Do you like classic mysteries? I do!
Mystery fans may have noticed our mystery display highlighting new editions of classic mysteries. For many years, lovers of classic British or American mysteries were limited to Agatha Christie or Dorothy L. Sayers. Perhaps they might find an old copy of an Ellery Queen mystery or a book by Mary Roberts Reinhart in a used bookstore or the library. Now, mystery lovers have a plethora of choices in reissued classic mysteries. In 2015, the British Library started publishing lesser known golden age British mysteries. Since then, the Library of Congress and American Mystery Classics (presented by Otto Penzler) have started reissuing American classics.
The British Library Crime Classics book series is a series of period-style paperbacks that celebrate the British detective stories from the Golden Age of crime. The series includes collections as selected by Martin Edwards and books by authors such as John Bude, E.C.R. Lorac, Freeman Croft Willis, Jefferson Farajon, Mavis Doriel Hay, Carol Carnac and more. The collection includes several themed anthologies, such as Blood on the Tracks: Railway Mysteries, Miraculous Mysteries: Locked Room Mysteries and Impossible Crimes, and Murder at the Manor: Country House Mysteries. The Curtis collection currently has 73 British Library Crime Classics — a new book is issued every three months.
The Library of Congress Crime Classics series features some of the finest American crime writing from the 1860s to the 1960s. Drawn from the Library’s unequalled collections, series editor and mystery expert Leslie S. Klinger has selected scarce and lesser known titles that represent a range of genres, from “cozies” to police procedurals. Priced and formatted for wide readership and classrooms, each volume includes the original text, as well as a contextual introduction, brief biography of the author, notes, recommendations for further reading, and suggested discussion questions. Crime Classics are published by Poisoned Pen Press, an imprint of Sourcebooks, in association with the Library of Congress.
American Mystery Classics is dedicated to reissuing classic American mystery fiction in new hardcover and paperback editions. The books are distributed by W. W. Norton. Each book has been personally selected by Otto Penzler, whose more than forty years of experience as an editor, critic, publisher, and bookseller brings an unparalleled expertise to the line.
The series are searchable under keyword in the library catalog.
Here are some titles. Click on the title to check availability and request!
British Library Crime Classics
The Man Who Didn’t Fly by Margot Bennett (originally published 1955)
Four men were due to fly to Dublin. When disaster strikes and the plane goes down over the Irish sea, only three of them were on board. With the identities of the flyers scattered to the winds, the police turn to the Wade family, whose patchy account and memory of their past few days hold the key to this elusive and tense mystery. Who was the man who didn’t fly? And what did he have to gain by not? Proof in one novel that Margot Bennett’s tight and suspenseful writing is long overdue rediscovery. Also includes the rare short story ‘No Bath for the Browns”.
Calamity in Kent by John Rowland (1950)
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.
Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville (1934)
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.
Checkmate to Murder by E. C. R. Lorac (1944)
On a dismally foggy night in Hampstead, London, a curious party has gathered in an artist’s studio to weather the wartime blackout A civil servant and a government scientist are matching wits in a game of chess, while an artist paints the portrait of his characterful sitter, bedecked in Cardinal’s robes at the other end of the room. In the kitchen, the artist’s sister is hosting the charlady of the miser next door. When the brutal murder of said miser is discovered by his Canadian infantryman nephew, it’s not long before Inspector Macdonald of Scotland Yard is at the scene, faced with perplexing alibis and with the fate of the young soldier in his hands. In the search for the culprit, Macdonald and his team of detectives must figure out if one of the members of the studio party is somehow involved in the death, or if some other scurrilous neighbour could be responsible.
Library of Congress Crime Classics
Last Seen Wearing by Hilary Waugh (1952)
It’s a perfectly ordinary morning for Lowell Mitchell at her perfectly normal university in Massachusetts. She goes to her Friday morning history class, heads back to her dormitory, and spends time talking to her roommate. But nothing is ordinary about her disappearance twelve hours later. Considered one of the first-ever police procedurals, Last Seen Wearing is riveting in its accurate portrayal of an official police investigation. Based on the true-crime story of a Bennington College co-ed who disappeared in 1946, this, the next installment in the Library of Congress Crime Classics, is an engrossing, nail-biting mystery.
The Rat Began to Gnaw the Rope by C. W. Grafton (1943)
The Rat Began to Gnaw the Rope follows Gil Henry, a Kentucky lawyer who begins investigating a stock fraud and winds up investigating a murder. When Ruth McClure approaches Gil and asks him to investigate the stock she inherited from her father, he reluctantly agrees, never expecting to be embroiled in scandal, subterfuge, and murder. But the more he digs the deeper the manipulation scheme goes, and it becomes unclear whether Gil will find a way out. In this portrait of pre-WWII America, this exceptional mystery combines fast-paced plotting and a breezy writing style with C.W. Grafton’s thorough knowledge of the law. Grafton was also one of the first to add humor to the hard-boiled style of Hammett and Chandler.
That Affair Next Door by Anna Katharine Green (1897)
That Affair Next Door follows Miss Amelia Butterworth, an inquisitive single woman who becomes involved in a murder investigation after the woman next door turns up dead. Miss Amelia Butterworth is unmarried but quite content as an observer of human nature-until late one evening she notices a man and woman enter the supposedly empty house next door, whose owners are away on a trip abroad. Suspiciously, the man leaves the house some time later, but the woman doesn’t follow. The next morning Miss Butterworth finds the woman dead, mysteriously crushed under a cabinet. When Detective Ebenezer Gryce takes on the case, Miss Butterworth decides to take matters into her own hands and solve the murder herself.
The Metropolitan Opera Murders by Helen Traubel (1951)
When the prompter falls dead during the second act of Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre during a matinee performance at the Metropolitan Opera, as one can imagine, it causes quite a stir, especially when it is discovered that the deceased, a one time world famous Heldentenor has been poisoned. The detective assigned to the case, Lt. Quentin, finds himself immersed in the back stage drama of professional opera. His task is made more difficult when he decides that it had really been the star soprano who had been the intended victim, and not the prompter. Will he be able to solve the case before there is another Metropolitan Opera Murder?
American Mystery Classics
Eight Faces at Three by Craig Rice (1939)
Jake Justus sets out to investigate the murder of Holly Inglehart’s great-aunt–a murder for which Holly is the prime suspect–with the assistance of socialite Helene Brand and lawyer John J. Malone.
Case of the Shoplifter’s Shoe by Erle Stanley Gardner (1938)
Sleuthing attorney Perry Mason can’t resist a good mystery, so when he sees an older woman being accused of shoplifting during a department store outing with his assistant, Della Street, he doesn’t hesitate to intervene. Armed with an assumption of innocence and the legal acumen to silence her accuser, Mason leaps to the woman’s defense–until her niece appears, acknowledging her aunt’s guilt, and pays for the stolen items. Soon thereafter, Aunt Sarah is accused of stealing a valuable set of diamonds, and her niece, Virginia, enlists Mason’s aid. The man who left the jewels in Sarah’s care insists that she didn’t take them, but when he turns up dead, she’s left with nobody to vouch for her. Nobody, that is, but Perry Mason–expert in the art of defending the innocent.
The Egyptian Cross Mystery by Ellery Queen (1932)
Ellery Queen investigates a series of bizarre murders that lead to a mysterious religious cult. Crucifixion on Christmas Day.” That’s what the newspapers report when a small-town school teacher is discovered dead, beheaded, and tied to a T-shaped cross on December 25th. When he arrives, Queen is met with too few clues and too little evidence to produce a satisfactory verdict, even for a master sleuth such as himself, and so returns home to New York defeated. The yuletide gore is a distant memory when the next such murder occurs, identical in every way, but now the location has moved to Long Island. When Ellery Queen learns that the sun-worshipping nudist cult he encountered down south has made the same relocation, it becomes clear that the group and the killings must be intertwined. But then several more crucifixion murders follow, drawing Queen deeper into a tangled and eerie puzzle unlike anything he’s encountered before.
Murder on “B” Deck by Vincent Starrett (1929)
For the passengers aboard the Latakia, the transatlantic journey from New York to Cherbourg promises weeks of rest and relaxation, no matter what class of ticket they have. But after an Italian baroness is found strangled in her cabin, the situation on board becomes more tense. The main suspect soon goes overboard, creating more questions than answers: Did a guilty conscience spur a suicidal act, or was he a witness silenced by the true killer, still at large on the luxury liner. Enter former intelligence officer Walter Ghost, tapped by the ship’s captain to play detective and solve the murder. He’s joined by his friend Dunsten Mollock, a novelist whose experience with mystery stories gives him helpful insights into the case. With clues including an amateur film, a doll, and a card from Memphis, Tennessee, it seems the duo have plenty to work with. But will they be able to solve the crime before word of the murder makes it into the steamship’s rumor mill, surely sending any guilty persons even deeper into hiding?
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