Spotlight: British Library Crime Classics
If you’re anything like us, you’ll have spent the last few months caressing the British Library crime classics. Beautifully designed, these historical gems have been rediscovered by the British Library and are now receiving the recognition they deserve.
Deliciously clever and delightfully entertaining, once you’ve picked one up it’s impossible to put it down – and once you’ve finished it, you’ll want to read them all.
Spotlight on Crime: British Library Crime Classics
The Lake District Murder by John Bude
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.
Murder in Piccadilly by Charles Kingston
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.
Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay
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.
The Cornish Coast Murder by John Bude
Reverend Dodd, vicar of the quiet Cornish village of Boscawen, spends his evenings reading detective stories by the fireside – 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.
Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel Hay
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. Brandon
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 Murder by John Bude
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.
Antidote to Venom by Freeman Willis Crofts
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?
Have you read any of the British Library crime classics? Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!