• The Golden Age of Murder

  • By: Martin Edwards
  • Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
  • Length: 16 hrs and 31 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (40 ratings)

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The Golden Age of Murder

By: Martin Edwards
Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2015 Martin Edwards (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Martin is increasingly recognised as one of Britain's most exciting crime writers." ( Liverpool Daily Post)
"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)

What listeners say about The Golden Age of Murder

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Doesn't work as an audiobook

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.

20 people found this helpful

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Should Have Bought the Kindle Book

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.

14 people found this helpful

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Fascinating

This multiple award winning book studies the early history of the Detection Club, a social organization for mystery and crime authors, from it's inception in 1930 through the start of World War II. Martin discusses the life and interests of these Golden Age writers, such as their fascination with real life crime, their relationships with each other, and the various secrets in their own lives. He focuses more in depth on Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Anthony Berkeley than the most, but still includes a good deal of anecdotes and information on many other members.

The Golden Age of Murder is an ode to the mystery novels and authors of the Golden Age (the years between the two World Wars), and it's obvious that Edwards loves these devotedly. Using the resources available to him as current President of the Club, he gives reams of stories about these authors that are enlightening as well as entertaining. He discusses the real life murders that so interested this group, as well, and shows how those crimes influenced some of the Golden Age novels.

Edwards debunks popular myths about the genre and it's creators, as well as showing how current events shaped many of the plots, and further, how these books impacted future crime writers.

He discusses many of the most famous Golden Age stories, as well as mentioning lesser known authors and their works. He is careful not to spoil the solutions of any of the novels, while giving tantalizing glimpses of the plots. I now have a list of new-to-me authors and books to explore.

Edwards also uses his own deductive powers to answer questions about the secrets of Christie, Sayers, and Berkeley. These are, of course, his own opinion and are meant to be taken as such, but he gives sound reasoning for his solutions.

I've seen complaints saying that if the reader does not have a basic understanding of this very specific period of fiction or a fascination with it, this book will be unreadable -- but why would such a one pick it up in the first place? The Golden Age of Murder is, I believe, intended to be a gift from Edwards to his fellow fanatics and I found it to be just that.

As this is nonfiction, and requires very little voice acting, it's hard to really judge Mr. Pugh's talent, but he the performance he gave was exactly what was needed.

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  • Nico
  • 06-11-15

Classic. Brilliant. Enlightening.

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)

7 people found this helpful

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  • ELISE
  • 07-28-15

Fascinating insight into a the authors of the golden age

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 people found this helpful

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  • merrylon
  • 09-09-18

Not true crime --

Actually, a fascinating history of the golden age of crime fiction and of the authors involved; an excellent resource for anyone wanting to create a reading list! The lives of the authors, both major and minor, are interwoven with plot run-downs and background information. A nice, meaty listen performed with admirable clarity by Leighton Pugh, who never loses interest in the subject (and hence always retains the interest of the listener). Definitely recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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  • MR WBC GOLDSBROUGH
  • 09-21-17

Fascinating listening.

Brilliant research and entertainingly written. Has enriched my enjoyment and appreciation of the genre. Also some fabulous "leads" to some great books.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mrs P. Clarke
  • 03-18-22

Absolutely marvellous!

For any detective fiction fan, this book is essential reading (listening). Full of brilliant stories, it provides so much vital context for our favourite Golden Age books. Thank you!

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  • Miss Julie E. Ellis
  • 04-15-17

love golden age mysteries

loved this book , great authors, the age of mystery and suspense.
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