Transcripts

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

Caroline: Before we get into this episode, and I promise it is a good one, I want to remind you about the 2022 Shedunnit Pledge Drive, which is currently over halfway to reaching its goal of adding 100 new members to the Shedunnit Book Club by the end of the year. Since we only launched… 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. A bit of housekeeping up front: I am running an audience survey for the podcast at the moment to find out more about who my listeners are and what they like and don’t like about the show. I last did this three whole years ago, and lots of new… 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 (Queens of Crime at War 6)

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 (Queens of Crime at War 5)

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 (Queens of Crime at War 4)

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 (Queens of Crime at War 2)

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…

E.C.R. Lorac Rises Through The Ranks Transcript (Queens of Crime At War 2)

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, we’re focusing on a writer who… Continue reading…

Agatha Christie Writes Alone Transcript (Queens of Crime At War 1)

Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. This is the start 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 in 1939. There are six episodes, each… Continue reading…

At Home With Shedunnit Transcript

 Guy: Hello. Welcome to Shedunnit. My name is Guy Cuthbertson. I am husband of Caroline Crampton and I am going to be interviewing Caroline today because this is a special episode, celebrating the fact that Shedunnit is reaching its third birthday.  So we’re going to be talking about three years of making this wonderful… Continue reading…

Double Trouble Transcript

Caroline: A good mystery is a contest between writer and reader. If observing the conventions of fair play that were popular in the 1920s and 1930s, the writer must be transparent with the reader about clues and suspects. No springing an unlikely murderer on the reader at the eleventh hour is allowed. But at the… Continue reading…

The Theatrical World of Agatha Christie Transcript

Caroline: Agatha Christie is a very well known writer, to put it mildly. Her novels and short stories have been translated into dozens of languages, she’s a household name all over the world, and her books are still selling in their millions nearly half a century after her death. Her characters are forever being reincarnated… Continue reading…

Is Agatha Christie A Good Writer? Transcript

Caroline: Since you’re listening to this podcast, I feel fairly confident in saying that you think Agatha Christie wrote some good books. There’s a high probability that you decided to listen to me talking about detective fiction because you have, at some point, enjoyed a novel by the so called Queen of Crime. But just… Continue reading…

The Murder At Road Hill House Transcript

Caroline: Do you feel an uncomfortable heat at the pit of your stomach? Is there a nasty thumping at the top of your head? If there is, then you might have come down with a case of detective fever. According to Wilkie Collins’s 1868 novel The Moonstone, these were the symptoms — along with a sudden passion… Continue reading…

Agatha Christie’s England Transcript

Caroline: When you close your eyes and imagine the setting of an Agatha Christie story, what do you see? A grand country house, perhaps, or an idyllic English village complete with its own spinster sleuth. For all that the Queen of Crime is lauded for her plots, she deserves praise for her settings, too. Beyond… Continue reading…

Young Sleuths Transcript

Caroline: I can’t remember how old I was when I read my first detective novel, but I definitely wasn’t a teenager yet. I devoured my first Agatha Christie — the Miss Marple short story collection The Thirteen Problems — under the covers on a family holiday when I was 11 after finding it on the shelf at… Continue reading…

Golden Age Inspiration Transcript

Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. Golden age detective fiction is having a bit of a moment. Over the last few years, there’s been a resurgence of interest in crime fiction from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, with hard to obtain titles receiving new editions and new TV and film adaptations in the works.… Continue reading…

Policing the Detectives Transcript

Caroline: Is detective fiction an escapist genre? The marketing for today’s thrillers and cosy mysteries that encourages us to “get away from the real world” for a while by reading about fictional crimes would suggest that it is. Expecting to be soothed by plots that centre on violent death might sound counter intuitive, but it… Continue reading…

A Century of Whodunnits Transcript

 Something I love about making this podcast is the space it provides for me to zoom right in. I can dedicate a whole episode to a single trope from classic detective fiction, whether that’s tropes like “the butler did it” or settings like “on a boat”. I’ve narrowed the focus even further by putting… Continue reading…

Swan Song Transcript

Caroline: Detectives have to be fundamentally infallible. On their journey to a mystery’s solution they can be fragile, or flawed, or unreliable, or uncertain, but the reader has to be able to rely on the sleuth to find a satisfactory answer in the end. It’s a fundamental part of what makes a whodunnit work. After… Continue reading…

The Many Afterlives of Hercule Poirot Transcript

Caroline: There aren’t many characters who are recognisable just from a silhouette, but Hercule Poirot is one of them. The beloved Belgian detective made his first appearance in The Mysterious Affair At Styles a hundred years ago, and today it seems impossible to remember a time when he wasn’t a ubiquitous part of pop culture.… Continue reading…

Cryptic Crimes Transcript

Caroline: Classic detective fiction has rules. Codified as the genre grew in popularity in the 1920s and early 30s, these conventions mostly feed into the idea of “fair play” between author and reader. The art of writing a good murder mystery, then, is sticking to this framework while also subverting it. There’s a great skill… Continue reading…

The Honkaku Mysteries Transcript

Caroline: It’s over a hundred years now since the golden age of detective fiction began in Britain. Some writers who were key to the popularity of the whodunnit between the two world wars are still household names in the UK and the US today — Agatha Christie, of course, but the likes of Dorothy L. Sayers,… Continue reading…

The First Whodunnit Transcript

Caroline: The world of detective fiction has recently passed an important milestone. It’s a hundred years since the appearance of Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. First serialised in the London Times in 1920, it appeared in book form first in the US at the end of that year and then in… Continue reading…

The People’s Pathologist Transcript

The murder mystery is a form that brings forth certainty from uncertainty. The job of the detective is to sort through the chaotic mass of clues and testimony to create an ordered, coherent narrative of how a crime was committed. Medical evidence forms a vital part of this process, often creating the parameters for a… Continue reading…

Poison Pen Transcript

The peaceful English village is the heart of so many classic crime stories that it’s really a character in itself. Especially pre 1945, a village can be the world in miniature, with its own class hierarchy and rumour mill. And most importantly, a sleepy country village comes with an expectation of calm and of untroubled… Continue reading…

A Christie for Christmas Transcript

Caroline: Like a lot of people, I’ve really struggled with reading this year. Whereas once the words just seemed to flow off the page and straight into my brain, now a connection has broken somewhere. I’ve been distracted and anxious, picking up books that I think will suit my mood and then putting them down… Continue reading…

The Christie Completists Transcript

 Caroline: Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. I talk a lot on this show about the work of Agatha Christie. I mean, how could I not? She’s the best known writer of whodunnits and published her first book in 1920, right around the beginning of the period known as the golden Age of detective… Continue reading…

Spoiler Warning Transcript

Caroline: It can come at any time, the revelation that ruins everything. Maybe you’re scrolling through social media. Perhaps you’re idly chatting with a friend who has a similar taste in books. You might even be reading a different novel or story when you chance across a reference to the plot of another work that… Continue reading…

Death Sets Sail On The Nile Transcript

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. Caroline: So we’re here today to talk about Death on the Nile, which was first published in 1937. It’s the story… Continue reading…

Peace At Last Transcript

Caroline: It was the bells that let lots of people in Britain know that the First World War was over. They had been silent for months on end, but on 11 November 1918 makeshift crews of ringers returned to their belfries, producing peals that made people stop in the streets and ask each other: “Is… Continue reading…

Hear more from Shedunnit

Sign up to receive regular email updates from Shedunnit about new episodes, extra content, events and merchandise.

You will only receive updates about the podcast (about twice a month). Your email will never be passed on or used for another purpose.