CIS: Ten top crime classics from Bloomsbury Reader

•button-150x150For the entire month of September 2016, we’ve been celebrating the best crime fiction of years gone by. Classics in September is a hit with readers, and our sponsor Bloomsbury Reader is one of the publishers out there that has been unearthing Golden Age crime fiction and reprinting it for modern audiences. They started off with eBooks and now they’re doing paperback classics as well. With writers like Margery Allingham, Edmund Crispin and Ann Bridge all being discovered by today’s mystery-loving audience, we thought we’d bring you 10 unmissable classics all from the Bloomsbury Reader stable…

bewareofthetrainsBeware of the Trains by Edmund Crispin
How acute are your powers of perception? Do they begin to match those of Gervase Fen, Oxford don and sleuth supreme? These 16 short stories are classic examples of Fen’s crime-solving prowess. A professor of English at Oxford by trade, he is also an eager amateur criminologist which leads to him becoming involved in a host of compelling murder mysteries. His intuition uncovers the most insoluble clues when even the best brains in the police force are baffled. These stories also allow you, the reader, to flex your own crime-solving muscles: each one contains all the clues needed to anticipate its outcome, using a delicate combination of logic and common sense… with a bit of ingenuity thrown in!
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The Glimpses of the Moon, Edmund Crispin, Golden Age, crime novel, mysteryThe Glimpses of the Moon, by Edmund Crispin
Death and decapitation seem to go hand in hand in the Devon village of Aller. When the first victim’s head is sent floating down the river, the village’s rural calm is shattered. Soon the corpses are multiplying, and the entire community is involved in the hunt for the murderer. While many chase false trails, it is left to Gervase Fen, Oxford don and amateur criminologist, to uncover the sordid truth. Equal parts compelling, witty and ingenuous, this novel is a classic example of great British detective fiction. Looking back at this book, PD James commented that it has ‘marvellous comic sense.’
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fencountry300Fen Country by Edmund Crispin
Dandelions, hearing aids, a blood-stained cat, a Leonardo drawing, a corpse with an alibi, and a truly poisonous letter… these are just some of the unusual clues that Oxford don and amateur detective Gervase Fen and his friend Inspector Humbleby are confronted with in this sparkling collection of short mystery stories by one of the great masters of detective fiction, Edmund Crispin. Employing this skilful balance between ingenuity and humour, the author lays out all the clues so that we are given the opportunity to solve each crime by ourselves before it is done so immaculately by the eccentric but immensely gifted Professor Fen. First published posthumously in 1979, Fen Country is Edmund Crispin’s second collection of short stories. (See Beware of the Trains, above.)
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frequenthearses300Frequent Hearses by Edmund Crispin
Stars, starlets, floozies and factotums of the film world – Gervase Fen suspects them all. When young actress Gloria Scott throws herself from Waterloo Bridge, the news sends shockwaves through her film studio. Luckily Gervase Fen, Oxford Don and amateur criminologist, is around to investigate. But when someone acts fast to cover up any evidence – removing all signs of Ms Scott’s identity from her apartment and poisoning a suspicious cameraman – the truth is hard to find. Crispin’s seventh novel, Frequent Hearses, is a fantastic example of great British detective fiction.
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movingtoyshopThe Moving Toyshop, by Edmund Crispin (US only)
Richard Cadogan’s Oxford holiday turns into a mystery-solving adventure full of dangerous twists and unexpected turns. After an eventful train journey, Cadogan arrives in Oxford late at night only to realise that he has forgotten the exact address of his stay. Relying on a distant memory of the place he boarded in years ago he accidentally enters a toyshop where, to his surprise and fright, he finds the dead body of a woman. Knocked out and locked in the store room, Cadogan emerges to find that the body is gone and the toyshop has turned inexplicably into a grocery store. Luckily for the puzzled poet his old university friend Gervase Fen is there, ready to plunge into the midst of this mystery. The Moving Toyshop is Edmund Crispin’s most famous novel featuring eccentric amateur detective, Gervase Fen.

caseofthegildedflyThe Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin (US only)
The Case of the Gilded Fly is Edmund Crispin’s debut novel and also the first Gervase Fen mystery. It is October 1940 and, at Oxford University, the term has just begun. Robert Warner, an up-and-coming playwright known for his experimental approach, has chosen an Oxford repertory theatre for the premiere of his latest play, Metromania. Together with his cast he comes to Oxford to rehearse a week before the opening, but Warner’s troupe is a motley crew of actors among whom is the beautiful but promiscuously dangerous Yseut Haskell. She causes quite a stir with her plots, intrigues and love triangles. When she is found shot dead everyone is puzzled and worried – most of the actors have had a reason to get rid of the femme fatale and few have alibis. The police are at a loss for answers and are ready to proclaim the incident as suicide, but Gervase Fen, an Oxford don who thrives on solving mysteries, is ready to delve further.
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crimeatblackdudleyThe Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham (US only)
George Abbershaw is set for a social weekend at Black Dudley manor, hosted by Wyatt Petrie and his elderly uncle Colonel Combe, who enjoys the company of bright young things. With Meggie Oliphant in attendance, George looks forward to the chance of getting closer to the girl he’s set his heart on. But when murder spoils the party, the group soon find out that not only is there a killer in their midst, but the house is under the control of notorious criminals. Trapped and at their mercy, George must find a way to thwart their diabolical plans while getting himself and Meggie out alive. Luckily for Abbershaw, among the guests is Albert Campion – a garrulous and affable party-crasher with a great knack for solving mysteries and interrogating suspects. The Crime at Black Dudley, first published in 1929, is the first novel to introduce Margery Allingham’s amiable and much loved sleuth, Albert Campion.

mysterymileMystery Mile by Margery Allingham (US only)
Albert Campion is sailing home when he saves the life of fellow passenger, Judge Crowdy Lobbett. Hunted by the notoriously deadly Simister gang, it seems as though the judge’s troubles have followed him from America. Determined to catch the infamous gang leader, Albert bundles the judge, along with his son Marlowe and beautiful daughter Isopel, to the manor at Mystery Mile, where he hopes to lure the villain out into the open. But the safe haven of Mystery Mile is soon invaded by danger, and when people start disappearing, the race to uncover the enigma of their enemy’s true identity becomes ever more urgent. Mystery Mile, first published in 1930, is the second Margery Allingham novel starring eccentric and well-loved amateur sleuth, Albert Campion.

maladyinmadeiraThe Malady in Madeira, by Ann Bridge
The last thing recently widowed Julia Probyn expects to find on the lush and charming island of Madeira is a clue to her husband’s mysterious death, after Colonel Jamieson perished somewhere in the wilds of Central Asia while on a top secret mission for British Intelligence. Julia arrives at Madeira with her infant son and his devoted nanny, and is soon set upon by a series of strange, sinister, but apparently unconnected events. Displaying her usual intuitive flair for deduction, Julia soon concludes that the Russians are experimenting with a powerful new chemical. But why? What was her husband’s last mission really all about? Keeping a firm grip on her nerves and her imagination, Julia forces herself to learn the exact and painful details surrounding the abortive mission and her husband’s death.
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juliainirelandJulia in Ireland by Ann Bridge
While on her last assignment with British Intelligence in Morocco, the widowed Julia Probyn Jamieson meets and is strongly attracted to an Irish country lawyer, Gerald O’Brien. Her quiet vacation is interrupted when she stumbles upon a plot by a land speculator who, with the unwitting aid of an attractive American woman and an Irish poet, is surreptitiously buying a strip of land along the coast for the purpose of building a huge resort hotel and casino. The intrepid Julia is drawn in as a participant when she joins O’Brien in his investigation of this devious scheme, which will destroy the wild beauty of the coast and disrupt the peace of the community. Ann Bridge has woven a web of intrigue against the background of a remote Irish village, its people, and their customs.
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For more classics published by Bloomsbury Reader, click here and here. The publisher is sponsoring Classics in September all month here on Crime Fiction Lover.

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