Selections From The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books

In 2018, Martin Edwards, crime author and editor of 38 crime anthologies, published The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books in which he explores the development of crime fiction from 1901 to 1950 and offers up not only 100 novels, but also recommends a number of other titles. In the opening paragraph of his introduction, Martin Edwards says, “ This book tells the story of crime fiction published during the first half of the twentieth century. I see it as a tale of the unexpected. The diversity of this much-loved genre is breathtaking, and so much greater than many critics have suggested. To illustrate this, I have chosen one hundred examples of books which highlight the achievements, and sometimes the limitations, of popular fiction of that era.”

The members of the Crime and Mystery Book Club from the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts Library picked out and read the following books from this list:

Murder of a Lady (1931) by Anthony Wynne

Murder at Cambridge (1932) by Q Patrick

The Middle Temple Murders (1922) by J.S. Fletcher

The Blotting Book (1908) by E.F. Benson

Clouds of Witness (1923) by Dorothy L Sayers

The Case of the Late Pig (1937) by Margery Allingham

The Nursing Home Murders (1935) by Ngaio Marsh

Death at Broadcasting House (1934) by Val Gielgud and Holt Marvell

The Moving Toy Shop (1946) by Edmund Crispin

The Hollow Man (1935) by John Dickson Carr

Trent’s Last Case (1913) by E.C. Bentley

The Red House Mystery (1922) by A.A. Milne

The Mystery of the Butcher’s Shop (1930) by Gladys Mitchell

The Perfect Murder Case (1929) by Christopher Bush

At the Villa Rose (1928) by A.E.W. Mason

Locked Room Mysteries We Have Read

A Selection of Green Penguins from the SMSA Crime Book Club

In this meeting we read books that had been published as a green Penguin. The original idea, according to wikipedia, was established by Penguin Books, a British publishing house that was established in 1935 that sold inexpensive paperbacks through high street stores.

"From the outset, design was essential to the success of the Penguin brand. Eschewing the illustrated gaudiness of other paperback publishers, Penguin opted for the simple appearance of three horizontal bands, the upper and lower of which were colour-coded according to which series the title belonged to; this is sometimes referred to as the horizontal grid. In the central white panel, the author and title were printed in Gill Sans and in the upper band was a cartouche with the legend "Penguin Books". The initial design was created by the then 21-year-old office junior Edward Young, who also drew the first version of the Penguin logo. Series such as Penguin Specials and The Penguin Shakespeare had individual designs (by 1937 only S1 and B1-B18 had been published).

The colour schemes included: orange and white for general fiction, green and white for crime fiction, cerise and white for travel and adventure, dark blue and white for biographies, yellow and white for miscellaneous, red and white for drama; and the rarer purple and white for essays and belles lettres and grey and white for world affairs. Lane actively resisted the introduction of cover images for several years. Some recent publications of literature from that time have duplicated the original look."

What a great design and marketing idea that has been fabulously executed and has been renewed throughout the years. This meant that the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts Library's Crime and Mystery Book Club members had a plethora of books to choose from to read. For the latest list you can go here to Penguin Australia. Here is a list of what was read by the group.

The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

The Godwulf Manuscript by Robert B Parker

Duet of Death by Hilda Lawrence

The 39 Steps by John Buchan

Frequent Hearses by Edmund Crispin

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

The Glass-sided Ant's Nest by Peter Dickinson

Traitor's Purse; Death of a Ghost; The Fashion in Shrouds by Margery Allingham

Bullet in the Ballet by Caryl Brahms & S.J. Simon

The Caterpillar Cop by James McClure

The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton

Death At The President's Lodging by Michael Innes

Recommendations from SMSA Crime and Mystery Book Club featuring Travel