Welcome to Shedunnit. I’m Caroline Crampton. Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in crime fiction from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, commonly referred to as the golden age of detective fiction. This renewed fascination has led to the republication of hard-to-find titles, as well as adaptations for TV and film. But the influence of the golden age isn’t limited to that era alone. Contemporary crime writers are increasingly drawing inspiration from the classic whodunnit, incorporating its elements and tropes into their modern works. In recognition of this trend, Shedunnit Book Club has chosen to explore a contemporary novel that pays homage to the golden age. Let’s dive into the world of “The Postscript Murders” by Elly Griffiths.
The Postscript Murders: A Contemporary Nod to the Golden Age
“The Postscript Murders” by Elly Griffiths is an excellent example of a contemporary novel that embraces the traditions and tropes of golden age detective fiction. Published last year, this gripping novel follows four sleuths on their quest to solve the murder of their friend Peggy, an elderly woman who had a profound love for murder mysteries. While it initially appears that no one would have a motive to harm such a charming and harmless lady, the quartet discovers that the key to unraveling the case lies in Peggy’s collection of classic crime novels.
Elly Griffiths, the pen name of Domenica De Rosa, is an accomplished writer based in Brighton. She is the author of two mystery series: the Ruth Galloway novels set in present-day Norfolk, featuring a forensic archaeologist turned sleuth, and the Brighton Mysteries series, which takes place in her hometown during the 1950s. In “The Postscript Murders,” Griffiths reintroduces the character of DS Harbinder Kaur from her previous standalone novel, “The Stranger Diaries,” which won the 2020 Edgar Award for Best Novel.
A Conversation with Domenica De Rosa
In a delightful interview with Domenica De Rosa, she reveals the inspiration behind “The Postscript Murders” and her own love for golden age detective fiction. The idea for the book originated from De Rosa’s real-life aunt, who, like Peggy in the novel, became infatuated with murder plots in her later years. De Rosa thought about the fascinating concept of a person whose job is to create crime plots for writers, which eventually led to the murder of this elderly lady who had an unexpected occupation.
De Rosa discusses the challenges and joys of writing “The Postscript Murders.” One particular challenge was juggling the perspectives of the four main characters, each with their own unique observations and ways of seeing the world. She enjoyed the process of crafting distinct voices for the characters and using their perspectives to reveal various clues throughout the story. De Rosa also expresses her fondness for the atmosphere and darkness often found in golden age fiction, highlighting the works of Nancy Spain and the power of understatement in classic crime novels.
Embracing Older Characters and Unseen Figures
“The Postscript Murders” is notable for its inclusion of older characters in solving the crime, something seen less frequently in golden age detective fiction. De Rosa acknowledges the limited representation of older individuals in the genre, often relegating them to minor roles or dismissing their relevance. She breaks this mould by giving agency and depth to characters like Peggy and Natalka, Peggy’s Ukrainian carer. De Rosa draws inspiration from her own experiences with carers, recognizing their multifaceted lives and the important work they do.
The Writing Process and Future Plans
De Rosa explains her writing process and how she manages her multiple series. She typically dedicates six months to each book, with two books being published annually. She writes in her cozy garden shed, finding solace and inspiration in the solitude. Although she mainly focuses on one series at a time, she occasionally indulges in writing her children’s series, “A Girl Called Justice,” as a treat on Fridays.
As for future plans, De Rosa hints at the possibility of more Harbinder Kaur books. However, she intends to introduce a whole new cast of characters in the next installment, keeping the focus on Harbinder as the familiar face. Additionally, she contemplates exploring Peggy’s backstory through a short story, a delightful prospect for readers.
The revival of golden age detective fiction continues to captivate readers, with contemporary authors infusing their works with the essence of this beloved genre. “The Postscript Murders” by Elly Griffiths exemplifies this trend, seamlessly blending classic whodunnit elements with a contemporary storyline. Through her engaging characters and atmospheric setting, Griffiths pays homage to the golden age while delivering a riveting mystery. If you’re a fan of crime fiction or simply curious to explore the intersection of past and present mystery writing, “The Postscript Murders” is a must-read.
So grab a copy, dive into the world of “The Postscript Murders,” and join us in celebrating the enduring appeal of the golden age of detective fiction.