Transcripts

Who Was Robert Eustace? Transcript

Caroline: If you have been reading golden age detective fiction for a while, you will probably have noticed that not all novels from this period have a single author. Indeed, I’ve devoted whole episodes to this in the past — married couples sometimes wrote mysteries together, as did friends and colleagues. Collaboration is part of what… Continue reading…

Death at the Club Transcript

Caroline: How many busy places full of people are there, do you think, where the body of a murder victim could sit propped up in a chair for hours without being noticed? Where the penalty for disturbing the quiet atmosphere is so great that those nearby would rather a corpse sit among the living than… Continue reading…

The Pimlico Poisoning Mystery Transcript

Caroline: So often, when I’m talking about the real life cases that shaped detective fiction in the twentieth century, we’re dealing with stories that end in tragedy for the woman in the dock. I’m thinking of Edith Thompson, who was hanged in 1923 for a murder which her own supposed accomplice swore she had nothing… Continue reading…

Spooky Sleuthing Transcript

Caroline: Detective fiction, especially the fair play style that relies on logical deduction above all else, should have no time at all for ghosts, spirits or magic. What place could supernatural happenings have in a genre defined by its interest in precision and verification? That demands to know exactly who was where doing what, and… Continue reading…

Agatha and Plum Transcript

Caroline: Two writers, both masters of their craft. Very different on the surface, their work has far more in common than many assume. Neither were taken very seriously as “literary” artists, but they nevertheless shaped the popular understanding of both the novel and the short story in the twentieth century. They dominated the interwar period… Continue reading…

Shedunnit Recommends Transcript

Music Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. Over the years that I’ve been making this podcast, I get asked one question more than any other. It’s this: what should I read next? Now, I love answering it, especially because getting to introduce people who love golden age murder mysteries to new authors from that… Continue reading…

Murder-on-Sea Transcript

Caroline: The seaside, especially an English coastal resort, is an iconic location for a classic murder mystery. We only have to browse quickly through some titles from the 1920s and 1930s to see this, with names like The Cornish Coast Murder, The Sea Mystery, Mist on the Saltings, The Cape Cod Mystery and plenty of… Continue reading…

Murder in a Heatwave Transcript

Caroline: Tempers flaring. Simmering tension. Anger boiling over. A lot of the language that we use to describe the bursts of violent emotion that can result in the murder for a murder mystery has to do with hotness and heat. It’s an image so common that I don’t think we even give it much thought.… Continue reading…

Cricket And Crime Transcript

Caroline: There are many things to love about the stories that emerged from the golden age of detective fiction. These mysteries from the interwar years have clever plots that engage with a complicated set of rules, an insistence on fair play, strong recurring characters and a powerful sense of narrative momentum that carries the reader… Continue reading…

Editing Agatha Christie Transcript

Caroline: Time passes and the world changes — we hope that it largely changes for the better, although the evidence for that might not yet satisfy the best detectives. Still, it is to be expected that the language and beliefs that were commonplace and unremarkable a hundred years ago are approached differently now. For anyone… Continue reading…

Meet The Coles Transcript

Caroline: Even as recently as ten years ago, being a fan of golden age detective fiction was a very different experience. Today, we’re living in a thriving culture of reprints, with previously hard-to-find titles being brought back into mainstream accessibility in gorgeous new editions with informative introductions. But it certainly wasn’t always this way: for… Continue reading…

Miss Marple, Spinster Sleuth Transcript

Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. I want to take you back in time today, to November 2018, when the very first episode of Shedunnit was published. My subject for that one was the so-called “Surplus Women” — the women it was believed had been “left over”, as single women, after a vast swathe of… Continue reading…

The Villa Murder Transcript

Content warning: this episode includes mention of suicide. Caroline: Two women appeared at the infamous Court No 1 at the Old Bailey in London, twelve years apart. Both were accused of conspiring with their lovers to murder their husbands. Both became the subject of intense scrutiny and fascination, with the international media picking over every… Continue reading…

The Evolution of Margery Allingham Transcript

Caroline: The lifespan of a sleuth from the golden age of detective fiction is difficult to estimate. These tend to be creatures of extremes. Either they exist for a concentrated period of time before the writer moves on to other characters or literary endeavours, as Dorothy L. Sayers did with Lord Peter Wimsey, or they… Continue reading…

The Murder Mystery Hotline Transcript

Caroline: When I tell people what this podcast is about one of the first questions that I usually get asked is if I am worried about “running out of things to talk about”. And I suppose that is not an unreasonable concern, if you are only aware of the work of Agatha Christie and perhaps… Continue reading…

Death Under Par Transcript

Caroline: One hundred years ago this year, in 1923, Agatha Christie’s novel The Murder on the Links was published. On the surface, this is not an especially momentous anniversary — especially when compared with the others that we will enjoy in future years as the centenaries of her most famous works rolls round. This book was… Continue reading…

The Golden Age Autopsy Transcript

Caroline: Golden age detective fiction has a tendency to skip over the corpse. Important as it is to the story, one of the defining features of crime fiction from that period between the first and second world wars is its lack of description of the consequences of murder. Characters react to the victim’s death, of… Continue reading…

At Home With Agatha Christie Transcript

Clive: Hi there. National Trust Manager: So you’re in very, very good hands. This is Caroline, have you ever listened to the Shedunnit podcast? Music fades up, dialogue continues in background (No, you got to do it. It’s gripping. It’s all about female, or detective writers, but mainly Agatha. So you are here just to… Continue reading…

The Trials of Madeleine Smith Transcript

Caroline: Whether the reader actually gets to read about it on the page or not, detective fiction is usually aimed in one very specific direction: the moment when an accused gets to their feet in a courtroom and waits to hear whether they have been found guilty or not guilty of the crime at issue.… Continue reading…

The Death Of The Country House Transcript

Guy: Burnt to death, blown up, stripped and beaten up, knocked to the ground, dismembered or just abandoned and left to a slow undignified demise. This was Golden Age murder in a world of wealth and privilege. But the murder victims were not people; they were country houses — those historic houses that will be… Continue reading…

A Detective’s Farewell Transcript

Caroline: The recurring detective is a mainstay of the classic mystery novel. A character who readers can get to know book after book, who has certain traits or habits that become familiar. Part of the joy of following a series over the decades is seeing this well-known sleuth put into different situations, whether that’s a… Continue reading…

The Mysterious Dorothy Bowers Transcript

Caroline: Most of us leave echoes as we move through the world. A trail of clues, if you will, that some interested historian or detective would be able to follow in the long distant future. Of course, the more prominent and privileged an individual is, the easier it will be able to reconstruct their life,… Continue reading…

The Advertising Adventures of Dorothy L. Sayers Transcript

Caroline: Being a writer is a peculiar occupation in lots of ways. It falls somewhere between job, pastime, hobby and vocation, and might be one, several or none of those things at the same time. Even within the subset of those who write to earn their living, there are plenty of further divisions. Today, you… Continue reading…

Howdunnit Transcript

Caroline: When we want to describe a work of detective fiction, there are a few different terms that get thrown around. We might say “murder mystery”, or “crime fiction”, or “detective story”, or “thriller”, or perhaps “whodunnit”. These aren’t all the same thing, of course, but they are expressions that get used fairly interchangeably. A… Continue reading…

Clerical Crimes Transcript

Caroline: A golden age murder mystery should work on two levels. There’s the day to day world that the characters inhabit, in which they eat meals, share gossip and, occasionally, kill each other. Lying behind that is a more elemental realm, in which abstract concepts like justice, order, fairness, guilt and revenge find expression. The… Continue reading…

The Shedunnit Centenary Transcript

Music Guy: Welcome to Shedunnit. My name is Guy Cuthbertson. I am Caroline Crampton’s husband. And this is a special episode because it is episode number 100. So out of the walk-in wardrobe in our bedroom, which is also Caroline’s recording studio, there have come 100 episodes of Shedunnit. Wafting out of the house into… Continue reading…

The Kidnap of Elizabeth Canning Transcript

Caroline: Late on the evening of the 29th January 1753, a young maidservant walked back into her family home in east London. She had no shoes or luggage with her, and her hands and feet were filthy, as was the underdress and petticoat she was wearing. A dirty, blood-soaked rag was tied around her head.… Continue reading…

Queering The Golden Age Transcript

Caroline: Murder mysteries are all about certainty. It’s all there in that nickname we use for the form — the whodunnit. That word poses a question — who? — which the detective ultimately answers, usually in a satisfying final chapter that tidies everything away into neat boxes labelled “guilty”, “innocent”, “good” and “bad”. This black and white take… Continue reading…

A Prize Mystery Transcript

Caroline: What you’re about to hear is a live episode of Shedunnit recorded at the 2022 International Agatha Christie Festival in Torquay. Enjoy. Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. Our story today starts on Monday 1st March, 1926. A woman opens a newspaper, and finds herself drawn in by a story published inside. In this… Continue reading…

The Elusive Agatha Christie Transcript

Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. We all think we know Agatha Christie. How could we not? She’s one of the bestselling authors of all time, an icon of British popular culture, and as you’re listening to this podcast, probably one of your favourite writers. During her lifetime, and in the almost half a… Continue reading…

The Challenge Of Dorothy L. Sayers Transcript

Caroline: Should detective fiction be easy reading? Despite their murderous plots, we often talk of these stories as comforting, even cosy — a pleasant way to relax, switch off the brain, and escape from the real world for a while. And they certainly can fulfil that role, with their familiar structures and satisfying solutions. But not… Continue reading…

Agatha The Adventuress Transcript

When we think of Agatha Christie, there’s a tendency to recall her as she was later on in her life. A vastly successful author and playwright, comfortably ensconsed in her tweeds and pearls, she glances up at the camera from between two towering piles of books. Her greying hair carefully arranged in elaborate curls, she… Continue reading…

The Nobodies Transcript

Caroline: One of the delightful and reassuring things about classic detective fiction is that it tends to abide by certain tropes. When picking up a whodunnit from the 1920s or 1930s, the reader can be fairly sure of what they might encounter within its pages. Settings like country houses or small English villages are very… Continue reading…

At The Old Bailey Transcript

Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. There are few locations in Britain more steeped in the history of crimes real and imaginary than the Old Bailey. This historic courthouse in central London has been the setting for some of the most dramatic moments in legal memory — such as the trials of Dr Crippen and… Continue reading…

The Dark Side of True Crime Transcript

Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. The boundary between real life crimes and fictional ones has been blurry for a long time. Writers have been using elements of actual murders in their plots as long as crime fiction has existed. I’ve explored some of the most famous instances from history, such as the cases… Continue reading…

Looking East Transcript

Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. One of the reasons that we still read golden age detective fiction today is because of the insights and details it provides into the time in which it was written. That period between the two world wars comes alive to us because of the whodunnits that were published then… Continue reading…

The Queen of True Crime Transcript

Caroline: In the introduction to her 1924 criminological study Murder and Its Motives, the writer F. Tennyson Jesse declared, ‘It has been observed, with some truth, that everyone loves a good murder.’ This was a personal as well as a general observation. Although she had no formal training in law or criminology, the publication of… Continue reading…

The Long Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe Transcript

Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. When Edgar Allan Poe published his short story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” in 1841, he set in motion a chain of events that ultimately lead to me, sitting here, talking to you about detective fiction. Best known in popular culture today for his creepy, supernatural, often… Continue reading…

Death By Chocolate Transcript

Caroline: There’s something about the combination of sweetness and poison that was irresistible to the writers of golden age detective fiction. Perhaps it’s merely the symbolism that appealed: the sugary flavour of a treat that conceals the bitter taste of death is the ultimate in contrasts. Maybe there was a practical aspect to it too:… Continue reading…

The Detective’s Best Friend Transcript

Caroline: Every detective needs a companion. A solo sleuth is at a disadvantage in lots of ways: they have no backup in awkward situations, they have only their own skills to rely on, and — crucially — they have no one with whom to share their thoughts in such a way that they are also laid out… Continue reading…

An Encounter With Father Brown Transcript

Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. Music One of my favourite things about this podcast is when it acts as an open door for listeners new to reading golden age detective fiction. Everyone arrives here with different levels of knowledge and experience in the genre, and if I’m doing this right, they get to step… Continue reading…

Agatha’s Archaeologists Transcript

In 1928, Agatha Christie took a momentous decision that was to shape the rest of her life. Her divorce from her first husband had recently been finalised, and after a holiday abroad with her best friend and her daughter, she had plans to travel by herself for a while. Partly, she wanted to indulge her… Continue reading…

A Second Century of Whodunnits Transcript

About a year ago, many months into being stuck inside because of the pandemic, I embarked on a reading project. I read a crime novel from every decade of the twentieth century — ten whodunnits that spanned the years between 1900 and 2000. It both helped me to get out of a reading rut where I… Continue reading…

The Whodunnit In India Transcript

Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. An endlessly fascinating aspect of the golden age of detective fiction is its identification with a certain kind of Britishness. Many of the authors who are widely read from the genre’s heyday in the 1920s and 1930s either were from the UK or were based here for some… Continue reading…

The Tichborne Claimant Transcript

Caroline: The golden age of detective fiction was obsessed with identity. As soon as you start looking, you see impersonators everywhere in the crime fiction of the 1920s and 1930s — sometimes there’s more than one in a single novel. Without the readily available means of independently verifying that someone was who they claimed to be… Continue reading…

A Mysterious Glossary Transcript

Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. One of the things I love about reading detective fiction from the 1920s and 1930s – what we call “the golden age” – is what I learn about that time period just from its whodunnits. There’s so much social and cultural history contained in the pages of even… Continue reading…

Dorothy L Sayers Solves Her Mystery Transcript

Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. This is the sixth and final episode of Queens of Crime at War, a series looking at what the best writers from the golden age of detective fiction did once that period came to an end with the start of the Second World War. If this is the… Continue reading…

Ngaio Marsh Goes Home Transcript

Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. This is another episode of Queens of Crime at War, a series looking at what the best writers from the golden age of detective fiction did once that period came to an end with the start of the Second World War. If you haven’t listened to any of… Continue reading…

Josephine Tey’s Golden Age Transcript

Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. This is another episode of Queens of Crime at War, a series looking at what the best writers from the golden age of detective fiction did once that period came to an end with the start of the Second World War. So far in this series, we’ve spent… Continue reading…

Margery Allingham Waits For The Invasion Transcript

Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. This is another episode of Queens of Crime at War, a series looking at what the best writers from the golden age of detective fiction did once that period came to an end with the start of the Second World War. Today’s subject is a writer who started… Continue reading…