In GAD We Trust – Episode 21: The Diversity of Approaches to Detective Fiction [w’ Martin Edwards]

The detective fiction genre is built around the essential structure of a crime, an investigation of that crime, and the revelation of the guilty party who committed the crime, and good heavens didn’t the Golden Age map out a lot of different ways to walk that path. And there are few people better placed to discuss this than President of the Detection Club and recent recipient of the CWA Diamond Dagger Martin Edwards, who celebrates three decades as a published author this year.

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#788: All the Lonely People (1991) by Martin Edwards

All the Lonely People

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Earlier this year, when I spoke with Steve about modern authors writing in the Golden Age tradition, he reminded me that I’d not read any of Martin Edwards’ series of Liverpool-set novels featuring solicitor Harry Devlin.  Back when modern crime fiction commanded more of my attention, Robert Crais had led me to Michael Connelly, who led me to Ian Rankin, who led me to John Harvey, who then led me to Edwards’ Lake District novels The Coffin Trail (2004) and The Arsenic Labyrinth (2007), but his earlier series eluded me.  So, at long last, here we are at All the Lonely People (1991) — the debut for author and character both, which turns 30 this year.

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In GAD We Trust – Episode 16: Modern Writers in the Golden Age Tradition [w’ Puzzle Doctor @ In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel]

Let’s get the new year off to a happy start by showing some appreciation for contemporary authors who make life difficult for themselves by upholding the traditions of Golden Age detective fiction in their own works. And, if you want to discuss modern detective fiction, few are better-placed than Puzzle Doctor, a.k.a. Steve from In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel.

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#337: Foreign Bodies [ss] (2017) ed. Martin Edwards

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Had you asserted back in 2014 that the republication of two forgotten crime novels would lay the foundation for one of the most celebrated series of GAD reissues in modern times, well, people would have laughed.  And yet the British Library Crime Classics collection, under the stewardship of Martin Edwards and Rob Davies, is now over 50 books deep and gathering momentum for another exciting year.  And it’s a sure sign of the hale condition of the series that, far from simply reissuing books, they’re now branching out into original translations with this collection of overseas tales.  In the words of Ira Gershwin, who’s got the last laugh now?

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#326: Reflections on Detection – ‘Decline of the English Murder’ (1946) by George Orwell and the End of the Golden Age

George Orwell’s essay ‘Decline of the English Murder’ (1946) is focussed not on the quality of said fictional undertakings but rather the attitudes of a society suffering the “brutalising effects of war” and thus immune to the horror of murder the perspectives of both commission and punishment.  Citing the case of the Cleft Chin Murder, in which three people were killed with no meaningful motivation and the opprobrium of the public was vented upon the couple responsible, the sentiment of the final line is easily the most powerful; “crimes as serious as murder should have strong emotions behind them”.

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#320: Reflections on Detection – The Golden Age of Murder (2015) by Martin Edwards


We live in a world where the 80 novels and collections of short stories by Agatha Christie are in no doubt — she wrote them, they were published, and they will doubtless be available in perpetuity.  This is equally true of the work of John Dickson Carr, though less readily available, or Miles Burton or Christianna Brand; the work is closed, finished, and while an occasional unknown one may appear at some point, it’s reasonable to assume that there’s nothing meaningful to be added to these bibliographies.

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