Happy Birthday Bloomsbury Reader and Welcome Classic Crime Club!

birthday-logoTwo years ago, on the 28th of September 2011, Bloomsbury Reader released our first 400 ebooks, many of which had been unavailable in print for some time. We passionately believed that these books were timeless and deserved to be available to new generations of readers.  We hoped that authors such as Alec Waugh, V. S. Pritchett, and Monica Dickens, whose works we were publishing in ebook for the first time, would attract the attention of their original readers, as well as reach new fans.

 This past year has been a busy one for Bloomsbury Reader – we expanded our list with with over 150 re-discovered books, including some real gems such as the gripping The Amtrak Wars sci-fi series by Patrick Tilley; the touching but scholarly biography Lorca: A Dream of Life by Leslie Stainton; and high brow literary criticism by renowned professors Frank Kermode, Roger Scruton and Janet Todd.  In addition to our extensive list of ebooks we have over 200 titles now in print for those of our readers who prefer the tangibility of the traditional book.We still remember the thrilling days in February when our very first Kindle Single, Dresden: A Survivor’s Story, an honest, personal and punchy account of Dresden bombing during the WWII by survivor, Victor Gregg, made it to the top of the charts.

In spring and summer we published three news novels: Court of the Myrtles – a hope giving tale about overcoming loss and finding love by Lois Cahall; Lady Susan Plays the Game – a witty re-imagining of Jane Austen’s first novel by Janet Todd; and last but not least The Bookstore – a heart-warming story of love for people and love for books by Deborah Meyler, which was part of the UK nationwide campaign celebrating books and bookshops, Books Are My Bag.

It’s been a great year and we would like to thank all our readers, retailers and libraries for their interest and support. We hope that the next year will be even busier and we have many literary surprises coming … So we begin our third year on the 30th of September with the launch of the Classic Crime Club which will feature some timeless, if perhaps forgotten, crime and mystery novels from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction by authors such as S. S. Van Dine and Earl Derr Biggers, creator of the memorable detective, Charlie Chan.

The success of Bloomsbury Reader’s crime titles inspired us to expand our crime range. We listened to your suggestions, we read many crime books previously unknown to us, we visited the Murder in the Library exhibition at the British Library and went to CrimeFest, the crime fiction convention held in Bristol, UK. We found that between the arguably most famous detective authors, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, there exists a vast range of authors that, although perhaps not as well known, are equally thrilling reads, and that classic crime fiction still enthralls readers of all ages.

We do not claim these novels to be competition for contemporary, fast paced, bloodthirsty crime fiction with their high tech CSI methods of investigation, but we see them as a delightful and entertaining alternative. Times have changed beyond recognition since Wilkie Collins wrote The Moonstone, often considered the predecessor of the detective fiction genre, which Arthur Conan Doyle went on to define with the creation of Sherlock Holmes, yet there is an undeniable charm in classic, locked-room, whodunit mysteries featuring quirky detectives with impressive skills of deduction. Whilst putting together the books for the Classic Crime Club, we’ve enjoyed discovering the traditional whodunit plots, full of old-fashioned humour (which may not make you laugh out loud but will definitely make you smile) and intriguing characterisations… We hope you will enjoy it too and look forward to receiving your suggestions of what we should re-issue next, so please email us: info at bloomsburyreader.com.

S.S. Van Dine’s narrative style is charming and his mystery plots are intricate and full of unexpected twists…

You will remember the sensation caused by Alvin Benson’s murder. It was one of those crimes that appeal irresistibly to the popular imagination. Mystery is the basis of all romance, and about the Benson case there hung an impenetrable aura of mystery. It was many days before any definite light was shed on the circumstances surrounding the shooting; but numerous ignes fatui arose to beguile the public’s imagination, and wild speculations were heard on all sides.


The Benson Murder Case

Earl Derr Biggers stole the hearts of Americans in 1925, when he published his first mystery featuring Charlie Chan, honourable, wise, and underpaid Chinese-American detective from Honolulu: The House Without A Key. And his bright plots and amusing characterizations are well worth exploring…

In The Chinese Parrot Charlie Chan is officially on a vacation.  But is any detective ever off duty? Earl Derr Biggers knew it was unlikely… For Chan his long awaited visit to the mainland will be busier than any working week in Honolulu Police Department, but how much more exciting as well…

A detective on a vacation. If you’ve ever read a mystery story you know that a detective never works so hard as when he’s on vacation. He’s like the postman who goes for a long walk on his day off.


The Chinese Parrot


J. S. Fletcher, the only English writer featured in the September Classic Crime Club release, wrote with a truly English sense of humour. The tongue-in-cheek opening sentences of The Middle of Things bring to light all the reasons crime and mystery fiction was so widely enjoyed at the beginning of the twentieth century. And we think that this enjoyment can be still shared today…

Miss Penkridge had become a confirmed slave to the sensational […] What she loved was a story which began with crime and ended with a detection – a story which kept you wondering who did it, how it was done, and when the doing was going to be laid bare to the light of day. Nothing pleased her better than to go to bed with a brain titivated with the mysteries of the last three chapters; nothing gave her such infinite delight as to find, when the final pages were turned, that all her own theories were wrong, and that the real criminal was somebody quite other than the person she had fancied. For a novelist who was so little master of his trade as to let you see when and how things were going, Miss Penkridge had little but good-natured pity; for one who led you by all sorts of devious tracks to a startling and surprising sensation she cherished a whole-souled love; but for the creator of a plot who could keep his secret alive and burning to his last few sentences she felt the deepest thing that she could give to any human being – respect. Such a master was entered permanently on her mental library list.


The Middle of Things



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