The Mysterious Bookshop


The Mystery Writers of America was founded in 1945 by Clayton Rawson, Anthony Boucher, Lawrence Treat, and Brett Halliday. It is the oldest organization for writers of crime fiction, providing support and guidance for mystery & crime writers, and every year they present the Edgar Awards for outstanding achievements in mystery fiction.  In 1948, Penguin published a collection called ‘Great Murder Stories,’ an anthology of short stories deemed fine examples of the art. (The original 1946 Duell, Sloane and Pearce edition was titled 'Murder Cavalcade.') At the back of the book, there is a list of 'must-haves' for every collection according to the MWA:

Short Story collections, first editions noted:

Edgar Allan Poe, Tales, New York, Wiley & Putnam, 1845. This collection contains Poe’s three masterpieces: Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Mystery of Marie Roget, and The Purloined Letter. Rue Morgue had a prior appearance in a pamphlet entitled The Prose Romances of Edgar A. Poe, No. 1, published by William Graham of Philadelphia in 1843.  Some prose romance! C. Auguste Dupin influenced so many sleuths that came after, this is really a must for any collection.

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, London, George Newnes, 1892. The first collection of the iconic detective and perhaps second only to Poe in the pantheon of important mystery fiction.

Arthur Morrison, Martin Hewitt, Investigator, London, Ward, Lock & Bowden, 1894. When Holmes burst upon the scene, a whole host of imitators sprung up as well. Morrison’s Martin Hewitt has been described as a ‘low-key, realistic, lower-class answer to Sherlock Holmes.’

Baroness Orczy, The Old Man In the Corner, London, Greening, 1909. The eponymous old man sits in  the corner, tying knots in string and solving cases without ever leaving his seat!  This is his first adventure, and he is aided by intrepid newspaperwoman Polly Burton. The first literal ‘armchair’ detective in fiction.

R. Austin Freeman, John Thorndyke’s Cases, London, Chatto & Windus, 1909. Introductory volume of stories featuring the humorless but omniscient practitioner of medical jurisprudence.

MacHarg & Balmer, The Achievements of Luther Trant, Boston, Small Maynard, 1910. The first book to employ modern psychology in mystery fiction.

G.K. Chesterton, The Innocence of Father Brown, London, Cassell, 1911. Meet the quiet, humble priest.  A great collection of stories featuring the detective as clergyman as detective. The father is described as having 'uncanny insight into human evil.'

Ernest Bramah, Max Carrados, London, Methuen, 1914. Perhaps author Bramah was fed up with the picture perfect, infallible detectives in fiction and resolved to create one with a distinct disadvantage.  He certainly succeeded--Carrados is blind.

Melville Davisson Post, Uncle Abner, New York, Appleton, 1918. Uncle Abner, stalwart and religious son of the South, is featured in what the MWA call the finest collection of short detective fiction since Poe.

H.C. Bailey, Call Mr. Fortune, London, Methuen, 1920. The bumptious doctor eventually leaves the practice of medicine to assist the Yard full time. Most mystery aficionados deem the Fortune stories to have improved as the series went along.

Honorable Mention 1920-1948.

Maurice LeBlanc, Eight Strokes of the Clock. With Arsene Lupin.

Dorothy L. Sayers, Lord Peter Views the Body. With Lord Peter Wimsey.

T.S. Stribling, Clues of the Caribbees. With Henry Poggioli.

E.C.Bentley, Trent Intervenes. With Philip Trent. (See below, Trent's Last Case.)

Carter Dickson, Department of Queer Complaints. With Colonel March.


Emile Gaboriau, L’Affaire Lerouge, Paris, E. Dempu, 1866. Introducing Pere Tabaret in what the MWA call the first detective novel ever.  

Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone, London, Tinsley Brothers, 1868. The first detective novel in English, which T.S. Eliot called the first, the longest, and the best of detective novels. Subject to debate, but still acclaimed as a masterpiece.

Anna Katharine Green, The Leavenworth Case, New York, Putnam, 1878. One of the first American detective novels, and certainly the first anywhere written by a woman. Inspector Gryce of the NYPD preceded Holmes by nine years.

Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study In Scarlet, London, Ward Lock, 1887. The first Sherlock Holmes adventure. Check out our facsimile edition of the Beeton's Christmas Annual, which is SIGNED by Doyle's daughter Jean.

E. C. Bentley, Trent’s Last Case, Thomas Nelson, 1913. The first great modern detective novel. Author Bentley set out to create a detective ‘recognizable as a human being.’ Philip Trent's cases led to more realistic depictions of sleuths, suspects, and witnesses.

Freeman Wills Crofts, The Cask, London, Collins, 1920. The genesis of the procedural genre where the police force undertakes day-to-day footwork to solve the crime.

Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, London, Collins, 1925. A tour de force, author Christie here reaches the zenith of the ‘least likely suspect’ motif. An Hercule Poirot adventure.

S.S.Van Dine, The Benson Murder Case, Scribner’s Sons, 1926. The tony and cynical aesthete Philo Vance, glib speechifying and all, introduces himself to the world of mystery fiction.

Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon, New York, Knopf, 1930. Truly American, truly hard-boiled, a true trend-setter. And how could anyone not love that movie?

Francis Iles, Before the Fact, London, Gollancz, 1932. An ‘inverted’ story where the identity of the culprit is known and the focus is on how and why the crime was committed. The merciless exposure of the details of the crime are positively harrowing.

Honorable Mention 1920-1948:

Israel Zangwill, The Big Bone Mystery, 1892. Locked-room adventure featuring detectives George Grodman and the unfortunately named Edward Wimp.

Austin Freeman, The Red Thumb Mark, 1907. The very first appearance of Dr. Thorndyke, whose adventures often hinge on a bit of arcane scientific knowledge.

A.E.W. Mason, The House Of The Arrow, 1924. With Inspector Hanaud.

John Dickson Carr, The Arabian Nights Murder, 1936.  Gideon Fell beats no fewer than three investigators at their own game.



Here at Mysterious we have many of these authors represented, both with the titles listed and their other work as well.  (Some of the links above are for different books by the same authors, based on what we have in stock at the moment. Double check carefully!)  Stop by and have a look, or order online, or over the phone!  212.587.1011, call during business hours and an actual person will answer the phone!

Next: Brand returns in a new, exciting adventure!

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Written by Ian Kern — February 29, 2016