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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Comerford Watson

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Comerford Watson was a commercial artist and designer from whom book illustration appears to have been a minor sideline. He was, however, known to Percy F. Westerman collectors as the illustrator of three of his adventure stories in the 1930s.

He was born on 14 May 1885 in Longtown, Cumberland, and baptized, as William Comerford Watson, on 31 May 1885 at Arthuret, Cumberland. His father, James Watson, was a house painter, born in Carlisle in around 1855. By the time of the 1891 census, the family had moved 32 miles south-west to the coastal village of Silloth, and within ten years they had moved again, to 13 River Street, Carlisle. William was recorded as a lithographic artist apprentice, which is presumably how he learnt his craft as an artist and illustrator.

By 1906, Watson had moved to Manchester, where he was admitted as an apprentice designer to the Amalgamated Society of Lithographic Artists, Designers, Engravers and Process Workers. He was excluded from the Society in 1913, presumably because he failed to pay his membership dues. He had, by then, moved to London, where in the 1911 census he was living at 19 Fawcett Street, Kensington, recorded as a lithographic artist boarding with Jane Alice Mason and two other lodgers. (For some reason, the census records his birth place as Canobie, Scotland, which appears to be a complete fiction).

During the First World War he served in the Royal Flying Corps, rising to the rank of Lieutenant and acting as a Balloon Officer. He was Mentioned in Despatches in March 1919, although almost immediately after this was he was demobilised. His home address then was given as 55 Redcliffe Road, Chelsea, although he soon moved back to Fawcett Street, lodging with James and Emily Chapman at 3 Fawcett Street between 1920 and 1924. In 1929, he was living at 4 Langham Mansions, Earls Court Square, Kensington, and he had by then also acquired a studio at New Court, Carey Street, Holborn, which he used for at least ten years between 1929 and 1939. In 1930, he was one of the founder members of the Society of Industrial Artists.

This gives a clue as to the nature of most of Watson’s work, which would have been for companies on, for example, product and graphic design. He had, however, done a small amount of illustrative work prior to this, including contributing to Cassell’s Magazine of Fiction, The New Magazine and Britannia and Eve in the 1920s. His book illustration work appears to have begun in 1931, for Blackie & Son – he went on to illustrate a handful of girls’ school stories, plus a few boys’ adventure stories, most notably three by Percy F. Westerman. More in tune with his main line of work were his illustrations for five science books, written by E.N.C. Andrade and Julian Huxley, published between 1932 and 1935.

In 1938 he married Emily Louise Mason (born in Chelsea on 14 October 1872) at Kensington Register Office. They were living at Flat 16, 294 Old Brompton Road, Kensington, with Watson described in the 1939 Register as an “Artist – advertising and consultant.” He was also listed in that year’s Kelly’s Directory at 16 Redcliffe, Richmond Road, Kensington. What, if anything, he did during the Second World War is not known.

His versatility as an artist came to the fore in the 1950s, when he illustrated a couple of books for younger children, both in different styles. He was also probably the “W.C. Watson” who collaborated with the BBC Children’s Hour presenter Derek McCulloch, alias “Uncle Mac”, on a Ladybird book, In the Train with Uncle Mac, first published in 1955 and frequently reprinted.

When his wife died, on 4 January 1953, he was living at 20 Castlenau Mansions, Barnes, Surrey. The last book with his illustrations appeared four years later. He died, at 4 Old Roar Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, on 24 October 1975, leaving a small estate worth just £869 (about £15,000 in today’s terms).


Books illustrated by Comerford Watson
Cherries in Search of a Captain by Catherine Mary Christian, Blackie & Son, 1931
Catriona Carries On by Doris Alice Pocock, Blackie & Son, 1931
Rosemary at St. Anne’s by Joy Francis, Blackie & Son, 1932
King for a Month by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1933
The Corsair of the Skies by Arthur Guy Vercoe, Blackie & Son, 1934
Sleuths of the Air by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1935
Tireless Wings by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1936
Odds Against by A. Harcourt Burrage, Evans Brothers, 1937
The Red Thumb Mark by R. Austin Freeman, University of London Press, 1952 (re-issue)
The Purple Muffin Book by Ann Hogarth, Hodder & Stoughton, 1953 (with other artists)
In the Train with Uncle Mac by Derek McCulloch, Wills & Hepworth, 1955
The Palace of the Ants by Courtney Douglas Farmer, Schofield & Sims, 1957

Science books by E.N.Da C. Andrade & Julian Huxley, published by Basil Blackwell:
An Introduction to Science 1932
An Introduction to Science – Book 2: Science and Life, 1933
An Introduction to Science - Book 3: Forces at Work, 1934
Simple Science, 1934
More Simple Science: Earth and Man, 1935

Friday, March 23, 2018

Comic Cuts - 23 March 2018

The last of the essays for volume 3 of Forgotten Authors was finished on Monday evening, and I'm now in the process of re-reading and re-writing the essays that will make up the contents of the book. The first drafts total around 67,000 words and I'm not expecting that to grow by too much.

The rewrites can even bring the word count down in places, removing repetition and unnecessary details. It's not unknown for me to include everything including the kitchen sink, but do we really need to know who manufactured the taps? At the same time, there may be some revision needed for clarity, but it's rare that I need to do wholesale revision, thankfully.

There's still some way to go. I'm still rewriting – I'm about half-way through at the time of writing – after which I'll be able to create a single master document that will become both the print book and e-book versions of the finished volume. Once all the footnotes are sorted out (they become end-notes in the e-book version), I still have to do a bit of design on the print version, compile and index and put together a cover. So, the book is still a couple of weeks away from publication. Early April, I reckon.

Some time after that, the long-time-coming Don Lawrence book will be published by Book Palace as an Illustrators Special. This was finished and ready to go a couple of years ago but the whole thing went belly-up when the pound collapsed following the Brexit vote. Books printed in China (high quality, relatively cheap) suddenly cost 10% more overnight because they are paid for in dollars, not sterling. While the pound has recovered slightly, it's still down on pre-Brexit exchange rates.

So I've had it sitting on my computer for eighteen months and eventually Geoff West suggested putting it out as part of his Illustrators magazine. So that's what we're doing. It's due in Spring... and the Spring Equinox was on Tuesday, so it could be out any time now. More likely in the next month or two.

The book is a bit of a scrapbook gathering up all of Don Lawrence's educational and children's illustrations from Ranger, Bible Story, Look and Learn, Speed & Power and Once Upon a Time. There's some quite scarce material included, including Herod the Great, The Range Rider, Pinocchio, Jason and the Golden Fleece, etc. as well as all of his one-off illustrations. I'll try to confirm the release date and dig out a few examples of what's included for next week.

We went to see Richard Herring on Wednesday. This is one of only a handful of gigs we've been to this year – last month we saw Lucy Porter and Ellie Taylor; this month it's Richard Herring and Jon Robins.

I've seen Herring on his last eight tours and enjoyed most of his output over the same period, which has included hundreds of podcasts (RHLSTP... and I was there for RHEFP, AIOTM and various others). A lot of his output is crowd funded and, via Go Faster Stripe, you can buy books and DVDs that will keep all these various projects going while tours and commercial work (like the delightful Radio 4 comedy Relativity) pays his bills. GFS also have plenty of other worthwhile products from other comedians and they deserve your support.

As for the gig, Herring celebrated turning fifty in the show, comparing his current life with the life of his younger, forty-year-old self when he was a directionless, sexually active and deeply happy man about town; he's swapped that for the life of a married man with a wife, two children and a dog. You can see his progress through the titles of his shows, from the early angry exclamation (Christ on a Bike, Talking Cock) to the far cheerier shows of later years (Happy Now, The Best).

Time, too, for the annual photo.

Adding to the catalogue of people I knew who have recently died, I have to mention John Stewart, who lived locally to us. I first met John at the Wivenhoe Memories Exhibition, which he hosted every year beginning in the 1980s. We first visited the exhibition in 2011 and it was there that I discovered Harry "Iron Mask" Bensley for the first time. John had gathered together a small collection of postcards from Bensley's "Walk Around the World" which I was able to use as illustrations in the Iron Mask book. John also unearthed a photo of Bensley which appeared in the book.

Random scans this week celebrate George H. Teed, who is one of the authors who appears in the new Forgotten Authors volume. He is probably my favourite Sexton Blake author and had an incredible career as a world traveller and author. He set his stories around the globe and when he described something, you could be pretty sure it was something he had seen. 


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Commando issues 5107-5110

Brand new Commando issues released today! Go toe to toe with our feuding footballers, survive a flight in a jinxed Lanc. bomber, hold off Iraqi patrols in the Kuwait desert, and beat the Nazis in their own treasure hunt!

5107: Toe to Toe
Trading one fighting field for another (of sorts), our Tommy heroes, Jake Reilly and Tony Parsons, may appear allies, but when they’re captured in North Africa and taken to an Italian POW camp, old feuds flame up. Bitter rivals, Reilly was a top striker (and penalty pusher), while Parsons was a hard-headed goalie for a rival team. When the war broke out, they thought their playing days were over, but they were wrong…
    In a perfect pairing, George Low combines two great British favourites, Commando and football, in a charming satire of European rivalries, transposing the battlefield for a football pitch. Janek Matysiak’s cover also adds credence to this, showing the pivotal match through the barbed wire of the the POW camp fence.

Story George Low
Art: Morhain
Cover: Janek Matysiak

5108: They Flew by Night
J-for-Jig or J-for-Jinx? The RAF were notorious for their superstitions, but when one Lanc. bomber caused the death of every pilot who flew her, everyone agreed the aircraft was hoodoo. Everyone, that is, except Titch Bradbury. A daring pilot, who was maybe just a tad too cocksure, Titch didn’t believe in that tommyrot, and he’d prove it or die trying!
    Penned by the editorial team at DC Thomson, who certainly knew a thing or two about the RAF, with Commando’s own editor Chick Checkley flying with them from 1941-46, and interior art by Gordon C. Livingtone, this Golden Age reprint will delight new and old fans alike.

Story: Staff
Art: Gordon C. Livingstone
Cover: Gordon C. Livingstone
Originally Commando No. 516 (December 1970).

5109: Doctor’s Orders
Captain Tom Stewart never thought he’d find himself stranded in Iraqi-occupied territory in Kuwait, bleeding internally, closer and closer to death each second. He never thought his only chance of survival would lie in the hands of US Navy Captain Doctor Jane Daly, or that she would save his life with the only tools at her disposal: a torch, a pen tube, and a penknife. It was going to be one long night…
    Iain McLaughlin’s Gulf War story is one of survival, as time and terrain pose as much of a threat as the Iraqi soldiers who track our heroes. This exhilarating cat and mouse tale is then combined with an effectual cover, featuring our trio of heroes, and pristine interiors by Manuel Benet.

Story: Iain McLaughlin
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

5110: Fools’ Gold
Mike Barclay signed up to fight for his country – not cook for it! He only wanted to see combat, but after his squadron was attacked by Jerries, Mike was forced to flee with a group of Tommies led by Sid Blacke. Mike was in for another shock though, as he discovered that Sid wasn’t leading them back to Allied lines – but to hidden treasure, buried deep in ruins in the North African desert. Now, surrounded by deserters, with war crimes mounting, Mike’s chance of escape was dwindling, as friend and foe raced towards the fools’ gold!
    With stunning interior illustrations by Keith Shone, highlighted by the white lettered captions on the deep blacks of the tomb interiors, Anthony Knowles’ treasure hunt adventure is full of twists and turns, as greed turns everyone against our hero.

Story: Anthony Knowles
Art: Keith Shone
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 2730 (January 1994).

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 21–22 March 2018.

2000AD Prog 2073
Cover: Greg Staples
JUDGE DREDD: FIT FOR PURPOSE by Rob Williams (w) Chris Weston (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
JAEGIR: IN THE REALM OF PYRRHUS by Gordon Rennie (w) Simon Coleby (a) Len O'Grady (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
FUTURE SHOCKS: FREEDOM WEARS TWO FACES by James Peaty (w) Dylan Teague (a) Simon Bowland  (l)
SINISTER DEXTER: by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) john Charles (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
ANDERSON, PSI DIVISION: UNDERTOW by Emma Beeby (w) David Roach (a) Jose Villarrubia (c) Simon Bowland (l)
JUDGE FEAR: MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS by Kek-W (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
STRONTIUM DOG: THE SON by John Wagner (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine 394
Cover: Alex Ronald
JUDGE DREDD: KRONG ISLAND by Arthur Wyatt (w) Jake Lynch (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
THE RETURNERS: IRMAZHINA by Si Spencer (w) Nicolo Assirelli (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
LAWLESS: BREAKING BADROCK by Dan Abnett (w) Phil Winslade (a) Ellie DeVille (l)
CURSED EARTH KOBURN by Rory McConville (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Simon Bowland (l)
DREDD: THE DEAD WORLD by Arthur Wyatt & Alex De Campi (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse(l)
Features: Charley's War and interview with Robert Bliss
BAGGED GRAPHIC NOVEL: Outlier by TC Eglington (w) Karl Richardson (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

ABC Warriors: The Mek Files 04 by Pat MIlls & Clint Langley
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08623-0, 22 March 2018, 123pp, £25 / $35.99. Available via Amazon.
Continuing the legendary A.B.C. Warriors definitive collection series! Travelling across Mars to recruit their latest companion, the battle-scarred A.B.C. Warriors reminisce about their part in the Volgan War - a vicious conflict fought for oil on Earth. As the droids Hammerstein, Mongrol, Joe Pineapples, Deadlock and Blackblood all relate their memories of the war, old mysteries are revealed and ancient grudges are rekindled! This collects the first two parts of The Volgan War, Pat Mills and Clint Langley's brain-boggling A.B.C. Warriors epic!

M.A.C.H.1 – The John Probe Mission Files Vol.1 by various
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08613-1, 22 March 2018, 225pp, £16.99 / $23.00. Available via Amazon.
2000 AD’s ultra-violent answer to The Six Million Dollar Man is perfect for fans of The Prisoner and Westworld - a much-sought after series that has never been collected before! The world is a dangerous place, with terrorists, lunatics and other foreigners plotting destruction at every turn… fortunately the British Secret Service has the world’s back! And when the threats the world faces are extra-ordinary, they need an extra-ordinary man for the job. Enter secret weapon and special agent, John Probe. Using the technology of computerised acupuncture, they grafted a computer circuit onto his skull and inserted special electro-needles into his body and now he can increase his energy flow until he has the strength of fifty men! Terrorists and enemy agents beware! John Probe is much more than a man; he is a Man Activated by Compu-Puncture Hyperpower! This first volume collects the explosive adventures of 2000 AD’s original super-agent, M.A.C.H. 1.

Strontium Dog: Repo Men by John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08643-8, 22 March 2018, 146pp, £14.99 / $18.99. Available via Amazon.
The Search/Destroy agent Johnny Alpha is still alive. Having wreaked vengeance against the humans that plotted the ‘final solution’ to mutant-kind, he is released from prison for one last job in deep space that only a Strontium Dog can do. And with the freedom of his friends on the line he has no choice but to accept… Now that their careers as bounty hunters are off the cards, his mutant friends have a new job proposition. They are hired to repossess ‘The Rock’ - an asteroid space-station owned by a galactic crime lord - and to succeed they must pull off a heist of galactic proportions!

Monday, March 19, 2018

British Library Crime Classics

The British Library have been publishing a collection of classic crime novels of late 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. 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.

The series briefly had a companion spin-off series, the British Library Classic Thrillers.

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.
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.

(* 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.)