Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Book: The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective (July 2019)

By Susannah Stapleton

July 16, 2019

For more than thirty years, Maud West ran a detective agency in London, having started sleuthing on behalf of society’s finest on 1905.  A tireless self-publicist, Maud’s exploits grabbed headlines around the world – a woman, solving crimes, how could they not?  But, in order to thrive in a class-obsessed and male-dominated world, she was forced to hide vital aspects of her own identity.  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?

In this enthralling true story.  Stapleton interweaves tales from Maud’s own ‘casebook’ with social history and extensive original research, forensically examining 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.

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