The Golden Age of Murder
Winner of the 2016 EDGAR, AGATHA, MACAVITY and H.R.F.KEATING crime writing awards, this real-life detective story investigates how Agatha Christie and colleagues in a mysterious literary club transformed crime fiction.
Detective stories of the Twenties and Thirties have long been stereotyped as cosily conventional. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Golden Age of Murder tells for the first time the extraordinary story of British detective fiction between the two World Wars. A gripping real-life detective story, it investigates how Dorothy L. Sayers, Anthony Berkeley, Agatha Christie and their colleagues in the mysterious Detection Club transformed crime fiction. Their work cast new light on unsolved murders whilst hiding clues to their authors’ darkest secrets, and their complex and sometimes bizarre private lives.
Crime novelist and current Detection Club President Martin Edwards rewrites the history of crime fiction with unique authority, transforming our understanding of detective stories, and the brilliant but tormented men and women who wrote them.
‘Few, if any, books about crime fiction have provided so much information and insight so enthusiastically and, for the reader, so enjoyably’ THE TIMES
‘Illuminating and entertaining – provides a new way of looking at old favourites. I admire the way that Martin Edwards weaves the sometimes violent, sometimes unlawful, and always gripping true stories of these writers with the equally wild tales they tell in their books.’ LEN DEIGHTON, author of SS-GB
‘Forensically sharp and exhaustively informed… Crime fiction is driven by death. In this superbly compendious and entertaining book, Edwards ensures that dozens of authorial corpses are gloriously reborn.’ MARK LAWSON, GUARDIAN
‘Edwards knows his business. He understands how to parcel out the clues and red herrings so as to feed the reader enough information to keep a variety of possibilities open, while making sure to prepare for a satisfying solution.’ SEATTLE POST
‘You can learn far more about the social mores of the age in which a mystery is written than you can from more pretentious literature. I mean, if you want to know what it was like to live in England in the 1920s, the so-called Golden Age, you can get a much better steer from mysteries than you can from prize-winning novels.’ P. D. JAMES
About the author
Martin Edwards has published eighteen crime novels, including series set in Liverpool and the Lake District. He has won the CWA Short Story Dagger and CWA Margery Allingham Prize, and his latest book, The Golden Age of Murder, won the Edgar, Agatha, Macavity and H.R.F.Keating awards. Martin is consultant for the British Library's Classic Crime series, as well as Chair of the CWA and President of the Detection Club. He has edited 30 anthologies, published about 60 short stories, and written seven other non-fiction books.
Crime novelist Edwards (Frozen Shroud), the archivist for the legendary Detection Club of crime authors, reveals the hidden lives of its members in a comprehensive and well-written narrative that combines biography with literary criticism. He focuses on the Club's three leading lights Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and the lesser-known Anthony Berkeley and how their output between the world wars helped define the detective novel as we know it. Along the way, he dispels numerous myths about Golden Age detective fiction: for example, that it was "an essentially British form of escapism... an effete counterpart to the tough and realistic crime fiction produced in the United States." He documents his thesis that the Detection Club facilitated its members' creativity through mutual support and "challenging to take the genre to a higher level." The trenchant analysis is coupled with revelations about the private lives of these very public authors, offering new information for casual fans and students of the genre alike, including details of Christie's mysterious disappearance and Sayers's secret child.