The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards, won the Edgar, the Agatha, Crimefest’s HRF Keating award and it’s nominated for an Anthony.
Listen to your colleagues, this is a book worth reading.
The author, Martin Edwards, is a practicing solicitor in England and has written numerous award winning publications, including two successful series, the Lake District series and the Liverpool series, plus stand-alones and short stories. He is currently the archivist of the Detection Club, the subject of his book, and was elected President in 2015. He knows more than I ever hope to learn about mystery. And, he’s a really nice guy. I met him at Malice Domestic.
The Detection Club was founded in London in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s by Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Anthony Berkeley, G. K. Chesterson, and many more authors whom I have not yet read.
History books can be sometimes dry, but this book is not. It reads as smooth as driving in your parents’ brand new Oldsmobile. Mr. Edwards deftly weaves the personal lives of the writers, the social and political climate of the day, the first World War, the second World War, the abdication, notorious criminal cases, the books and stories the authors wrote, how the influenced each other and their experimentations with the mystery puzzle.
One thing that struck me is how the Golden Age writers exercised social commentary in their works, something about which I was not aware because, I must confess, I am not as familiar with all these authors as I would like to be or their times. Sure, I heard about the abdication but I was unaware of the development of feminism in those times, the gender-bias in criminal prosecutions and how these authors responded to it.
The Golden Age of Murder, a book of archaeology and genealogy, brings us closer to our literary ancestors of a nearly a century ago. Reading it is like sitting at grandma or grandpa’s knee listening to how it was when they were young. Who doesn’t wish they had paid more attention to their grandparents?
And so we should. We should know what they loved, what they despised, what gave them joy, what caused them suffering, the actions they chose, the actions they regretted. We can learn what works and what didn’t. We can derive inspiration from how they developed their stories. And we can feel kinship with the greats who molded the genre we so love.
Finally, this book has, I suspect, the most comprehensive mystery bibliography compiled. There are enough books on it to fuel a to-be-read list for a decade or two.
If you’re going to Bouchercon, find a chance to get your copy autographed and meet the very nice Martin Edwards.