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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 31 October 2018.

2000AD Prog 2105
Cover: Tiernen Trevallion
JUDGE DREDD: THE SMALL HOUSE by Rob Williams (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
BRINK: HIGH SOCIETY by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT: 1812 by Ian Edginton (w) Dave Taylor (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SKIP TRACER: LEGION by James Peaty (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Dylan Teague (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
KINGDOM: ALPHA AND OMEGA by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

Scream! & Misty Halloween Special 2018
Following the success of last year’s fright-filled outing, the Scream and Misty Special returns this Hallowe'en!With a creepy cover by Kyle Hotz and a 2000AD webshop exclusive cover by Lenka Šimečková, two of Britain’s best loved comics reunite for an anthology of brand new tales - guaranteed to terrify and entertain you!
    With more treats than tricks, this issue features Black Max by Kek-W and Simon Coleby, 13th Floor by Guy Adams, John Stokes and Frazer Irving, Black Beth by Alec Worley and DaNi, Best Friends Forever by Lizzie Boyle and Yishan Li, and Decomposition Jones by Richard McAuliffe and Steve Mannion.

* This was released on 17 October, but for some reason not listed on Rebellion's weekly advance previews. I've only just managed to get hold of a copy so I thought I'd include it here as it's Halloween.
    Two strips pick up from last year's special which reintroduced 'The Thirteenth Floor' and 'Black Max', the latter showing former 'Rat Trap' raspberry-blower Dr Rat in a whole new light this time round while the former makes clever use of the very different art styles of John Stokes and Frazer Irving. 'Black Beth', a sort of Axa-inspired female warrior, is revived from an old Scream!! Holiday Special, and it's clearly intended that she'll be coming back for more.
    'Bookworm' is a genuine Misty reprint, brought to beautiful new life in colour by Barbara Nosenzo, who was responsible for colouring the recent Halo Jones reprints, while 'Mint Condition' by Smuzz smartly inserts a Misty collection into a tale of teen girls set in 2040; the latter is probably my favourite strip here, although 'Decomposition Jones' comes a close second, an outrageous super-fly seventies disco cop throwback with a horror twist.
    This is well worth picking up; I had some reservations about last year's special, but this year it's all gold.
 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Space Ace #11 (October 2018)

The latest issue of Space Ace returns to the slightly longer story format, thanks to the appearance of two 12-page stories from the third Lone Star Annual (1957), 'Space Ace and the Black Pirate' and 'Space Ace and the Tyrant of Trathane'. In between is a 7-pager, 'Space Ace and the Tower of Tongaylar' from Lone Star v.5 no.3 (1959).

The earlier tales are interesting in that they refer to Space Ace under his former name – when Lone Star began publication in 1952, it introduced ex-stratosphere pilot, scientist and Sheriff (!), Space Squadron Commander Ace Hart. Unfortunately, there was already a character named Ace Hart ("the Atom Man"), who had been active since 1948 in the pages of World Distributors' Super Thriller. The strip and its hero became Space Ace, a rather odd name, but it stuck...

Why did Space Ace revert to Ace Hart in Turner's two stories? It might (and I emphasize might) be because Western Super Thriller (as the rival magazine had become) folded in 1956 and Turner or his publisher might have been attempting to re-establish the earlier name. However, Ace Hart subsequently turned up in text form in the Super Thriller Annual, making this a one-off reappearance.

In 'The Black Pirate', a space miner has his cargo of lithanium stolen and barely escapes with his life. Space Ace and Bill are soon on the trail of the Kelly gang, led by "Killer" Kelly, a gangster with an eye-patch and a base on Deimos, where miner "Digger" Dimes pays our heroes back for earlier saving his life, by saving theirs... twice!

Ron Turner's love of science fiction comes through in the creation of "Digger" Dimes, who owes something to "Noisy" Rhysling, a character created by Robert A. Heinlein, who roams the spaceways, singing songs. Heinlein's 'The Green Hills of Earth' is directly alluded to in one of Dimes' songs.

The shorter yarn of this latest trio relates how Ace and Bill pick up a message from the rightful ruler of Ralkor, a planet that has been taken over by the ruthless Kelvax. After a thrilling prison break-out, Ralkor and his Earthman rescuers take the battle right to Kelvax's headquarters.

'Tyrant of Trathane' also begins with an alien in distress, in this case the son of the ruler of the peaceful southern half of the planet Trathane. Its northern neighbour is ruled over by a tyrant named Timar who is about to launch a strike against the south. Ace and Bill investigate and discover that Timar is using a huge, mobile, burrowing bomb to lead his forces.

The issue also has a brief article about a very scarce Ron Turner project from 1954, Into Space with Ace Brave!, a pop-up book compiled and illustrated by Turner. I imagine that the illustrations will be new to most of the magazine's readers (they were to me!).

You can get hold of this latest volume of Space Ace for £8.95 (UK) or £12.50 (Europe) and £14.50 (International) including p&p — and that's pretty much at cost, I can assure you — with payments through Paypal via spaceace.54 AT virginmedia.com or by cheque or postal order to John Lawrence, 39 Carterweys, Dunstable, Beds. LU5 4RB.

John tells me that he has some back issues available from volume 7 onwards, but it is best to check for availability before trying to order.

In his editorial, John Lawrence announces that this is the penultimate issue of Space Ace. The next will be the last for now, although he already has another project up his sleeve. Replacing Space Ace will be Ron Turner's Tit-Bits SF Comics, which will reproduce, with John Ridgway's superb colouring, Turner's contributions to the scarce 1953-54 Pearson comic. The smaller paperback format made it impossible to reprint the stories in the same format as Space Ace without extensive cropping and resizing. One story from the first issue will be the previously unpublished (in English) 'Diamonds of Death', which has only ever appeared in France.

Monday, October 29, 2018

British Library Crime Classics

The British Library has been publishing a series of classic crime novels since 2012 which have proven surprisingly popular. Paul Gallagher highlighted the series in an article in The Independent back in December 2014, describing J. Jefferson Farjeon's Mystery In White: A Christmas Crime Story as a "Festive sleeper hit" that was selling in "astonishing numbers". According to Waterstones, it had outsold Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and Amazon had temporarily run out of stock the previous week due to surging demand.

The book had sold some 60,000 copies, accounting for 40 percent of sales for the whole series which, at that time, had reached 155,000. "Publishing Mystery In White was a game-changer for us," said Robert Davies of British Library Publishing "It gave everyone at the Library the confidence to increase our print runs from 2,000 to 15,000 – a real luxury in these days of constant nervousness among publishers about what the future might hold. The sales figures (and the press coverage we received) also made us more noticeable to the book trade in general, and increased the flow of submissions from literary agents, enquiries from readers and tips about the books to read next – all of which are vitally important in making new discoveries and engaging with the remarkably devoted and vocal community of golden-age crime fans."

According to Joseph Knobbs of Waterstones, sales might reflect readers' yearning for genuine mysteries rather than darker, modern thrillers. "The Crime Classics stand out against the darker crop of contemporary crime fiction and offer something a bit different. A lot of modern stuff skews closer to thriller than mystery." Perhaps true. I think the British Library have made the series stand out with a selection of delightfully old-fashioned covers and with no Poirot or Marple on the TV at the moment, maybe readers who enjoy a cosy murder mystery are looking elsewhere for their devilishly clever locked-room killings and drawing room revelations. I hope the series continues for a long time to come.

Confidence in the books is clearly still high, as there have now been three spin-off series. The series British Library Classic Thrillers has published only the occasional title, but recently added new lines, the British Library Science Fiction Classics and Tales of the Weird, have a busy schedule ahead of them.

The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams
British Library 978-0712-25859-0, February 2012, 312pp, £8.99.
British Library 978-0712-35626-8, May 2015, 256pp, £8.99.
Detective fiction at its best, The Notting Hill Mystery was first published as an eight part serial between 1862 and 1863 in the magazine Once a Week, written under the pseudonym Charles Felix. It has been widely described as the first detective fiction novel, pre-dating as it does other novels such as Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone (1868) and Emile Gaboriau’s first Monsieur Lecoq novel (1869) that have previously claimed that accolade.
    The story is told by insurance investigator Ralph Henderson, who is building a case against the sinister Baron ‘R___’, suspected of murdering his wife in order to obtain significant life insurance payments. Henderson descends into a maze of intrigue including a diabolical mesmerist, kidnapping by gypsies, slow-poisoners, a rich uncle’s will and three murders. Presented in the form of diary entries, family letters, chemical analysis reports, interviews with witnesses and a crime scene map, the novel displays innovative techniques that would not become common features of detective fiction until the 1920s.
    Now made available again, with George du Maurier’s original illustrations included for the first time since the original serial publication, this new edition of The Notting Hill Mystery will be welcomed by all fans of detective fiction.

The Female Detective
British Library, 978-0712-35878-1, October 2012, 328pp, £8.99.
British Library 978-0712-35759-3, August 2014, 328pp, £8.99.
The Female Detective is the first novel in British fiction to feature a professional female detective. Written by Andrew Forrester, it was originally published in 1864. The protagonist is Miss Gladden, or 'G' as she is also known - the precursor to Miss Marple, Mma Ramotswe and Lisbeth Salander.
    Miss Gladden's deductive methods and energetic approach anticipate those of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, and she can be seen as beginning a powerful tradition of female detectives in these 7 short stories. 'G' uses similar methods to her male counterparts – she enters scenes of crime incognito, tracking down killers while trying to conceal her own tracks and her identity from others
    'G', the first female detective, does much physical detective work, examining crime scenes, looking for clues and employing all manner of skill, subterfuge, observation and charm solve crimes. Like Holmes, 'G' regards the regular constabulary with disdain. For all the intrigue and interest of the stories, little is ever revealed about 'G' herself, and her personal circumstances remain a mystery throughout. But it is her ability to apply her considerable energy and intelligence to solve crimes that is her greatest appeal, and the reappearance of the original lady detective will be welcomed by fans of crime fiction.

Revelations of a Lady Detective by William Stephens Hayward
British Library 978-0712-35896-5, February 2013, 320pp, £8.99.
`owing to frequent acquaintance with peril, I had become unusually hardened for a woman`
    Mrs Paschal is only the second ever professional female detective to feature in a work of fiction, pipped to the post by just 6 months by Andrew Forrester’s The Lady Detective (republished by The British Library in 2012). Both were published in 1864 and are of historical significance because for over 20 years they remained the only books to feature a female detective as the protagonist.
    Mrs Paschal, the heroine of Revelations of a Lady Detective, is regularly consulted by the police and serves as an undercover agent as well as investigating her own cases. She throws herself into cases with verve and gusto and has no hesitation in infiltrating a deadly society or casting off her crinolines in order to plummet into a sewer on the trail of a criminal.

Mr Bazalgette's Agent by Leonard Merrick
British Library 978-0712- 9, September 2013, 144pp, £6.99.
‘Here is a business where breeding must be a recommendation .... Here is a work where beauty is a passport’
    When Miriam Lea falls on hard times, an advertisement for private agents catches her eye, and within weeks she finds herself in Mr Bazalgette’s employ as a private detective, travelling on a train to Hamburg in pursuit of an audacious fraudster. What follows is a journey through some of the great cities of Europe – and eventually to South Africa - as Miss Lea attempts to find her man.
    Miriam Lea is only the third ever professional female detective to appear in a work of crime fiction. Originally published in 1888, Mr Bazalgette’s Agent presents a determined and resourceful heroine in the figure of Miss Lea, who grapples with some very modern dilemmas of female virtue and vice.
    Leonard Merrick said of the book, his first: ‘It’s a terrible book. It’s the worst thing I ever wrote. I bought them all up and destroyed them. You can’t find any.’ It seems Merrick was true to his word since copies of the book can now only be found in private collections and in a handful of university and national libraries throughout the world. This new edition offers the modern crime fiction fan an opportunity to rediscover an enticing and rare detective story.

The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay
British Library 978-0712-35712-8, November 2013, 288pp, £8.99.
British Library 978-0712-35630-5, October 2015, 288pp, £8.99. Cover by Seymour Snyder (Better Home & Gardens, December 1930)
Aunt Mildred declared that no good could come of the Melbury family Christmas gatherings at their country residence Flaxmere. So when Sir Osmond Melbury, the family patriarch, is discovered – by a guest dressed as Santa Klaus - with a bullet in his head on Christmas Day, the festivities are plunged into chaos. Nearly every member of the party stands to reap some sort of benefit from Sir Osmond’s death, but Santa Klaus, the one person who seems to have every opportunity to fire the shot, has no apparent motive.
    Various members of the family have their private suspicions about the identity of the murderer, and the Chief Constable of Haulmshire, who begins his investigations by saying that he knows the family too well and that is his difficulty, wishes before long that he understood them better. In the midst of mistrust, suspicion and hatred, it emerges that there was not one Santa Klaus, but two.

The Lake District Murder by John Bude
British Library 978-0712-35716-6, March 2014, 288pp, £8.99. Cover extract from L.N.E.R. poster (Ullswater) by John Littlejohns
Luke flung the light of his torch full onto the face of the immobile figure. Then he had the shock of his life. The man had no face! Where his face should have been was a sort of inhuman, uniform blank!
    When a body is found at an isolated garage, Inspector Meredith is drawn into a complex investigation where every clue leads to another puzzle: was this a suicide, or something more sinister? Why was the dead man planning to flee the country? And how is this connected to the shady business dealings of the garage?
    This classic mystery novel is set amidst the stunning scenery of a small village in the Lake District. It is now republished for the first time since the 1930s.

The Cornish Coast Murder by John Bude
British Library 978-0712-35715-9, March 2014, 288pp, £8.99. Cover extract from G.W..R. poster (Cornwall) by Leonard Cusden
‘Never, even in his most optimistic moments, had he visualised a scene of this nature – himself in one arm-chair, a police officer in another, and between them… a mystery.’
    The Reverend Dodd, vicar of the quiet Cornish village of Boscawen, spends his evenings reading detective stories by the fireside – but heaven forbid that the shadow of any real crime should ever fall across his seaside parish. But the vicar’s peace is shattered one stormy night when Julius Tregarthan, a secretive and ill-tempered magistrate, is found at his house in Boscawen with a bullet through his head.
    The local police inspector is baffled by the complete absence of clues. Suspicion seems to fall on Tregarthan’s niece, Ruth – but surely that young woman lacks the motive to shoot her uncle dead in cold blood? Luckily for Inspector Bigswell, the Reverend Dodd is on hand, and ready to put his keen understanding of the criminal mind to the test. This classic mystery novel of the golden age of British crime fiction is set against the vividly described backdrop of a fishing village on Cornwall’s Atlantic coast. It is now republished for the first time since the 1930s, with a new introduction by Martin Edwards.

Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay
British Library 978-0712-35726-5, March 2014, 288pp, £8.99. Cover by (Mary Evans Pict. Lib.)
For Miss Cordell, principal of Persephone College, there are two great evils to be feared: unladylike behaviour among her students, and bad publicity for the college. So her prim and cosy world is turned upside down when a secret society of undergraduates meets by the river on a gloomy January afternoon, only to find the drowned body of the college bursar floating in her canoe.
    The police assume that a student prank got out of hand, but the resourceful Persephone girls suspect foul play, and take the investigation into their own hands. Soon they uncover the tangled secrets that led to the bursar’s death – and the clues that point to a fellow student.

Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel Hay
British Library 978-0712-35725-8, March 2014, 288pp, £8.99. Adapted from an illustration from The Book of Railways (c.1948)
‘This detective novel is much more than interesting. The numerous characters are well differentiated, and include one of the most feckless, exasperating and lifelike literary men that ever confused a trail.’ Dorothy L. Sayers, Sunday Times, 1934.
    When Miss Pongleton is found murdered on the stairs of Belsize Park station, her fellow-boarders in the Frampton Hotel are not overwhelmed with grief at the death of a tiresome old woman. But they all have their theories about the identity of the murderer, and help to unravel the mystery of who killed the wealthy ‘Pongle’. Several of her fellow residents – even Tuppy the terrier – have a part to play in the events that lead to a dramatic arrest.

A Scream in Soho by John G. Brndon
British Library 978-0712-35745-6, September 2014, 256pp, £8.99. Cover by (Mary Evans Pict. Lib.)
‘For a scream in the early hours of the morning in Soho, even from a female throat, to stop dead in his tracks a hard-boiled constable, it had to be something entirely out of the ordinary.’
    Soho during the blackouts of the Second World War. When a piercing scream rends the air and a bloodied knife is found, Detective Inspector MacCarthy is soon on the scene. He must move through the dark, seedy Soho underworld – peopled by Italian gangsters, cross-dressing German spies and glamorous Austrian aristocrats – as he attempts to unravel the connection between the mysterious Madame Rohner and the theft of secret anti-aircraft defence plans.

The Sussex Downs Mystery by John Bude
British Library 978-0712-35796-8, October 2014, 288pp, £8.99. Cover extract from Southern Railway poster (Seaford) by Leslie Carr
'Already it looked as if the police were up against a carefully planned and cleverly executed murder, and, what was more, a murder without a corpse!'
    Two brothers, John and William Rother, live together at Chalklands Farm in the beautiful Sussex Downs. Their peaceful rural life is shattered when John Rother disappears and his abandoned car is found. Has he been kidnapped? Or is his disappearance more sinister - connected, perhaps, to his growing rather too friendly with his brother's wife?
    Superintendent Meredith is called to investigate - and begins to suspect the worst when human bones are discovered on Chalklands farmland. His patient, careful detective method begins slowly to untangle the clues as suspicion shifts from one character to the next.

Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon
British Library 978-0712-35770-8, November 2014, 256pp, £8.99. Cover from Allers Familj-Journal (Sweden) 17 December 1919
The horror on the train, great though it may turn out to be, will not compare with the horror that exists here, in this house.’
    On Christmas Eve, heavy snowfall brings a train to a halt near the village of Hemmersby. Several passengers take shelter in a deserted country house, where the fire has been lit and the table laid for tea – but no one is at home.
     Trapped together for Christmas, the passengers are seeking to unravel the secrets of the empty house when a murderer strikes in their midst.

Murder in Piccadilly by Charles Kingston
British Library 978-0712-35795-1, January 2015, 320pp, £8.99. Cover extract from L.N.E.R. poster (London) by Fred Taylor
‘Scores of men and women died daily in London, but on this day of days one of them had died in the very midst of a crowd and the cause of his death was a dagger piercing his heart. Death had become something very real.’
    When Bobbie Cheldon falls in love with a pretty young dancer at the Frozen Fang night club in Soho, he has every hope of an idyllic marriage. But Nancy has more worldly ideas about her future: she is attracted not so much to Bobbie as to the fortune he expects to inherit.
    Bobbie’s miserly uncle Massy stands between him and happiness: he will not relinquish the ten thousand a year on which Nancy’s hopes rest. When Bobbie falls under the sway of the roguish Nosey Ruslin, the stage is set for murder in the heart of Piccadilly – and for Nancy’s dreams to be realised.
    When Chief Inspector Wake of Scotland Yard enters the scene, he uncovers a tangled web of love affairs, a cynical Soho underworld, and a motive for murder.

Capital Crimes ed. by Martin Edwards
British Library 978-0712-35749-4, March 2015, 320pp, £8.99.
With its fascinating mix of people – rich and poor, British and foreign, worthy and suspicious – London is a city where anything can happen. The possibilities for criminals and for the crime writer are endless. London has been home to many of fiction's finest detectives, and the setting for mystery novels and short stories of the highest quality.
    Capital Crimes is an eclectic collection of London-based crime stories, blending the familiar with the unexpected in a way that reflects the personality of the city. Alongside classics by Margery Allingham, Anthony Berkeley and Thomas Burke are excellent and unusual stories by authors who are far less well known. The stories give a flavour of how writers have tackled crime in London over the span of more than half a century. Their contributions range from an early serial-killer thriller set on the London Underground and horrific vignettes to cerebral whodunits. What they have in common is an atmospheric London setting, and enduring value as entertainment.

Antidote to Venom by Freeman Wills Crofts
British Library 978-0712-35779-1, April 2015, 288pp, £8.99.
'Mr Wills Crofts is deservedly a first favourite with all who want a real puzzle' – Times Literary Supplement 
'He always manages to give us something that really keeps us guessing' – Daily Mirror
    George Surridge, director of the Birmington Zoo, is a man with many worries: his marriage is collapsing; his finances are insecure; and an outbreak of disease threatens the animals in his care.
    As Surridge's debts mount and the pressure on him increases, he begins to dream of miracle solutions. But is he cunning enough to turn his dreams into reality – and could he commit the most devious murder in pursuit of his goals?
    This ingenious crime novel, with its unusual 'inverted' structure and sympathetic portrait of a man on the edge, is one of the greatest works by this highly respected author. The elaborate means of murder devised by Crofts's characters is perhaps unsurpassed in English crime fiction for its ostentatious intricacy.

The Hog's Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts
British Library 978-0712-35797-5, April 2015, 336pp, £8.99. Cover extract from Southern Railway poster (The Surrey Towns and North Downs) by Reginald Montague Lander
Dr James Earle and his wife live in comfortable seclusion near the Hog's Back, a ridge in the North Downs in the beautiful Surrey countryside. When Dr Earle disappears from his cottage, Inspector French is called in to investigate. At first he suspects a simple domestic intrigue - and begins to uncover a web of romantic entanglements beneath the couple's peaceful rural life. The case soon takes a more complex turn. Other people vanish mysteriously, one of Dr Earle's house guests among them. What is the explanation for the disappearances? If the missing people have been murdered, what can be the motive? This fiendishly complicated puzzle is one that only Inspector French can solve. Freeman Wills Crofts was a master of the intricately and ingeniously plotted detective novel, and The Hog's Back Mystery shows him at the height of his powers.

Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries ed. by Martin Edwards
British Library 978-0712-35748-7, April 2015, 320pp, £8.99. Cover extract from London, Midland & Scotland Railway poster (Colwyn Bay) by George Ayling
Holidays offer us the luxury of getting away from it all. So, in a different way, do detective stories. This collection of vintage mysteries combines both those pleasures. From a golf course at the English seaside to a pension in Paris, and from a Swiss mountain resort to the cliffs of Normandy, this new selection shows the enjoyable and unexpected ways in which crime writers have used summer holidays as a theme. These fourteen stories range widely across the golden age of British crime fiction. Stellar names from the past are well represented - Arthur Conan Doyle and G. K. Chesterton, for instance - with classic stories that have won acclaim over the decades. The collection also uncovers a wide range of hidden gems: Anthony Berkeley - whose brilliance with plot had even Agatha Christie in raptures - is represented by a story so (undeservedly) obscure that even the British Library seems not to own a copy. The stories by Phyllis Bentley and Helen Simpson are almost equally rare, despite the success which both writers achieved, while those by H. C. Bailey, Leo Bruce and the little-known Gerald Findler have seldom been reprinted.

Death of Anton by Alan Melville
British Library 978-0712-35788-3, August 2015, 288pp, £8.99. Cover by Chris Andrews
'There's more crime going on in Carey's Circus than in the whole underworld of London. Theft, immorality, blackmail — you'll find all the pretties here.'
    Seven Bengal tigers are the star attraction of Carey’s Circus. Their trainer is the fearless Anton, whose work demands absolute fitness and the steadiest of nerves. When Anton is found lying dead in the tigers’ cage, it seems that he has lost control and been mauled by the tigers – but Detective-Inspector Minto of Scotland Yard is not convinced.
    Minto’s investigations lead him deep into the circus world of tents and caravans, clowns and acrobats, human and animal performers. No one is above suspicion. Carey, the circus-owner with a secret to hide; Dodo, the clown whose costume is scratched as if by a claw; and Lorimer, the trapeze artist jealous of his flirtatious wife – all come under Minto’s scrutiny as the mystery deepens.
    This amusing and light-hearted novel from the golden age of British crime writing has long been neglected, and this new edition will help to restore Melville’s reputation as an author of extremely entertaining detective fiction.

Quick Curtain by Alan Melville
British Library 978-0712-35789-0, August 2015, 287pp, £8.99. Cover extract from L.N.E.R. poster (Harrogate) by Fred Taylor
'Don't talk bunk!' said Mr Douglas. 'You can't carry on with the show with a man dying on stage. Drop the curtain!'
    When Douglas B. Douglas – leading light of the London theatre – premieres his new musical extravaganza, Blue Music, he is sure the packed house will be dazzled by the performance. What he couldn’t predict is the death of his star, Brandon Baker, on stage in the middle of the second act. Soon another member of the cast is found dead, and it seems to be a straightforward case of murder followed by suicide.
    Inspector Wilson of Scotland Yard – who happens to be among the audience – soon discovers otherwise. Together with Derek, his journalist son, Wilson takes charge of proceedings in his own inimitable way.
    This is a witty, satirical novel from the golden age of British crime fiction between the world wars. It is long overdue for rediscovery and this new edition includes an informative introduction by Martin Edwards, author of The Golden Age of Murder.
     ‘Blows the solemn structure of the detective novel sky-high ... Light entertainment is Mr Melville’s aim, and a fig for procedure!’ Dorothy L. Sayer.

Death of an Airman by Christopher St. John Sprigg
British Library 978-0712-35615-2, August 288pp, £8.99. Cover by Chris Andrews
‘Bubbles over with zest and vitality ... A most ingenious and exciting plot, full of good puzzles and discoveries and worked out among a varied cast of entertaining characters’ Dorothy L. Sayers
    George Furnace, flight instructor at Baston Aero Club, dies instantly when his plane crashes into the English countryside. People who knew him are baffled – Furnace was a first-rate pilot, and the plane was in perfect condition – and the inquest records a verdict of death by misadventure.
    An Australian visitor to the aero club, Edwin Marriott, Bishop of Cootamundra, suspects that the true story is more complicated. Could this be a dramatic suicide – or even murder? Together with Inspector Bray of Scotland Yard, the intrepid bishop must uncover a cunning criminal scheme.

Thirteen Guests by J. Jefferson Farjeon
British Library 978- 0712-35601-5, September 2015, 256pp, £8.99. Cover extract from L.N.E.R. poster (Cruden Bay Hotel Aberdeenshire) by Gordon Nicoll
‘No observer, ignorant of the situation, would have guessed that death lurked nearby, and that only a little distance from the glitter of silver and glass and the hum of voices two victims lay silent on a studio floor.’
    On a fine autumn weekend Lord Aveling hosts a hunting party at his country house, Bragley Court. Among the guests are an actress, a journalist, an artist and a mystery novelist. The unlucky thirteenth is John Foss, injured at the local train station and brought to the house to recuperate – but John is nursing a secret of his own.
    Soon events take a sinister turn when a painting is mutilated, a dog stabbed, and a man strangled. Death strikes more than one of the house guests, and the police are called. Detective Inspector Kendall’s skills are tested to the utmost as he tries to uncover the hidden past of everyone at Bragley Court.
    This country-house mystery is a forgotten classic of 1930s crime fiction by one of the most undeservedly neglected of golden age detective novelists.

The Z Murders by J. Jefferson Farjeon
British Library 978-0712-35621-3, September 2015, 256pp, £8.99. Cover extract from British Railways poster (Service by Night) by David Shepherd
‘Jefferson Farjeon is quite unsurpassed for creepy skill in mysterious adventures.’ Dorothy L. Sayers
    Richard Temperley arrives at Euston station early on a fogbound London morning. He takes refuge in a nearby hotel, along with a disagreeable fellow passenger, who had snored his way through the train journey. But within minutes the other man has snored for the last time – he has been shot dead while sleeping in an armchair. Temperley has a brief encounter with a beautiful young woman, but she flees the scene. When the police arrive, Detective Inspector James discovers a token at the crime scene: ‘a small piece of enamelled metal. Its colour was crimson, and it was in the shape of the letter Z.’
    Temperley sets off in pursuit of the mysterious woman from the hotel, and finds himself embroiled in a cross-country chase – by train and taxi – on the tail of a sinister serial killer. This classic novel by the author of the best-selling Mystery in White is a gripping thriller by a neglected master of the genre.

Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries edited and introduced by Martin Edwards
British Library 978-0712-35610-7, October 2015, 256pp, £8.99. Cover by Chris Andrews
Christmas is a mysterious, as well as magical, time of year. Strange things can happen, and this helps to explain the hallowed tradition of telling ghost stories around the fireside as the year draws to a close. Christmas tales of crime and detection have a similar appeal. When television becomes tiresome, and party games pall, the prospect of curling up in the warm with a good mystery is enticing – and much better for the digestion than yet another helping of plum pudding.
    Crime writers are just as susceptible as readers to the countless attractions of Christmas. Over the years, many distinguished practitioners of the genre have given one or more of their stories a Yuletide setting. The most memorable Christmas mysteries blend a lively storyline with an atmospheric evocation of the season. Getting the mixture right is much harder than it looks.
    This book introduces readers to some of the finest Christmas detective stories of the past. Martin Edwards’ selection blends festive pieces from much-loved authors with one or two stories which are likely to be unfamiliar even to diehard mystery fans. The result is a collection of crime fiction to savour, whatever the season.

Murder of a Lady by Anthony Wynne
British Library 978-0712-35623-7, January 2016 [2015], 269pp, £8.99. Cover extract from Caledonian Railway poster (The Tarbet Hotel) by D.N.A.
A Scottish Mystery
Duchlan Castle is a gloomy, forbidding place in the Scottish Highlands. Late one night the body of Mary Gregor, sister of the laird of Duchlan, is found in the castle. She has been stabbed to death in her bedroom – but the room is locked from within and the windows are barred. The only tiny clue to the culprit is a silver fish’s scale, left on the floor next to Mary’s body.
    Inspector Dundas is dispatched to Duchlan to investigate the case. The Gregor family and their servants are quick – perhaps too quick – to explain that Mary was a kind and charitable woman. Dundas uncovers a more complex truth, and the cruel character of the dead woman continues to pervade the house after her death. Soon further deaths, equally impossible, occur, and the atmosphere grows ever darker. Superstitious locals believe that fish creatures from the nearby waters are responsible; but luckily for Inspector Dundas, the gifted amateur sleuth Eustace Hailey is on the scene, and unravels a more logical solution to this most fiendish of plots.
    Anthony Wynne wrote some of the best locked-room mysteries from the golden age of British crime fiction. This cunningly plotted novel – one of Wynne’s finest – has never been reprinted since 1931, and is long overdue for rediscovery.

Murder at the Manor ed. by Martin Edwards
British Library 978-0712-30993-6, February 2016, 384pp, £8.99. Cover extract from L.N.E.R. poster (Ipswich) by Fred Taylor
The English country house is an iconic setting for some of the greatest British crime fiction. Short stories are an important part of this tradition, and writers from Agatha Christie to Margery allingham became famous for the intricate cases which their detetives unravelled in rambling country houses. These stories continue to enjoy wide appeal, driven partly by nostalgia for a vanished way of life, and partly by the pleasure of trying to solve a fiendish puzzle.
    This new collection gathers together stories written over a span of about 65 years, during which British society, and life in country houses, was transformed out of all recognition. It includes fascinating and unfamiliar twists on the classic 'closed circle' plot, in which the assorted guests at a country house party become suspects when a crime is committed. In the more sinister tales featured here, a gloomy mansion set in lonely grounds offers an eerie backdrop for dark deeds, as in Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Copper Beeches' and W. W. Jacob's 'The Well'.
    Many distinguished writers are represented in this collection, including such great names of the genre as Anthony Berkeley, Nicholas Blake and G. K. Chesterton.

Serpents in Eden: Countryside Crimes ed. by Martin Edwards
British Library 978-0712-35794-4, March 2016, 302pp, £8.99. Cover from British Railways poster (Worcestershire) by Frank Sherwin
'The lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside... Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser.' Sherlock Holmes
    Many of the greatest British crime writers have explored the possibilities of crime in the countryside in lively and ingenious short stories. Serpents in Eden celebrates the rural British mystery by bringing together an eclectic mix of crime stories written over half a century. From a tale of poison-pen letters tearing apart a village community to a macabre mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle, the stories collected here reveal the dark truths hidden in an assortment of rural paradises.
    Among the writers included here are such major figures as G. K. Chesterton and Margery Allingham, along with a host of lesser-known discoveries whose best stories are among the unsung riches of the golden age of British crime fiction between the two world wars.

Death on the Riviera by John Bude
British Library 978-0712-35637-4, March 2016, 223pp, £8.99. Cover extract from Southern Railway poster (The Summer-Time French Riviera) by F. Whatley
When a counterfeit currency racket comes to light on the French Riviera, Detective Inspector Meredith is sent speeding southwards - out of the London murk to the warmth and glitter of the Mediterranean. Along with Inspector Blampignon - an amiable policeman from Nice - Meredith must trace the whereabouts of Chalky Cobbett, crook and forger.
    Soon their interest centres on the Villa Paloma, the residence of Nesta Hedderwick, an eccentric Englishwoman, and her bohemian house guests - among them her niece, an artist, and a playboy. Before long, it becomes evident that more than one of the occupants of the Villa Paloma has something to hide, and the stage is set for murder.
    This classic crime novel from 1952 evokes all the sunlit glamour of life on the Riviera, and combines deft plotting with a dash of humour. This is the first edition to have been published in more than sixty years and follows the rediscovery of Bude's long-neglected detective writing by the British Library.

Calamity in Kent by John Rowland
British Library 978-0712-35783-8, April 2016, 256pp, £8.99.
In the peaceful seaside town of Broadgate, an impossible crime occurs. The operator of the cliff railway locks the empty carriage one evening; when he returns to work next morning, a dead body is locked inside - a man who has been stabbed in the back.
    Jimmy London, a newspaper reporter, is first on the scene. He is quick on the trail for clues - and agrees to pool his knowledge with Inspector Shelley of Scotland Yard, who is holidaying in the area. Mistrustful of the plodding local policeman, Inspector Beech, the two men launch their own investigation into the most baffling locked-room mystery – a case that could reignite Jimmy's flagging career, but one that exposes him to great danger.

Murder in the Museum by John Rowland
British Library 978-0712-35784-5, April 2016, 272pp, £8.99. Cover by Chris Andrews
When Professor Julius Arnell breathes his last in the hushed atmosphere of the British Museum Reading Room, it looks like death from natural causes. Who, after all, would have cause to murder a retired academic whose life was devoted to Elizabethan literature? Inspector Shelley's suspicions are aroused when he finds a packet of poisoned sugared almonds in the dead man's pocket; and a motive becomes clearer when he discovers Arnell's connection to a Texan oil millionaire.
    Soon another man plunges hundreds of feet into a reservoir on a Yorkshire moor. What can be the connection between two deaths so different, and so widely separated? The mild-mannered museum visitor Henry Fairhurst adds his detective talents to Inspector Shelley's own, and together they set about solving one of the most baffling cases Shelley has ever encountered.

Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton
British Library 978-0712-35641-1, May 2016, 256pp, £8.99. Cover by Chris Andrews
On a dark November evening, Sir Wilfred Saxonby is travelling alone in the 5 o'clock train from Cannon Street, in a locked compartment. The train slows and stops inside a tunnel; and by the time it emerges again minutes later, Sir Wilfred has been shot dead, his heart pierced by a single bullet.
    Suicide seems to be the answer, even though no motive can be found. Inspector Arnold of Scotland Yard thinks again when he learns that a mysterious red light in the tunnel caused the train to slow down.
    Finding himself stumped by the puzzle, Arnold consults his friend Desmond Merrion, a wealthy amateur expert in criminology. Merrion quickly comes up with an 'essential brainwave' and helps to establish how Sir Wilfred met his end, but although it seems that the dead man fell victim to a complex conspiracy, the investigators are puzzled about the conspirators' motives, as well as their identities. Can there be a connection with Sir Wilfred's seemingly untroubled family life, his highly successful business, or his high-handed and unforgiving personality? And what is the significance of the wallet found on the corpse, and the bank notes that it contained?

The Secret of High Eldersham by Miles Burton
British Library 978-0712-35609-1, May 2016, 256pp, £8.99.
'They're terrible mistrustful of strangers in these parts.'
Samuel Whitehead, the new landlord of the Rose and Crown, is a stranger in the lonely East Anglian village of High Eldersham. When the newcomer is stabbed to death in his pub, and Scotland Yard are called to the scene, it seems that the veil dividing High Eldersham from the outside world is about to be lifted.
    Detective-Inspector Young forms a theory about the case so utterly impossible that merely entertaining the suspicion makes him doubt his own sanity. Surrounding by sinister forces beyond his understanding, and feeling the need of rational assistance, he calls on a brilliant amateur and 'living encyclopedia', Desmond Merrion. Soon Merrion falls for the charms of a young woman in the village, Mavis Owerton. But does Mavis know more about the secrets of the village than she is willing to admit?

Inspector Cluff Stands Firm by Gil North
British Library 978-0712-35646-6, July 2016, 176pp, £7.99. Cover extract from British Railway poster (Ribblesdale North West Yorkshire) by Greene
'He could feel it in the blackness, a difference in atmosphere, a sense of evil, of things hidden.'Amy Snowden, in middle age, has long since settled into a lonely life in the Yorkshire town of Gunnarshaw, until - to her neighbours' surprise - she suddenly marries a much younger man. Months later, Amy is found dead - apparently by her own hand - and her husband, Wright, has disappeared.Sergeant Caleb Cluff - silent, watchful, a man at home in the bleak moorland landscape of Gunnarshaw - must find the truth about the couple's unlikely marriage, and solve the riddle of Amy's death.This novel, originally published in 1960, is the first in the series of Sergeant Cluff detective stories that were televised in the 1960s but have long been neglected. This new edition is published in the centenary year of the author's birth.

The 12:30 From Croydon by Freeman Wills Crofts
British Library 978-0712-35649-7, July 2016, 256pp, £8.99. Cover from Southern Railways poster (London & Isle of Wight) by Charles Pears
'Crofts constructs his alibi with immense elaboration...The story is highly successful, and Mr Crofts is to be congratulated upon his experiment' - Dorothy L. Sayers. We begin with a body. Andrew Crowther, a wealthy retired manufacturer, is found dead in his seat on the 12.30 flight from Croydon to Paris. Rather less orthodox is the ensuing flashback in which we live with the killer at every stage, from the first thoughts of murder to the strains and stresses of living with its execution. Seen from the criminal's perspective, a mild-mannered Inspector by the name of French is simply another character who needs to be dealt with. This is an unconventional yet gripping story of intrigue, betrayal, obsession, justification and self-delusion.

The Cheltenham Square Murder by John Bude
British Library 978-0712-35648-0, August 2016, 285pp, £8.99. Cover extract from GWR/LMS poster (Cheltenham Spa) by C. H. Birtwhistle
In the seeming tranquility of Regency Square in Cheltenham live the diverse inhabitants of its ten houses. One summer's evening, the square's rivalries and allegiances are disrupted by a sudden and unusual death - an arrow to the head, shot through an open window at no. 6. Unfortunately for the murderer, an invitation to visit had just been sent by the crime writer Aldous Barnet, staying with his sister at no. 8, to his friend Superintendent Meredith. Three days after his arrival, Meredith finds himself investigating the shocking murder two doors down. Six of the square's inhabitants are keen members of the Wellington Archery Club, but if Meredith and Long thought that the case was going to be easy to solve, they were wrong...The Cheltenham Square Murder is a classic example of how John Bude builds a drama within a very specific location. Here the Regency splendour of Cheltenham provides the perfect setting for a story in which appearances are certainly deceiving.

The Methods of Sergeant Cluff by Gil North
British Library 978-0712-35647-3, September 2016, 169pp, £7.99. Cover extract from British Railway poster (Yorkshire Dales A National Park Area) by Ronald Lampitt
After battling for justice, at great personal risk, in his first recorded case, Sergeant Caleb Cluff made a swift return to duty in this book. The story opens one wet and windy night, with the discovery of a young woman's corpse, lying face down on the cobblestones of a passageway in the Yorkshire town of Gunnarshaw. The deceased is Jane Trundle, an attractive girl who worked as an assistant in a chemist's shop. She yearned for the good life, and Cluff finds more money in her handbag than she would have earned in wages.There are echoes of Sherlock Holmes ('You know my methods, Watson') in the title, and in an exchange in the first chapter between Cluff and Superintendent Patterson, but Cluff is very much his own man. Little that goes on in and around the mean streets of Gunnarshaw escapes him. He is scornful of detectives who rely solely on supposed facts: 'More than facts were in question here, the intangible, invisible passions of human beings.' Understanding those passions leads him gradually towards the truth about Jane's murder.

Mystery in the Channel by Freeman Wills Crofts
British Library 978-0712-35651-0, September 2016, 256pp, £8.99. Cover extract from Southern Railway poster (T.S. "Invicta" leaving Dover in the "Golden Hour" Short Sea Route) by Norman Wilkinson
Mystery in the Channel is a classic crime novel with a strikingly modern sub-text. The story begins with a shocking discovery. The captain of the Newhaven to Dieppe steamer spots a small pleasure yacht lying motionless in the water, and on closer inspection, sees a body lying on the deck. When members of his crew go aboard the yacht, they find not one male corpse but two. Both men have been shot, but there is no sign of either the murderer or the pistol. The dead men, it quickly emerges, were called Moxon and Deeping, and they were chairman and vice-chairman respectively of the firm of Moxon General Securities, one of the largest financial houses in the country. Inspector Joseph French of Scotland Yard is called in, reporting directly to the Assistant Commissioner, Sir Mortimer Ellison. French soon discovers that Moxon's is on the brink of collapse. One and a half million pounds have gone missing, and so has one of the partners in the business. Moxon and Deeping seem to have been fleeing the country with their ill-gotten gains, but who killed them, and how? French faces one of the toughest challenges of his career, and in a dramatic climax, risks his life in a desperate attempt to ensure that justice is done.

The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley
British Library 978-0712-35653-4, October 2016, 267pp, £8.99.
'All his stories are amusing, intriguing, and he is a master of the final twist' - Agatha Christie
'One of the most stunning trick stories in the history of detective fiction' - Julian Symons
Graham and Joan Bendix have apparently succeeded in making that eighth wonder of the modern world, a happy marriage. And into the middle of it there drops, like a clap of thunder, a box of chocolates.Joan Bendix is killed by a poisoned box of liqueur chocolates that cannot have been intended for her to eat. The police investigation rapidly reaches a dead end. Chief Inspector Moresby calls on Roger Sheringham and his Crimes Circle - six amateur but intrepid detectives - to consider the case. The evidence is laid before the Circle and the members take it in turn to offer a solution. Each is more convincing than the last, slowly filling in the pieces of the puzzle, until the dazzling conclusion.

Death of a Busybody by George Bellairs
British Library 978-0712-35644-2, October 2016, 244pp, £8.99.
The eponymous nosy parker in Death of a Busybody is Miss Ethel Tither. She has made herself deeply unpopular in the quintessentially English village of Hilary Magna, since she goes out of her way to snoop on people, and interfere with their lives. On being introduced to her, the seasoned reader of detective stories will spot a murder victim in the making. Sure enough, by the end of chapter one, this unpleasant lady has met an extremely unpleasant fate. She is found floating in a cesspool, having been bludgeoned prior to drowning in the drainage water.This is, in every way, a murky business; realising that they are out of their depth, the local police quickly call in the Yard. Inspector Thomas Littlejohn, George Bellairs' series detective, arrives on the train, and in casting around for suspects, he finds that he is spoiled for choice. The amiable vicar supplies him with a map showing the scene of the crime; maps were a popular feature of traditional whodunnits for many years, and Bellairs occasionally included them in his books, as he does here.

Crimson Snow: Winter Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards
British Library 978-0712-35665-7, November 2016, 288pp, £8.99. Cover extract from poster (St. Moritz: The World's White City, Lips & Co., Bern, Switzerland) by Plinio Colombi
Crimson Snow brings together a dozen vintage crime stories set in winter. Welcome to a world of Father Christmases behaving oddly, a famous fictional detective in a Yuletide drama, mysterious tracks in the snow----, and some very unpleasant carol singers. The mysterious events chronicled by a distinguished array of contributors in this volume frequently take place at Christmas. There's no denying that the supposed season of goodwill is a time of year that lends itself to detective fiction. On a cold night, it's tempting to curl up by the fireside with a good mystery. And more than that, claustrophobic house parties, when people may be cooped up with long-estranged relatives, can provide plenty of motives for murder.Including forgotten stories by great writers such as Margery Allingham, as well as classic tales by less familiar crime novelists, each story in this selection is introduced by the great expert on classic crime, Martin Edwards. The resulting volume is an entertaining and atmospheric compendium of wintry delights.

The Dead Shall Be Raised and Murder of a Quack by George Bellairs
British Library 978-0712-35652-7, December 2016, 224pp, £8.99.
Two classic cases featuring Detective-Inspector Littlejohn.
    In the winter of 1940, the Home Guard unearths a skeleton on the moor above the busy town of Hatterworth. Twenty-three years earlier, the body of a young textile worker was found in the same spot, and the prime suspect was never found - but the second body is now identified as his. Inspector Littlejohn is in the area for Christmas and takes on the investigation of the newly reopened case. Soon it becomes clear that the murderer is still at large...
    Nathaniel Wall, the local quack doctor, is found hanging in his consulting room in the Norfolk village of Stalden - but this was not a suicide. Wall may not have been a qualified doctor, but his skill as a bonesetter and his commitment to village life were highly valued. Scotland Yard is drafted in to assist. Quickly settling into his accommodation at the village pub, Littlejohn begins to examine the evidence...Against the backdrop of a close-knit village, an intriguing story of ambition, blackmail, fraud, false alibis and botanical trickery unravels.

Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate
British Library 978-0712-35674-9, January 2017, 256pp, £8.99.
'The characterisation of the people in the story, as well as the teasing mystery, and the dark cynicism about human behaviour and the nature of justice, make this a crime novel to cherish'—Martin Edwards
    A woman is on trial for her life, accused of murder. The twelve members of the jury each carry their own secret burden of guilt and prejudice which could affect the outcome. In this extraordinary crime novel, we follow the trial through the eyes of the jurors as they hear the evidence and try to reach a unanimous verdict. Will they find the defendant guilty, or not guilty? And will the jurors' decision be the correct one? Since its first publication in 1940, Verdict of Twelve has been widely hailed as a classic of British crime writing. This edition offers a new generation of readers the chance to find out why so many leading commentators have admired the novel for so long.

Scarweather by Anthony Rolls
British Library 978-0712-35664-0, February 2017, 272pp, £8.99.
"My friend Ellingham has persuaded me to reveal to the public the astounding features of the Reisby case. As a study in criminal aberration it is, he tells me, of particular interest, while in singularity of horror and in perversity of ingenious method it is probably unique"
    1913. John Farringdale, with his cousin Eric Foster, visits the famous archaeologist Tolgen Reisby. At Scarweather - Reisby's lonely house on the windswept northern coast of England - Eric is quickly attracted to Reisby's much younger wife, and matters soon take a dangerous turn. Fifteen years later, the final scene of the drama is enacted.
    This unorthodox novel from 1934 is by a gifted writer who, wrote Dorothy L. Sayers, "handles his characters like a 'real' novelist and the English language like a 'real' writer – merits which are still, unhappily, rarer than they should be in the ranks of the murder specialists."

Family Matters by Anthony Rolls
British Library 978-0712-35669-5, March 2017, 256pp, £8.99. Cover extract from L.N.E.R. poster (The Dales) by Duff Tollemache
Robert Arthur Kewdingham is an eccentric failure of a man. In middle age he retreats into a private world, hunting for Roman artefacts and devoting himself to bizarre mystical beliefs. Robert's wife, Bertha, feels that there are few things more dreadful than a husband who will persist in making a fool of himself in public. Their marriage consists of horrible quarrels, futile arguments, incessant bickering. Scarcely any friends will visit the Kewdinghams in their peaceful hometown Shufflecester.
     Everything is wrong - and with the entrance of John Harrigall, a bohemian bachelor from London who catches Bertha's eye, they take a turn for the worse. Soon deep passions and resentments shatter the calm facade of the Kewdinghams' lives.
    This richly characterised and elegantly written crime novel from 1933.

Miraculous Mysteries. Locked-Room Murders and Impossible Crimes ed. Martin Edwards
British Library 978-0712-35673-2, April 2017, 352pp, £8.99.
Locked-room mysteries and other impossible crime stories have been relished by puzzle-lovers ever since the invention of detective fiction. Fiendishly intricate cases were particularly well suited to the cerebral type of detective story that became so popular during the golden age of murder between the two world wars. But the tradition goes back to the days of Wilkie Collins, and impossible crime stories have been written by such luminaries as Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham. This anthology celebrates their work, alongside long-hidden gems by less familiar writers. Together these stories demonstrate the range and high accomplishment of the classic British impossible crime story over more than half a century.

The Incredible Crime. A Cambridge mystery by Lois Austen-Leigh
British Library 978-0172-35602-2, May 2017, 288pp, £8.99.
Prince s College, Cambridge, is a peaceful and scholarly community, enlivened by Prudence Pinsent, the Master s daughter. Spirited, beautiful, and thoroughly unconventional, Prudence is a remarkable young woman.
    One fine morning she sets out for Suffolk to join her cousin Lord Wellende for a few days hunting. On the way Prudence encounters Captain Studde of the coastguard who is pursuing a quarry of his own.
    Studde is on the trail of a drug smuggling ring that connects Wellende Hall with the cloistered world of Cambridge. It falls to Prudence to unravel the identity of the smugglers who may be forced to kill, to protect their secret.

Continental Crimes ed. Martin Edwards
British Library 978-0172-35679-7, June 2017, 352pp, £8.99.
A man is forbidden to uncover the secret of the tower in a fairy-tale castle by the Rhine. A headless corpse is found in a secret garden in Paris - belonging to the city's chief of police. And a drowned man is fished from the sea off the Italian Riviera, leaving the carabinieri to wonder why his socialite friends at the Villa Almirante are so unconcerned by his death. These are three of the scenarios in this new collection of vintage crime stories compiled by Martin Edwards. Detective stories from the golden age and beyond have used European settings - cosmopolitan cities, rural idylls and crumbling chateaux - to explore timeless themes of revenge, deception and haunting. Including lesser-known stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton, and J. Jefferson Farjeon - and over a dozen other classic writers - this collection reveals many hidden gems of British crime.

Death Makes a Prophet by John Bude
British Library 978-0712-35 691-6, 6 July 2017, 285pp, £8.99. Cover by Thomas Friedensen (Frontispiece to The Garden City by C. B. Purdom, 1913)
'Small hostilities were growing; vague jealousies were gaining strength; and far off, wasn't there a nebulous hint of approaching tragedy in the air?' Welworth Garden City in the 1940s is a forward-thinking town where free spirits find a home - vegetarians, socialists, and an array of exotic religious groups. Chief among these are the Children of Osiris, led by the eccentric High Prophet, Eustace K. Mildmann. The cult is a seething hotbed of petty resentment, jealousy and dark secrets - which eventually lead to murder. The stage is set for one of Inspector Meredith's most bizarre and exacting cases. This witty crime novel by a writer on top form is a neglected classic of British crime fiction.

The Long Arm of the Law ed. Martin Edwards
British Library 978-0712-35687-9, 10 August 2017, 288pp, £8.99. Cover extract from advert ('Perfect Control' advertising Dunlop Tyres, 1935)
In classic British crime fiction, dazzling detective work is often the province of a brilliant amateur - whereas the humble police detective cuts a hapless figure. The twelve stories collected here strike a blow for the professionals, with teasing mysteries to challenge hard-working police officers' persistence and scrupulous attention to detail. As in his previous anthologies for the British Library Crime Classics series, Martin Edwards introduces readers to fascinating neglected gems of British crime writing as well as uncovering lesser-known stories by the great novelists of the golden age. Each of these stories combines realism with entertainment, skillfully blending the conduct of a criminal investigation with a compelling [ ].

Seven Dead by J. Jefferson Farjeon
British Library 978-0712-35688-6, 7 September 2017, 288pp, £8.99.
Ted Lyte, amateur thief, has chosen an isolated house by the coast for his first robbery. But Haven House is no ordinary country home. While hunting for silverware to steal, Ted stumbles upon a locked room containing seven dead bodies. Detective Inspector Kendall takes on the case with the help of passing yachtsman Thomas Hazeldean. The search for the house's absent owners brings Hazeldean across the Channel to Boulogne, where he finds more than one motive to stay and investigate. Seven Dead is an atmospheric crime novel first published in 1939.

Somebody at the Door by Raymond Postgate
British Library 978-0712-35235-2, 14 September 2017, 288pp, £8.99.
'The death was an odd one, it was true; but there was after all no very clear reason to assume it was anything but natural.' In the winter of 1942, England lies cold and dark in the wartime blackout. One bleak evening, Councillor Grayling steps off the 6.12 from Euston, carrying GBP120 in cash, and oblivious to the fate that awaits him in the snow-covered suburbs. Inspector Holly draws up a list of Grayling's fellow passengers: his distrusted employee Charles Evetts, the charming Hugh Rolandson, and an unknown refugee from Nazi Germany, among others. Inspector Holly will soon discover that each passenger harbours their own dark secrets, and that the councillor had more than one enemy among them. First published in 1943, Raymond Postgate's wartime murder mystery combines thrilling detection with rich characters and a fascinating depiction of life on the home front.

Foreign Bodies ed. Martin Edwards
British Library 978-0172-35699-2, 5 October 2017, 288pp, £8.99.
Today, translated crime fiction is in vogue - but this was not always the case. A century before Scandi noir, writers across Europe and beyond were publishing detective stories of high quality. Often these did not appear in English and they have been known only by a small number of experts. This is the first ever collection of classic crime in translation from the golden age of the genre in the 20th century. Many of these stories are exceptionally rare, and several have been translated for the first time to appear in this volume. Martin Edwards has selected gems of classic crime from Denmark to Japan and many points in between. Fascinating stories give an insight into the cosmopolitan cultures (and crime-writing traditions) of diverse places including Mexico, France, Russia, Germany and the Netherlands.

Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith
British Library 978-0172-35686-X, 12 October 2017, 288pp, £8.99.
Adrian Gray was born in May 1862 and met his death through violence, at the hands of one of his own children, at Christmas, 1931. Thus begins a classic crime novel published in 1933, a riveting portrait of the psychology of a murderer. Each December, Adrian Gray invites his extended family to stay at his lonely house, Kings Poplars. None of Gray's six surviving children is fond of him; several have cause to wish him dead. The family gathers on Christmas Eve - and by the following morning, their wish has been granted. This fascinating and unusual novel tells the story of what happened that dark Christmas night; and what the murderer did next.

Bats in the Belfry. A London Mystery by E. C. R. Lorac
British Library 978-0712-35255-0, 10 January 2018, 240pp, £8.99.
Bruce Attleton dazzled London's literary scene with his first two novels - but his early promise did not bear fruit. His wife Sybilla is a glittering actress, unforgiving of Bruce's failure, and the couple lead separate lives in their house at Regent's Park. When Bruce is called away on a sudden trip to Paris, he vanishes completely - until his suitcase and passport are found in a sinister artist's studio, the Belfry, in a crumbling house in Notting Hill. Inspector Macdonald must uncover Bruce's secrets, and find out the identity of his mysterious blackmailer. This intricate mystery from a classic writer is set in a superbly evoked London of the 1930s.

Fire in the Thatch. A Devon Mystery by E. C. R. Lorac
British Library 978-0712-35260-4, 10 February 2018, 240pp, £8.99.
The Second World War is drawing to a close. Nicholas Vaughan, released from the army after an accident, takes refuge in Devon - renting a thatched cottage in the beautiful countryside at Mallory Fitzjohn. Vaughan sets to work farming the land, rearing geese and renovating the cottage. Hard work and rural peace seem to make this a happy bachelor life. On a nearby farm lives the bored, flirtatious June St Cyres, an exile from London while her husband is a Japanese POW. June's presence attracts fashionable visitors of dubious character, and threatens to spoil Vaughan's Prized seclusion. When Little Thatch is destroyed in a blaze, all Vaughan's work goes up in smoke - and Inspector Macdonald is drafted in to uncover a motive for murder. 

Blood on the Tracks. Railway Mysteries ed. Martin Edwards
British Library 978-0712-35270-3, 10 March 2018, 288pp, £8.99
'Never had I been given a tougher problem to solve, and never had I been so utterly at my wits' end for a solution.' A signalman is found dead by a railway tunnel. A man identifies his wife as a victim of murder on the underground. Two passengers mysteriously disappear between stations, leaving behind a dead body. Trains have been a favourite setting of many crime writers, providing the mobile equivalent of the 'locked-room' scenario. Their enclosed carriages with a limited number of suspects lend themselves to seemingly impossible crimes. In an era of cancellations and delays, alibis reliant upon a timely train service no longer ring true, yet the railway detective has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the twenty-first century. Both train buffs and crime fans will delight in this selection of fifteen railway-themed mysteries, featuring some of the most popular authors of their day alongside less familiar names. This is a collection to beguile even the most wearisome commuter. 

The Murder of My Aunt by Richard Hull
British Library 978-0712-35280-2, 10 April 2018, 240pp, £8.99.
'I should be very much happier if she were dead.' Edward Powell lives with his Aunt Mildred in the Welsh town of Lywll. His aunt thinks Lywll an idyllic place to live, but Edward loathes the countryside - and thinks the company even worse. In face, Edward has decided to murder his aunt. A darkly humorous depiction of fraught family ties, The Murder of My Aunt was first published in 1934.

Excellent Intentions by Richard Hull
British Library 978-0712-35201-7, 10 May 2018, 240pp, £8.99.
Great Barwick s least popular man is murdered on a train. Twelve jurors sit in court. Four suspects are identified but which of them is on trial? This novel has all the makings of a classic murder mystery, but with a twist: as Attorney-General Anstruther Blayton leads the court through prosecution and defence, Inspector Fenby carries out his investigation. All this occurs while the identity of figure in the dock is kept tantalisingly out of reach. Excellent Intentions is a classic crime novel laced with irreverent wit, first published in 1939.

Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville
British Library 978-0712-35211-6, 10 June 2018, 240pp, £8.99.
Jim Henderson is one of six guests summoned by the mysterious Edwin Carson, a collector of precious stones, to a weekend party at his country house, Thrackley. The house is gloomy and forbidding but the party is warm and hospitable except for the presence of Jacobson, the sinister butler. The other guests are wealthy people draped in jewels; Jim cannot imagine why he belongs in such company. After a weekend of adventure with attempted robbery and a vanishing guest secrets come to light and Jim unravels a mystery from his past.

The Arsenal Stadium Mystery by Leonard Gribble
British Library 978-0712-35226-0, 10 July 2018, 256pp, £8.99.
The 1939 Arsenal side is firing on all cylinders and celebrating a string of victories. They appear unstoppable, but the Trojans - a side of amateurs who are on a winning streak of their own - may be about to silence the Gunners. Moments into the second half the whistle blows, but not for a goal or penalty. One of the Trojans has collapsed on the pitch. By the end of the day, he is dead. Gribble's unique mystery, featuring the actual Arsenal squad of 1939, sends Inspector Anthony Slade into the world of professional football to investigate a case of deadly foul play on and off the pitch.

The Division Bell Mystery by Ellen Wilkinson
British Library 978-0712-35241-3, 10 August 2018, 256pp, £8.99.
Through the double clamour of Big Ben and the shrill sound of the bell rang a revolver shot.
    A financier is found shot in the House of Commons. Suspecting foul play, Robert West, a parliamentary private secretary, takes on the role of amateur sleuth. Used to turning a blind eye to covert dealings, West must now uncover the shocking secret behind the mans demise, amid distractions from the press and the dead man's enigmatic daughter.
    Originally published in 1932, this was the only mystery novel to be written by Ellen Wilkinson, one of the first women to be elected to Parliament. Wilkinson offers a unique insiders perspective of political scandal, replete with sharp satire.
    With an introduction by Martin Edwards and preface by Rachel Reeves MP

The Colour of Murder by Julian Symons
British Library 978-0712-35227-7, 10 September 2018, 256pp, £8.99.
John Wilkins meets a beautiful, irresistible girl, and his world is turned upside down. Looking at his wife, and thinking of the girl, everything turns red before his eyes - the colour of murder.
    This award-winning crime novel from 1957 is a gripping examination of the psychology of murder and the nature of justice, unravelling the mystery by showing the events leading up to a murder, and the psychiatric evaluation which follows.

The Belting Inheritance by Julian Symons
British Library 978-0712-35232-1, 10 September 2018, 240pp, £8.99.
Lady Wainwright presides over the gothic gloom at Belting, in mourning for her two sons lost in the Second World War. Long afterwards a stranger arrives at Belting, claiming to be the missing David Wainwright who was not killed after all, but held captive for years in a Russian prison camp.
With Lady Wainwright's health fading, her inheritance is at stake, and the family is torn apart by doubts over its mysterious long-lost son. Belting is shadowed by suspicion and intrigue and then the first body is found.
    This atmospheric novel of family secrets, first published in 1964.

The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories, ed. Martin Edwards
British Library 978-0712-35247-5, 10 October 2018, 288pp, £8.99.
A Christmas party is punctuated by a gunshot under a policeman's watchful eye. A jewel heist is planned amidst the glitz and glamour of Oxford Street's Christmas shopping. Lost in a snowstorm, a man finds a motive for murder. This collection of mysteries explores the darker side of the festive season from unexplained disturbances in the fresh snow, to the darkness that lurks beneath the sparkling decorations. With neglected stories by John Bude and E. C. R. Lorac, as well as tales by little-known writers of crime fiction, Martin Edwards blends the cosy atmosphere of the fireside story with a chill to match the temperature outside. This is a gripping seasonal collection sure to delight mystery fans.

Murder by Matchlight by E. C. R. Lorac
British Library 978-0712-35222-2, 10 November 2018, 256pp, £8.99.
London. 1945. The capital is shrouded in the darkness of the blackout, and mystery abounds in the parks after dusk.
    During a stroll through Regent's Park, Bruce Mallaig witnesses two men acting suspiciously around a footbridge. In a matter of moments, one of them has been murdered; Mallaig's view of the assailant but a brief glimpse of a ghastly face in the glow of a struck match.
    The murderer's noiseless approach and escape seems to defy all logic, and even the victim's identity is quickly thrown into uncertainty. Lorac's shrewd yet personable C.I.D. man MacDonald must set to work once again to unravel this near-impossible mystery.

Smallbone Deceased by Michael Gilbert
British Library 978-0712-35297-0, 10 January 2019, 272pp, £8.99.
Horniman, Birley and Craine is a highly respected legal firm with clients reaching to the highest in the land. When a deed box in the office is opened to reveal a corpse, the threat of scandal promises to wreak havoc on the firm's reputation - especially as the murder looks like an inside job. The partners and staff of the firm keep a watchful and suspicious eye on their colleagues, as Inspector Hazlerigg sets out to solve the mystery of who Mr Smallbone was - and why he had to die.
    Written with style, pace and wit, this is a masterpiece by one of the finest writers of traditional British crime novels since the Second World War.

Death in Captivity by Michael Gilbert
British Library 978-0712-35213-0, 10 February 2019, 288pp, £8.99.
A man is found dead in an escape tunnel in an Italian prisoner-of-war camp. Did he die in an accidental collapse - or was this murder? Captain Henry `Cuckoo' Goyles, master tunneller and amateur detective, takes up the case.
    This classic locked-room mystery with a closed circle of suspects is woven together with a thrilling story of escape from the camp, as the Second World War nears its endgame and the British prisoners prepare to flee into the Italian countryside.

Death Has Deep Roots by Michael Gilbert
British Library 978-0712-35228-4, 10 March 2019, 256pp, £8.99
At the Central Criminal Court, an eager crowd awaits the trial of Victoria Lamartine, an active participant in the Resistance during the war. She is now employed at the Family Hotel in Soho, where Major Eric Thoseby has been found murdered.
    The cause of death? A stabbing reminiscent of techniques developed by the Maquisards. While the crime is committed in England, its roots are buried in a vividly depicted wartime France. Thoseby is believed to have fathered Lamartine's child, and the prosecution insist that his death is revenge for his abandonment of Lamartine and her arrest by the Gestapo.
    A last-minute change in Lamartine's defence counsel grants solicitor Nap Rumbold just eight days to prove her innocence, with the highest of stakes should he fail.
    The proceedings of the courtroom are interspersed with Rumbold's perilous quest for evidence, which is aided by his old wartime comrades.

Surfeit of Suspects by George Bellairs
British Library 978-0712-35238-3, 10 April 2019, 288pp, £8.99.
Following a mysterious explosion, the offices of Excelsior Joinery Company are no more; the 3 directors are killed and the peace of a quiet town in Surrey lies in ruins.
    When the supposed cause of ignited gas leak is dismissed and the presence of dynamite revealed, Superintendent Littlejohn of Scotland Yard is summoned to the scene. But beneath the sleepy veneer of Evingden lies a hotbed of deep-seated grievances. Confounding Littlejohn's investigation is an impressive cast of suspicious persons, each concealing their own axe to grind.
    Bellairs' novel of small-town grudges with calamitous consequences revels in the abundant possible solutions to the central crime as a masterpiece of misdirection.

Murder in the Mill Race by E. C. R. Lorac
British Library 978-0712-35268-0, 10 May 2019, 288pp, £8.99.
When Dr Raymond Ferens moves to a practice at Milham in the Moor in North Devon, he and his wife are enchanted with the beautiful hilltop village lying so close to moor and sky. At first they see only its charm, but soon they begin to uncover its secrets - envy, hatred and malice.
    Everyone says that Sister Monica, warden of a children's home, is a saint - but is she? A few months after the Ferens' arrival her body is found drowned in the mill race. Chief Inspector Macdonald faces one of his most difficult cases in a village determined not to betray its dark secrets to a stranger.

Deep Waters. Murder on the Waves, ed. Martin Edwards
British Library 978-0712-35288-8, 10 June 2019, 288pp, £8.99.
From picturesque canals to the swirling currents of the ocean, a world of secrets lies buried beneath the surface of the water. Dubious vessels crawl along riverbeds, while the murky depths conceal more than one gruesome murder.
    The stories in this collection will dredge up delight in crime fiction fans, as watery graves claim unintended dwellers and disembodied whispers penetrate the sleeping quarters of a ship's captain. How might a thief plot their escape from a floating crime scene? And what is to follow when murder victims, lost to the ocean floor, inevitably resurface?
    This British Library anthology uncovers the best mysteries set below the surface, including stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, William Hope Hodgson and R. Austin Freeman.

(* Originally published  21 February 2015; updated and expanded 1 August 2015; updated and expanded 12 December 2015; 4 June 2016; 12 December 2015; 7 January 2017; 21 April 2017; 19 March 2018; 12 June 2018; 15 October 2018.)