Thursday, January 29, 2009

Crime Club

On Mystery*File tonight there's a review of a novel by Amber Dean. Who? Yes, Amber Dean. I've written before about my sentimental attachment to Doubleday's old Crime Club line which lasted from the Thirties into the Nineties.

Ellen Nehr compiled a history of Club novels, all of them from 1928-1991. Most of the names and novels perished with their times. I came to them in the early Fifties when I was twelve and tired of The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. I wasn't old enough to understand everything I read in them but within the confines of rather predictable conventional mysteries many of them were pleasant reads.

And three or four times a year there'd be stand-outs. I liked many of the Brits, especially. Seance On A Wet Afternoon was a Crime Club as were both of Dolores Hitchens' exemplary private eye novels. Of course there were always books that baffled--why in God's name was this published? And the same with covers. As the line lost library subscribers Club covers began to resemble the 70s and 80s Doubleday Science Fiction line. You prayed for blindness.

But I'm glad Mystery*File keeps reviewing some of those old ones. They played a vital if usually unremarkable role in mystery history.


Kent Morgan said...

Yesterday I was in a thrift store and spotted four Crime Club books in decent condition on the vintage and collectible shelf. All I remember is that one was by Manning Coles. Perhaps I should have paid more attention.

Anonymous said...


It was my collection of Crime Club's that helped inspire Ellen to put her book together on them.

After she'd exhausted both her and my collections, I remember meeting her in Manhattan one Saturday, which we spent first poring over books in the basement of the Mercantile library together, then over to Otto's, where he could not say no to Ellen and the use of the books in his personal collection in the back room of his store. A fabulous sight for the eyes, by the way.

To Kent, you probably can't go too far wrong picking up Crime Club's from the 50s and before. After that, things start to go iffy.

Manning Coles is always a good read. Don't pass him (them) by.

I just posted a review of Let the Tiger Die (Crime Club, 1947) on my blog at, in which I discuss both authors behind the pen name and their favorite leading character, Tommy Hambledon, too.

And, Ed, I do miss Ellen.

Best regards,