I remember, that a character once said: detective stories are the greatest among genre fictions. Well, I strongly go with him. And, speaking of why they are the greatest, I would say, for their unique plots and tricks–tricks count more, among which there’s a paticular type, originated in the very dawn of detective stories, has long been evolving and has helped create some of the most wonderful masterpieces in history. And that is the “locked-room mystery“.
As what Sherlock Holmes once said, “eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth“. The fact is, however, it would be difficult for many of us to list all the “possibilities”, let alone eliminating. And such problem, may result in the lower of entertainment. So, in order to help detective-lovers better understand this type of tricks and guide them along their future reading or writing, I decided to make a thorough research on those “possibilities” based on all the detective stories I have read/watched.
(To avoid potential spoiler, I would not indicate the name of any certain work.)
Above all, what exactly is a “locked-room“? Literally, it means a room that is not only “locked”, but “sealed“, which makes it seemingly impossible for the criminal to get in (or out) and commit the crime. Of course, as a crime has already took place, it is certain that someone has gained an “access”, but such access, in order not to fall into a joke, must be well-designed, not paltered with.
So, at the very beginning, I’m going to exclude some bad ideas:
1. The murderer uses secret doors or gates to commit the crime.
2. The main trick consists supernatural factors, such as high-intelligent robots, magic or sorcery.
Speaking broadly, such cases could also be considered (especially when the other parts are excellent), but as we are focusing on tricks, I’ll leave them for readers to dig in.
And, for convinence, let us suppose that there’s only one murderer (well, if really existed).
In the following articles, I will divide the Locked-room Mystery into three main categories: Physically-locked Rooms, Psychologically-locked Rooms and Others, under which the detailed tricks will be discussed.
To be continued.