Concepts of British Golden Age Detective Fiction

Here is a list of concepts and conventions found in Golden Age detective fiction, along with representative titles where appropriate.

Fair Play

Fair play rules are meant to benefit the reader. The idea is that readers should be able to solve the crime along with the detective, if their wits are sharp enough. The rules of fair play prevent the author from throwing in unforeseen surprises that would prevent readers from solving the mystery themselves. Basically the rules state that there must be no bizarre breaks or surprise solutions that are hidden from the reader until the end and that the reader must be in possession of all the clues; nothing should be withheld by the author. Here is a short summary of the rules, taken from Julian Symon’s The Detective Story in Britain: