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.
This is a nonfiction book about the founding members of the Detective Club, a club set up by a group of British mystery writers. Some are familiar: Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, G. K. Chesterton, E. C. Bentley, Ronald Knox, Baroness Orczy and Freeman Willis Crofts, some not so well known, and some downright obscure.
I've never thought that Martin Edwards was a particularly scintillating author. I've listened to one of his mysteries and read another. In this case I was interested in the information he provided, but I didn't much care for the narrator and with no way to locate particular passages in the audio book, it isn't nearly as useful as I would like.
Something that really annoyed me was the fact that the author was trying not to "spoil" the mysteries which makes it hard to really appreciate what he was trying to say about the books. Of course I belong to the group that believe that no really good book can be spoiled because it is the journey that is interesting not the ultimate conclusion. The writers of the period appear to have regarded their mysteries as somewhere between a crossword puzzle and literature.
I did end up ordering a few books that I had never known existed though.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
I was really looking forward to this book. I'm a longtime fan of Christie and Sayers and other 'Golden Age' authors. Which makes it all the more disappointing that frankly, this book sucks. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt; maybe it's OK as a print book (it does have great reviews), but as an audiobook it's just terrible. I'm halfway through part 1 and I don't think I want to waste another 12 hours of my life trying to listen to this. It's like a bad master's thesis: it jumps around in time and subject between the writers and the Murder Club in no logical order that I can figure out. It's written and read in a very dry manner that does not engage the listener. Every chapter ends with a couple of dozen footnotes that are dutifully read by the narrator. Can you imagine what it's like to listen to a list of footnotes one or 2 sentences long that are not placed in context? I just can't continue with it; it's getting returned.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
When I read the title I thought it was a detective story. I was mistaken, it immediately became apparent it was the story of how the best kind of detective novelist created the books we see as classics today. It was hard not to listen to more as I found it so interesting.
If you like detective novels, this book will really give you an insight into the minds that wrote the classics.
(Well written and brilliantly articulated)
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Highly recommended for anyone interested in the golden age detective genre. As a Big fan of Christie, Sayers and marsh I was gripped by the personal insight into their lives , relationships, motivations and demons. It has made me realise that I have only discovered the tip of the authors from the era and look forward to exploring others featured in the book.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Brilliant research and entertainingly written. Has enriched my enjoyment and appreciation of the genre. Also some fabulous "leads" to some great books.
loved this book , great authors, the age of mystery and suspense.
read more from the crime detection club