CIS: Classics by Bloomsbury Reader part 1

Classic_Crime_150x150As you may already know, our month of classic crime here on Crime Fiction Lover comes to you with support from our sponsor, Bloomsbury Reader. This digital imprint specialises in classic crime titles, some of which have been out of print for years. These ebooks are much sought after by modern connoisseurs of Golden Age crime fiction, and are introducing new generations to the charms of that bygone period.

Today, we bring you five recommended books that Bloomsbury Reader has dusted down and republished for modern audiences. In some of today’s picks the spires of Oxford tower above the action, yet they predate perhaps the most celebrated Oxford detective – the immortal Inspector Morse – by some years.

An Oxford TragedyAn Oxford Tragedy by JC Masterman
John Cecil Masterman was a noted sportsman and academic who went on to become vice-chancellor of the university featured in his 1933 novel. A loaded revolver has been confiscated from two students, who await an uncomfortable interview with the dean. When an unpopular tutor is found shot dead – using that very revolver – the local police find themselves baffled. It is left to visiting Viennese criminologist Ernst Brendel and senior tutor Frances Wheatley-Winn to work out who fired the fatal shot. The novel might well be the very first murder mystery set against the backdrop of an Oxford college, with all the petty jealousies and intrigues that take place within those hallowed walls.
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Glimpses Of The MoonThe Glimpses of the Moon by Edmund Crispin
Another dreaming spires connection is to be found in this 1977 novel, which features the Oxford don and amateur detective Gervase Fen. He first appeared 33 years earlier in The Case of the Gilded Fly, and here action takes place away from the city in the sleepy village of Aller. Fen has retreated here to finish a difficult research paper, but is drawn into the search for the killer of an obnoxious local called Routh – who was decapitated! He is helped and hindered by a German nymphomaniac called Ortrud, and Gobbo, who clearly has learning difficulties. Author Edmund Crispin – real name Bruce Montgomery – was a fascinating character whose many accomplishments include writing the musical scores for several Carry On films.
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Death In Two PartsA Death in Two Parts by Jane Aiken Hodge
The Oxford connection continues, albeit more tenuously, with this story by Jane Aiken Hodge, who was a graduate of Somerville College. This is hardly Golden Age, as it was published in 2000, but it is unique insofar as Hodge admitted she began writing it in 1950. The story echoes this time gap. In 1950, a wealthy woman called Mrs Ffeathers is allegedly murdered, but not before taunting her closest family by leaving her fortune to a distant niece called Patience Smith. Half a century later the unsolved death of Mrs Ffeathers returns to haunt Patience. This was Hodge’s penultimate book, and she died in 2009.
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The Bad DetectiveThe Bad Detective by HRF Keating
Henry Reymond Fitzwalter ‘Harry’ Keating is best known to readers of crime fiction for his 26 Inspector Ghote novels set in Bombay – today called Mumbai. In this 1996 story he tackles the issue of police corruption. Detective Sergeant Jack Stallworthy is not bent by nature, but a demanding wife and a dwindling pension pot tip him over the edge into the land of shady deals and lost evidence. Keating’s skill is in allowing Stallworthy to make wry observations about the world around him and, while not promoting him as a worthy hero, making him someone for whom the reader feels a grudging sympathy.
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The Lighthearted QuestThe Lighthearted Quest by Ann Bridge
Ann Bridge was born Mary Ann Dolling Sanders in 1889, and as a young woman was a friend of the celebrated Everest mountaineer George Mallory. This 1956 novel was the first in a series of eight books featuring journalist investigator Julia Probyn. Perhaps reflecting Bridge’s personal love of travel and the exotic, Probyn’s adventures are global. Here she is in Morocco searching for her missing cousin, whose stated career as a dealer in oranges is quickly exposed as a cover for something more sinister. Julia is an attractive blonde who is anything but dumb, and by combining her God-given gifts with some friends in high places, she solves the riddle.
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To find out more about classic crime by Bloomsbury Reader, click here.

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