably has something to do with the fact that neither A nor Uber A were introduced at the start of the show. We don’t meet CeCe Drake until Season 3 as the distant yet deceitful friend of Alison DiLaurentis and the love interest of Jason. Then by Season 6, we find out CeCe is Charloette, and Charloette was born Charles, and Charles was the distant relative and adopted sibling of Ali and Jason. Talk about a twist! Charloette felt that her sister/cousin Ali was not being treated so kindly by the other Liars, so she took vengeance into her own hands. Even after she is released from an asylum five years later, she still has every intent to destroy the girls however she can… that is …until she’s killed.
Commandment Broken: #10, “Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.”
Twins have definitely become a reoccurring plot twist for many storylines, and became the centre plot of family drama during PLL episodes. Fans can probably recall the shock and dismay of finding out that Spencer’s long lost twin, Alex Drake, was actually the one who saw Hanna when she was kidnapped and kissed Toby in earlier episodes. Even watching Ali’s mom with a twin was just as frustrating. In hindsight, the Detection Club would not have been too particularly proud of this show.
Commandment Broken: #7, “The detective must not himself commit the crime.”
Movie goers were definitely not expecting the ending to this magical thriller. FBI agent Dylan Rhodes, played by Mark Ruffalo, is on the hunt of a lifetime for the Four Horsemen, a squad of street magicians who after a year of working together, figure out a way to infiltrate money moguls, as well as various banks around the world. Starting out as a Charlie’s Angels- type boss, we don’t know exactly who the Four Horsemen are working for after they give up their funder, Arthur Tressler, and steal his money to give to their audience in New Orleans, but they are intent on staying loyal to their anonymous leader until they meet them. They even plant stolen money in the car of another fellow magician played by Morgan Freeman. But they obviously did not come up with these plans on their own, nor did they create the Four Horsemen on their own either. So who is the mastermind? By the end, it is revealed that Agent Rhodes, the man who has been so desperate to capture them all this time, is the fifth Horsemen, who brought the other four together and provided them with this plan in order to avenge the death of his father by impoverishing and arresting those responsible. We’re not sure exactly why this rule was put into effect from the Detection Club, but it sure made for a great story for viewers of the film.
Commandment Broken: #2, “All supernatural or pre-natural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.”
Oh, Riverdale! We had such high hopes for you. Starting out as a teen drama comic strip that was first published in 1941 and finally made its way to today’s screens, we witnessed a first season masterpiece that tackled love triangles, mean queen bees, inappropriate student-teacher relationships, and even parental drama that affected plenty throughout the town of Riverdale. However, as we got into the second and third season, things just got a lot more confusing for viewers. Once the writers started bringing in the storyline of the Gargoyle King and game boards with possible magical powers, we knew it was downhill from there, and the Detection Club apparently predicted this with their second amendment. There has also been word of the show providing Easter eggs and connections to Netflix hit The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and that the storylines would eventually intertwine, which would explain all the witchcraft apparently.
Commandment Broken: #9, “The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.”
Although the show only ran for two seasons, it still may catch the eye of some Detection Club members in its’ disobedience to commandment nine. I think it’d be right to assume that this specific rule fell into place in order to ensure that readers and viewers would be able to assess if the close friend has anything to do with the crime. This was the case for not one, not two, but three characters: GiGi Caldwell played by Nasim Pedrad, Boone Clemens played by Nick Jonas, and Hester Ulrich played by Lea Michelle. Despite Boone and Hester being the close friends to two central characters on the show, viewers are so distracted by their awkward quirks throughout episodes, no one questions their mental ability to commit murder, and not just random murder, but murder with an almost 20-year revenge plot over the death of their mother.
Commandment Broken: #8, “The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.”
Going into its sixth and final season, Shonda Rhimes’ courtroom thriller starring Viola Davis has constantly brought fans to acts of kicking and screaming after the biggest season finale reveals, but nothing seemed to be more shocking than the second season finale, when attorney Annalise Keating was shot by student Wes. We find out in a quick flashback following the shooting that Annalise knew about Wes long before he showed up to law school, and that she actually played a part in the death of Wes’ mother. Through commandment 8, The Detection Club may have found the error in Annalise’s ways before even she did. We wonder throughout these two seasons the strange bond among the teacher and student, and by the third season we are brought to terms as to why they are connected so much, but I am sure viewers would have preferred this information much earlier in the series, say maybe from the beginning?
As always, thank you for reading, and be sure to tweet us @AgoraBooksLDN with your favourite blatant breaking of The Detection Club Commandments in today’s TV and film.