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The Golden Age of Murder

by Martin Edwards

Publishers Weekly 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 [them] 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. Agent: James Willis, Watson Little. (May) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Crime novelist Edwards (the "Lake District" mysteries) here examines the "Detection Club," a group of famous writers who changed the way detective novels are conceived. The ranks of the club included such seminal authors as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, whose lives were as enigmatic and fascinating as their novels. In writing about the authors themselves, Edwards takes a distinct look at the genre and its various influences and well captures the turbulent culture and its effect on these genuinely riveting figures who helped to shape the crime genre. The book's playful charm makes it much more enjoyable than a straightforward biography or genre piece. VERDICT As popular as detective fiction is, most readers are unaware of the influence "golden age of murder" writers have had on the books, films, and television shows we love. This solid work will appeal primarily to fans of the genre but will also be of interest to literary historians and enthusiasts of literary biographies.-Matthew Gallagher, Victoria, BC Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Engrossing if occasionally glacial study of the Detection Club, a gathering of British mystery writers who defined the genre. Himself a writer of crime thrillers, Edwards (The Frozen Shroud, 2013, etc.) comes to the club naturallythough long past its golden age, which ended 65-odd years ago. The original circle, founder Anthony Berkeley projected, would have 13 membersa resonant number that eventually expanded threefold to include such luminaries as Dorothy Sayers, G.K. Chesterton, and Agatha Christie. At the heart of Edwards' study is the observation that the membership constituted a body of amateur detectives who were not only capable of musing out the facts behind such mysteries as "an ingenious murder committed by means of chocolates injected with nitrobenzene," but who also embraced true-crime scenarios and made them part of their work, sometimes to the point of courting libel lawsuits. As Edwards writes, with a suitably enticing hook, "Why was Christie haunted by the drowning of the man who adapted her work for the stage? What convinced Sayers of the innocence of a man convicted of battering his wife to death with a poker?" Having set up a fleet of questions, Edwards proceeds to answer them with murder-laced aplomb. He has a nicely naughty sense of humor about it, too, for the well-heeled Detection Club members often poked into business that was more than a little infra dig. As the author writes of one case, a lecherous perp "claimed he was merely offering Irene career advice, although what he knew of testing valves was not reported." Yet, when the tale turns tragicnot just because of awful crimes, but also because of sad developments in the lives of Sayers and other membersEdwards writes appropriately and well. Fans of Father Brown, Hercule Poirot, or Lord Peter Wimsey will find much of value in this bookwhich, though long and sometimes too slow, leaves readers wanting more. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.