The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective
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What to expect
If you are susceptible to Miss Marple and Harriet Vane you must read The Adventures of Maud West. You will never know the difference between fact and fiction again. Jill Paton Walsh, author of the Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane mysteries
Maud West ran her detective agency in London for more than thirty years, having started sleuthing on behalf of society’s finest in 1905. Her exploits grabbed headlines throughout the world but, beneath the public persona, she was forced to hide vital aspects of her own identity in order to thrive in a class-obsessed and male-dominated world. And – as Susannah Stapleton reveals – she was a most unreliable witness to her own life.
Who was Maud? And what was the reality of being a female private detective in the Golden Age of Crime?
Interweaving tales from Maud West’s own ‘casebook’ with social history and extensive original research, Stapleton investigates the stories Maud West told about herself in a quest to uncover the truth.
With walk-on parts by Dr Crippen and Dorothy L. Sayers, Parisian gangsters and Continental blackmailers, The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective is both a portrait of a woman ahead of her time and a deliciously salacious glimpse into the underbelly of ‘good society’ during the first half of the twentieth century.
Terrific … A brilliant literary sleuth tracks down a real one, uncovering a flabbergasting hidden life along the way.Lissa Evans, author of Old Baggage and Crooked Heart
Deliciously entertaining, meticulous and affectionate … Criminally good. I loved it.Mel McGrath, author of Give Me the Child and The Guilty Party
A powerhouse of a book … The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective is, as one suspects Maud herself was, sweet, and wonderful company, and absolutely determined to discover the truth.Judith Flanders, author of The Invention of Murder and the Sam Clair mysteries
Maud West is a gloriously English eccentric – think Miranda Hart meets Margaret Rutherford – brought to vigorous life by present day sleuth Susannah Stapleton.Sean O'Connor, author of Handsome Brute
Susannah Stapleton’s dogged sleuthing of Maud’s own complicated, messy, spunky life reveals the wider story of a little-explored sliver of life between the wars. I loved it.Kate Colquhoun, author of Mr Briggs' Hat and Did She Kill Him?
If you are inclined to regard the “Golden Age” detective stories as obviously a fantasy form — and never more fantastic than when the sleuth is a woman, Susannah Stapleton’s book will astound you. “Maud West” was a real woman detective, but her story blurs the margin between possible truth and impossible invention till your head spins. If you are susceptible to Miss Marple and Harriet Vane you must read The Adventures of Maud West. You will never know the difference between fact and fiction again.Jill Paton Walsh, author of the Lord Peter Wimsey-Harriet Vane novels
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