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Staked out in the dark, noisy depths of a London nightclub, detective Maud West was trying to entrap a woman accused of blackmailing the youngest son of a well-known family, who claimed she had been ‘compromised’ by him.
So, after rummaging through her box of disguises at home, she returned to the venue dressed as a man of seemingly unlimited wealth. The woman soon latched on to her as a potential new victim.
Book - Adventures - Maud - West - Lady
As I found out while researching for my book, The Adventures Of Maud West, Lady Detective, all this happened in the Edwardian era, when Maud wrote openly about her bold tactics in magazine and newspaper articles, seemingly oblivious to the embarrassment it may have caused her husband and father of her six children, Harry Elliott. Armed with a revolver and a selection of ingenious disguises, she successfully unmasked blackmailers, caught adulterers and foiled jewel thieves — a real-life female Sherlock Holmes.
But who was this unusual woman, and how did she embark on a life of crime-solving?
Daughter - Servant - Deptford - South - London
The daughter of a domestic servant in Deptford, South London, she was an independent-spirited young woman, who ran away from home in 1899, aged 20, to marry her sweetheart, Harry.
When Maud’s uncle, a solicitor, offered to pay her to help him solve a robbery by posing as a maid, she didn’t hesitate.
Request - Sense - Adventure - Husband - Money
It was certainly an unusual request, but she jumped at it — out of a sense of adventure, and because her husband was unwell and they needed the money.
It was the beginning of a lucrative and exciting double life.
Summer - Garden - Parties - Guests - Houses
Summer garden parties, when the guests were outside, meant that houses were an easy target for thieves. Maud was employed every year to attend these events with a dozen assistants dressed as maids, who served tea while keeping an eye on nimble-fingered guests.
In one of...
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