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Summary

If you are susceptible to Miss Marple and Harriet Vane you must listen to The Adventures of Maud West

You will never know the difference between fact and fiction again. 

Maud West ran her detective agency in London for more than 30 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 20th century.

©2019 Susannah Stapleton (P)2019 Macmillan Publishers International Ltd

What listeners say about The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective

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  • Overall
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I loved it

Fascinating woman. A really interesting listen. Opened up a whole new world of kick ass women for me.

2 people found this helpful

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Wonderful, a must for Golden-Age detective fans

Thoroughly entertaining, although Maude West turns out to be an ambivalent heroine! Follows a thin seam of newspaper clippings to strike gold in a motherlode of fascinating and entertaining tales, true, truish, and definitley not true, of blackmailers, petty thieves, and scam artists in 20s London. Golden Age mystery fans should love this look at the unglamorous world of actual private detectives, along with real-life society scandals and murders. I loved the shoutouts to Christie, Sayers et al in the chapter titles!

This reminded me of another of my favourite Audibles, "The Ark Before Noah"-- an in-depth history of a subject I wouldn't think I was interested in, made lively by being told in candid and funny first-person by the historian whose discoveries we follow along with. Read mostly by the author in a listenable dead-pan.

2 people found this helpful

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A lady detective writing about a lady detective.

I bought this book to learn about a lady detective and found myself both absorbed in her story and even more so, the story of the author researching and writing about the lady detective.

It is a wonderful book that lets the reader or listener experience the investigation by a modern day lady detective into one of the First Lady detectives. I felt myself drawn to and invested in both stories and all the time I was also getting a social commentary on the late 1800s and early 1900s, but without having to plough through some hard to read social commentary. This social commentary was told using blackmail, guns, deception and pure wit.

I really loved this book.

1 person found this helpful

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monotone narration

this book was unbearable to listen to given the narrator was monotone and put me to sleep

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Fabulous

Amazing true story, fabulously written and narrated by the author. This was a 'couldn't stop listening' audio if ever I had one!

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Awful

Dreary tales and is extremely dreary narration
Stuck with it .. wished I hadn’t ... don’t bother

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What an intersting woman

Very interesting book. Glad I got it. Quite a conveluted story but really enthralling. I was quite hooked and ended up sitting in the car listening to the next chapter rather than go in and made tea!

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A very interesting character and a good story

Maud is a fascinating character. Good insight into women's challenges early in the 20th century.

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Spoilt by a poor reading by author

What could have been an interesting subject is totally spoilt by the decision to allow the author read the book - a really boring reading. Clare Willie reads short extracts in the person of Maud West and is good, but these snippets (sadly) are short. On the text itself the author (in my view) spends too much time on her own investigative methodology at the expense of her subject. Overall a big disappointment.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-08-19

informative and fascinating

was a great listen as the contents covers the whole era, and as you listen about the Lady Detective, you also get to know so much about the times, the city, the atmosphere she lived in. Moreover, it's especially engaging for a woman, since in those times not every woman could work and was taken seriously. having said all the above, I still think i would enjoy it even more if i was reading as at times it was quite hard for me to concentrate and not to get distracted.