Transcripts

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: 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 for seeking out knowledge and gathering clues. This story was a popular early appearance of detection as we know it today in… 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…

The Butler Did It Transcript

Here’s a riddle that you might find in a detective story: which character is ubiquitous yet invisible? Vital yet overlooked? At the country house party, he’s never out of sight, yet nobody ever really sees him. The answer, of course, is the butler. Always in the background, anticipating the guests’ every need before they can… Continue reading…

The Psychology of Anthony Berkeley Transcript

 Caroline: The writers of detective stories can be as much of a mystery as the plots they create. During the 1920s and 30s, this attitude was especially prevalent. Some authors, grudgingly or not, accepted the publicity duties that often go with literary success — Dorothy L. Sayers, with her day job in advertising, was even… Continue reading…

The Telephone Call Transcript

 The most sinister and disturbing crimes bloom from moments so mundane that they’re barely noticeable. A spontaneous break in a long held routine, a friendly smile to a stranger, a spur of the moment decision on a warm evening to take the long way home: those are the points where the splinters of tragedy… Continue reading…

Locked Room Transcript

Caroline: The line between crime fiction and the supernatural can get a little blurry at times. Although the “rules” of fair play in detective fiction popular in the 1920s and 30s prohibited the inclusion of ghosts, demons, and other paranormal phenomena, writers still enjoyed teasing their readers with murder scenarios that, at first glance, appeared… Continue reading…

The Lifelong Fan Transcript

Music Caroline: With detective novels from the 1920s or 1930s, I’m always conscious of the distance between when it was written and when I’m reading it. Not that I think you need to be immersed in the historical context to enjoy a murder mystery, that’s not it at all. Part of what makes these stories… Continue reading…

The Detection Club Transcript

Caroline: Writing can be a lonely profession. Once a book or story exists, it can be a highly sociable thing — the author is interviewed about it, appears at events, and these days can always be available to talk to their readers online. But the period of creation is one of solitude. Just you and the… Continue reading…

A Room of One’s Own Transcript

Caroline: In October 1928, the novelist Virginia Woolf gave two lectures to literary societies at women’s colleges at Cambridge University. Her subject was women and fiction, and she ranged throughout history to build up her case for how for centuries structural inequality had systematically excluded half the population from literary work. The lectures were later… Continue reading…

Murder On Holiday Transcript

Music Through the long winter months and the interminable drizzle of a British spring, we look forward to our summer holidays. Whether they involve a flight to a far off destination or a quick drive to a homegrown seaside resort, those few days in July or August mark a pleasurable pause in the year, a… Continue reading…

E.C.R. Lorac Transcript

Caroline: There are a few names that come up a lot in relation to the so called golden age of detective fiction. Agatha Christie, of course, but Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, Gladys Mitchell, Josephine Tey and Ngaio Marsh are also all writers who are more or less associated with that great flourishing of crime… Continue reading…

Mary Westmacott Transcript

Music In 1930, any serious fan of detective fiction would have been able to tell you that Agatha   Christie published just the one novel that year — The Murder at the Vicarage. This was a significant one for her, a step up in her already successful writing career. It was both the first full length… Continue reading…

Dorothy’s Secret Transcript

Caroline: Dorothy L. Sayers is well known for many things: as a writer, a translator, a playwright, a theologian, and a feminist. She was among the first women to receive a degree from Oxford University. Her work in setting up the Detection Club and her reviews of other authors’ work in the genre were crucial… Continue reading…

Black Lives Matter Resources

Here are a few places you can show your support for the Black Lives Matter movement, by reading, donating, and choosing diverse crime fiction. This is a comprehensive and very useful document listing books, podcast episodes, films and other media that can help you learn more about the anti racist movement. Donate to Black Lives… Continue reading…

Cui Bono? Transcript

Picture the scene. A wealthy elderly person lies dead, obviously murdered. Their sumptuous mansion is filled to the rafters with expensive assets. Around every corner is a family member or neighbour with some financial tie to the deceased and seemingly no alibi for the time of the crime. What’s the first thing an intelligent sleuth… Continue reading…

The Collectors Transcript

Caroline: For some readers , whodunnits are transient, disposable things. Once you’ve read a murder mystery once, there’s no point keeping it or reading it again, according to this school of thought. You already know who did it, and there’s little use in   cluttering up your shelves with books that are now redundant. But… Continue reading…

Bedside Manner Transcript

Caroline: Detective fiction works best when there are rigid structures that can be obeyed, subverted or undermined. The closed circle of suspects, the unbreakable alibi, the pact to play fair by the reader — all of these restrictions help to stimulate writers’ creativity. The presence of certain archetypal characters is part of this too, especially… Continue reading…

The Hay Poisoner Transcript

 Caroline: On 26 October 1921, a solicitor named Oswald Martin went to have tea with a fellow lawyer named Herbert Armstrong. The two worked for rival law firms in the town of Hay on Wye, which lies on the border between England and Wales. They were currently representing opposite sides in a local property… Continue reading…

The Dispenser Transcript

Caroline: Agatha Christie received a lot of accolades during her long writing career. She had fans all over the world, her books sold thousands upon thousands of copies and (mostly) received good reviews, and in 1971 she was made a Dame by the Queen for her services for literature. But one of her most prized… Continue reading…

Happily Ever After Transcript

To download the mp3 of this episode click here. Caroline: When you boil it down to the essentials, a detective barely needs to be a human being. The plot of a really great whodunnit demands only that the sleuthing entity observe, analyse, deduce and denounce. A thinking machine with a clear input and output that governs… Continue reading…

All At Sea Transcript

To download the mp3 of this episode click here. Caroline: When constructing a plot for a detective novel, nothing matters more than boundaries. It’s vital to know where the edges of the world will be, and who will be allowed to come in and out once the mystery is in progress. After all, it’s no… Continue reading…

The Pale Horse Transcript

To download the mp3 of this episode click here. A friendly warning: there are major spoilers for The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie in this episode. Music. Caroline: I think we’re all quite comfortable with the idea of real life events inspiring fiction — it’s not for nothing that some of the most critically acclaimed… Continue reading…

The Great Gladys Transcript

To download the mp3 of this episode click here. Caroline: There’s a tendency sometimes to think of detective fiction from the early twentieth century as “cosy”. In fact, in some countries the phrase “cozy mystery” even serves as a semi-official subgenre of crime writing — especially in America where it is defined against the so-called… Continue reading…

Teaching Sleuthing Transcript

Caroline: In 1945, the American critic Edmund Wilson published a series of three essays deploring detective fiction as written by Agatha Christie, Rex Stout and Dorothy L. Sayers as of little value. In the second essay, which was titled “Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?” as a direct dig at Christie’s bestselling whodunnit from 1926,… Continue reading…

Victorian Pioneers Transcript

Here’s a full transcript of the twenty-ninth episode of Shedunnit Click to listen to it now in your app of choice. Caroline: Before there was Miss Marple, Mrs Bradley or Harriet Vane, there was Amelia Butterworth, Dorcas Dene and Loveday Brooke. Although Victorian detective fiction is most associated with a male character that tends to… Continue reading…

Let It Snow Transcript

Here’s a full transcript of the twenty-eighth episode of Shedunnit Click to listen to it now in your app of choice. Caroline: The days are drawing in. Darkness falls mid afternoon. The light and warmth inside only emphasises quite how icily cold it is out. At first, the snow is a cheery accompaniment to a festive… Continue reading…

Competent Women Transcript

Here’s a full transcript of the twenty-seventh episode of Shedunnit Click to listen to it now in your app of choice. Caroline: Detective novelists have always been loyal to their sleuths. Some, like Gladys Mitchell, created a character and devotedly returned to them again and again. Other authors, like Dorothy L. Sayers, had a main… Continue reading…

Notable Trials Transcript

Here’s a full transcript of the twenty-sixth episode of Shedunnit Click to listen to it now in your app of choice. Caroline: Towards the end of Dorothy L. Sayers’s 1930 novel Strong Poison, her sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey is feeling stumped. He’s tackled a tricky poisoning case with all the verve and enthusiasm that readers… Continue reading…

The Mutual Admiration Society Transcript

Here’s a full transcript of the twenty-fifth episode of Shedunnit. Click here to listen to it now in your app of choice. Caroline: One chilly night in November 1912, a group of young women gathered together to share their writing with each other. They were all newly arrived first year students at Somerville College in… Continue reading…

Enter The Watson Transcript

Here’s a full transcript of the twenty-fourth episode of Shedunnit. Click here to listen to it now in your app of choice. Caroline: There’s a moment in Agatha Christie’s 1964 novel A Caribbean Mystery that I think about a lot. Miss Marple, generously sent on a luxury winter holiday to the island of St Honoré… Continue reading…