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 two weeks ago, this feels like incredible progress and I’d like to thank everyone who has been inspired to join so far, and gently remind those who haven’t quite got round to it yet to come on board soon.

There are loads of fun benefits to belonging to the Shedunnit Book Club, and especially to joining right now. You get a copy of the Shedunnit Guide to Golden Age Detective Fiction, a kind of choose your own adventure map for broadening your crime fiction reading, as well as loads of bonus audio, access to the delightful reading community, an invitation to our monthly watching party, and much more.

Plus, if you join before we hit our pledge drive goal, you’ll even get a second membership to give to a friend absolutely free. So you could even team up and join together to split the cost. But as well as all of that, you also get to be part of keeping this podcast going and growing. Shedunnit has come a long way from when I launched it 100 episodes ago.

I hope it’s now a better and deeper experience for you. And if so, that’s largely thanks to the fact that I now have an editor, Euan, and a production assistant, Leandra, who helped me make the show interesting and nice sounding. And there’s also Connor, the book club’s membership coordinator who makes sure that members are having a good time and accessing all their perks easily.

None of us are able to do this as a full-time job though, and as such, I’ve come close to burning out doing this a few times. Having this help is what will keep me from falling into that trap again in the future. And to be transparent with you, this is primarily what the funds from the book club are used for, and I’d very much like to keep paying Euan, Leandra, and Connor a fair rate for their work.

So if you’d like to be part of making that happen, visit shedunnitshow.com/pledgedrive to join now.

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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 the not always sunny skies of port sunlight and into the ether to be enjoyed around the globe and possibly, for all I know, on other planets where Poirot and Marple are deities worshiped by little green men.

For magic and discovery, the only wardrobe to rival it is the one in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

Caroline, you do have a small, tiny lion in your wardrobe called Howard. He’s named after the great eighties program Howards’ Way, and recently joined by Rory, another little lion, who was won in a raffle at a fete in Cornwall. But there are none of Professor Kirke’s fur coats. Although until recently, the wardrobe was filled with clothes. The only fur coat is that of Morris, our hairy little dog.

So this is the programme that is going to celebrate Shedunnit, and it’s my chance to pay tribute to Caroline because I know how hard she works on the podcast and how much she cares about it. It’s been wonderful to see the praise it has received in the press and from fans, and it’s been wonderful to see the podcast grow and grow and reach its hundredth episode.

So let’s get on with this Shedunnit centenary. Caroline. Hello.

Caroline: Hello.

Guy: We’re not in your wardrobe today. We’re in the lounge in our house.

Caroline: Mm-hmm.

Guy: And we were here once before. We had a similar conversation about a year ago where I asked you about your interest in detective fiction, and we went through some of your interests, but there’s a lot more that we can cover today.

And particularly, I want to look back over the now long history of Shedunnit and all of these episodes that you’ve produced. So the first episode, which was a little mini episode, was on the 24th of October 2018, and the first full episode was on the 31st of October that year. So we’re also reaching a four year anniversary at the same time as a 100th episode.

Could you start by telling us about your plans at the time and what your expectations for the podcast were, four years ago?

Caroline: I don’t think I really had any expectations as such. I was at the time, professionally, very engaged with making podcasts for other people, so producing podcasts for magazines, corporate clients, et cetera.

So I spent many, many hours a day, either listening to other people talk or editing what they had then said, and I found myself really wanting to do something where I got to talk and I got to be in charge of what happened. So I don’t think I had any expectation beyond that. Just this is a topic I really like talking about in real life and I would like to, I really enjoy making podcasts, but I would like to do it where I actually get to govern the subject matter and what gets said and how it sounds. So that was all. That was all I wanted to do.

Guy: Did you expect it to last this long?

Caroline: Honestly, no, because at the time I had no plans in place for it to make money or, and get anywhere near that. So I had sort of assumed I would do it for as long as I enjoyed it, and then I would stop doing it when I didn’t.

Guy: And you’re still enjoying it.

Caroline: Yes, very much so.

Guy: So did you imagine that you would run out of topics for the episodes to cover? Did you think, Well, this is quite a niche topic and maybe it’ll run for a few episodes, but what am I going to say after a while?

Caroline: That isn’t really something that I thought about, but it was something that people said to me a lot at the beginning: Oh, we love this, but isn’t it really niche? How long can you possibly keep this going? You’re talking not even about crime fiction. You’re talking about a specific subset of crime fiction from one very small bit of history. And I think that is true. That’s a valid observation. If you flip it on its head, if you think about particularly one of the authors from that narrow little slice of history is one of the best selling authors ever in the world to date, Agatha Christie.

So if it’s a niche, I feel like it’s quite a large one that a lot of people have spent some time in at some point or other. So no, I’ve never run a bunch of things to think about. As it happens, Leandra, my production assistant, and I have recently been thinking about what we’re going to do next year, and we’ve actually potentially plotted out an entire year’s worth of episodes for 2023. And I’ve still got a list of ideas of things I’d I’d like to do that aren’t included by that. So no, I have not run out of ideas yet.

Guy: And some people also contact you with their own ideas for episodes as well, don’t they?

Caroline: Yeah. So that plan for next year isn’t even factoring in the fact that I’m sure, yes, either people will get in touch with great ideas or we will learn about books that are coming out that we want to cover in some way, or other projects that we want to reference.

So, yes, it’s just a hypothetical plan at this point, but it was a nice exercise in being reminded that there’s still a lot to do.

Guy: So four years ago when the podcast started, nobody had heard the word Covid or coronavirus and so forth. Do you think that the pandemic had a role to play in the popularity of the podcast, or did it influence people’s interests at all?

Caroline: I think podcasting in general did very well during, particularly the beginning part of Covid where people, most people weren’t able to leave their homes because lots of people suddenly wanted to try and make podcasts and therefore were listening to other ones to get ideas. They also had a lot more time where they just didn’t really have much to do and they were craving distractions.

So yeah, podcasting in general. I can’t say that I think Shedunnit really had a massive leap in popularity or anything in March, 2020. It’s always had this sort of steady, slow, ongoing growth rather than big spikes like that. But I do think that it benefited massively from the fact that crime fiction, specifically Golden Age style, or cozy crime, really, really boomed in popularity during Covid, I’d say before that time, although we’d seen things like the British Library republishing out of print crime novels and so on, the dominant strain of crime fiction, certainly in the UK and probably in the US as well, was very much the kind of gritty police procedural. It wasn’t the the cozy murder mystery, à la Christie or Sayers, and then Covid comes along and people don’t really want to read things that are gritty or horrible or involve serial killers and a lot of gore at a time when the actual real world around them is feeling pretty gritty and horrible.

And so we know from book sellers’ reports and so on that sales of Christie, Sayers, et cetera, did really, really well. Boomed during 2020 and 2021. I think the best possible indication of this is Richard Osman’s success, which came towards the end of 2020 with his first- his first murder mystery, The Thursday Murder Club, which is a modern set story but has all of the ingredients of an old fashioned golden age murder mystery.

I think it broke all kinds of records for both how fast it sold out books and how many it sold. He’s done two sequels that have top bestseller lists and so on. So all those people were getting interested in that style of writing. And here I was with a podcast that was trying to explain it. So I think in that way, I did benefit.

And no doubt part of the appeal of these novels is that there is somebody there to solve our problems. It might not be a pandemic that they’re trying to solve, but it is wonderfully reassuring to think that there is somebody you can turn to who can answer our concerns or deal with crime, et cetera, make our place safer. To quote Depeche Mode, our own personal Jesus: someone who cares, someone who’s there.

Guy: So do you think that’s part of the appeal and that it’s all about that person who is there to solve problems? That person that we might not actually have in real life? We might want that person, whether it be husband or friend or parent, but certainly in the books there’s always a resolution, a problem solved.

Caroline: Yes. I think that’s one very clear reading of the whole genre, really, that it’s comforting and it’s like you get to abdicate responsibility because Poirot or whatever detective figure is going to sort it out for you, and you just get to read about him doing it. And yes, that’s not how real life worked. It’s definitely not how life worked during a really chaotic period in the world. So you can absolutely see the appeal.

Guy: Have your views of detective fiction changed over the four years? Do you see it differently?

Caroline: Yes, in one sense, absolutely. I used to read it exactly for the reason we just mentioned. For escape and enjoyment. And I’ve kind of a bit turned it into my job.

You know, I do occasionally just read books,, crime novels, because they’re recommended to me or cause I see them in the library. But most of the time I’m on a self-created program of reading where I know I want to do an episode about X topic in three months time. Therefore, I need to read all the books relevant to this before then.

So I’ve taken some of the spontaneity away from how I read crime fiction, I suppose.

Guy: Are you getting to that position that a lot of English literature students have where you make a distinction between reading for work and reading for pleasure? And the reading for the work is when you are doing little dog eared corners on the, the books and writing in the margins and reading for pleasure. You do not need to be thinking about usefulness, just enjoyment.

Caroline: I’d say it is somewhere in between. I haven’t quite got to the point where I split it up because I do still really enjoy reading a lot of them. I’d say the main way it’s manifested is I’ve become a lot more impatient with lower quality crime novels in that sense.

Maybe if I was just reading them for enjoyment, I’d always find something to enjoy about them. But now that I’m reading them for a purpose, I think I’m more inclined to skim through ones that I don’t think are as good.

Guy: So a few weeks after Shedunnit began in 2018, Miranda Sawyer recommended the podcast in The Observer, which must have been a great start on your little journey.

And she says:

‘Caroline Crampton writes producers and hosts what is clearly a labor of love. So far, she’s taught to experts about single. There was a surplus of women after the wars reflected in the mysteries, about the Crippen case, and about the queer clues in many of these stories. Each episode is around 20 minutes long and packed with interesting ideas and research. They remind me of The Allusionist. Each show a small but perfectly formed little gem. Lovely stuff.’

So it’s interesting that she mentioned The Allusionist there because The Allusionist is not about detective fiction, but it’s made by your friend Helen, and you’ve had Allusionist-Shedunnit collaborations. The Allusionist has also passed its century by now. It’s on 163 episodes, I think. So what do those podcasts have in common and have you enjoyed talking to Helen about podcasting over the years?

Caroline: Well, absolutely. I mean, Helen is, she’s a friend. She’s also a kind of guru in the world of podcasting, and I’m very, very lucky to get to talk to her and do things with her periodically, cuz yeah, she- I don’t know if she was the first podcaster in the UK. She was definitely a very early adopter of podcasting in the UK and she’s one of the few people from that early period who are still doing it. So she’s got a decade and a half or more of, of knowledge about it. I think maybe what The Allusionist and Shedunnit have in common is that they are scripted, by and large.

They are also quite produced in the sense that unlike what we’re doing now, where we’ve just sort of turned on the microphones and we are talking, none of this is written down. We go out and we interview experts, we hear what they have to say, and then we take what they’ve said and we put it into a written or sort of essayistic structure.

So structurally they have that in common. I think also people sometimes, although I don’t think Helen and I sound alike, we are both British women, grew up in the southeast of England. There’s something in common, perhaps in the way we speak, which people enjoy. So yes, I suppose in the sense that it’s nonfiction, it’s structured, scripted, and we, you know, sound roughly the same. That’s what the two things have in common.

Guy: Is there a community of podcast makers? Do you feel that you know the people who make podcasts around the world, and how do you communicate with each other?

Caroline: I think because I used to have this job where I wrote for Hot Pod, which is a podcast industry newsletter, which is primarily read in the US but I think has readers in the podcast industries in other countries as well, I got to meet and interview a lot of people who make podcasts while I was writing for that, so I guess I made contact with a lot of people that way.

But in the UK, there is, I think, a sense of a community of podcast makers. This is actually something where Helen Zaltzman is very much responsible for this because she has really tried to cultivate that. She runs a Facebook group that brings those people together. She’s run meetups in the past to get people together, working together, chatting, sharing knowledge, and so on. I’ve also taken part a few times in things like the London Podcast Festival, and I think it was called Pod UK, the one in Birmingham that I did a couple of times before the pandemic.

And you know, you see the same few people a lot of the time at these things and yeah, so I certainly don’t know everyone who makes podcasts in the uk, but I know some of them.

And there’ll be more of this right after the break.

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Guy: So you’ve explored the boundaries of detective fiction over the years and looking at in a sense, where it begins and where it ends, and where it overlaps with other genres. Can you think of some good examples of Golden Age detective novels that overlap with some other topics? And I will suggest some. So Gothic horror?

Caroline: Gothic horror, a lot of the work of John Dickson Carr.

Guy: Right.

Caroline: He’s very interested in the Gothic, I think, and I’ve heard him compared to the likes of Sheridan Le Fanu and that sort of thing. One of his early novels, It Walks By Night, is pretty gothic, I think.

Guy: And presumably quite a lot of detective fiction that takes place in old houses in the middle of nowhere.

Caroline: Yes.

Guy: They’re picking up on that gothic tradition, even if they’re a bit different.

Caroline: So that definitely applies to Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone, I’d say, has tinges of the Gothic. And for instance, Dorothy Sayers wrote a novel called Clouds of Witness, which is very heavily referencing The Moonstone, which is set in a a shooting box, a small country house, a bleak area of the auction moors.

Guy: And for that matter, I suppose Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers has those aspects.

What about espionage?

Caroline: So the thing that immediately comes to mind is Agatha Christie, because although people very much associate Agatha Christie with the Poirot and Marple stories, she actually wrote a ton of stories that are quasi-espionage. Her second ever detective novel, The Secret Adversary, the first one, starring Tommy and Tuppence, is all about international spy rings.

That recurs a lot throughout her entire career, that she’s got novels where, you know, someone’s a spy or someone’s got an international coalition of murky, shadowy forces who are going to do something. It’s even right up to her very last completed novel, Postern of Fate. There’s stuff about that.

Guy: So just as an aside there, you mentioned The Secret Adversary.

It’s the centenary of that book this year, which it’s also, of course, the centenary this year of The Wasteland and Ulysses which is better? The Secret Adversary or Ulysses by James Joyce.

Caroline: I’ve never read Ulysses by James Joyce. So I have to default to saying The Secret Adversary, don’t I?

Guy: So we need proper celebrations of The Secret Adversary. Documentaries, famous people saying how great it is, and special editions of the book coming out for the centenary.

Caroline: Yes.

Guy: Very good. That might be another category to overlap with, which we might speak about at some other point, which would be modernism, but let’s get on with our genre list. What about children’s literature? Where does that overlap with detective fiction?

Caroline: So most Golden Age detective novelists steer clear of having children in their novels in a way where they are in peril. It was very much an unwritten rule of the genre that you don’t kill off kids. There is one novel where Agatha Christie does do that, Hallowe’en Party, which is from much later, and it’s incredibly shocking, I guess, because it’s unusual.

But then there are lots of novels where a young person gets to assist or in some way, contribute. Probably the best example I can think of off the top of my head is Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie, which is one of those novels where Parro enters quite late, up until about two-thirds of the way in.

It’s all about the school girls at a boarding school where one of the mistresses has been murdered. So that’s probably the most like a children’s story, and then also a Golden age murder mystery.

Guy: So what about the overlap with sci-fi?

Caroline: I mean, I think sci-fi slash crime is a whole genre in its own right. I think it probably get- I don’t know that much about it. It gets going maybe in the sixties and seventies a bit more. But in terms of earlier stuff from the the Golden Age period, maybe someone like Edgar Wallace who was writing stories, which when we read them now, his use of technology in them seems incredibly dated.

But one of his big tricks was that he would include the murder method as something that did exist in the world, but not many people had access to it yet. And so for the vast majority of the reading population, it would be a big surprise. So I guess that’s sort of shading into use of science in fiction, isn’t it?

Guy: And another category, then. What about erotica?

Caroline: I’m not aware of any particularly sexy detective novels from the Golden Age. There’s a lot of clean romance you might say. So, you know, Harriet Vane and Peter Wimsey, Albert Campion finding his wife Roderick Alleyn and Agatha Troy. Most with the, probably the exception of Poirot and Marple, most of the principal golden age detectives at one point or another have a, have a love interest, but there’s, there’s no bedroom scenes. In the romance genre, books are referred to normally as closed door or open door. Open door being where you’re actually let into the bedroom to see the sex scene closed door being where you’re very much not. Detective Fiction is closed door, I think.

Guy: And The Secret Adversary is a book in which the two protagonists get engaged towards the end of the book. So that’s romantic but not erotic. I take.

Caroline: Yeah.

Guy: Whereas a lot of later detective fiction fetishizes dead women and all those kind of things, but that doesn’t really exist in the Golden Age. And maybe that’s part of the charm or the attraction of the Golden Age detective fiction, because it doesn’t go down that open door corridor.

Caroline: I think so, perhaps, yes. It, it feels in lots of ways, quite PG friendly in that sense.

Guy: And the adaptations for television and film tend to also abide by that, don’t they? Although some of the big celebrity film adaptations, such as the Peter Ustinov ones clearly needed to put glamorous women on screen, even if it wasn’t necessarily going to be erotic.

Caroline: But glamour, and I suppose the- a hint at eroticism off the pages there in books say, like, Evil Under the Sun, in which in the Ustinov adaptation, Diana Rigg plays the, you know, very sexy film star. It’s written about in the book about how she has this incredible magnetism and men just want to be near her, but there’s no descriptions of what they might want to do to her when they are near her. It’s just a, a kind of character trait that she has.

Guy: So we mentioned modernism. At what point and where does detective fiction go high brow, and where does it come close to, say the work of the Bloomsbury Group and so forth.

Caroline: Well, this is something we talked about Eric and I talked about on the episode called The Challenge of Dorothy Sayers, actually this idea of high brow and low brow, because I don’t know if she ever really said this herself, but Dorothy L Sayers was very much accused of trying to make detective fiction high brow. I think she phrased it more as she wanted to write novels that had a detective element, so she wanted there to be a more complete representation of the world and character than perhaps you find in a very closely intricately plotted puzzle, murder mystery. She wanted there to be more to it, but critics like Queenie Leavis got involved with sort of slapping down the idea that detective fiction could ever be high brow and that crime writers shouldn’t pretend to, to that level. So I think that kicked off a still unresolved debate if my email inbox after that episode was published as anything to go by.

Guy: And Sayers, I suppose, is one of those writers who is both a scholar and a writer of popular fiction. Later on, we’ll get more academics, Oxford Dons and so forth writing detective fiction. Has that always been there? In the tradition though, that these are people writing books for entertainment and for pleasure, but also having another identity as people who are scholars, academics, experts in their field.

Caroline: I think that has for a long time been people like that who enjoy writing it. GDH Cole, a good example, you know, socialist and historian. He and his wife were one of the earliest writers of the, so, you know, the Golden Age style in the early twenties. So yeah, I think there’s always been people who do have that kind of profession, who also feel that their skills transfer well to the writing of detective fiction.

But I don’t think it’s compulsory. One funny thing I, I found out when I was researching that episode, the live episode about competition mysteries was that I think in the fifties, the Collins Crime Club started running a, a competition for a Don’s detective novel, so only professors were eligible to enter.

And Agatha Christie was one of the judges, as you know, Collins’ Principal Crime novelist, and the winner got to be published by, by Collins. So they were very much trading on it. I suppose Michael Innes is also maybe the, the famous Don detective novel, JIM Stewart was his real name, and although he didn’t interestingly have a professor is a sleuth. He never did that. His main sleuth was a Scotland Yard policeman. The first novel, his first novel is called Death at the President’s Lodgings, and it’s set in a Cambridge college, I think, and there are multiple ones after that where the detective is called into a university setting.

Guy: So you have a lot of academics on your podcast. Many leading scholars in the field have appeared on the podcast over the four years. Have we now got to a point where academia is thoroughly interested in golden age detective fiction, whereas it once upon a time story as low brow or not worthy of the syllabus?

Caroline: Yes, I think absolutely. I think now there are lots of opportunities for people to be doing PhDs and then going on to have whole research careers. You know, courses that require people who can teach that, that material and so on. I think maybe even 10 years ago that was not the case. The people who, who did publish about it in an academic sense were doing it more alongside, more quote, legitimate research and so on.

Guy: Yes. Or perhaps they were in the world of cultural studies where you can write anything about anything rather than having to make judgements about what is worth studying or what is good for the curriculum.

So you did an episode, I think this year about Edgar Allan Poe, his short story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, which came out in 1841, and you said then that he set in motion a chain of events that ultimately lead to me sitting here talking to you about detective fiction.

Do you see that as the start of detective fiction?

Caroline: I did do another episode that was called The First Whodunnit, in which I tried to identify what the first real detective story was, and I ended up going all the way back to Sophocles for that. But I think, I think Poe and that story is a as good a starting point as any for the, the modern detective story in the sense that you’ve got a character who works out a mystery using logic and rational investigation.

It’s very much a Sherlock Holmes precursor, you know, the investigation of the mind and so on. There’s also a friend who the whole thing is related to very much precursor to the Holmes-Watson dynamic. So, yes, I think there are lots and lots of elements in Poe that then get built on by other writers to create what we then call golden age detective fiction.

One thing I should say that if anyone hasn’t read Poe, that particular story, Murders in the Rue Morgue? I don’t think it’s that good as a mystery, but as an origin story, maybe it’s better.

Guy: So that was 1841. Why then did it take, say, 80 years for Detective fiction to reach the Golden Age?

Caroline: I think it in part had to do with what other trends were going on in literature.

So, you know, Wilkie Collins certainly wrote and Charles Dickens even, you know, they wrote detective stories, stories that featured detectives, but they were. You know, trying to make money as writers. Therefore, they needed to write in the dominant formats at the time, which was, you know, the sensation novel or the serialized novel.

I think we get the golden age at the point when public taste in literature and the development of crime fiction kind of crosses at this moment when people like a kind of 70 to 80,000 word novel, they like there to be fair play. They like there to be solutions. They like there to be a consistent detective across many books.

You know, all of those things happen at the same time, and that’s when we get it.

Guy: So what we said we wouldn’t do for this episode is your top 100 best Golden Age detective novels.

Caroline: Yes.

Guy: We haven’t got time to go through that long list of the a hundred best, but let’s just take a sample.

Caroline: Mm-hmm.

Guy: What would be 79th in your list?

Caroline: I don’t know, Guy. So this is a book that makes the top hundred let’s just pick one. Okay. So I will interpret 79 as being serviceable, readable, enjoyable, but not exceptional. So I would pick The Bath Mysteries by ER Punshon. ER Punshon is one of those writers who I think was quite popular in his day in the thirties and forties, pretty much faded from view since, and then has been republished more recently.

I read The Bath Mysteries when I was, a few, couple years ago when I was making the episode about the brides and the bath murderer because it’s a, a novel heavily influenced by that. I enjoyed it for those references. I don’t know that it has a vast amount of merit beyond that, but it has rather a satisfying ending.

Guy: So what about number five in your list?

Caroline: Number five? I don’t even know what number one is, Guy.

Guy: It’s good to be doing this at the time we are, which is Sunday evening, cause it takes me back to childhood when Sunday evening was always the top hundred on, on the radio one for pop music or whatever, and you’d be waiting for the reverse order. By the time you got to five, you’re getting into the serious business.

Caroline: I’m going to say, I’m going to make a sweeping rapid judgment here and say that number five is Appointment With Death by Agatha Christie.

Guy: Very good.

Caroline: Which is a, for those who haven’t read it, it’s a Poirot mystery set in Jordan in the Middle East.

So it’s a sort of Poirot traveling one and it features a, a very creepy family who happened to be in the same tour party as him and the mother gets murdered. Poirot investigates.

Guy: Right. Well, we’ll leave your top hundred there. Okay. You can fill it in properly so that you can do it possibly for your thousandth episode or when you do your TV series with a hundred episodes, beginning probably with a hundred, so that the excitement builds just like with the old chart show. Good. So we’re coming towards the end now, but I just wanted to end with one final round, which was that I was looking through detective novels, titles, and I noticed how much they conform to a formula.

Often the mystery of, or the murder at. But one of the most common ones is the one that, the title that begins with the word death. So it’s almost sometimes as if death is a character. So we get things like Death and the Dancing Footman, Death at the Helm, Death Turns the Tables, Death at the Dolphin, and so on.

So I’m going to give you a list of titles. Mm-hmm. . And you are going to tell me whether these are real British golden age titles, or whether they are false.

Caroline: Okay. Is it one from a group or-

Guy: I’ll go through and as I go through, you say true or false.

Caroline: Okay.

Guy: And you can get bonus points, so to speak, if you remember who wrote the book.

Caroline: Okay.

Guy: So Death in a White Tie.

Caroline: Yes. That’s real. That’s by Ngaio Marsh.

Guy: Death in a White Hat.

Caroline: Not real.

Guy: Correct. Death in White Trousers.

Caroline: Not real. Although I’m interested now.

Guy: It’s very eighties. Death in White Pajamas.

Caroline: Is it, is it real? Is it a kind of parody?

Guy: It is indeed real. It’s actually in the British Library series.

Caroline: I thought it’s in the title somewhere. Okay.

Guy: By John Bude, 1944.

Caroline: Mm-hmm.

Guy: Quite an intriguing title. Yeah. I was going to make one up, which was going to be Death in Pink Pajamas, and I looked it up and realized there is one called Death in White Pajamas already. So that’s good. So Death in Lingerie?

Caroline: No, not true. Not real.

Guy: But that might be one of the erotic titles if you get around to writing those. Death in High Heels.

Caroline: That is real. That is by Christiana Brand.

Guy: 1941. Yep. Death in Ecstasy.

Caroline: That is real. That is by Ngaio Marsh? Is that right?

Guy: Yes. 1936. I should, should say that Caroline’s not had any time to prepare these, and I’ve not told her any of the questions in advance.

And also I promise it’s real. Also, she doesn’t have her computer in front of her or anything like that. So this is all coming out of her mind, and we’re not doing any editing, so if she gets it right or wrong, that’s just the way it is. Death in a Flannel Suit.

Caroline: No, that’s not real.

Guy: No, it’s not. Death in a Coffin.

Caroline: Yes.

Guy: No.

Caroline: Oh, shame!

Guy: As far as I can tell.

Caroline: Shame.

Guy: Which which could be a good plot thing where somebody actually gets murdered in their coffin.

Caroline: Yeah. I feel like Gladys Mitchell would’ve run with that concept.

Guy: Death in Venice.

Caroline: So, hang on. That is a, that is a real thing, but that’s not a golden age murder mystery. Is that correct?

Guy: That’s correct, yes. So that’s Thomas Mann’s classic novella at 1912. Is that.

Caroline: Mm-hmm.

Guy: Maybe there’s an episode on Death in Venice and its influence on detective fiction. Death in Bognor Regis.

Caroline: Not real.

Guy: Not real. No. Death Under Gibraltar.

Caroline: I feel I’m going to say yes just because Gibraltar is an interesting enough place name, but I have not heard of this one.

Guy: You are correct. Yes. Death Under Gibraltar is by Bernard Newman. Mm-hmm. In 1938. Death in the Clouds.

Caroline: That is real. And that is by Agatha Christie.

Guy: Yes. That is 1935. Only a few more Death at the Bar.

Caroline: Yes, that’s real. That’s by Ngaio Marsh.

Guy: 1940. Death On Paper.

Caroline: Is that John Bude again?

Guy: It is indeed. 1940.

Caroline: Yes!

Guy: Death at the Opera.

Caroline: Gladys Mitchell. That is real.

Guy: 1934. Death Under The House.

Caroline: Under the house? No, that’s not real.

Guy: That’s not real. You’re correct. Death of a Dog.

Caroline: I don’t think that’s real. I did do the whole episode about dogs. I feel like that would’ve come up.

Guy: Well, Death of a Dog is the name of a book, but it’s not a detective book.

Caroline: Yeah.

Guy: Death of a Train.

Caroline: Death of a Train? Is this- I might begin to embarrass myself here, but is this Freeman Wills Crofts? He did love to write about trains.

Guy: It is indeed, yes. 1946. With a very strange title. Death of a Train.

Caroline: I haven’t read it, but I have recently been consulting a bibliography of him.

Guy: So, and finally, Death of a Cad.

Caroline: I don’t know that one, but is it real?

Guy: It is. It’s another John Bude one. He, He likes his ‘death of a.’

Caroline: He does. Yeah.

Guy: And that’s 1940. Very good. So you pretty much got all of those right. So that’s really impressive. So like a good job interview. We do get the question at the end, which is, is there anything that you would like to say?

Caroline: Anything I would like to say. Well, thank you to everyone who has listened for 100 entire episodes and, I hope, will keep listening because as to your question, beginning, I, I do not have any grand plan for Shedunnit. I will just keep doing it as long as people will listen. So if you would like it to keep existing, you know what to do.

Guy: I was going to have a whole round about sheds as well, which I left out on the grounds that Shedunnit.

Caroline: Oh yes.

Guy: How frequently be misunderstood as being, as something like the programme that brings sheds into whodunnits.

Caroline: That, that happens if you use something like Alexa or one of those voice activated assistants, it does not understand puns or made up words.

Something else that my podcast has in common with Helen’s The Allusionist, also not really a real word. So I have had people tell me that when they try and say to their device, ‘Play Shedunnit,’ it says, We don’t know what shed unit is.

Guy: The auto correct is often shared unit. So there you are then Caroline. Do sheds feature in whodunnits? I, I can think of one.

Caroline: The Murder at the Vicarage. Is that the one?

Guy: That’s one I, Yeah. Lawrence Redding. Yeah. The artist in Murder at the Vicarage. Quite an important shed.

Caroline: Yes. Miss Marple snooping on the shed.

Guy: Absolutely. Very good. Right. We’ll end with that segue into sheds, but no doubt there’ll be an episode on that one day, maybe episode 743 or something.

But thank you very much, Caroline.

Caroline: Thank you Guy for being in charge of this episode.

Guy: It’s wonderful sharing a house with this podcast. Morris will be wanting his dinner and he is currently sleeping on the other side of the door. It’s been wonderful doing another little interview with you, and thank you to all of your listeners.

Thank you. Farewell and don’t have nightmares,

Music

Caroline: This episode of Shedunnit was written and hosted by Guy Cuthbertson . Many thanks to his guest me, Caroline Crampton. You can find links to all the real books mentioned and other information about this episode shedunitshow.com/theshedunnitcentury. I publish transcripts of every episode including this one.

Find them all at shedunnitshow.com/transcripts. If you’d like to help Shedunnit reach its pledge drive goal of 100 new members and support another year of the podcast, too, join the Shedunnit Book Club now. Once you join, you’ll instantly get your copy of the Shedunnit Guide to Golden Age Detective Fiction plus the entire back catalog of bonus episodes two, as well as access to the secret Shedunnit Forum, where we discuss mystery novels and a lot of other things.

Sign up now at shedunnitshow.com/pledgedrive. Shedunnit is edited by Euan McAleece. Production assistance from Leandra Griffith. Member support for the Shedunnit Book Club from Connor McLoughlin. The podcast advertising partner is Multitude. Thanks for listening. I’ll be back in two weeks with a new episode.

 

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