Monday, 9 November 2020

Celebrating the Crime Classics

It's bound to be a rather unusual Christmas this year, and I'll be among those missing a long-overdue reunion with loved ones, but it's important to remain positive. Over the coming weeks, I'll be making a few suggestions for Christmas reading and present giving - not just my own books (though I hope they will find their way into some Christmas stockings...) but also those written by a range of talented authors.

Today, though, I'd like to celebrate the British Library Crime Classics. I've really enjoyed my association with this imprint, and one particular joy has been that the books have found an enthusiastic readership not just in Britain but throughout the world. In the US, 'starred reviews' are one of the most sought-after yardsticks of a book's success, and I was amazed and gratified to be told by the US publishers Sourcebooks that the series has now garnered no fewer than thirty 'starred reviews'. The latest are for Carol Carnac's Crossed Skis and Margot Bennett's The Man Who Didn't Fly.

And here are some quotes - plenty of good gift choices here!:

"This outstanding mystery from Bennett (1912 - 1980) poses a genuinely original puzzle."  —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for The Man Who Didn't Fly

"This innovative mystery from Kelly (1927–2017) effectively uses time shifts to create suspense... a superior addition to the British Crime Classics series” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for The Spoilt Kill

“[An] intriguing entry in the British Library Crime Classics series...Carnac keeps the reader guessing to the end. Fans of clever literate murder mysteries will hope for more Carnac reissues.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for Crossed Skis

“Edwards scores again with this outstanding reprint anthology of 15 short stories set in the world of sports and games...  The British Library Crime Classics series has produced another winner.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for Settling Scores

“Excellent whodunit” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for Castle Skull

“Everything you could wish for in a country-house mystery.” —Booklist, Starred Review for Death in Fancy Dress

“In this standout entry in the British Library Crime Classics series from Gilbert... The ingenious story line is enhanced by ample doses of wit.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for Death in Fancy Dress

“Edwards combines the well-known (Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers) with the obscure (former actor Ernest Dudley) in this impressive anthology of 14 short stories featuring scientific and technical know-how. Fans of TV’s CSI will enjoy seeing the evolution of criminal forensics.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for The Measure of Malice

“A masterly job of blending whodunit, courtroom drama, and thriller...readers who like their detection balanced by action will be more than satisfied.”  —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for Death Has Deep Roots

 "Edwards’s outstanding third winter-themed anthology showcases 11 uniformly clever and entertaining stories, mostly from lesser known authors, providing further evidence of the editor’s expertise...this entry in the British Crime Classics series will be a welcome holiday gift for fans of the golden age of detection.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories

 “Ingenious reissue...Gilbert expertly combines fairly planted clues and self-referential humor. Well-drawn personalities and plausible twists are additional pluses. This high-quality whodunit deserves a wide readership.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for Smallbone Deceased

 "A terrifically atmospheric puzzler...the ending is a stunner…like the best Golden Age crime fiction.” —Booklist, Starred Review for Murder by Matchlight

 “The latest reissue in the British Library’s Crime Classics series comes from a writer long acknowledged as a trailblazer in psychological suspense…Symons keeps readers on their toes with his unreliable narrator and numerous misdirections, but he amply rewards us with a story that makes us think. A very welcome reissue.” —Booklist, Starred Review for The Colour of Murder

 “This reissue exemplifies the mission of the British Library Crime Classics series in making an outstanding and original mystery accessible to a modern audience.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for Excellent Intentions

 “This story about guests gathered at a country house for the weekend, originally published in 1934, anticipates Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, which appeared five years later…British crime novelist Martin Edwards provides his usual insightful introduction to this latest addition to the British Library Crime Classics series, letting readers know that Raymond Chandler was a huge fan of this novel. Bubbly social satire sets off a clockwork plot.” —Booklist, Starred Review for Weekend at Thrackley

 “Psychological depth enables Meredith to maintain engagement even after the killer’s identity is disclosed, and she effectively shifts points of view, incorporating that of the murderer in the crime’s aftermath and that of a character who may hold the key to achieving justice. Simple prose conveys personality in just a few words. Golden age fans will be enthralled.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for Portrait of a Murderer

 “Edwards has done mystery readers a great service by providing the first-ever anthology of golden age short stories in translation, with 15 superior offerings from authors from France, Japan, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Holland, Mexico, Russia, and elsewhere; even Anton Chekhov makes a contribution —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for Foreign Bodies

 “Originally published in 1939, this reissue in the British Library Crime Classics series from Farjeon (1883-1955) is a standout, with a particularly horrifying opening.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for Seven Dead

 “…worthy of Agatha Christie at her fiendish plotting best, centers on an elaborately staged crime scene and a vast field of suspects, including village doctors who are envious of the victim (a “bone-setter,” or homeopath). Both of these tales are deeply satisfying reads…” —Booklist, Starred Review for The Dead Shall be Raised and The Murder of a Quack

 “As with the best of such compilations, readers of classic mysteries will relish discovering unfamiliar authors, along with old favorites such as Arthur Conan Doyle (“The New Catacomb”) and G.K. Chesterton (“The Secret Garden”).” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for Continental Crimes

“The degree of suspense Crofts achieves by showing the growing obsession and planning is worthy of Hitchcock. Another first-rate reissue from the British Library Crime Classics series.” —Booklist, Starred Review for The 12.30 from Croydon

“Edwards’s second winter-themed anthology in the British Library Crime Classics series is a standout. As in the most successful of such volumes, the editor’s expertise results in a selection of unusual suspects, expanding readers’ knowledge.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review for Crimson Snow

“Not only is this a first-rate puzzler, but Crofts’ outrage over the financial firm’s betrayal of the public trust should resonate with today’s readers.” —Booklist, Starred Review for Mystery in the Channel

“The combination of bracing Cornish cliffs and seascapes with cozy interiors and a cerebral mystery makes this one of the most deservedly resurrected titles in the British Library Crime Classics series. With an introduction by modern British crime writer Martin Edwards.” —Booklist, Starred Review for The Cornish Coast Murder

“The settings of train, blizzard, and the eerily welcoming home are all engrossing. Dorothy L. Sayers characterized Farjeon as ‘unsurpassed for creepy skill in mysterious adventures.’ This reissue proves it.” —Booklist, Starred Review for Mystery in White 

“This 1931 novel, now republished as part of the British Library’s Crime Classics series, is a cunningly concocted locked-room mystery, a staple of Golden Age detective fiction.” —Booklist, Starred Review for Murder of a Lady 

“First-rate mystery and an engrossing view into a vanished world.” —Booklist, Starred Review for Death of an Airman

"Brilliant in construction and theme.” —Booklist, Starred Review for Antidote to Venom

"Worthy of Hitchcock… A wonderful rediscovery" —Booklist, Starred Review for The Sussex Downs Murder


1 comment:

Steve said...

Wonderful reviews, Martin, and here's hoping for just as many next year! -- Steve