21 EpisodesProduced by Caroline Crampton

Unravelling the mysteries behind classic detective stories

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20. The Lady Detective

July 10th, 2019


Meet Maud West, a real life lady detective from the golden age of detective fiction who lived a very colourful life — as well as sleuthing, she …

19. Back To School

June 26th, 2019


School is an enclosed world that breeds tension and suspicion and stress. No wonder it’s such a perfect setting for a murder mystery.

Find links to …

18. Florence Maybrick II

June 12th, 2019


Her trial gripped the nation and tested Britain’s legal system to the limit. But what happened to Florence Maybrick?

This is the second of a two part story — listen to episode 16 first at

17. On The Thames

May 29th, 2019


The River Thames has always had a dark side. Its fast-flowing, tidal waters have long attracted those with something to hide.

Find links to further reading and sources at

You can order my …

16. Florence Maybrick I

May 15th, 2019


A shipboard romance that somehow became one of the most notorious domestic poisoning cases in British history. This is the story of Florence Maybrick.

Check back for part two of this story on 12 June.

Find links to …

15. Period Style

May 1st, 2019


Murder mysteries: if you believe the clichés, they all happened in the 1920s and 1930s, surrounded by flappers and butlers.  But let’s take a second to wonder — why is it that detective fiction is so closely associated …

14. Pseudonyms

April 17th, 2019


Authors’ names loom large when we think about detective stories. Yet many of them are pseudonyms, created just to appear on book covers. But why go to all this trouble? And what makes a good pen name, anyway?

Find more …

13. The Secret Life of Ngaio Marsh

April 3rd, 2019


By any definition, the New Zealand crime writer Ngaio Marsh lived an extraordinary life. But who was she really, this globetrotting blockbuster author who divided her life between opposite sides of the world?

Find more …

12. Round Robin

March 20th, 2019


Writing is usually a solitary pastime, yet a group of detective fiction authors in the early 1930s decided to work together on murder mystery …

11. The Other Detectives

March 6th, 2019


Some sleuths need no introduction. But other characters, also created by famous authors like Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, lurk in obscurity. In this episode, we’re on the hunt for the other detectives.

Find …

10. Nurse Daniels

February 20th, 2019


On 6 October 1926, a woman went into a cloakroom in Boulogne, France and never came out. She was never seen alive again. Her disappearance captivated …

9. The Rules

February 6th, 2019


A good detective story has a recognisable rhythm and plot points. But how did these tropes come about? And what happens when you break the rules? …

8. Dining with Death

January 23rd, 2019


Food matters in books. It helps to set the scene, build up characters and evoke a period, and it also symbolises comfort, security and domesticity. …

7. Edith Thompson

January 9th, 2019


On the morning of 9 January 1923, a brutal and horrifying execution took place at Holloway Prison in London. The condemned young woman screamed and …

6. Adaptations (with Sarah Phelps)

December 26th, 2018


For many people, their main contact with detective fiction is via film and television adaptations. For a huge global audience, Agatha Christie’s work is as often watched as it is read. Any new production is greeted with …

5. Crime at Christmas

December 19th, 2018


Reading crime fiction from the early twentieth century is a really popular activity at Christmas. It’s nice to curl up with a good whodunnit by the …

4. The Lady Vanishes

December 12th, 2018


On 3 December 1926, Agatha Christie left her home in the southern English county of Berkshire just after 9.30 in the evening. She drove away, taking …

3. Queer Clues

November 28th, 2018


The detective stories of the 1920s and 30s aren’t exactly well known for being edgy, or at the vanguard of the struggle for gay rights. But there are queer clues everywhere in these books, if you only know where to look …

2. Crippen

November 15th, 2018


The detective writers of the 1920s and 1930s weren’t working a vacuum. They took a keen interest in the crimes of their time, often weaving elements from actual murder cases into their plots or referencing them …

1. Surplus Women

October 31st, 2018


After the First World War, there was a great flowering of female independence as more women chose to live single lives. This change, and the backlash to it, is all there to be found in the murder mysteries of the …

0. Whodunnit?

October 24th, 2018


For a couple of decades between the first and second world wars, something mysterious happened. A golden age of detective fiction dawned, and people …

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