Calling all writers, editors, publishers, and booksellers! Here are six mysteries set in the literary world that will keep you guessing until the last page.
Murder by the Book: Mysteries for Bibliophiles edited by Martin Edwards
There is no better hiding place for clues—or red herrings—than inside the pages of a book. But in this world of resentful ghost writers, indiscreet playwrights, and unscrupulous book collectors, literary prowess is often a prologue to disaster. Readers should be warned that the most riveting tales often conceal the deadliest of secrets.
Featuring much-loved Golden Age detectives Nigel Strangeways, Philip Trent, Detective Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn, and others, a bookish puzzle threatens an eagerly awaited inheritance; a submission to a publisher recounts a murder that seems increasingly to be a work of nonfiction; an irate novelist puts a grisly end to the source of his writer’s block.Amazon
These Names Make Clues by E.C.R. Lorac, edited by Martin Edwards (Chief Inspector Robert MacDonald, 12)
It’s all fun and games (and fake names) until someone ends up dead…
Amidst the confusion of too many fake names, clues, ciphers, and convoluted alibis, Chief Inspector Macdonald and his allies in the CID must unravel a truly tangled case in this metafictional masterpiece, which returns to print for the first time since its publication in 1937. This edition includes an introduction by CWA Diamond Dagger Award-winning author Martin Edwards.
“Should detectives go to parties? Was it consistent with the dignity of the Yard? The inspector tossed for it—and went.”
Chief Inspector Macdonald has been invited to a treasure hunt party at the house of Graham Coombe, the celebrated publisher of Murder by Mesmerism. Despite a handful of misgivings, the inspector joins a guest list of novelists and thriller writers disguised on the night under literary pseudonyms. The fun comes to an abrupt end, however, when “Samuel Pepys” is found dead in the telephone room in bizarre circumstances.
Post After Post-Mortem: An Oxforodshire Mystery by E.C.R Lorac, edited by Martin Edwards (Chief Inspector Robert MacDonald, 11)
“Now tell us about your crime novel. Take my advice and don’t try to be intellectual over it. What the public likes is blood.”
The Surrays and their five children form a prolific writing machine, with scores of treatises, reviews, and crime thrillers published under their family name. Following a rare convergence of the whole household at their Oxfordshire home, Ruth—middle sister who writes “books which are just books”— decides to spend some weeks there recovering from the pressures of the writing life, while the rest of the brood scatter to the winds again. Their next return is heralded by the tragic news that Ruth has taken her life after an evening at the Surrays’s hosting a set of publishers and writers, one of whom is named as Ruth’s literary executor in the will she left behind.
Despite some suspicions from the family, the verdict at the inquest is suicide—but when Ruth’s brother Richard receives a letter from the deceased which was delayed in the post, he enlists the help of CID Robert Macdonald to investigate what could only be an ingeniously planned murder.Amazon
Murder in Blue by Clifford Witting (The Inspector Harry Charlton, 1)
John Rutherford, bookseller and sometime fiction writer, discovers the bludgeoned corpse of a policeman one evening while taking a stroll in a rainstorm. The policeman’s overturned bicycle is what first catches Rutherford’s eye. Then he sees Officer Johnson’s body sprawled on the sodden ground of Phantom Coppice. Rutherford takes Johnson’s bike and pedals to rural Paulsfield police station, two miles away, to report the crime. There he finds Sgt. Martin who initiates calls to a doctor, a photographer and Inspector Charlton.Amazon
Death of a Bookseller by Bernard Farmer, edited by Martin Edwards
An honest policeman, Sergeant Wigan, escorts a drunk man home one night to keep him out of trouble and, seeing his fine book collection, slowly falls in to the gentle art of book collecting. Just as the friendship is blossoming, the policeman’s book-collecting friend is murdered.
To solve the mystery of why the victim was killed, and which of his rare books was taken, Wigan dives into the world of ‘runners’ and book collectors, where avid agents will gladly cut you for a first edition and then offer you a lift home afterwards. This adventurous mystery, which combines exuberant characters with a wonderfully realised depiction of the second-hand book market, is sure to delight bibliophiles and classic crime enthusiasts alike.Amazon
Available for pre-order now.
Murder on “B” Deck by Vincent Starrett (The Walter Ghost Mysteries, 1)
Novelist Dunsten Mollock has no intention of going on a cruise just yet. He has come to the pier simply to see off his sister and brother-in-law, who are about to embark on a transatlantic cruiser for a European honeymoon. But when Mollock forgets to give his sister a copy of his new book, he finds himself accidentally bound for Europe.But that’s not the only surprise. Only two days after departing New York, a beautiful countess is discovered strangled in her cabin. Fortunately, Mollock’s friend Walter Ghost is on board. The astute scientist, explorer, and former intelligence officer always appreciates a good puzzle. He just needs to solve this one quickly and find the killer before someone else gets scratched off the passenger list . .
Magpie Murders: A Novel by Anthony Horowitz
When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.
Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.
Masterful, clever, and relentlessly suspenseful, Magpie Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction in which the reader becomes the detective.Amazon
Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz (Magpie Murders, 2)
Retired publisher Susan Ryeland is living the good life. She is running a small hotel on a Greek island with her long-term boyfriend Andreas. It should be everything she’s always wanted. But is it? She’s exhausted with the responsibilities of making everything work on an island where nothing ever does, and truth be told she’s beginning to miss London.
And then the Trehearnes come to stay. The strange and mysterious story they tell, about an unfortunate murder that took place on the same day and in the same hotel in which their daughter was married—a picturesque inn on the Suffolk coast named Farlingaye Hall—fascinates Susan and piques her editor’s instincts.
One of her former writers, the late Alan Conway, author of the fictional Magpie Murders, knew the murder victim—an advertising executive named Frank Parris—and once visited Farlingaye Hall. Conway based the third book in his detective series, Atticus Pund Takes the Cake, on that very crime.
The Trehearne’s, daughter, Cecily, read Conway’s mystery and believed the book proves that the man convicted of Parris’s murder—a Romanian immigrant who was the hotel’s handyman—is innocent. When the Trehearnes reveal that Cecily is now missing, Susan knows that she must return to England and find out what really happened.
Brilliantly clever, relentlessly suspenseful, full of twists that will keep readers guessing with each revelation and clue, Moonflower Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction from one of its greatest masterminds, Anthony Horowitz.Amazon
Flowers for the Judge by Margery Allingham (Albert Campion, 7)
Scandal hits the prestigious publishing house of Barnabas when one of the directors is found dead in a locked cellar.Amazon
All eyes are on the other partners at the firm – cousins of the dead man with much to gain from his demise – and all rumours hint at a connection to the disappearance of another director decades earlier.
Desperate to salvage their reputation, the cousins turn to Albert Campion – but will his investigations clear the Barnabas family name, or besmirch it forever?
Flowers for the Judge was first published in 1936.
Tell me about your favorite bibliomysteries in the comments below!