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Coming soon from THE DETECTIVE CLUB...


Harper Collins resurrects The Detective Club crime classics

HarperCollins is to publish a new series of hardback crime classics based on its very first crime imprint from the 1920s. Launching with three titles on 13th August and then monthly from September, THE DETECTIVE CLUB will include some of the most influential and popular early crime titles of all time. Having published a number of increasingly successful detective novels in the 1920s, Collins' head of publishing, Sir Godfrey Collins, launched the Detective Club in 1929 as a series of inexpensive hardbacks, mixing classics with the biggest successes of their day. This was an imprint in which classic authors such as Wilkie Collins, Sheridan Le Fanu, Robert Louis Stevenson ad Emile Gaboriau rubbed shoulders with leading writers of the day, including Agatha Christie, Edgar Wallace, Freeman Wills Croft and J Jefferson Farjeon - as well as a number of true crime books - and their dictinctive colourful jacket designs, stamped with the "masked gunman" logo, were hugely popular.


David Brawn, Publisher of Estates at HarperCollins, comments: 'THE DETECTIVE CLUB is one of HarperCollins' best-kept secrets. They chose some amazing books and published them with extraordinary jackets, which I am delighted to say we will be retaining for the new editions. In fact, THE DETECTIVE CLUB was such a success, selling more than a million books in its first year, that Collins launched a sister imprint only a year later, THE CRIME CLUB, and the two lists were merged in 1934. Now, with a renewed appetite out there for Golsen Age crime novels, I am delighted that we can use one of Collins' heritage brands from its archive to put some of these groundbreaking but forgotten books back into the hands of crime readers.'


The launch titles are THE PERFECT CRIME (aka The Big Bow Mystery) by Israel Zangwill, reputed to be the first 'locked room mystery'; CALLED BACK by Hugh Conway, about a blind witness to a murder; and THE MAYFAIR MYSTERY by satirist Frank Richardson, about the disappearance of first a corpse and then a young woman. Subsequent titles will include THE MYSTERY OF THE SKELETON KEY by Bernard Capes, the first crime novel ever commissioned by Collins; the 'impossible' THE GRELL MYSTERY by CID Chief-turned-author Frank Froest; and an edition of DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE which includes a rare sequel first written in 1890.


Each hardback will be introduced by a modern-day expert, including authors Martin Edwards (The Golden Age of Murder), John Curran (Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks), and noted editors and anthologists Richard Dalby, Tony Medawar and Hugh Lamb. The books will also be re-released as ebooks and on audio.

Israel Zangwill: The Perfect Crime

Published by Collins Crime Club, hardback on 13th August 2015

The first in a new series of classic detective stories from the vaults of HarperCollins is the world’s first locked-room mystery, a seemingly impossible crime story as powerful as any that have copied the scenario since. “The Detective Story Club”, launched by Collins in 1929, was a clearing house for the best and most ingenious crime stories of the age, chosen by a select committee of experts. Now, almost 90 years later, these books are the classics of the Golden Age, republished at last with the same popular cover designs that appealed to their original readers. Originally published as The Big Bow Mystery in 1891, and re-published by the Detective Club to coincide with a new film version called ‘The Perfect Crime’, Israel Zangwill’s novel invented the concept of the ‘locked room mystery’ and influenced almost every crime writer thereafter. ‘A man is murdered for no apparent reason. He has no enemies and there seemed to be no motive for anyone murdering him. No clues remained and the instrument with which the murder was committed could not be traced. The door of the room in which the body was discovered was locked and bolted on the inside, both windows were latched, and there was no trace of any intruder. The greatest detectives in the land were puzzled. Here indeed was the perfect crime, the work of a master mind. Can you solve the problem which baffled Scotland Yard for so long, until at last the missing link in the chain of evidence was revealed?’ This new edition includes a brand new introduction by the Golden Age crime expert, Dr John Curran, author of ‘Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks’.


Frank Richardson: The Mayfair Mystery

Published by Collins Crime Club, hardback on 13th August 2015

“This most entertaining detective story is concerned with an amazing crime. The body of a wealthy man is discovered by his valet. The valet hurried to a friend of the dead man to tell him of the tragedy. They return to find the body gone! The motive of the murder becomes a deeper mystery still, and no clue seems to lead anywhere. Little by little, however, evidence is built up round a theory, and clever detective work triumphs in the end. For ingenuity and dramatic situations “The Mayfair Mystery” is hard to beat.” First published in 1907 as 2835 Mayfair, the book had caught the imagination of the reading public for its thrilling twists, its wit and imagination, and was chosen to be one of the first 12 classic books released by the Club. This new edition comes with a brand new introduction about the history of the Detective Club by HarperCollins’ editor, David Brawn.


Hugh Conway: Called Back

Published by Collins Crime Club, hardback on 13th August 2015

“By the purest of accidents the man who is blind accidentally comes on the scene of a murder. He cannot see what is happening but he can hear. He is seen by the assassins who, on discovering him to be blind, allow him to go without harming him. Soon afterwards he recovers his sight and later falls in love with a mysterious woman who is in some way involved in the crime…. The mystery deepens and only after a series of memorable thrills is the tangled skein unravelled.” Called Back by Hugh Conway, a pseudonym for Frederick John Fargus, was first published in 1883. It was a huge success, selling 350,000 copies in its first year, leading to a highly acclaimed stage play the following year. This new edition is introduced by novelist and crime writing expert, Martin Edwards, author of The Golden Age of Murder.




The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its eighteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.