Fallout 4’s Shaun/Valentine detective story breaks a lot of the rules for detective stories

fallout 5 - Fallout 4's Shaun/Valentine detective story breaks a lot of the rules for detective stories

Doing some research into detective stories for something I'm working on and I came across S. S. Van Dine's 20 rules for detectives: http://www.thrillingdetective.com/trivia/triv288.html and Father Knox's Decalogue of (10) Rules: https://www.writingclasses.com/toolbox/tips-masters/ronald-knox-10-commandments-of-detective-fiction

For my notebook I summarised them like this, but see how many Fallout breaks (main story spoilers):

Starting with ones they got right:

  • No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right. They got this right

  • The detective is bound to declare any clues which he may discover. and this too

  • All clues must be plainly stated and described: FO does a fairly good job of this.

  • No wilful tricks or deceptions may be played on the reader other than by the criminal on the detective. This too

  • There must be no love interest in the story. Debatable. You can romance Nick.

  • The detective himself should never turn out to be the culprit: True.

  • The truth must at all times be apparent–provided the reader is shrewd enough to see it. Kinda. Ish.

  • Servants–such as butlers–must not be chosen by the author as the culprit. Fine.

and yet…

  • The criminal must be mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to know. Early, yes, but we definitely know Kellogg's thoughts.

  • Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable. There are many.

  • No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end. The entire end of the Father story line is an explanation of the science behind it.

  • No "Chinaman" (or other racist stereotype) must figure in the story. Pretty ironic considering the whole anti-Commie thing.

  • The reader must have equal opportunity with the detective for solving the mystery: It's impossible to know Shaun is Father until he tells you, we don't know who Father is before meeting him, although you can figure that he's grown up now.

  • The culprit must be determined by logical deductions–not by accident. Nope, you are, by accident, drawn into either the Railroad, BoS or the Minutemen and sent to find Father, you don't get there on your own accord.

  • It must have a detective in it who will reach his conclusions through an analysis of clues. The detective is either you: in which case Nick or a Faction helps you out, or Nick, in which case he just follows you whereever you go.

  • A murder is the best crime Technically your spouse is murdered, but this is a kidnapping story

  • The problem of the crime must be solved by strictly naturalistic means, and not supernatural or sci-fi. I think teleporting, reading Kellogg's mind chip and androids breaks this rule.

  • There must be but one detective–one deus ex machina. The player-character, Valentine AND your helpers from whichever faction you choose breaks this rule.

  • The culprit must turn out to be a person who has played a prominent part in the story Kellogg is a mystery man you are chasing, Shaun is a mystery boy/man you are chasing: neither of them play any signifiant role in the story before the chase begins. Plus, the organisation that "recruited" Shaun never has any role to play in the story and are never met.

  • There must be but one culprit Kellogg, Father, The original Institute that started the kidnapping…

  • No Secret societies, mafias, etc. (with havens, mass protection, etc.) to fall back on The Institute.

  • A detective story should contain no long descriptive passages There is a lot of traipsing through the wilderness, and a lot of side-quests.

  • A professional criminal is never the culprit: always someone unexpected Kellogg is a pro criminal, the Institute is the boogeyman of the wasteland.

  • A crime in a detective story must never turn out to be an accident or a suicide. It was an accident, kinda, that your spouse is killed.

  • The motives for all crimes in detective stories should be personal, not international or political Definintely not true here, it was totally a big political play to found the institute.

  • Avoid cliches: comparing the butt of a cigarette left at the scene of the crime with the brand smoked by a suspect, spirits/ghosts to frighten the culprit, forged finger-prints, dummy-figure alibi, a dog that does not bark and thereby reveals the fact that the intruder is familiar, final pinning of the crime on a twin, hypodermic syringe and the knockout drops, commission of the murder in a locked room after the police have actually broken in, a word-association test for guilt; a cipher which is eventually unravelled by the sleuth. Wow. The cigarette thing, "ghosts" thing (synths, teleportation, the Institute), the dummy-figure (a fake Shaun), a twin (fake Shaun), knockout drops (cyro cell), the mind-chip scanning is kinda like the word-association thing, and the cipher thing is akin to having to build the teleporter into the institute and crack the codes on the chips.

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