Murder mystery queens

I caught the third and final part of the tv series ‘A Very British Murder’ last night and thought it was every bit as good as, if not better than, the previous two. This one concentrated on the early 20th century, with real life scandals such as the Crippen case, and fiction from the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of murder mysteries: the circle of detective story writers which included Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy L Sayers.

Since those have long been favourites of mine (along with Georgette Heyer, whose crime novels sadly didn’t get a mention) I found the whole programme fascinating. The narrator, Lucy Worsley, is apparently a big fan of Sayers in particular, and waxed lyrical about Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane.

There was also a piece about a murder mystery in 1930’s Liverpool, which oddly I’d never heard of even though I’m from Liverpool (though not, I rush to add, from the 1930s). This involved a man named Wallace who was suspected of murdering his wife, and of setting up an elaborate alibi for himself to hide the nefarious deed. If he really did, then the details were straight out of a Christie/Marsh/Sayers novel and quite brilliant.

This has been such a fascinating series that I hope there’s another one to come. Surely the post-war period, the sudden explosion in popularity of ‘true crime’ in the 1980s, and the modern lust for ‘torture porn’ need to be explored?


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