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The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective: Secrets and Lies in the Golden Age of Crime

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  42 ratings  ·  19 reviews

Maud West ran her detective agency in London for more than thirty years, having starting sleuthing on behalf of society’s finest in 1905. Her exploits grabbed headlines throughout the world but, beneath the public persona, she was forced to hide vital aspects of her own identity in order to thrive in a class-obsessed and male-dominated world. And – as Susannah Stapleton re

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Kindle Edition, 347 pages
Published June 11th 2019 by Picador
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4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  42 ratings  ·  19 reviews


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Kirsty ❤️
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating tale of an overlooked female detective in the early 1900's. So much research has obviously gone into this and the story is so richly woven Maud really comes to life as you read. One of the things I enjoyed, besides the stpry of Maud herself, is the authors tale of her research: how she 'discovered' Maud and unravelling her story. It adds another layer of richness. 

If you enjoy historical biographies you will love this.
Susan
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Author Susannah Stapleton is a lover of mysteries and tucks herself away each year for what sounds like a perfect break – a winter, binge read, of her favourite novels. My jealousy at the thought of holidays that do not involve airports, packing, heat, or unknown places, nearly undid me. However, one winter, Ms Stapleton is unable to get into the mood for her annual book binge. Also like myself, a lover of Golden Age mysteries, she wonders whether there were any real Lady Detectives, and comes a ...more
K.J. Charles
A fascinating effort to dig up the truth about Maud West, an honest to God lady detective in London from just before the first war to just before the second.

This is hampered by a severe dearth of actual info, so this is very much a book about the author's search for Maud and how one goes about writing history. Plus we get some of Maud's newspaper accounts of her exploits, most completely implausible, and some intriguing sidelights on crime of the period, gangs, and the struggle for professional
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Leah
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Detecting the detective...

Susannah Stapleton is a historical researcher and life-long fan of Golden Age crime novels. It was while reading one of Gladys Mitchell’s Mrs Bradley novels that she found herself wondering “Were there really lady detectives – proper fleshandblood ones – in the golden age of crime?” A little searching turned up the name of Maud West, who advertised herself as “London’s only Lady detective”. Intrigued, Stapleton turned her research abilities towards finding out more abou
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Eleanor
This rather marvelous book is a mashup of biography, social history, and what for a lack of a better phrase I might call “research thriller”. Susannah Stapleton comes across the figure of Maud West by chance, while idly pondering whether lady detectives had existed during the Golden Age of crime fiction; she’s only thinking about this at all because of a historical missing-persons case that regular historical research had led her to. When she finds Maud West, her interest is piqued by the dearth ...more
Headinabook
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle



I absolutely adored The Adventures of Maud West and getting to know this remarkable, and at times mystifying woman.

Author Susannah Stapleton takes two weeks off work and snuggles down to indulge her passion for reading mystery novels. Unable to find a book that holds her attention she begins to ponder upon this question, ‘Were there really lady detectives in the golden age of crime?’ Initial research leads to a newspaper cutting advertising the services of ‘Maud West, Lady Detective’. And so beg
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Catalina
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant read!! I loved everything about it: from the voice of the narrator to the entire process of researching Maud West, so well detailed and therefore so satisfying, to everything in between: Maud's articles, the photos, all the historical details about detectives and their job but also changes in law and custom and the impact on society.
What I loved best, apart from actually discovering the life of this extraordinary woman, was the love-hate relationship the researcher/author had with Mau
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Robin Stevens
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a sparky, fascinating and funny biography that reads like the most charming mystery novel. Both Susannah and Maud's personalities burst onto the page, and I learned things about the 1920s and 1930s even I didn't know. Unmissable. (13+)

*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. If you use it in any marketing material, online or anywhere on a published book without asking permission from me first, I will ask you to remove that use immediately. Thank you!*
Abbey
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Five out of five completely fabricated thrilling tales of derring-do to The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective!

I was hooked from the first few pages of this book, when the author, Susannah Stapleton, describes how she found herself suddenly ungripped by her favourite Golden Age detective stories and decided instead to find out about real women detectives of the time. Maud West is who she found, and Maud West is who she investigates.

Don’t pick up The Adventures of Maud West expecting thrilli
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Verity W
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Really good. If you’re a fan of golden age mysteries, what’s not to love about this investigation into the life of a real life lady detective from the first half of the twentieth century? Fascinating, compelling and very readable.

You've probably never heard of her, but Maud West ran a detective agency in London for more than thirty years, starting in 1905. No, seriously. This isn't fiction, this is biography.  In her first book, Susannah Stapleton tries to separate the truth from invention abou
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Sara Ratcliffe
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being a life long fan of Golden Age crime novels, I was instantly attracted to a biography of a real early twentieth century female private detective. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I certainly envisioned a dry biography; this was far from the case. The book is written as a detective novel in its own right, with Susannah Stapleton taking us on her journey in tracking down the elusive details of Maud’s life. Interspersed with these are stories and articles that the lady detective wrote about he ...more
Peter
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an eclectic mix, part biography, part historian's detective story and part social history, and it is this which gives the book its strengths and in part its weaknesses. The book is one of thirds with the central one feeling like padding.

The historian's viewpoint and painstaking research is well described and shows the process to the reader with various avenues followed, some with the inevitable cul-de-sac. This is a most satisfying element in this book.

The biography is hard to chase
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Victoria
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maud West ran her detective agency in London for more than thirty years, having started sleuthing on behalf of society’s finest in 1905, and this book allows to delve into her many exploits in a time where women were just beginning to create lives of their own. 

The fact that all these cases are real, are part of Maud’s work is just so incredible to read. You hear of course about the fictional women of the era, this is after all set in the golden age of crime fiction with writers like Agatha Chri
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Helen
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always been interested in this era and love golden age crime fiction, so Susannah Stapleton’s insight into the life of a female private detective from the early decades of the 20th century was fascinating.
She interspersed her chapters with Maud’s own writings on her adventures and Maud proved as elusive as some of her cases, with Susannah admitting to a difficulty at times in telling fact from fiction.
I always took those crime novels featuring fictional lady detectives from the 20‘s and 3
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Michael Cayley
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book about a female detective of the first decades of the 20th century, interspersed with extracts from her often sensational casebook. Famous people walk on and off the pages, and the tales from the casebook often seem beyond credibility. Susannah Stapleton describes how she seeks to track down the truth, gives a lot of context to Maud’s activities, and reveals a largely hidden seamy side of respectable society. Very enjoyable.
Sharyn
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-2019
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book about Maud West. It was an unusual way to present a biography as the reader follows the author's research and the subsequent unfolding of the life story. Much of it is told in first person by the author. As an historian who enjoys research I liked this presentation and found Maud to be a fascinating and complex character.
Anne
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually read books like this but I have been reading a lot of female detective books lately so it just appealed. I really enjoyed it, particularly the research part of the story. I found I couldn't put it down until I found out who Maud West really was.
Michelle Birkby
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book about a fascinating and intriguing woman and her thrilling, complicated life
Ellen
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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Susannah Stapleton was born in Kent in 1973. As a freelance historical researcher and writer with over twenty years’ experience, she has worked for museums and galleries, community groups, politicians and private individuals. She currently works as a bookseller at an award-winning independent bookshop in Shropshire whilst pursuing her own passion for twentieth century women’s history.