BOOK CLUB: Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club

Click to rate this book!
[Total: 4 Average: 3.5]

Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club by Julian Leatherdale.

This book is set in Kings Cross in 1932.

Joan Linderman has left her comfortable middle class home, where the expectations of her parents were for her to marry and become a housewife. 

Joan is drawn to the excitement of Kings Cross. She finds a flat with her friend Bernice. By day Joan is a sub-editor for the Australian Woman’s  Mirror. By night she lives the bohemian life, wild parties, and mixing with fascinating artists, writers, and poets.

Joan aspires to be a fiction crime writer and is working on her first book. Her real-life hero and the leading character in her book is a pioneering female Police Sargent Lillian Armfield.  Joan never expects to meet her hero.  However, their paths cross when a crime is committed.

With Joan’s natural interest in crime, she throws herself into her own investigation.

Joan enters a world of criminals, blackmail, drugs, and a sex cult. Between the  Police investigation and Joan’s investigation, the twists and turns lead to an unexpected ending.

Julian Leatherdale’s extensive research shows us the  Sydney and Kings Cross of the 1930s. The gulf between the rich, the middle class, and the poor. The social issues post World War 1 with the returned veterans. The excitement as the Sydney Harbour bridge is finished and opened.

A definite must  read for lovers of crime thrillers and Australian History.

Four stars!

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Death in the Ladies Goddess Club. You can read their reviews in the comments below, or add your own!

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club

  1. Death in the Ladies Goddess Club

    This exciting Australian crime thriller ‘Death in the Ladies Goddess Club’ is set in post war 1930’s in the notorious King’s Cross in Sydney. Joan Linderman the protagonist of the story is the subeditor of the leading womens magazine ‘The Australian Woman’s Mirror’, compiling the gossip and womanly wisdom of ‘Between Ourselves’ while in her spare time she is writing a crime novel she hopes to one day have published. Her friends are mostly bohemians and street girls who scrape together a living in a world that is still overshadowed by the War. One evening Joan finds a neighbour murdered with her throat slashed. Due to Joan’s interest in crime she takes it upon herself to become involved in the investigation as there is evidence left at the crime scene that may implicate her high profile Uncle and Aunt; Joan slips this evidence out of the police sight.

    Her Uncle Gordon Fielding-Jones, former Major and a member of the New Guard and her Auntie Olympia, founder and High Priestess of The Ladies’ Bacchus Club are part of the hoi polloi of Sydney’s social set and are living the high life in comparison to Joan her family and friends.

    Joan finds herself caught up in a world of murder, blackmail, violence, betrayal with a little romance thrown in.

    A fast paced, well researched crime thriller with lots of suspense and twists that the reader doesn’t see coming. I particularly enjoyed the social and political portrayal of the period. Razor gangs that rules the streets, bohemian communities, struggles of returned soldiers, women’s rights and the gap between the rich and the poor. There was even a lovely chapter on the opening of the new Sydney Harbour Bridge and the excitement of the day.

    I was very sad to hear of the passing of the author in April 2020. I have enjoyed all his books and he has left a wonderful legacy of titles that readers will enjoy for years.

  2. I haven’t read any other books by Julian Leatherdale, but from Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club I can only imagine they would be chock full of historical accuracy – as this was. Joan Linderman, aspiring crime writer, lives with Bernice Becker, a wild party girl if ever there was one, in the middle of Kings Cross, 1932. Her block of flats houses many colourful characters indeed, including a very bad tempered landlady. Joan’s parents are suburban, ‘ordinary’, nice people. unlike her aunt and uncle who also live in Kings Cross. It’s rumoured the latter throw wild, debauched parties – ones Joan’s parents have never been invited to (and possibly don’t know exist) – and that Aunt Olympia has founded a women’s own society inspired by ‘the ancient cult of female worshippers of Bacchus, Greek god of grapes and wine, ritual madness and ecstasy’. Entry is by invitation only, so Joan can only imagine what goes on – but thinks she might like to go anyway…. The plot thickens when one of Bernie’s best friends, a prostitute, is violently slashed to death in Joan’s block of flats. Joan dares to take one small, blood-drenched clue from the murder scene, inspired to do some sleuthing herself! It’s a slippery path she treads, the clue leading as it does into the very murky and dangerous crime underworld of the Cross. There are warnings and crimes upon crimes, murder, sex, drugs, blackmail and kidnapping. Joan writes everything down as she tries to work out, and suddenly ‘her novel’, something she’d been struggling with, takes off. She’s both exhilarated and appalled it’s taken murder to inspire her creativity! This is a novel of many twists and turns, unexpected and surprising, as the truth begins to shakily emerge. An engaging murder mystery. I was very sorry to hear of the author’s death the day after I finished the book. What a sad loss indeed. RIP Julian Leatherdale.
    Thanks to Beauty & Lace and Allen & Unwin Australia for the review copy.

  3. This novel is set in 1930s inner city Sydney, a city of contrasts where the very rich live in luxury but the majority of the population are still suffering the consequences both financially and emotionally from World War I and the great depression. Its an era when women are still expected to be quiet little ladies whose only wish is to become wives and mothers. 1930s Sydney is well described, the lead up to the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge features strongly.
    The lead character, Joan Linderman, lives in Kings Cross in a tiny apartment with her good friend Bernice Becker. Joan works for a Sydney paper by day and is a budding novelist by night. She and Bernice lead a bohemian lifestyle, while being not far off the breadline they do enjoy indulging in drink, drugs and casual sex.
    One of Joan’s neighbours, a prostitute is murdered, and Joan is drawn in and starts to investigate. She also changes her novel to reflect the real life situation she is in and uses her writing to try and clarify her thoughts.
    Joan’s boyfriend, Hugh – a WWI survivor helps and supports her. He is a communist sympathiser but works for Joan’s rich uncle who had been his commanding officer in WWI. As the story progresses Joan and Bernice get drawn into a female pagan sex cult and get threats to their lives.
    There are several twists and turns and while I did guess who might be responsible early on there are still several surprises.
    A very enjoyable novel with convincing, but not always likeable, characters.
    Many thanks to the Beauty and Lace Book Club and Allen & Unwin for giving me the opportunity to read this novel.

  4. Set in the 1930’s World of Kings Cross, Sydney.
    Joan is an aspiring writer and working on her crime novel. She of course hopes her book will do well and she will be able to help her struggling parents out financially. Her Mother is battling with mental health issues after Joan’s brother, James was listed as MIA during the war and is then classed as MIA presumed Dead which Joan’s Mother refuses to believe.
    Joan is living in the Cross with her flatmate Bernice where they share lodging a building that houses several apartments. One night Joan’s life becomes a part of a real life Crime story when her neighbour, Ellie who happens to be a popular prostitute is found dead in her apartment. Joan takes a piece of evidence from the crime scene and decides to investigate the murder herself. Her investigations throw her into the seedy side of the Cross and at times puts her into harms way.
    There are many twists and turns and every time you think “I knew it” you find out that you so didn’t at all. This is a story that will keep you guessing.

  5. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Allen and Unwin I had the chance to read Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club by Julian Leatherdale.

    I am always eager to read historical fiction, this story was set in Sydney Australia in the 1930s and the author does a great job transporting you back there. The main character is Joan who is a magazine writer by day and a crime fiction writer by night so once a friend is murdered she takes it upon herself to do some amateur sleuthing. The book takes you on an interesting but unrealistic turn of events to find out ‘whodunnit’.

    Some investigating brings to light a life Joan’s friend had that Joan never knew about so that takes her on a wild ride to figure out her friend’s life and how to come to be murdered. Joan’s best friend is there for the journey as well and it takes you on some surprising paths.

    It takes awhile for Joan to find out what really happens but she finds out eventually and the conclusion was an unexpected one.

    I have to be honest and say I didn’t really enjoy the story, the plot was far too unbelievable to me and the actions of the main characters were truly out there but looking at the reviews my opinion is not a popular one.

  6. I was really looking forward to reading a historical crime novel based in Sydney. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I found this novel difficult to read.
    I didn’t like the author’s style of writing, nor the unbelievable plot.
    Thank you for the opportunity to review this book, am I am sorry to say I wouldn’t recommmend it.

  7. After reading the blurb I really thought I would love this story of 1930’s Kings Cross. The Cross had such an eclectic mix of people in its community in the 30’s. Living as neighbours were showgirls, prostitutes, the well to do, those down on their luck, artists, gays, transvestites and the bohemian set. This mix gives for some great story telling.

    Julian Leatherdale centres his story on the ideals and philosophies of the bohemian artist groups of the time. Although a purely fictional tale there are mentions of some of the greats of the era and a few historical events of note at that time.

    Joan Linderman, a journalist and wannabe crime writer, falls in with the bohemians and their drugs, sex and alcohol parties via flamboyant flatmate Bernice, a successful novelist and poet.

    When a tenant at their boarding house is found murdered, Joan decides to start her own investigation and at the same time collect ideas for her crime novel.

    Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club is largely a character driven story and I felt the murder mystery played second fiddle to the politics of the time and the sex, drugs, partying and dark underbelly of the cross.

    I felt the end wrapped up too neatly and the twist was so left field it left me dazed.

    Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club will appeal to Historical Fiction readers who enjoy the true historical side of the genre.

  8. Thanks for the opportunity to read Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club an historical novel set in 1930’s in Kings Cross. in the aftermath of WW 1 and the Depression. It does highlight the difference between the wealthy socialites and the rest of society.
    The main character Joan is a magazine writer by day and a crime fiction writer by night. Following a murder of a friend, she decides to become detective and sets out to solve the case with the help of her friend Bernice. The story seems factually and historically true, and shows the dark side of the Cross, with drugs, prostitution and corruption.
    Although the outcome was rather predictable I really enjoed visitng an area I like in days long ago

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *