The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards
A woman who has recently discovered that her husband intends to leave her for another woman disappears. Police and citizens alike search for days with no results. Another woman found herself pregnant after a torrid affair. When told, the man in question informs her that he's married and wants nothing more to do with her, or the baby. The woman, aided by the man's wife, invents a mysterious illness to account for her extended absence from work and delivers the baby in secret. Plot lines for mystery novels? No, true life events of two of the most popular mystery writers of all time. They say truth is stranger than fiction. The Golden Age of Murder proves that saying true!
This book is not a cozy mystery, but it's about the genesis of them. The Golden Age of Murder is a highly researched book of non fiction about the Detection Club. Founded in the late 1920s, the group was "an elite social network of writers". Some of the greatest writers of detective fiction of all time were members of this exclusive club. In order to give details about the club, Edwards tells the stories of some of his members-whose lives could be just as mysterious as their novels. I was aware of the true life disappearance of Agatha Christie (of course, I know what happened to her as well-she was recovering from investigating a series of murders caused by a Vespiform), but was unfamiliar with the lives of some of the other members of this Club, Dorothy L. Sayers, G. K. Chesterton, and Anthony Berkeley, for example.
Martin Edwards looks to solve the riddles of the Detection Club and provide truths to its mysterious history. Sharing the details of the oft times very private members of the group provides insight into the wonderful detective novels they wrote. The book also looks at the camaraderie and how authors worked together for promotional purposes as well as sharing the good and bad of the publishing world well before the advent of social media. Edwards has some expertise being the Detective Club's first Archivist. Sadly, his work has been made more difficult owing to the fact that almost all of the organization's early information, including minutes of meetings, was lost during the Blitz.
Although at times disjointed and not always a chronological history, with so much information I would be hard pressed to find a better way of disseminating it. While The Golden Age of Murder is a heavy tome it is not ponderous reading. The writing is engaging and the subject matter compelling. Each chapter is a story unto itself thus the book need not be read in one sitting, although the chapters do build upon each other. If you have any interest in the history of the mystery genre and some of its most prominent writers, you would do well to read this book. I discovered many new things and enjoyed learning more about the people who set the standard for this amazing genre!
The Golden Age of Murder
by Martin Edwards
on Tour April 28 - May 31, 2015
Genre: Biography, Mystery, Classic Crime
Published by: HarperCollins
Publication Date: May 7th 2015
Number of Pages: 512
ISBN: 0008105960 (ISBN13: 9780008105969)
Synopsis:A real-life detective story, investigating how Agatha Christie and colleagues in a mysterious literary club transformed crime fiction, writing books casting new light on unsolved murders whilst hiding clues to their authors’ darkest secrets.
This is the first book about the Detection Club, the world’s most famous and most mysterious social network of crime writers. Drawing on years of in-depth research, it reveals the astonishing story of how members such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers reinvented detective fiction.
Detective stories from the so-called “Golden Age” between the wars are often dismissed as cosily conventional. Nothing could be further from the truth: some explore forensic pathology and shocking serial murders, others delve into police brutality and miscarriages of justice; occasionally the innocent are hanged, or murderers get away scot-free. Their authors faced up to the Slump and the rise of Hitler during years of economic misery and political upheaval, and wrote books agonising over guilt and innocence, good and evil, and explored whether killing a fellow human being was ever justified. Though the stories included no graphic sex scenes, sexual passions of all kinds seethed just beneath the surface.
Attracting feminists, gay and lesbian writers, Socialists and Marxist sympathisers, the Detection Club authors were young, ambitious and at the cutting edge of popular culture – some had sex lives as bizarre as their mystery plots. Fascinated by real life crimes, they cracked unsolved cases and threw down challenges to Scotland Yard, using their fiction to take revenge on people who hurt them, to conduct covert relationships, and even as an outlet for homicidal fantasy. Their books anticipated not only CSI, Jack Reacher and Gone Girl, but also Lord of the Flies. The Club occupies a unique place in Britain’s cultural history, and its influence on storytelling in fiction, film and television throughout the world continues to this day.
The Golden Age of Murder rewrites the story of crime fiction with unique authority, transforming our understanding of detective stories and the brilliant but tormented men and women who wrote them.
Author Bio:Martin Edwards was educated in Northwich and at Balliol College, Oxford University, taking a first class honours degree in law. He trained as a solicitor in Leeds and moved to Liverpool on qualifying in 1980. He published his first legal article at the age of 25 and become a partner in the firm of Mace and Jones in 1984.
He is married to Helena with two children (Jonathan and Catherine) and lives in Lymm. Martin is a member of the Murder Squad collective of crime writers, and is chairman of the nominations sub-committee for the CWA Diamond Dagger (crime writing's most prestigious award). In 2007 he was appointed the Archivist of the Crime Writers Association.