Detective Fiction

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Rare and collectable Detective Fiction titles, including first editions and other significant editions, often with striking dust-jackets. Authors ranging from the obscure, the pseudonymous and the classic, such as Agatha Christie, with titles from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction and beyond.


First edition, inscribed by the author on the frontispiece.
London. Lincoln Williams, 1935
According to the Bear Alley blog the book is listed in the English Catalogue of Books as having appeared in February 1935 and it was listed under the pen-name "Trill". The publisher Lincoln Williams went into administration in July 1935 so the book probably wasn’t reprinted. Trill was a pen name for Harry C. Liebart according to Hubin. Very scarce in a jacket.

Detective Fiction

[anon.] Maria Marten


or, The Murder in the Red Barn
London, John Lane The Bodley Head, 1943.

Second edition thus, reprint. 8vo. Original pictorial wrappers.

A modern rendering of the popular 19th-century melodrama relating to a high-profile murder case of 1827. Here with an introduction by the playwright Montagu Slater, famous for his work with Benjamin Britten.


London, Drane's, [1924].

First edition. 8vo. Original green boards. Dust-jacket, priced 6/-.

An uncommon first edition of this collection published by an uncommon imprint. Many of the tales revolve around a consulting detective agency in Calcutta, as in the author's coeval work Benjamin & Co., and despite a tendency towards some rather "old school" jingoism and misogyny do include some rather wonderfully evocative sketches of colonial life in India.

Detective Fiction

Adams (Herbert) Welcome Home


London, Philip Macdonald, 1956.

First edition. 8vo. Original black cloth. Dust-jacket, correctly priced 8/6.

A very good first edition, featuring the author's second major series character, Roger Bennion.


First UK edition.
London. William Heinemann Ltd, 1937
Crime novel about small-time bank robbers, best known perhaps as the basis for the 1948 film They Live By Night, starring Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell. A 1974 Robert Altman film, starring Keith Carradine and Shelley Duvall used the original title but deviated further from the original novel.


London, Stanley Paul, 1927.

First edition, first impression. 8vo. Advertisements. Dust-jacket, correctly priced 7/6.

Detective fiction with spy thriller overtones, courtesy of Anglo-Canadian author 'Anthony Armstrong' - striking jacket artwork; scarce.


First edition.
London, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1935.

Features series character Spike Tracey who is studying the local paper for promising openings in crime when one literally blows in on his doorstep. Rare in wrapper especially one as good as this.


First edition.
London, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1933.

When the dignified life of Steven Kester came to an undignified end there were several people with potential motives. Serial character Spike Tracy acts as detective and solves the mystery. Rare in d/w.


A Series of Reminiscences and Adventures in Many Lands
London, Hurst & Blackett, [1926].

First edition. Large 8vo. Plates. Original red cloth lettered & ruled in black. Dust-jacket, early issue, with '1st Cheap Edition' and 2/6 to the spine.

An excellent copy of this compilation of nine stories by Ashton-Wolfe, drawing upon his years immersed in the world of crime, first as an assistant to Alphonse Bertillon, the great advocate of criminal anthropometrics, in Paris, then as an interpreter in the British law courts. The striking jacket artwork is by Hookway Cowles.


New Stories of Murder and Mystery
New York, Charles Scribners, 1928.

First US edition. 8vo. Original pictorial orange cloth. Dust-jacket, price-clipped.

One of several anthologies compiled by the writer and socialite Lady Cynthia Asquith, herself known as an author of ghost stories. Uncommon in the original dust-jacket.


London, The Readers Library, n.d. [1933].

First edition thus. Small 8vo. 2pp. advertisements. Original cloth, gilt. Dust-jacket, adverts printed to reverse.

An attractive pre-war edition, in good jacket.


London, Gollancz, 1936.

First edition. 8vo. Original black cloth. Dust-jacket, priced 7/6.

A collection of six stories showcasing the forensic talents of feature cases of Mr. Reggie Fortune, a surgeon working for Scotland Yard.


London, Ward Lock, 1929.

First edition. 8vo. Original green cloth. Dust-jacket.

An uncommon first edition, featuring Bailey's serial character the surgeon Mr Fortune.


London, Gollancz, 1939.

First edition. 8vo. Original black cloth lettered in red. Dust-jacket, priced 7/6.

Joshua Clunk makes his full-length novel debut in this work, having appeared previously in short stories only. The work also features a cameo by Bailey's other recurring character, Reggie Fortune.


London, Philip Allan, [1936].

First UK edition. 8vo. Original blue cloth. Dust-jacket, priced 3/6.

Excellent jacket artwork on this 'thirties murder mystery by Bryson.


and other Tales of Adventure
London, Hodder & Stoughton, n.d. [c.1930].

Early edition. 8vo. Original red decorative cloth. Dust-jacket, no price.

A lovely copy of this compilation of stories by American novelist, playwright, and Olympic water polo player Rex Beach.


London, Peter Davies, 1935.

First edition. 8vo. Original tan cloth. Dust-jacket, correctly priced 7/6.

The Ventriloquist, by E. Belasyse, is a much better crime story. It is written with a commendable simplicity, for one thing. If it is a first novel, it is unusually well planned and executed. The people are real." (Illustrated London News, vol.187).


London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1960.

First edition. 8vo. Original green boards. Dust-jacket, price-clipped.

A very good first edition of this later title by one of the co-founders of the Crime Writers' Association.

Detective Fiction

Bell (Josephine) Easy Prey


London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1959.

First edition. 8vo. Original cloth. Dust-jacket, correctly priced 12s.6d.

A couple discover that their child-sitter served a prison sentence for child murder, something they cannot square with the individual in question, sparking their own investigation and the unravelling of some strange secrets.


London, John Gifford, 1965. First edition. 8vo. Original green boards. Dust-jacket, correctly priced 10s6d. A fine copy of this classic Inspector Littlejohn yarn...the case of the dead roulette player.


London, Gifford, [1949].

First edition. 8vo. Original red boards. Dust-jacket, priced 7/6.

An intriguing dust-jacket complements this detective Inspector Thomas Littlejohn yarn.


early issue (stating 7th Thousand on title), some minor spotting, original red cloth, dust-jacket, some minor chipping to edges but overall a very good example, publisher's price sticker on spine, 8vo, Skeffington, [c.1930].


London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1933.

First edition, first impression. 8vo. Original blue cloth. Dust-jacket, correctly priced 7/6.

One of the harder Berkeley first editions to find in the original, correctly priced jacket, with the ominous hangman's gallows picked out against a black background - scarce in such condition.


London & Melbourne, Ward, Lock & Co., 1937

First edition. 8vo. 2pp. advertisements. Original green cloth. Dust-jacket, correctly priced at 7'6.

A game leads to theft and murder, leaving Detective-Inspector Richard Courtenay with a quandary ...who was 'King Oscar'? A very attractive dust-jacket.


London, Cassell, 1930.

First edition. 8vo. Original brown cloth. Dust-jacket, correctly priced 7/6.

The first UK edition of the fourth Charlie Chan book by Biggers, who set out to create a character that was the opposite of the 'yellow peril' portrayal of Orientals as villains that was the trend at the time. Uncommon in the dust-jacket.


London, John Murray, 1932.

First edition. 8vo. Original blue cloth. Dust-jacket, neatly price-clipped.

A brave attempt to apply the scrutiny of modern biographical practices to the world's most famous fictional sleuth!


London, Newnes, 1939.

First edition. 8vo. Original green cloth. Dust-jacket, priced 2/6.

A seemingly scarce first edition, the jacket suggesting that the author is in fact 'a well-known fiction author'. An ingenious tale, with a dash of humour, plus Abbey artwork!


London, Robert Hale, 1979.

First UK edition. 8vo. Original black boards. Dust-jacket, priced £3.95.

Harder-boiled than most, PI Matt Scudder gets to grips with a death of an unlikely couple in Greenwich Village.


Translated by Geoffrey Sainsbury.
London, Hutchinson, 1956.

First UK edition. 8vo. Original red boards. Dust-jacket, priced 12/6 (i.e. second issue, with 10/6 clipped and 12/6 added).

First edition in English of this novel by Boileau & Narcejac, authors credited with creating an authentically French subgenre of crime fiction. Famously the basis for the 1958 Hitchcock film Vertigo, starring James Stewart and Kim Novak.


London, Pawling and Ness Ltd., 1934.

First edition, first impression. 8vo. 1p. advertisements. Original red cloth. Dust-jacket, correctly priced at 3/6.

A rare title in the jacket: "The author served his apprenticeship to fiction in the highly imaginative school of boys' papers, and was for a time associated with the late Edgar Wallace." (jacket blurb)


London, G. Bell, 1935.

First UK edition. 8vo. Original red cloth. Dust-jacket, correctly priced 7s6d.

Compelling Bip Pares artwork graces this detective fiction title by American author Dorothea Brady, recounting the experiences of three artists commissioned to portray a wealthy Frenchman's beautiful wife.


(A Detective-Inspector McCarthy Yarn). First Edition. Wright & Brown, n.d. [c.1941].


Book of the Play by John G. Brandon & Geo. Pickett.
London, Readers Library, August 1928..

First edition, third printing. Small 8vo. Original gilt-tooled cloth. Dust-jacket.

An attractive early printing of the first edition of this neat Readers Library title, published to trade on the success of the play by Brandon & Pickett. The play was subsequently made into a film, in 1929, which saw the Library reissue the work. The striking dust-jacket is by a relatively unknown illustrator, Kenneth Romney Towndrow, who undertook several remarkable jacket commissions around this time. The story is very much in the "Yellow Peril" vein; the film itself sadly not a great success.


Book the Play & Film. Illustrated Edition
London, Readers Library, 1930.

Fifth printing. Small 8vo. Original gilt cloth. Dust-jacket.

An attractive early printing of the first edition of this neat Readers Library title, published to coincide with the coeval film version.


First edition, in early (1928) jacket.
London. Collins, 1924
Author’s debut novel and the first to feature Colonel Gore. This and other books in the series are noted for their intricate plots.

Detective Fiction

Brown (Alec) A Time to Kill.


First edition.
London. Cape, 1930
Contains two short novels both with murder at their core. Rare in dust-jacket.