The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards

The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards was published very recently, 2015. I read a review of it by Margaret@BooksPlease, and thought it was a must read for me by the sound of it. You can read what Margaret wrote here.

It’s one of those books which is fascinating but at the same time my heart sort of sank a bit as I kept adding yet more titles to my list of books to look out for, and even new to me authors to track down. I thought I had been quite good at delving into the more obscure crime writers output but it looks like I have a lot more to read.

Margaret was surprised at how many real murder cases had influenced so many of the authors but that was no surprise to me as I know that most authors don’t stray far from things which they’ve experienced, seen on the news or heard about from someone else. In fact one of my writer friends is completely up front about it and if you say to him in conversation something which he likes the sound of he’ll say – I’m having that for a book – and he does!

I have a copy of Bloody Murder by Julian Symons which Martin Edwards does mention as well as the author, but I didn’t manage to get to the end of that one yet, mainly because I find Symons to be too opinionated which is very annoying when he savages an author or book which you happen to rate quite highly.

The Golden Age of Murder is partly about the history of the Detection Club, which of course I knew about but I had been under the impression it was far more exclusive than it was, there were in fact a lot of members of it over the years, but I was interested to discover relationships between authors which I had no idea about, such as the close relationship between Anthony Berkeley and E.M Delafield of ‘Provincial Lady’ fame.

The book goes into the history of the paperback too as the books were launched in the 1930s at a time when few people could afford to buy hardbacks, in fact most of them were bought by libraries. Paperbacks were a cheap luxury which people were able to indulge themselves with. Austerity is a business opportunity if you can think of something which will be cheap and popular with the public. The chocolate industry went into overdrive in the 1930s, so many of the chocolate bars which we see as classics nowadays were launched in the early 1930s, cheap affordable luxuries for the masses. Roald Dahl was a real connoisseur of chocolate and he had all the facts and figures about them at his fingertips as you can see from a short bit on You Tube from years ago.

I see I’ve strayed yet again from the book I was chatting about, anyway – if you enjoy vintage crime/detective/murder mysteries – you’ll really enjoy reading The Golden Age of Murder.

Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl

Kiss Kiss cover

This is a collection of short stories by Roald Dahl, first published in 1953. I often read short stories at bedtime but that was a bit of a mistake with this book, I should have known that it wouldn’t be good bedtime reading because although I had never read any Dahl books for adults before, I did watch those TV programmes which were on, in the 1970s I think – Tales of the Unexpected. I’ll never forget a frozen joint of lamb being used as a murder weapon, then being consumed so there was no evidence of it!

There were a couple of stories which were very chilling, not what you want to read before trying to get to sleep, but having said that, Dahl was such a great and imaginative writer so these stories are well worth reading.

When I finished the book I turned to the front to see when it was published and it was only then that I read:

In this wonderfully weird assortment of bizarre, not for bedtime tales, Roald Dahl masterfully demonstrates his superb skill for cleverly combining the humorous with the macabre, the obvious with the outrageous.

Each story will be reread, remembered and retold, for each is a riddle, as tantalizing as a lingering, lethal kiss.

I can only agree. As you can see my book is an old American copy which I’m pretty sure I bought in Castle Books in Berwick-on- Tweed. Castle Books is a lovely secondhand bookshop and well worth a visit if you find yourself around that area of the Scottish/English Border country.