In GAD We Trust – Episode 8: Uncovering Long-Forgotten Short Stories + Bodies from the Library 3 (2020) ed. Tony Medawar [w’ Tony Medawar]

In GAD We Trust BftL3

Today was due to have been the sixth (sixth!) Bodies from the Library conference at the British Library but, for obvious reasons, it’s not.  I can’t, alas, give you a whole day of GAD-based discussion, but I can at least fill an hour with someone from that line-up of exceptionally knowledgable people, Tony Medawar.

Perhaps best-known for his exemplary work in ferreting out and anthologising otherwise-forgotten short stories by luminaries of crime fiction — having edited collections of works by, among others, Anthony Berkeley, Christianna Brand, John Dickson Carr, Agatha Christie, and Ruth Rendell — Tony has in recent years extended into multi-author anthologies with the Bodies from the Library collections.  So, with Bodies from the Library 3 due out soon, now is the perfect time to talk about Tony’s work: how he finds the stories, what his favourites are, and what we can expect from any future Bodies from the Library collections, as well as upcoming collections of works by John Dickson Carr and Freeman Wills Crofts.

Away from this, we also covered some of his work with the excellent CADS fanzine, through which he revealed the existence of a previously-unknown nom de plume for John Rhode, and his new role as producer of the International Agatha Christie Festival, including an announcement which I’m sure will be of great interest to pretty much all of you.

So, hopefully that grabs you, and you can open the audio in your browser here, find the podcast on iTunes here, on Spotify here, or listen below.  As ever, I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks to Tony for his time, to Jonny Berliner for the music, to everyone out there who listens along — and a Happy Independence Day to those of you celebrating in these straitened times.  Bodies from the Library 3 is out on 9th July, place your bets now for what colour Bodies from the Library 4 will be when it hits us next summer…

Bodies from the Libraries


I’m taking Tuesdays in July off, so will see you on Thursday for some Carter Dickson.  If you’re wondering how you’ll cope until then, allow me to remind you that all episodes of this podcast can be found on the blog here.

36 thoughts on “In GAD We Trust – Episode 8: Uncovering Long-Forgotten Short Stories + Bodies from the Library 3 (2020) ed. Tony Medawar [w’ Tony Medawar]

  1. I’ve only made it a third of the way through so far, but this is easily your most fascinating podcast to date – a testament to just how interesting this is, rather than a slight at the others. How you managed to keep from completely nerding out at the mention of these lost libraries by the likes of Christianna Brand, I’ll never know. I mean, man, the thought that she never actually stopped writing mysteries… The whole interview so far has been a GAD lovers’ nerdiest dream.

    Oh yeah – never again will I even attempt to pronounce Henri Bencolin…


    • Thanks, Ben — and, yeah, the temptation to want to go through that Brand archive item-by-item was strong…though it seems we may be getting at least some of it in due course, if you see Tony’s comment below.

      I’m hugely intrigued by the unreachable Philip MacDonald material — I’ve come to really appreciate his writing, and would love to see his additional works, alternative takes, notes, etc. He has such a distinct style and approach when compared to his peers, it would be a joy to be able to pick through it all and get a sense of what made him tick. Alas, it seems that’s never going to happen, which is a crying, crying shame.


  2. I’m with Ben – this has been the best so far. I can’t help but fantasize waking up in an alternate world where i would have hung out in the playground with the cool guys like Tony Medawar and John Curran, sneering at people who couldn’t name all the solutions in The Poisoned Chocolates Case or rattle off Knox’ and Van Dine’s rules, or who didn’t have “Agatha” tattooed somewhere on their person.

    This one was so chock full of great announcements that I might have forgotten a few. But I just ordered BFtL3 (from London, so I don’t have to wait till fall, which is why I also ordered the sequel to Magpie Murders) and am really looking forward to the Marsh TV script and to the upcoming Carr script collection from C&L and to those glorious Marsh collections for which we fans have been waiting for the longest time, right, Ben? All you people who don’t want to read scripts are crazy!! Now if I could only wangle high tea with Tony and John on my next trip to the U.K., which – COVID willing – would be to Torquay in September ’21, then my future plans would be complete!


    • The Carr script collection is to be hotly anticipated, eh? And the Crofts fan in me is of course very excited for that, too — plus, yes, a week of Agatha next September, sign me up!


  3. This was an absolutely exceptional conversation in which I felt I learned a lot. The process by which these stories are selected and the path taken to find them is fascinating.


    • 40 years Tony’s been doing this….imagine the things he must’ve found in that time, especially when there was so much still to find. And how lucky we are to have him doing all this work on our behalf at this precise point in history. Great stuff, and there were absolutely times when I got so caught up in what we were talking about that I forgot to take notes about what to ask next…sometimes being a fan is distracting!


      • Heh. The point that hit me most was that had he not been engaged in this back in the 80s, so much of this would have been almost impossible to find.


  4. Thanks for another great episode!

    At one point, I got confused, though. Did Christianna Brand write during that twenty-year period in which she did not publish? I have the impression that Tony first said she did, but that he then reversed course. Either way, it probably does not matter much since he gave no indication that, if there were any writings, he had any hope of seeing them published.

    And it was nice to finally hear the name Henri Bencolin pronounced properly.


    • It was a pleasure to appear as a guest on The Invisible Event. As to your question, Christophe, I am fairly confident that the next few years will see the publication – in two volumes – of the 20 or so largely unseen Crime and mystery stories and novellas by Christianna Brand including an unpublished novella featuring Inspector Charlesworth and an uncollected short story featuring Inspector Chucky. I am working on these at the moment.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Tony’s clarified this, but, yeah, I left in his correction of my mis-statement — when I said that she hadn’t written for 20 years — so that it was hopefully clear that Tony meant “published” rather than written.

      Hilarious to see all these Henri Bencolin comments, too, not least because the first thing that passed through my mind when he said it was “Aaah, so that’ how you say it…” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a disappointment! One hour, really? I could’ve spent two or three, at the very least, listening to you guys. Great episode!
    There are two novels I wish would turn up one day: Brand’s The Chinese Puzzle and Hake Talbot’s The Affair of the Half-Witness.
    I’m not getting my hopes up, though.


    • Thanks, Andrés. And, yeah, the Talbot is high on my own hoped-for list…the potential existence of that book somewhere is almost too much to bear.


    • I am hopeful that The Chinese Puzzle and a non-Cockrill novel, Take the Roof off, will see the light of day eventually …


  6. JJ – another excellent podcast. I have begun to look forward to listening to these with a good cup of coffee during my weekends. I smiled when you told Tony that 14 GAD geeks were listening carefully to every word and I pictured Brad, Ben, Aidan, etc. doing exactly that. I certainly was one of them.

    Exciting to see more Christianna Brand content coming in the future. Kate’s recent review of Death of Jezebel reminded me just how good Brand can be.

    I only wished Tony would have talked about whether any additional Wheeler/Webb content is available through the various pseudonyms of Patrick Quentin, Jonathan Stagge etc. I really enjoyed reading the Q Patrick “Exit Before Midnight” in BftL 2.

    Thanks again for doing these podcasts. I continue to learn from each one.


    • Thanks, Scott, it’s great to know that people are enjoying these. They’re a lot of fun to record!

      And, yeah, sitting down with Tony everyone will have their own favourite authors they want to know about — sorry I didn’t get to Patrick/Stagge. I was too excited by the prospect of swathes of Philip MacDonald to be able to think too straight for a while there…

      Bad of me to inflate my listening figures like that, too, you’re right. Won’t happen again 🙂


    • If I’ve understood correctly, there are several PQ collections in the planning stages. As others have said here, keep an eye on Curtis Evans’s blog – news are most likely to appear there first.


  7. It seems you guys had a lovely little chat, and I’m most grateful that I was allowed to listen in. While it’s annoying that there is still so much stuff out there that is almost unknown, I choose to take heart that there seems to be quite a lot of things that are getting closer to publication!

    Thanks again for a most informative conversation!


    • When I first started to get into GAD, I spent a few years feeling like I’d been born in the wrong era because all the books and stories I enjoyed had come out 50+ years before my birth. Only now does it occur to me that this might be the right era because it would have been impossible to keep track of everything put out at the time, and we now have people like Tony and publishers like C&L gathering it together for us. This, PLUS so much stuff that never saw the light of day in the first place…so perhaps a century after the start of the Golden Age is the best time to be a GAD fan after all…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Moreover, disposable income is much higher for (almost?) everyone, so being a GAD fan is much more affordable today than it was in 1920-1940.


  9. Pingback: IT’S SHORTS WEATHER: Perusing Bodies From the Library 3 | ahsweetmysteryblog

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