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The British Library Crime Classics Series

The British Library Crime Classics Series

The British Library have re-released titles from the Golden Age of crime writing - many have not been in print since before WW2 - they are forgotten gems and beautiful books.

Posted on 9th January 2016 by Sally Campbell

Some books just beg to be touched. They are just so attractive. Then it is a question of how to read them without damaging the cover. If ever there was a series of books that made you contemplate framing them and putting them up on your wall, it is The British Library Crime Classics series. Beautifully designed, each cover features an elegant 1930’s painting or drawing that will make you sigh for a bygone era of sophistication. They really are objects of beauty.

The old aphorism about not judging a book by its cover is, in this case, entirely false – they are just as pleasurable to read. All of the books are rediscovered classics, so while the author’s names may not be familiar to you, the stories are examples of crime writing at its finest. Intelligent, classy and usually very witty too, the books were all highly acclaimed in their day and are now finally regaining the attention they deserve. In fact, the skill with which they were written, coupled with the delight of their amusing plots, will make you wonder how they ever fell into obscurity in the first place.

Personally, I am looking forward to reading one of the newest additions to the series, Murder of A Lady by Anthony Wynne, principally because of the subtitle: “A Scottish Mystery”. As a Scottish person, I am a little biased. But if you are more inclined to look forward to your next burst of sunshine, and especially if you like to spend your summers on the Riviera (in your imagination, at least), Death on The Riviera by John Bude looks like yet another delicious, humorous, old-fashioned crime novel with more than a dash of glamour.

The story begins when Detective Inspector Meredith leaves the murk of London for the glitter of the French Riviera. With his sights set on Villa Paloma, and its bohemian house guests, he begins to realise that everyone at the luxurious villa has something to hide. The stage is set for a very refined murder.  Death on the Riviera is a breezy, balmy antidote to the current freezing January weather.


One of the first titles released in the series was The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay, a classic country-house mystery with a festive twist. The story featured a darkly comic scene where a man, dressed as Santa, discovers a dead body and immediately falls under suspicion. Unsurprisingly, the re-release was a great success.


Another exceptionally well-received title was Mystery in White, ideal wintery reading for those who are still a little sad from the lack of a white Christmas. The author, J Jefferson Farjeon, has been described as “a major figure during the Golden Age of murder between the two world wars”, and in the end, this is precisely what the series hopes to recapture: a slice of crime writing’s illustrious past.

The series is, essentially, shining a light on some of crime writing’s finest, forgotten works; it is ideal if you want to revel in crime’s Golden Age, indulge in some stylish mysteries or just line your shelves with beautiful books.

Upcoming titles in the series to look out for, that are currently available to pre-order: Calamity in Kent by John RowlandSecret of High Eldersham by Miles Burton, and Murder at the Manor by Martin Edwards.

Related books

Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story - British Library Crime Classics (Paperback)

Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story - British Library Crime Classics (Paperback)

J. Jefferson Farjeon




5 Reviews

Heavy snowfall brings a train to a halt. The passengers trapped together for Christmas, seek to unravel the secrets of an empty house when a murderer strikes in their midst.

£8.99
The Santa Klaus Murder - British Library Crime Classics (Paperback)

The Santa Klaus Murder - British Library Crime Classics (Paperback)

Mavis Doriel Hay




2 Reviews

Aunt Mildred declared that no good could come of the Melbury family Christmas gatherings at their country residence Flaxmere. So when Sir Osmond Melbury, the family patriarch, is discovered - by a guest dressed as Santa Klaus - with a bullet in his head on Christmas Day, the festivities are plunged into chaos.

£8.99
Death on the Riviera - British Library Crime Classics (Paperback)

Death on the Riviera - British Library Crime Classics (Paperback)

John Bude




1 Review

This classic crime novel from 1952 evokes all the sunlit glamour of life on the Riviera, and combines deft plotting with a dash of humour

£8.99 £6.99
Murder at the Manor: Country House Mysteries - British Library Crime Classics (Paperback)

Murder at the Manor: Country House Mysteries - British Library Crime Classics (Paperback)

Martin Edwards




1 Review

This new collection gathers together stories written over a span of about 65 years, during which British society, and life in country houses, was transformed out of all recognition. It includes fascinating and unfamiliar twists on the classic 'closed circle' plot.

£8.99 £6.99
Calamity in Kent - British Library Crime Classics (Paperback)

Calamity in Kent - British Library Crime Classics (Paperback)

John Rowland, John Rowland




1 Review

In the peaceful seaside town of Broadgate, an impossible crime occurs. The operator of the cliff railway locks the empty carriage one evening; when he returns to work, a dead body is locked inside - a man has been stabbed. Jimmy London, a newspaper reporter, is first on the scene and is quick on the trail for clues.

£8.99 £6.99
Murder in the Museum - British Library Crime Classics (Paperback)

Murder in the Museum - British Library Crime Classics (Paperback)

John Rowland




1 Review

A man dies under suspicious circumstances in the British Museums reading room, another plunges to his death into a reservoir on a Yorkshire moor. What can be the connection between two deaths so different, and so widely separated?

£8.99 £6.99
Secret of High Eldersham - British Library Crime Classics (Paperback)

Secret of High Eldersham - British Library Crime Classics (Paperback)

Miles Burton




1 Review

When the new landlord is stabbed to death in his pub, and Scotland Yard are called to the scene, it seems that the veil dividing High Eldersham from the outside world is about to be lifted.

£8.99 £6.99