There’s always S.S Van Dine’s 20 Rules
I’ve been saying this as long as I can remember. I’ve been mentioning this over and over – the unlikeness of the culprit being the servants in Umineko. From personal theories to other general reasoning. Granted, it was “within the realm” of possibilities for a servant to turn out to be the culprit. They aren’t included in Knox’s 10 or the original commandments that any of the servants couldn’t possibly be culprit of a story, however, I always assume they weren’t for many reasons.
It is my personal experience that I haven’t read a detective story of the Golden Age where
the culprit was a “servant” or “the help”. There was *one* where a subordinate was *involved* in the murder affair but wasn’t directly the killer of the story. For the other example, the “help” was indeed the *culprit*, but the premise of the mystery was not of murder thus there as we can see it was permissible seeing it wasn’t of great importance.
“11. Servants—such as butlers, footmen, valets, game-keepers, cooks, and the like—must not be chosen by the author as the culprit. This is begging a noble question. It is a too easy solution. It is unsatisfactory, and makes the reader feel that his time has been wasted. The culprit must be a decidedly worth-while person—one that wouldn’t ordinarily come under suspicion; for if the crime was the sordid work of a menial, the author would have had no business to embalm it in book-form.”
To put it in perspective I refer to , a petty, weak crime (I’ll call it that) such a robbery or deceiving can’t compare to murder when we measure one against the other one in a detective novel. .S.S. Van Dine’s 20 makes a great emphasis that in a mystery anything but murder wouldn’t be considered a real mystery, therefore the culprit must be a character and this person must be responsible for the death of someone. Such cliche of a servant such as the butler, or in general who is the *most suspicious* of the story in these cases is always the servant since they are the closest to the person who was murdered is unacceptable as the solution due to both clicheness and be symbol of a poorly written mystery. Do we want that? Of course, we wouldn’t because there must be a more satisfactory answer to our questions. I don’t know about others but I didn’t consider the servants to the *real* culprits of the story. My theories , unless in special cases, didn’t include the servants as being the culprits of being the killers of the story, therefore this is matches perfectly with my reasoning.
“Van Dine #11 confirms in red that is forbidden for a servant to be the culprit.”
According to me:
“Servants could only be accomplices at best but they should not be involved in the act of murder itself.”
I’m glad we cleared that up. So for now I’ll continue to work under this premise and this hopefully everyone will stop believing of such possibilities being possible, right? Umineko’s writing is on the level of first-rate mystery stories and it was unfathomable to image they’d go against such clear rules for writing great mystery stories –