Speakers announced for 2023 Conference

We are delighted to announce some of the speakers who will at this year’s Bodies From The Library conference. They include:

Simon Brett
Martin Edwards
Kate Jackson
Tony Medawar
Richard Reynolds
Len Tyler

More speakers will be announced shortly.

Topics they will be covering include:

S. S. Van Dine
Agatha Christie
Impossible Crimes
One-off Golden Age Novels
Clifford Witting
How “Golden” is the Golden Age?

But who is talking on which subject? All will be revealed…

2022 Centenary Prize for Golden Age Detective Fiction

What with a global pandemic, running the 2021 conference completely online using Zoom for two hundred delegates from around the globe and praying that my broadband would stand the strain, and holding our first live conference in the restaurant of the British Library after an electrical fire closed the conference centre two days before the 2022 Bodies conference was scheduled to take place (big thanks to all the AV team and other staff at the British Library for pulling off the seemingly impossible in under 48 hours), it has been an eventful last few years and I think it is forgivable the excitement and stress we managed to overlook the fact that we are now at the point where we are marking the centenary of the Golden Age.


It seems appropriate, therefore, in this age of Prizes that we ought to consider awarding prizes for books published 100 years ago. With that in view, I hereby inaugurate the Centenary Prize for Golden Age Detective Fiction which is open to any work of work of Golden Age Detective Fiction published 100 years ago this year.


Now, if I had got my act in gear sooner, I wouldn’t be launching this Centenary Prize with the publications of 1922 because, let’s face it, 1922 was not a vintage year for GAD fiction. In fact, the shortlist I have come up with is, how to put this… a little underwhelming.


But beggars can’t be choosers, so here goes:


The provisional shortlist for the 2022 Centenary Prize for Golden Age Detective Fiction is:


The Man Who Knew Too Much by G.K. Chesterton

From the writer of the Father Brown stories we have a one off experiment that kinda, sorta, maybe works. But don’t take my word for it, you can check out the views of the far more erudite Kate Jackson at her Cross Examining Crim blog: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1922) by G. K. Chesterton – crossexaminingcrime (wordpress.com)


She rates it a respectable 3/5 on writing style and 4/5 on characters.


The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

This novel marks the first entry in the long-running Tommy and Tuppence series. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of Tuppence who comes out well in the feisty heroine with brains stakes but, oh dear, Tommy is such an irritating chap. He has the brawn but is under the illusion that he has the brains in the outfit too. Yes, I know that this is all part of the joke as Christie sends him up and Tuppence lets him take credit where none is due but, sighs deeply at this point, the joke does pall by the end. Well, by the end of chapter two for me but, hey, such is life.


The Pit-Prop Syndicate by Freeman Wills Crofts

Now I am a big fan of Freeman Wills Crofts and his Inspector French police procedurals. He is a true Master of the Humdrum (as Curtis Evans has so aptly described this sub-genre of GAD fiction). But, I think, by common consent, this is not one his finest entries in the category. Curtis dismisses it: “with its soppy heroine moaning over and over to her beloved, like a wilting Victorian miss, that their love ‘cannot be’…[is] not nearly [one of] Crofts’ strongest books in my opinion” –http://thepassingtramp.blogspot.com/


The Problem of Thor Bridge by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Only a short story this, and a late one at that, but it has the twin merits of featuring Sherlock Holmes and some mysterious marks on the balustrade of a bridge which give a clue to the identity of the killer and both means and motive for the killing. Not bad for a brief little package of little more than a dozen pages when collected in The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes. It also served as the blueprint for what is, arguably, the first true detective story featuring Albert Campion – let’s just say that Margery Allingham leant heavily on features of its plot for her novel so it has certainly demonstrated a legacy out of proportion to its slim size.


Helen Vardon’s Confession by R Austin Freeman

It is sometimes, somewhat unkindly, suggested that Freeman modelled his scientifically minded sleuth Dr Thorndyke on Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. But, I truth, what detective in GAD fiction does not owe at least a tip of the (deerstalker) hat to Holmes? Nick Fuller argues that this may be Freeman’s worst book: Helen Vardon’s Confession (Freeman) – The Grandest Game in the World (wordpress.com) It certainly features some nasty anti-Semitism but fans of Thorndyke (and I am one of them) have to live with this and other uncomfortable views expressed by their author. For a fair analysis of this and other issues I recommend you turn to another Thorndyke fan, Jim Noy, in conversation with Dolores Gordon Smith (another – there are a lot of us about) at: In GAD We Trust – Episode 20: The Dr. Thorndyke Stories of R. Austin Freeman [w’ Dolores Gordon-Smith] | The Invisible Event


So there you have them. Five shortlisted pieces of GAD fiction from 1922.


Which do you think deserves the Centenary Prize for Golden Age Detective Fiction? Or do you have another title you would nominate?

Make it a Golden Age Weekend

To mark the publication of the first 100 Crime Classics, the British Library is holding a special event on the evening of Friday 17th June (the evening before the Bodies From The Library Conference on Saturday 18th June). The event will be led by award-winning crime writer and Bodies From The Library stalwart Martin Edwards together with Radio Four’s Reverend Richard Coles. And for those who can’t make it to the British Library on Friday evening, the event will be live streamed.

Tickets to attend the event in person or online are already on sale to British Library members and go on sale to the public today. So now is your chance to make a Golden Age weekend of it and go to both the British Library event on the Friday evening and Bodies From The Library on the Saturday.

To book your ticket for the Crime Classics event go to: https://www.bl.uk/events/crime-classics-at-the-british-library

To book your ticket for Bodies From The Library go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bodies-from-the-library-2022-tickets-212607222927

Nominate your favourite female detective

Moira Redmond, Christine Poulson and Dolores Gordon-Smith will be talking about female detectives in Golden Age fiction at the Bodies From The Library Conference on 18th June.

While not giving any spoilers (well, you wouldn’t expect us to do that, now, would you?) about the content of their session, who do you think they ought to cover in their discussion? Of course we can’t make any promises, but now is your chance to influence their thinking and maybe get a mention for your favourite female sleuth to come under their scrutiny.

Programme announced for Bodies From The Library (and last chance for discount entry)

We are delighted to be able to confirm the programme for this year’s Bodies From The Library conference. It promises to be as entertaining and informative as ever. And with the Early Bird discount price offer coming to an end shortly, now is your best opportunity to book your seat at the essential conference for those who are serious about their Golden Age Detective Fiction.

9.30  Registration

9.55 Opening Panel: Moira Redmond/Chrissie Poulson/Dolores Gordon Smith discuss ‘The Female Detective’

10.30 Jake Kerridge considers Margery Allingham: The Dickens of Detective Fiction.

11.00 Moira Redmond looks at the Detective Fiction of Dorothy Bowers  

11.30 Coffee

12.00 Party of One: Tony Medawar considers the life and legacy of Nicholas Blake

12.30 Martin Edwards and Chrissie Poulson on The Life of Crime, Martin’s new book

1 – 2 Lunch

2.00 Play 

2.30 David Brawn on The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Publishing GA

3.00 Caroline Crampton introduces Japanese Honkaku detective fiction

3.30 Coffee

4.00 John Curran looks at The Other Queen of Crime: Ellery Queen

4.30 Dolores Gordon Smith examines R. Austin Freeman and Detective Fiction

5.00 – 5.30 Closing Panel

Tickets on sale for Bodies From The Library 2022

We are delighted to announce that tickets have now gone on sale for Bodies From The Library 2022.

The conference will take place on Saturday 18th June 2022 and we are very pleased to be back at the British Library.

For more information about the conference visit our website https://bodiesfromthelibrary.com/ which will be continually updated as programme details and speakers are finalised.

To book your tickets click on the link below:

Book Ticket

Bodies From The Library 2021 – Recording

We are delighted to be able to share with fans of Golden Age Detective Fiction the recording of the sold out Bodies From The Library Conference held online on Saturday 15 May 2021.

You can access a recording of the whole of the conference using the link below:


The password to view the recording is: T=Hg7=.Y

We ask that you respect the copyright of the speakers and do not copy, share or reproduce any images or recording of the conference. We are, of course, happy for you to share a link to this page through which the conference recording can be accessed.

Book List – titles mentioned at Conference

Here is a list of (most of) the titles mentioned by the speakers during the conference on Saturday.

Enid Blyton: The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage


John Dickson Carr:  Till Death Us Do Part (BL edition due August 2021)


Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep


G.K.Chesterton: The Wisdom of Father Brown


Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None

                              The 13 Problems


Freeman Wills Crofts: The Starvel Hollow Tragedy


Arthur Conan Doyle: A Study In Scarlet


Brian Flynn: The Billiard Room Mystery 
                        The Creeping Jenny Mystery 
                        Five Red Fingers

                        The Mystery of the Peacock’s Eye

                        Tread Softly


Richard Austin Freeman: The D’Arblay Mystery


Jacques Futrelle: The Thinking Machine


Erle Stanley Gardner: The D.A. Draws a Circle


Francis Noyes Hart: The Bellamy Trial


Francis Iles: Malice Aforethought


Gladys Mitchell: Death at the Opera

                              The Longer Bodies

                              The Rising of the Moon

                              The Saltmarsh Murders
                              Speedy Death


Baroness Orczy: The Tea House Detective (The Old Man In The Corner)


Q.Patrick : Cottage Sinister

                    Murder at Cambridge

                    S.S. Murder


Arthur Porges: The Curious Cases of Cyriack Skinner Grey

Patrick Quentin: Black Widow

                               The Man with Two Wives


Micky Spillane: I, the Jury


Craig Rice: Home Sweet Homicide


Theodore Roscoe: Murder On The Way


Harriet Rutland: Blue Murder


Anthony and Peter Shaffer: Withered Murder


Jonathan Stagge: The Dogs Do Bark

                               The Scarlet Circle


Arthur W Upfield: Death Of A Swagman


S.S. Van Dine: The Benson Murder Case


Seishi Yokomizo: The Honjin Murders

We can’t promise all of these are still in print – in fact we are sure some of them aren’t – so you may need to trawl second hand bookstores (real and virtual) to track them all down.