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The Golden Age of Murder

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  618 ratings  ·  143 reviews
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. Now an Edgar Award Nominee!

This is the first book about the Detection Club, the world’s most famous and most mysterious social networ
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published May 7th 2015 by HarperCollins
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May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a history of the Detection Club; an elite social network of crime writers, during the Golden Age period of 1930 – 1949. The book begins in 1937, with Ngaio Marsh attending a ritual dinner to elect the new President of the Detection Club, complete with ‘Eric the Skull’ and a host of crime writers who included founding members Dorothy L Sayers, Anthony Berkeley and Agatha Christie. Between the years this book covers, thirty nine members were elected. In order to be admitted to this elite c ...more
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been reading crime fiction from the ‘Golden Age’ for a long, long time. I began with Agatha Christie, who was always my mother’s favourite; I moved on to Ngaio Marsh, on the recommendation of a librarian; I borrowed a book by Dorothy L Sayers from my godmother and was quickly smitten; I discovered Margery Allingham when the BBC dramatized her work. Over the years I discovered more wonderful writers: Michael Innes, Josephine Tey and Anthony Berkeley and the first name to come to mind, but I ...more
Fantastic and fascinating book that is an absolute must-have for anyone with interest in the Golden Age of mysteries, crime, and detection. The Golden Age is one of my favorite periods for detective novels and it was an absolute delight to get an inside view of the Detection Club. It is just a real shame that the Club did not have an Archivist before Martin Edwards and that the Minute Book and other materials from the time of the Club's inception through the Blitz have disappeared. What a treasu ...more
John Frankham
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book is by Martin Edwards, who edits the British Library Crime Classics series, including introductions to the novels and the collections of short stories. He is steeped in the title subject, and it shows in the quality of the finished product.

Amending an earlier review:

This long, mainly chronological study, looks at the famous Detection Club, founded in 1930 by Dorothy Sayers, G.K Chesterton and 36 other popular mystery writers of the time. It was a very diverse group comprised of authors
Jill Hutchinson
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Needless to say, as a golden age mystery fan, this book put me in 7th heaven. It is a large book but does not need a long review. Basically it looks at the famous Detection Club, founded in 1930 by Dorothy Sayers, G.K Chesterton and 36 other popular mystery writers of the time. It was a very diverse group comprised of authors who had fought in the Great War and were forever marked by it, politicians, right wing Tories to fervent Marxists, clergy, and the aristocracy. They created tongue-in-cheek ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life
Jun 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence, or Act of God?

Last week I introduced Patricia Wentworth's series, Miss Silver Mysteries which were written from late 1920s to the early 1960s. This time period has been called "The Golden Age of Murder". The era whe
Benjamin Thomas
This non-fiction book won all sorts of awards when it came out in 2016, including the prestigious Edgar and Agatha awards. It’s easy to see why. I’ve dabbled in reading a few golden age detective novels, mostly Agatha Christies but a few others here and there. But I’ve never felt like I had a good handle on that era and how and why this sub-genre came to be so popular. I was also interested in learning more about the authors involved.

The Golden Age of murder mysteries or detective novels is usua
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, factual, crime
Detecting the Detection Club...

During the Golden Age of crime fiction in Britain – between the two world wars – some of the leading authors got together to form the Detection Club, an organisation that's still going strong today. At the time of writing this book, Martin Edwards had been elected to membership and was the archivist of the club, although he has since become President, following in the prestigious footsteps of such luminaries as GK Chesterton, Dorothy L Sayers, Agatha Christie and,
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
There’s a lot going on in this novel — it tracks the development of crime fiction and mystery stories, deals with the biographies of various famous Golden Age crime writers (including Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Anthony Berkeley, of course) and deals with the development of the Detection Club. There’s a lot of stuff I didn’t know, even about Sayers (whose work I adore), and the whole thing left me feeling that my experience of the Golden Age of crime fiction was rather limited. Fortun ...more
The Detection Club was founded by Dorothy L Sayers, Agatha Christie and Anthony Berkeley (mainly by Sayers and Berkeley, with Christie a quieter contributor).

This history goes into the development of mysteries of the height of the Golden Age, seen through the lens of the Detection Club members. It discusses the background, personality and books of a lot of different members, but returns again and again to the three founders - Christie, enduringly the world's bestselling author; Sayers, an able s
Deb Jones
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
A well-researched book with appropriate citations by author Martin Edwards, but not done so the cited sources interfere with the easy flow of the narrative.

I was familiar with some of the authors of the Golden Age of Mystery, 1930 through 1947, but was introduced to so many more here. I'm happy to report I should have enough reading material from this era alone to keep me busy for many years, let alone intersperse them with more modern tales.

Edwards provides insights into the lives and backgroun
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The best book about classic mysteries I've ever read. Edwards has a lot of narrative skill, a playful nature, a gently skeptical attitude, and no sense of propriety. I guess it helps that all of these writers are dead, but it seemed at first as if the book was going to be Oxford Babylon, what with the affairs, disappearances, alcoholism, sexual secrets, bastard children and whatnot. But his point is really that these writers lived in the real world and had to deal with it, and that it's ignorant ...more
Tim Pendry

Martin Edwards cannot be faulted as a researcher. 'The Golden Age of Murder' is an exceptionally comprehensive account of the crime writers who made up the Detection Club, a form of quality inspectorate and convivial society for the interwar generation of 'mystery' authors.

In fact, the core of the story is slight. The Detection Club was a typical English civil society institution with a humorous ritual, the standard bureaucratic minutes, the conviviality of dinners and the usual micro-politics o
Kaitlyn Dunnett
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Very complete history of Golden Age British mystery writers. Also very long. Parts were fascinating. Others, especially on writers I'd never heard of, I found myself skimming. Still, this is a reference book well worth owning and I suspect I will go back to it to find answers to questions. I especially liked two things, Martin Edwards's very readable writing style and the way he points out modern works that owe a debt to novels published in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Prediction: this book will ...more
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I ordered this book, thinking it was another of Edwards' anthologies . Instead it's a history and, in a gentle and loving way , an expose of the foibles of early members of the Detection Club. Edwards also gives brief descriptions (in vague terms--no spoilers!) of some of their best, or just best known, books. Extensive chapter notes give some supplementary information. While I loved it, and loved seeing some information on favorite writers who are obscure now, I'm also not sure who else will be ...more
Christina Dudley
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very informative and interesting about mystery writers and the elite Detectives Club some of them started in 1930. I confess to skimming the bits on authors I'd never heard of, but the parts on Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers were good. ...more
Michael Sparrow
Oct 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a terrific book, the best new book of the year. My criterion for a great book is one that tells me much I don't know about a subject I know a lot about already and this book does just that. It's a history of British crime writing between the world wars with the Detection Club as the centerpiece. THE GOLDEN AGE OF MURDER describes the lives of the writers and their works and how wars, financial depression, politics and even changing sexual mores influenced their works and over and over ag ...more
Elizabeth A.G.
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well researched and comprehensive exploration of the Golden Age mystery writers and the Detective Club originally created in 1928 by Anthony Berkeley Cox and by 1930 formal record-keeping was initiated. Membership was by invitation and vote by the club's current members at the time and initiation included a formal acceptance of their rules by means of a ceremonial ritual that included the wearing of robes, black candles, and a skull that was rubbed by the initiate while swearing a motto. The fir ...more
Richard Thomas
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
An enjoyable thorough description of the English (primarily) writers of detective fiction in the 1930's in the Detective Club. Inevitably Dorothy L Sayers features strongly along with many other writers who have dropped below the horizon. Martin Edwards places the writers and their books firmly in the political and social environment of the late 1920's and the 1930's. The society declined in relevance during the 1939-1945 war with the deaths of some authors and Sayers' abandonment of detective f ...more
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
Excellent read, very informative. It is good to learn something more about the people who were the founders and members of the Detection Club and produced some of the most outstanding crime novels during what is often referred to as 'the golden age of crime'. In recalling the history of the Detection Club, author Martin Edwards tells of the life and times of the really famous crime writers such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy L.Sayers and G.K.Chesterton, and the now-forgotten but once widely admired ...more
Bryce O'Connor
Nov 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It's not really fair for me to rate this book 3 stars, because it's a thorough and well-researched look at the golden age of detective fiction and the Detection Club. My rating just reflects my personal enjoyment; if this is something you think you would be interested in learning about, it's a great book.

While I found plenty of interesting anecdotes, along with some perspective on influential detective novels of the time, overall this book was fairly long and often dry. A lot of names and dates
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction-read
I found this book to be very confusing! I realize that there was a method to his organization but it wasn't working for me. It was hard to keep track of all the authors and their aliases. He kept jumping around from topic to topic. And throwing in synopses of hundreds of books. The only thing that kept me reading (skimming actually) was that some of the anecdotes were interesting. ...more
This is a rambling, anecdote filled, love letter to the murder mystery writers of the British Golden Age detective fiction. If that sentence doesn't twig your interest, definitely do not pick this up. If it does sound like something that might be up your alley, it probably is.

I have always been a voracious reader, and when I was a teen, my stepmother used to bring me boxes of old paperbacks from garage sales or the basements of people she worked for. Since I read whatever I got, I read some weir
Eustacia Tan
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could talk about how libraries work as an avenue for serendipitous discovery of books but I won’t because this review is going to be a paean to the golden age of mysteries.

Or at least, it would be if I could write paeans.

The Golden Age of Murder, on the other hand, is a history and an appreciation of the Detection Club. And since the Detection Club comprised of most of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction authors (e.g. Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, etc), the book is also an investigation int
Calum Fisher
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful, definitive history of the Detection Club and of Golden Age mystery fiction (in the UK at least) in general. Edwards has an encyclopedic knowledge of books and authors both classic and obscure, and the book has enough to-read suggestions to last a lifetime - even he can't have read them all, surely? But this is more than a discussion of fiction, it is also hugely enhanced by focusing on the lives and relationships of the authors, including to some extent their relationships w ...more
Gail Baugniet
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books you want stored on your shelf for a second reading and to use as a reference book. Along with an air of tabloid reporting, the chapters include mention of almost every book published (or so it seems) by the members of an exclusive writer's group, the Detective Club formed in England: "an elite social network of writers whose work earned a reputation for literary excellence, and exerted a profound long-term influence on storytelling . . ."

Most prominent among the member
Dec 25, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. There are plenty of fascinating authors explored here and the stories within the broader narrative of the history of Golden Age mysteries are worth the effort. But it is an effort still. First, that's because it's really hard to write about the success of mystery novels without spoiling them. Edwards does his best, but perhaps spending less effort on as many specific books would have made this hold together better. Second, the structure is awkward and as such the lives of the central ...more
Steven Heywood
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly enjoyable and useful read.

In lots of ways this book is all over the place. Generally, it's an episodic biography of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Anthony Berkeley masquerading as a history of the Detection Club. The other members of the club have creditable supporting rôles and usefully-supportive book reviews. The chronology of the narrative is disrupted with gay abandon to explore ideas, incidents or books that support or refute the particular theme of a chapter, which in
Diane Wachter
About a group of mystery writers who formed a "Detection Club" between the Wars. I must admit that I would have like this better if I was more familiar with many more members of the group, and if I had some knowledge of the crimes the authors based their stories on. I've read one Dorothy Sayers book, one Margery Allingham book, and many Agatha Christie books, but I am woefully lacking in other members names and books, and the true crime stories that many of these authors based their books on. I ...more
Begona Fernandez
Oct 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Really nice to know a bit more about writers that have been names I grew up with but really didn't know much about. Also got to meet a few new ones whose books are now are in my never ending reading list. Even if I were to live a thousand years... sigh

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Martin Edwards’ latest novel, Gallows Court, was published in September. He is consultant to the British Library’s Crime Classics series, and has written sixteen contemporary whodunits, including The Coffin Trail, which was shortlisted for the Theakston’s Prize for best crime novel of the year. His genre study The Golden Age of Murder won the Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating and Macavity awards, whil ...more

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