Instructions for investigators

You can also become an InterCriPol agent – if you are meticulous and thorough with a heightened attention to detail, and you can throw yourself with enthusiasm, insight and elegance into ‘creative abductions’, to quote Umberto Eco when evoking Sherlock Holmes.

However, this creativity does not exclude an unshakeable logic, as well as firm ethical foundations. Here, we outline some essential methodological tools that you must take on if you want to investigate with us.


Just as in the relentless world of fiction, all police investigations require a rigorous approach – in order to avoid adding any further miscarriages of justice to the ones that you find. If you wish to contribute to our investigations, we therefore ask for scrupulous adherence to the following instructions:


  • InterCriPol acts in the interest of Justice: The excessive questioning of InterCripol agents should not be confused with that of conspiracy theorists; instead, it serves to highlight logical flaws and biases which teem within such texts. These often result from ideological prejudices which contradict with the democratic principles on which our mission is founded. No hypothesis will therefore be accepted that contravenes republican law, particularly racist, sexist, discriminatory, revisionist or negationist proposals.


  • A value judgment is not an argument: you have the opportunity to launch a counter investigation into existing hypotheses, and to lay out the doubts and additional insights that come to you. However, you cannot provide subjective evaluations, such as ‘well done, very convincing’ or ‘not credible’. Matriochca will only publish contributions which allow us to move forward in our search for truth, formed in a spirit of objectivity and dialogue.


  • Any hypothesis, request to open an investigation, or refutation must be supported in an objective manner: You must always explain your analytical tools, and lean on specific elements of the text(s): implausibility, incoherence, breaking the ‘rules’ of the genre. For example, you can refer to scientific or legal principles from the real world for realist works. If you propose to reinterpret a work under an analytical framework of a different genre (for example, reinterpreting a tragedy as a crime novel), you must clearly indicate this from the outset, and clearly explain the transgressions from the traditional expected frame of reference.


General principle: Every clue must be able to be easily examined by other investigators. Make sure you clearly detail the sources to which you are referring.


  • In the case of an investigation concerning a pre-existing work: Always reference the edition you have used, and – as much as possible – indicators which will allow others to find the passage you are referring to in other versions of the text (chapter number, key moments in the plot, etc.). Matriochca will only be able to consider hypotheses about works which are accessible from an editorial point of view (published, available online or in a library, and ideally royalty-free).


  • Translation queries: You also have the opportunity to alert Matriochca of your suspicions about works that you have discovered in translation, as long as you specify which translation you are working from. In this case, consulting other texts, or the original text, can enable us to advance the investigation, and signal falsifications or significant omissions from one edition to another. Matriochca will seek the help of agents to scrutinise the original text. If your request concerns a work in a ‘rare’ language which is not translated, please check the list of InterCriPol agents to make sure at least one of our specialist investigators will be able to participate in the discussions.



  • Manuscripts and previous versions of the work: Contributions relating to previous notes, drafts or alternative film edits are also welcome. Such references can increase the depth of the work, and – like all misleading translations, can enable us to reveal the falsification of data from the plot, allowing our investigators to reconstruct what really happened. It will fall upon InterCriPol to explain the reasons for why these elements present in previous versions have been hidden.


  • For an investigation concerning a not yet written, imaginary or otherwise ‘vanished’ work: Any proposal concerning a novel which is not available must be founded on material, tangible proofs and visible evidence of its existence – notably within other works that refer to it.


  • A police report is not a re-writing of the work: Any alternative interpretation must – from the outset – be rigorously compatible with the content of the text. Matriochca does not seek to change facts, but to find hidden truths. In order to imagine that the narrator is lying, for example, you must prove from the outset that his or her voice is not reliable. Matriocha also dissuades you from trying to ‘lock up’ the writer that you are investigating, in order to try and force him or her to correct the plot to correlate with the meaning that suits you.


  • No version of the plot (not even that of the author) is incontestable: It is possible that your investigation will call into question not only the most commonly accepted version of the plot, but also the interpretation of the author him or herself. If the investigation relates to a contemporary author, we will of course invite or him or her to give their own response, which will be a major piece of evidence to be taken into account for further investigations. However, as Barbey d’Aurevilly said when talking of Victor Hugo, if the truth prevails despite the intentions of the author, it is because ‘Truth has taken the Poet by the hair and assaulted him’ with a ‘stronger force than Samson’. In the same way, any counter investigation must not claim to have definitively found the ‘truth’, as it is always open to further investigation when new evidence is added to our files.


  • To launch a ‘missing person investigation’: We will consider as a ‘missing person’ anyone who, as our honorary chairman describes in this article, suddenly disappears from the plot where previously he (or she) played an important role, which neither the narrator nor the other characters seem to notice. It is not only necessary that we know their name, but also that they directly impact the plot – before vanishing without a trace. A simple ‘extra’, fleetingly present in a specific context, who doesn’t reappear after the book has kindly provided him or her with their three ‘minutes of fame’, to quote Andy Warhol, does not merit the opening of an investigation



By Jade Patterson (translation)