Book Review: “The Golden Age of Murder” by Martin Edwards

May 11, 2015 at 6:27 am | Posted in Books | 1 Comment
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Martin Edwards in his new book, “golden murder book coverThe Golden Age of Murder” Book One in the Detection Club series published by Harper Collins gives us the mystery of the writers who invented the modern detective story.

From the back cover: 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 agonizing 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 sympathizers, 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.

How about this:  a real-life detective story investigating The Detection Club, a mysterious secret society that revolutionized crime fiction writing. Up until this point I had no idea that such a club actually existed. All the big guns are listed here:  Christie, Chesterton, Berkley, Marsh, Mitchell, Allingham, Milne, Carr, and Sayers are all represented on the membership roster and in this book. Mr. Edwards tells us about the famous crimes that were occurring during the Twenties and Thirties and how they influenced these outstanding authors. “The Golden Age of Murder” is full of new and interesting tidbits about even the most well-known of the Golden Age writers. Not only do we get to know about the times that prompted these authors we also get to know about what drove them as well. Absolutely fascinating stuff. I look forward to the next book in this series.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Partners In Crime.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  1. I’m with you, I had no idea this club existed! My copy of the book just arrived and I’m looking forward to spending some time with it. Thanks so much for sharing your review with us.

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