The British Library Classics Series

Had enough of ever more violent crime, gore and detectives with complicated home lives in your ‘light’ reading? You might like to try the British Library Crime Classics series.

There are 130 books now with more published each year and we have a few in the library. The huge success of republishing forgotten crime authors from the 1890s to 1960s in paperback was initially down to the attractive covers taken from nostalgic old railway and tourist posters. But soon these became collectable not just for their looks but the stories inside.

The best, in my opinion, are those written in the ‘Golden Age’ of crime writing between the wars, by authors who were once as famous as Agatha Christie or Dorothy L Sayers. Lots are variants of the ‘locked room’ mystery or involve alibis being broken by tortuous examination of bus timetables. Unlike today’s thrillers, the plot and the puzzle were far more important than character and motive.

The Poisoned Chocolates Case

Take Anthony Berkeley’s The Poisoned Chocolates Case, which we have in the library.

A fictional group of crime authors all give their own solutions to a mystery.

At the end Mr Berkeley offers his own, different  solution and now Martin Edwards, editor of the Crime Classics series, does the same.

A post-modern take on an old chestnut.

John Bude

The novels of John Bude are set in attractive parts of the country like the Lake District and Devon, and feature a detective who trundles round the countryside on a police motorcycle with sidecar and has to use police phone boxes just like the Tardis.

Crime with added period charm!


Thanks to Anne Burton, Trustee and one of Jesmond Library’s volunteers, for this blog post


Jesmond Library’s crime novels are amongst our most borrowed books!