Classic Mysteries

Staff Spotlight  – Classic Mysteries

Delve into a classic mystery from the popular writers of the “golden age of detective fiction,” covering the end of World War I through World War II.  These beloved titles, many of which have been unavailable for decades, are being re-released under the American Mystery Classics imprint.  Devoted fans and newcomers to the genre are sure to enjoy!

Ellery Queen’s The Chinese Orange Mystery (1934).  Voted one of the top ten locked room mysteries of all time, this book is known as a “fair play” mystery because the author provides the reader with all the clues needed to solve the crime.  A sleuth investigates the murder of a man in the locked waiting room of a publisher and stamp collector.  Everything in the room is turned backwards (including the man’s clothing) or upside down.

The Puzzle of the Happy Hooligan by Stuart Palmer (1941).  Street-smart schoolteacher Miss Hildegarde Withers goes on vacation to Hollywood and unexpectedly finds herself hired as a technical adviser for a major studio doing a film adaptation about the murderous Lizzie Borden.   One of the movie’s screenwriters winds up dead and Miss Withers investigates.

The So Blue Marble by Dorothy Hughes (1945) is a perfect suspense novel set amid the glamour of New York’s high society. The debonair –and psychotic – Montefierrow twins and their female sidekick are on the prowl for a missing treasure, the so blue marble.  They attack Griselda but she doesn’t have it.  Will they murder her, too?  The plot is filled with twists and turns, making this mystery a true page-turner.

First published in 1944, Home Sweet Homicide by Craig Rice is a rollicking good crime story that’s a comedy, too.  The next door neighbor of a widowed mystery writer is murdered.  The writer’s three children want to solve the crime even though their mother refuses to investigate.  The kids use lessons learned from their mother’s books to tackle it themselves.  Well-drawn characters make this mystery pure fun.

The Red Lamp is a murder mystery and ghost story by Mary Roberts Rinehart (1925).  Twin Hollows is the large house that William Porter inherits from his uncle Horace.  Local lore claims the house is haunted but William and his wife don’t believe in ghosts – until they see a shadowy figure gesturing to them from the glow of Horace’s red lamp. Who is it?

Another of the top ten locked room murder mysteries is Death from a Top Hat by Clayton Rawson (1938).  Retired master magician The Great Merlini investigates the murders of two master illusionists.  One is spread out in a pentagram.  He looks to be strangled but there are no bruises on his neck. Suspects include an escape artist, a ventriloquist, and a professional medium.