The First Whodunnit

What was the first murder mystery, really?

No major spoilers about clues or endings in this episode. However, there is some mention or discussion of the books listed below.

Sources and further information:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Partners In Crime by Agatha Christie
A Study In Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Mystery Of A Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
L’Affaire Lerouge by Emile Gaboriau
Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allen Poe
The Omnibus of Crime (1929) edited by Dorothy L. Sayers
“The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allen Poe
“The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allen Poe
“The Imp of the Perverse” by Edgar Allen Poe
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh
Uncle Silas by Sheridan Le Fanu
“A Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess” by Sheridan Le Fanu
The Aeneid by Virgil
Uncle Silas by Sheridan Le Fanu
The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
—“Who Wrote the First Whodunit?” by Steven Saylor
“Oedipus on the Nile: translations and adaptations of Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos in Egypt, 1900-1970” by Raphael Christian Cormack
—“Oedipus the Detective” by Sean Fitzpatrick
“Oedipus as Detective: Sophocles, Simenon, Robbe-Grillet” by Page Dubois in Yale French Studies, 2005
“Oedipus versus Sherlock Holmes” by Marios Ploritis and Richard Schechner in The Tulane Drama Review, Winter 1965
—“From Sophocles to Sherlock: economics, literature and the detective story” by Frank Edmund Smith
—“Fergus Hume’s startling story” by Simon Caterson
—”‘The Most Popular Book of Modern Times’: Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886)” by Clare Clarke in Late Victorian Crime Fiction in the Shadows of Sherlock

To be the first to know about future developments with the podcast, sign up for the newsletter at shedunnitshow.com/newsletter.

The podcast is on TwitterFacebookTumblr and Instagram as @ShedunnitShow, and you can find it in all major podcast apps. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the next episode. Click here to do that now in your app of choice.

Find a full transcript of this episode at shedunnitshow.com/thefirstwhodunnittranscript.

Music by Audioblocks and Blue Dot Sessions. See shedunnitshow.com/musiccredits for more details.

The People’s Pathologist

Before there was CSI, there was Bernard Spilsbury.

No major spoilers about clues or endings in this episode. However, there is some mention or discussion of the books listed below. Please be aware there is a brief mention of suicide at the end.

Sources and further information:

— The Florence Maybrick episodes of this podcast: part one and part two
Taylor’s Principles and Practice of Medical Jurisprudence by Alfred Swaine Taylor
Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley
The Red Thumb Mark by R. Austin Freeman
The Crippen episode of this podcast
The Father of Forensics: How Sir Bernard Spilsbury Invented Modern CSI by Colin Evans
>— Trial Of Thomas Smethurst”, British Medical Journal, August 27, 1859
“The Case of Thomas Smethurst, Convicted of the Crime of Murder”, The Lancet, September 1859
The Magnificent Spilsbury and the Case of the Brides in the Bath by Jane Robbins
The “Brides in the Bath” episode of this podcast
Bernard Spilsbury’s index cards at the Wellcome Collection
Some Cases of Sir Bernard Spilsbury and Others : Death Under The Microscope by Harold Dearden
Bernard Spilsbury: His Life and Cases by Douglas G. Browne and E.V. Tullett
“The rise and fall of celebrity pathology” by Ian Burney and Neil Pemberton in the British Medical Journal, December 2010
“Bruised Witness: Bernard Spilsbury and the Performance of Early Twentieth-Century English Forensic Pathology” in Medical History, January 2011

Thanks to today’s sponsor, Best Fiends. You can download Best Fiends free on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

To be the first to know about future developments with the podcast, sign up for the newsletter at shedunnitshow.com/newsletter<.

The podcast is on Twitter&gt;FacebookTumblr and Instagram as @ShedunnitShow, and you can find it in all major podcast apps. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the next episode. Click here to do that now in your app of choice.

Find a full transcript of this episode at shedunnitshow.com/thepeoplespathologisttranscript.

Music by Audioblocks and Blue Dot Sessions. See shedunnitshow.com/musiccredits for more details.

Poison Pen

Nothing could bad could possibly happen here, the inhabitants of the peaceful English village say to each other. Until the first poison pen letter arrives.

No major spoilers about clues or endings in this episode. However, there is some mention or discussion of the books listed below. Also, be aware there is a very brief mention of suicide.

Books and sources:
The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
“The Lernean Hydra” in The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie
Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers
Policemen in the Precinct by E.C.R. Lorac
The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters by Enid Blyton
Overture to Death by Ngaio Marsh
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers
Poison in the Pen by Patricia Wentworth
Details of the James Forster poison pen case in Manfield, Yorkshire
“The Poison Pen Letter: the Early 20th Century’s Strangest Crime Wave” by Curtis Evans
Fear Stalks the Village by Ethel Lina White

Thanks to today’s sponsor, Backblaze. You can get a 15 day free trial at backblaze.com/shedunnit.

To be the first to know about future developments with the podcast, sign up for the newsletter at shedunnitshow.com/newsletter.

The podcast is on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram as @ShedunnitShow, and you can find it in all major podcast apps. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the next episode. Click here to do that now in your app of choice.

Find a full transcript of this episode at shedunnitshow.com/poisonpentranscript.

Music by Audioblocks and Blue Dot Sessions. See shedunnitshow.com/musiccredits for more details.

A Christie for Christmas

The original golden age of detective fiction in the 1920s followed on from a devastating global pandemic. Is it any wonder, then, that we’ve read so much crime fiction in 2020? And why do we find murder mysteries a comforting choice for Christmas?

This festive season if you’d like to support the podcast and buy a gift for a murder mystery loving friend at the same time, you can purchase a discounted gift subscription for the Shedunnit Book Club at shedunnitshow.com/giftoffer or until 17th December shop the restocked merchandise collection at shedunnitshow.com/shop.

No major spoilers in this episode. However, there is some mention or discussion of the books listed below.

Books and sources:
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (UK version / US version)
—”The Golden Age” by Stephen Knight in The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
Trent’s Last Case by E.C. Bentley (UK version / US version)
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
Forever England by Alison Light (UK version / US version)
—”The Decline and Fall of the Detection Story” by W Somerset Maugham in The Vagrant Mood

Thanks to today’s sponsor, Best Fiends. You can download Best Fiends free on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

To be the first to know about future developments with the podcast, sign up for the newsletter at shedunnitshow.com/newsletter.

The podcast is on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram as @ShedunnitShow, and you can find it in all major podcast apps. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the next episode. Click here to do that now in your app of choice.

Find a full transcript of this episode at shedunnitshow.com/achristieforchristmastranscript.

Music by Audioblocks and Blue Dot Sessions. See shedunnitshow.com/musiccredits for more details.

The Christie Completists

I’ve read a lot of Agatha Christie, but I’ve never read all of her books in order. What insights are there to be had by doing so? Christie completists Catherine Brobeck and Kemper Donovan of the All About Agatha podcast join me to talk about the Queen of Crime’s clever way with characters, the “stuck in its time” elements of some of her plots, and how they rank her novels from best to worst.

This festive season if you’d like to support the podcast and buy a gift for a murder mystery loving friend at the same time, you can purchase a discounted gift subscription for the Shedunnit Book Club at shedunnitshow.com/giftoffer or (if you’re fast!) shop the restocked merchandise collection at shedunnitshow.com/shop.

No major spoilers in this episode. However, there is some mention or discussion of the books listed below.

Books and sources:
Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
Halloween Party by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
An Autobiography by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
Taken at the Flood by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
Peril at End House by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
The Hollow by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
Endless Night by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
They Came To Baghdad by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)
The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie (UK version / US version)

Please note that some of the links here are affiliate links — if you buy from an independent bookshop via bookshop.org or secondhand through AbeBooks the sale price remains the same but the podcast receives a small commission.

Thanks to today’s sponsor, Dear Holmes, a mail-based Victorian mystery game in which you can pit your wits against Sherlock Holmes. Get $5 off your first order by visiting dearholmes.com and use code Shedunnit at checkout.

To be the first to know about future developments with the podcast, sign up for the newsletter at shedunnitshow.com/newsletter.

The podcast is on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram as @ShedunnitShow, and you can find it in all major podcast apps. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the next episode. Click here to do that now in your app of choice.

Find a full transcript of this episode at shedunnitshow.com/christiecompletiststranscript.

Music by Audioblocks and Blue Dot Sessions. See shedunnitshow.com/musiccredits for more details.

Download the mp3 of this episode here.

Spoiler Warning (No Spoilers)

Is it still worth reading a whodunnit if you know… who done it?

Thanks to my guests Jim Noy of The Invisible Event and Kate Jackson of Cross Examining Crime. Jim is on Twitter @invisible_event and Kate is @ArmchairSleuth.

Thank you to everyone who supported the Shedunnit Pledge Drive, we did it! You can still join the Shedunnit Book Club if you’d like of course — and I’ll keep the discounted gift offer valid through until the end of the year — but the threshold is already met and there will be more regular episodes coming in 2021.

NB: Despite the title, there are no major spoilers in this episode. However, there is some structural discussion of the books listed below.

Books and sources:
Antidote to Venom by Freeman Wills Crofts
The Julius Caesar Murder Case by Wallace Irwin
Post Mortem by Guy Cullingford
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

Please note that some of the links here are affiliate links — if you buy from an independent bookshop via bookshop.org the sale price remains the same but the podcast receives a small commission.

Thanks to today’s sponsor, Dear Holmes, a mail-based Victorian mystery game in which you can pit your wits against Sherlock Holmes. Get $5 off your first order by visiting dearholmes.com and use code Shedunnit at checkout.

To be the first to know about future developments with the podcast, sign up for the newsletter at shedunnitshow.com/newsletter.

The podcast is on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram as @ShedunnitShow, and you can find it in all major podcast apps. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the next episode. Click here to do that now in your app of choice.

Find a full transcript of this episode at shedunnitshow.com/spoilerwarningtranscript.

Music by Audioblocks and Blue Dot Sessions. See shedunnitshow.com/musiccredits for more details.

Download the mp3 of this episode here

Death Sets Sail On The Nile

To get to the bottom of why the Nile is a murder mystery location that has bewitched readers for decades, I decided to talk to an author who has just published an Egypt based whodunnit: Robin Stevens. We talk about how she finalised the plot of Death Sets Sail  while on a Nile cruise, what it was about 1930s Egypt that held such a fascination for white British writers,  and why the boat in Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile is a character in its own right.

NB: There is some discussion of the plot of both Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie and Death Sets Sail by Robin Stevens in this episode, but no major plot points are revealed.

You can follow Robin on Twitter and Instagram @redbreastedbird. Her latest novel is Death Sets Sail and there are eight others in the Murder Most Unladylike series, plus a book of short stories coming in 2021. To keep up to date with her forthcoming work, see her website robin-stevens.co.uk.

The Shedunnit Pledge Drive is still underway, and we’re now over ninety per cent of the way to hitting the target already. If I can add a total of 100 new members to the Shedunnit Book Club by the end of 2020, I can start releasing episodes (like this one!) more regularly and expanding what the podcast covers. If you’d like to be part of that and feel able to offer some support, please visit shedunnitbookclub/pledgedrive.

To be the first to know about future developments with the podcast, sign up for the newsletter at shedunnitshow.com/newsletter. You can contact me with ideas for future episodes on caroline @ shedunnitshow.com

The podcast is on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram as @ShedunnitShow, and you can find it in all major podcast apps. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the next episode. Click here to do that now in your app of choice.

Find a full transcript of this episode at shedunnitshow.com/niletranscript.

Music by Audioblocks. See shedunnitshow.com/musiccredits for more details.

Download the mp3 of this episode here

Peace At Last

The day the First World War ended, 11 November 1918, marked the beginning of a new era in which detective fiction would flourish. How did Britain go from “peace at last” to “whodunnit”?

Thanks to my guest (and husband) Guy Cuthbertson. His book about Armistice Day is Peace At Last and he’s on Twitter as @guywjc.

The Shedunnit Pledge Drive is still underway, and we’re over two thirds of the way to hitting the target already. If I can add 100 new members to the Shedunnit Book Club by the end of 2020, I can start releasing episodes more regularly and expanding what the podcast covers. If you’d like to be part of that and feel able to offer some support, please visit shedunnitshow.com/pledgedrive.

Books and sources:
Peace At Last by Guy Cuthbertson
Forever England: Femininity, Literature and Conservatism Between the Wars by Alison Light
An Autobiography by Agatha Christie
The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie
“The Affair at the Victory Ball” by Agatha Christie, collected in Poirot’s Early Cases
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers

Thanks to today’s sponsor, Dear Holmes, a mail-based Victorian mystery game in which you can pit your wits against Sherlock Holmes. Get $5 off your first order by visiting dearholmes.com and use code Shedunnit at checkout.

To be the first to know about future developments with the podcast, sign up for the newsletter at shedunnitshow.com/newsletter.

The podcast is on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram as @ShedunnitShow, and you can find it in all major podcast apps. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the next episode. Click here to do that now in your app of choice.

Find a full transcript of this episode at shedunnitshow.com/peaceatlasttranscript.

Music by Audioblocks and Blue Dot Sessions. See shedunnitshow.com/musiccredits for more details.

Download the mp3 of this episode here

The Butler Did It

Snobbery and murder, all served up perfectly for you on a silver tray.

This episode marks the start of the Shedunnit Pledge Drive! If I can add 100 new members to the Shedunnit Book Club by the end of 2020, I can start releasing episodes more regularly and expanding what the podcast covers. If you’d like to be part of that and feel able to offer some support, please visit shedunnitshow.com/pledgedrive.

NB: There are spoilers in this episode! Please check the list of books mentioned below and come back later if there are any titles there for which you don’t want to hear any major plot details. Consider yourself warned!

Books and sources:
The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rineheart
The Door by Mary Roberts Rineheart
20 Rules for Writing Detective Stories by S.S. Van Dine
“The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual” by Arthur Conan Doyle
“The Strange Case of Mr Challoner” by Herbert Jenkins
Something Fishy or The Butler Did It by P.G. Wodehouse
“Why do we think the butler did it?” by Nate Pederson in the Guardian
“Should we be concerned by the limitless popularity of period dramas?” by Caroline Crampton in the New Humanist
“Historians, Social Scientists, Servants, and Domestic Workers: Fifty Years of Research on Domestic and Care Work”, International Review of Social History, Volume 59, Issue 2, August 2014 , pp. 279-314
Snobbery with Violence by Colin Watson
Death and the Dancing Footman by Ngaio Marsh
The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie
Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers
Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie
Black Coffee by Agatha Christie
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer
Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers
A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie

Thanks to today’s sponsor, The Listener, the daily podcast newsletter that I write, which will help you discover better podcasts. Get 20% off your first year when you sign up for an annual subscription. Visit thelistener.co/shedunnit and use code Shedunnit20 at checkout.

To be the first to know about future developments with the podcast, sign up for the newsletter at shedunnitshow.com/newsletter.

The podcast is on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram as @ShedunnitShow, and you can find it in all major podcast apps. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the next episode. Click here to do that now in your app of choice.

Find a full transcript of this episode at shedunnitshow.com/thebutlerdidittranscript.

Music by Audioblocks and Blue Dot Sessions. See shedunnitshow.com/musiccredits for more details.

Download the mp3 of this episode here

The Psychology of Anthony Berkeley

He was one of the most influential crime novelists of the 1920s and 1930s, but has languished somewhat in obscurity since. A troubled, dark, incredibly innovative writer: to really get to know Anthony Berkeley, you need to dive deeply into his fiction.

Thanks to my guest Martin Edwards. His latest novel is Mortmain Hall and he’s on Twitter as @medwardsbooks.

Become a member of the Shedunnit Book Club and get bonus audio, listen to ad free episodes and join a book-loving community at shedunnitshow.com/bookclub.

Books and sources:
Elusion Aforethought: The Life and Writing of Anthony Berkeley Cox by Malcolm Turnbull
As For The Woman by Francis Iles
The Layton Court Mystery
by Anthony Berkeley
The Secret of Chimneys
by Agatha Christie
Whose Body?
by Dorothy L. Sayers
Clouds of Witness
by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Wychford Poisoning Case
by Anthony Berkeley
The Florence Maybrick episodes of this podcast
The Golden Age of Murder
by Martin Edwards
The Edith Thompson episode of this podcast
Roger Sheringham and the Vane Mystery
by Anthony Berkeley
Messalina of the Suburbs 
by E.M. Delafield
The Diary of a Provincial Lady
by E. M. Delafield
The Silk Stocking Murders
by Anthony Berkeley
The Poisoned Chocolates Case
by Anthony Berkeley
Murder in the Basement
by Anthony Berkeley
The Hunting Party
by Lucy Foley
The Detection Club episode of this podcast, featuring Martin Edwards
Malice Aforethought
by Francis Iles
Before the Fact
by Francis Iles

Thanks to today’s sponsor, Best Fiends. You can download Best Fiends free on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

To be the first to know about future developments with the podcast, sign up for the newsletter at shedunnitshow.com/newsletter.

The podcast is on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram as @ShedunnitShow, and you can find it in all major podcast apps. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the next episode. Click here to do that now in your app of choice.

Find a full transcript of this episode at shedunnitshow.com/anthonyberkeleytranscript.

Music by Audioblocks and Blue Dot Sessions. See shedunnitshow.com/musiccredits for more details.

Download the mp3 of this episode here