The enthralling true story of the curious life and career of Maud West, one of Britain's first and best-known female detectives.
The enthralling true story of the curious life and career of Maud West, one of Britain’s first and best-known female detectives.
'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 historical researcher 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
Compulsively absorbing . . . delightfully well written, with both sympathy and empathy; it is jaunty, engaging and witty without being arch. A triumph. -- Lucy Lethbridge * Literary Review *
[A] charming light-hearted investigation into the life of Maud West, a lady detective. A sort of “Miss Marple on the trail of Miss Marple” . . . frank and funny. -- Ysenda Maxtone-Graham * The Times Review *
Intriguing * Woman’s Weekly *
Impressive . . . more fascinating than any fictional detective story * Choice *
Susannah Stapleton’s erudite but hugely entertaining debut is a true-life detective story about a true-life detective . . . [an] exhilarating eye-opener of a book * Spectator *
Highly entertaining * The District Messenger, The Newsletter of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London *
Although Stapleton does not engage in much literal leg-work – she is able to do a lot of her research in her pyjamas – this account of her pursuit of the will-o’-the-wisp-like Maud through the maze of online archives and registries is utterly enthralling, often even thrilling * Daily Telegraph *
Shot at in Paris, blackmailed in Bloomsbury: the self-promoting cases, and many faces, of a fearless female sleuth . . . breezy * Guardian *
This romp through the life of one of Britain’s first female detectives sets out to solve one central mystery: who was Maud West? Her story is told in tantalising detail by Susannah Stapleton * 5 stars, Mail on Sunday *
Fascinating * Sunday Times *
A gripping read * Daily Mirror *
Meet a fantasizing, sharpshooting, cross-dressing, self-advertising female star of the early twentieth century . . . It's all about women, this book. -- Libby Purves * TLS *
A glorious, gripping read, constructed just like the detective stories Stapleton so admires, with clues, cliffhangers, blind alleys and revelations aplenty, uncovering the many truths about Maud and her exceptional life. -- Charlotte Heathcote * The Sunday Express *
Dimensions: 197mm x 130mm x 26mm