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The Best Mysteries of All Time by Reader's Digest/ImPress Mysteries

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Edited: Jan 30, 2013, 11:22am Top

Hopefully, this will be of help. I am by no means an expert, but I have put together all of the information I have found regarding the series "The Best Mysteries of All Time" by Reader's Digest/ImPress Mysteries. This series, like the World's Best Reading series, seems to be by subscription only, although when I contacted RD, the customer service rep thought I was crazy and said that there are no such books. To my knowledge, there are currently 73 titles, I own 64 of them. Please feel free to correct any errors I may have made, they are as follows:

A Kiss Before Dying - Ira Levin
Presumed Innocent - Scott Turow
Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie

The Doorbell Rang - Rex Stout
Anatomy of a Murder - Robert Traver
The Talented Mr. Ripley - Patricia Highsmith
Postmortem - Patricia Cornwell

Whip Hand - Dick Francis
Where Are the Children? - Mary Higgins Clark
The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett
"A" is for Alibi - Sue Grafton
Strong Poison - Dorothy L. Sayers
The Eye of the Needle - Ken Follett
The Day of the Jackal - Frederick Forsyth

A Stranger in My Grave - Margaret Millar
The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins
The Case of the Velvet Claws - Erle Stanley Gardner
Shroud for a Nightingale - P.D. James
The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
Mortal Stakes - Robert B. Parker
Laura - Vera Caspary

Death of a Peer - Ngaio Marsh
Dance Hall of the Dead - Tony Hillerman
Mildred Pierce - James Cain
Calamity Town - Ellery Queen
The Chill - Ross MacDonald
I Married a Dead Man - Cornell Woolrich
The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey
Ice - Ed McBain

The Deep Blue Goodbye - John D. MacDonald
The Black Echo - Michael Connelly
Last Seen Wearing - Hillary Waugh
Crocodile on the Sandbank - Elizabeth Peters
Deadlock - Sara Paretsky
A Coffin for Dimitrios - Eric Ambler

A Great Deliverance - Elizabeth George
The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn - Colin Dexter
The Long Goodbye - Raymond Chandler
In the Heat of the Night - John Ball
Briarpatch - Ross Thomas
Green for Danger - Christianna Brand
A Thief of Time - Tony Hillerman
The Tiger in the Smoke - Margery Allingham

Clouds of Witness - Dorothy L. Sayers
I, the Jury - Mickey Spillane
The False Inspector Dew - Peter Lovesey
The Man With a Load of Mischief - Martha Grimes
In a Lonely Place - Dorothy B. Hughes
Ashenden - W. Somerset Maugham

A Morbid Taste of Bones - Ellis Peters
The Sign of Four/The Valley of Fear - Arthur Conan Doyle
The Laughing Policeman - Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo
Gorky Park - Martin Cruz Smith
Friday the Rabbi Slept Late - Harry Kemelman
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Orczy
Above Suspicion - Helen MacInnes

Home Sweet Homicide - Craig Rice
The Quiller Memorandum - Adam Hall
The Franchise Affair - Josephine Tey
Chiefs - Stuart Woods
Final Appeal - Lisa Scottoline
Grave Mistake - Ngaio Marsh
Riddle of the Sands - Erskine Childers

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold - John Le Carre
Judgement in Stone - Ruth Rendell
The Three Coffins - John Dickson Carr
Fletch - Gregory Mcdonald
The Thirty-Nine Steps & Greenmantle - John Buchan
And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie
The Ivory Grin - Ross MacDonald

Payment Deferred - C.S. Forester
L.A. Requiem - Robert Crais
The Perfect Murder - H.R.F. Keating
Burglars Can't Be Choosers - Lawrence Block

The Lasko Tangent – Richard North Patterson
The Horizontal Man - Helen Eustis
Trent’s Last Case – E. C. Bentley
Hopscotch – Brian Garfield
Smallbone Deceased – Michael Gilbert
I. O. U. – Nancy Pickard

The Moving Toyshop – Edmund Crispin
The Ice House – Minette Walters
Red Harvest – Dashiell Hammett
A Gentle Murder – Dorothy Salisbury Davis

Any comment or additions are most welcome.

2Engmaj08 First Message
Feb 16, 2008, 8:42pm Top

Do these have those all-important "inserts" like WBR? Are these really that important?

Feb 16, 2008, 8:48pm Top

#2 "Are these really that important?"

The "inserts" or the books?

Feb 16, 2008, 8:52pm Top

The inserts...of course the books are great.

Feb 16, 2008, 9:18pm Top

I don't understand why RD doesn't inform the people that answer the phones of the WBR (and others) being available at least by subscription. And I have not found it on their web site. Did I miss something?

Do they just print enough to take care of subscribers?

Feb 16, 2008, 10:42pm Top

Yes, these are published with inserts too. They're very cool. I finished "Eye of the Needle" this afternoon. Good book.

RD Customer service should be flogged. I want to buy their books, but they apparently do not want to sell them.

Feb 16, 2008, 11:32pm Top

>6 dvdtherapy:

I never realized the Impress Mysteries came with inserts … I guess I’m missing the insert from the only one of this series that I own *sighs*.

>2 Engmaj08:, 3, 4

Are you asking whether the book inserts are important to the reading experience or whether they are important to the collecting experience? Or both? Does you question apply to both the WBR and Impress series, or is there some assumption there that they are important for the WBR series but you question their value WRT the Impress series of mysteries?

Feb 17, 2008, 12:03am Top

I haven't read all the inserts yet. The ones I have looked at, honestly were not that impressive. They're nowhere near as informative as the WBR inserts. From the few I've checked out, they're just trivia. The one for Ed McBain's "Ice" is downright boring.

If anyone knows of a title I may have missed or gets a new one (God, I wish I knew how to get RD to sell me a new one), please let me know.

Feb 17, 2008, 1:46am Top

> 7,8

Well I’m very glad that you made that post here because I could only have answered Engmaj08’s question from the perspective of why I thought the inserts were important in the WBR series, much of which logic probably does not apply to the inserts in this series.

I had assumed the Impress Mysteries came with no inserts because one of the leading pages in my copy of Ashenden contained a couple of paragraphs about the book … the sort of information that would have been included in a WBR series insert. This background information was hardly as comprehensive as in a WBR insert, but my conclusion was that if RD was printing such adjunct detail in the books then there would be little need for an additional insert as well.

Furthermore, for the earliest books in the WBR series that are illustrated, the 4-page inserts also provide a brief source of background information about the artist, and this brief bio sometimes included a list of the other titles in the WBR series which that artist had also illustrated. One could argue that the insert was somewhat necessary for providing such information because although a short biography of the author, and some contextual background WRT this particular work of his, would not be out of place in a preface or foreword at the beginning of the book, such information about the contemporary artist that had been commissioned to illustrate the WBR edition sometimes came close to crossing the line into marketing blurb and sales puff for other books in the series. Puff and blurb are OK stuff to print on a trade edition dust jacket, but it used to be considered bad form to print it within the actual bound pages of a hard cover book.

Upscale book editions (that are marketed only via restricted subscription sales) and which usually come with real leather, faux leather or otherwise attractive decorative boards and slipcases, do not have paper DJs that can be used to contain any of the above types of information. Which is why some sort of insert is traditionally included with expensive subscription books. But there is also an inverse process that comes into play here. Over time, the reading public has come to associate a book containing an insert as being in some way special, expensive and/or scarce - that is, book collector material. Thus the simple expedient of including an extra insert in any edition of a book can make it appear more upscale than it really is.

I think this factor – viz. let’s do something not too expensive in order to give our books an air of class and exclusivity beyond their actual worth – comes into play with the RD WBR series. It certainly appears to be much more the case with the Impress Mysteries series. I’m not exactly sure when the George Macy owned Heritage Press subscription book club finally ceased doing business but I suspect that one of the intentions of the editors of the WBR books, when it started the series in 1982, was to fill the void that the demise of this book club had left – or to compete with it head to head if the Heritage Press was still operating in 1982 – and one of the popular features of the Heritage Press illustrated classic editions were the 4-page Sandglass inserts. Thus I suspect the WBR inserts were primarily created in the tradition and likeness of the Heritage Press Sandglass inserts.

Although I have yet to see one, nevertheless I’m not too sure what the rationale is for the existence of the Impress Mysteries inserts other than to create an air of substance and exclusivity for this series that it does not really merit (meaning the quality of the book bindings and the materials used in producing the books, not the titles issued in this series). As an advocate of this series you don’t seem particularly thrilled by the inserts either.

Feb 17, 2008, 9:46am Top

My question stems from the fact that in trying to collect WBR books, I have stumbled upon so many that I would have like to have purchased, but I don't because I think "well, one might come along that has an insert in it later." So when I found out about Best Mysteries, I thought I could actually just enjoy looking for and reading the books. From what I've heard, I'm thinking about not caring if these have the inserts or not.

Feb 19, 2008, 6:08pm Top

Another title in the series is "Deadlock" by Sara Paretsky.

Edited: Jul 13, 2011, 10:40am Top

>11 Engmaj08:

Do you have a publication / issue date for the Paretsky?

I'm trying to work out, based on the OP, what the issue cycle is for this Impress series. It appears to be all over the place. Does RD really just issue as many new titles in this series as and when it feels like doing so? That would drive me bonkers as a subscriber.

Post edited to remove old news.

Feb 20, 2008, 1:30am Top

You're right. I forgot Deadlock. Post#1 is updated. I looked through them, that's all 56, as far as I know anyway. Yes, it seems like they get released at random intervals.

Feb 21, 2008, 2:51pm Top

Which books in the series are your favorites? Any you would add?
I would add more of Agatha Christie. "Murder on the Orient Express" is not my favorite of her books, and I do not think it is necessarily representative of her work.

Feb 22, 2008, 12:45am Top

It's hard to say about favorites. I just picked these up for myself for Christmas. I've read Mortal Stakes before and I think I've loved every Spenser novel that Robert B. Parker has written.

I have a collection of 85 Agatha Christie hardbacks that I bought from the UK, so Orient Express is not one I've purchased in this series. I agree, although a great novel, she has better ones.

I read Eye of the Needle. I really liked it, but it was more of a spy novel, than the mystery that I expected. I read "A" is for Alibi, and I was surprised that I didn't really enjoy it that much.

I just started The Doorbell Rang, we'll see how that goes. Can anyone make a recommendation from those listed above?

As far as adding....apart from Parker and Christie, my obvious favorites, I'm no expert. If they're going to include spy novels, how about some John LeCarre or Robert Ludlum?

Mar 3, 2008, 3:34pm Top

Maybe this should be in another post, but does anyone know anything about the series "The Collection of Mystery Classics"?

Mar 8, 2008, 8:49pm Top

Post #1 updated to reflect new 2008 addition to the collection.

Edited: Jul 23, 2011, 6:01pm Top

>14 Engmaj08:

"Any you would add?"

Georges Simenon (who wrote the Inspector Maigret series of novels and short stories) and G.K. Chesterton (who created the sleuthing parish priest Father Brown) are IMHO both surprising omissions from this series. I have not read any Dell Shannon (she created the sleuth Luis Mendoza) nor Earl Derr Bigger (he created Charlie Chan) but once again it is rather surprising that these two highly popular authors are not represented in a "Best Mysteries of All Time" collection. Hey RD editors, if you're reading this, how about also adding some John Dickson Carr (a.k.a. Carter Dickson), John Creasey (a.k.a. J.J. Marric) or S.S. Van Dine?

Of the more contemporary crime/mystery genre authors, there is a notable absence of Donald Westlake (a.k.a. Richard Stark), Ian Rankin, Jeffery Deaver, James Lee Burke and Walter Mosley from this series, all of whom I would have included before Patricia Cornwell. Since Douglas Adams only wrote two Dirk Gently novels he probably will never be represented in this collection, as will neither Kingsley Amis nor his son Martin. Because we all know that humor and literary competence are both anathema to the hardcore fans of the crime and mystery genre! (ACD and WSM, of course, must be the exceptions that prove this rule.)

"I would add more of Agatha Christie. 'Murder on the Orient Express' is not my favorite of her books, and I do not think it is necessarily representative of her work."

I read about 70% of Christie's canon in my teens and I would have to wholeheartedly agree with that opinion. If that novel had not been made into a high profile and successful movie in the mid seventies it would probably be much less popular (relative to some of her other titles) than it is today. I personally found the plot to be highly contrived and somewhat unbelievable and therefore I consider it to be one of Christie's weaker Poirot who-done-its. There are a couple of dozen other Christie titles I would have chosen over that one if it had been up to me to choose one of her works to be represented in this series. OTOH, I do applaud the restraint of the Impress editors in NOT selecting too much Christie for this series; I would hate it to become a "selection of Agatha Christie plus others" collection. That argument also applies to any of the other more prolific titans of the mystery genre such as Dorothy L. Sayers or Erle Stanley Gardner.

FYI, if anyone is interested in collecting a large chunk of Agatha Christie's canon I would highly recommend the current reissue series being published in hardcover by Black Dog and Leventhal. These are very elegantly presented books that sell full price for $12, or just over $9 with typical online discounts. The earlier releases in this series are now being remaindered by B&N at 50% or more off, so if you are patient (and don't purchase the future titles immediately they are issued) you could probably build an entire uniform hardcover edition of Christie's complete canon at a cost of little over $5 per brand new book.

Edited to add a link to the "publisher series" page for the Black Dog and Leventhal Agatha Christie collection.

Mar 10, 2008, 11:16am Top

Good post Rule42. I agree that there are a lot of omissions, but thankfully, the series is still ongoing. Hopefully will get some of those.

Before recommending the Christie series by Black Dog and Leventhal, I'd like to point out one thing. Unless something has changed since last June, the series will end at 18 books. I was in contact with them and they said they did not intend to release all of her works in the series and would stop at 18. Before starting that collection, someone may want to follow up with that. There's nothing worse than starting a series just to have it end prematurely.

Edited: Jul 13, 2011, 10:49am Top

>19 dvdtherapy:

I didn't know that Black Dog and Leventhal had an intended limit for this series, and such a low one at that (because I seem to remember that AC wrote 80+ mystery fiction works). However, your quoted limit of 18 titles seems to have already been exceeded. Whether it has been completely removed, or merely increased, I have no idea. But without trying to hijack this thread onto this particular Agatha Christie series, I just did a search on BN.com and found at least 8 Miss Marple and 16 Hercule Poirot titles in this series listed there.

AC wrote about three times as many Poirot novels as Marple ones so the above 16:8 ratio is a little skewed in favor of Miss Marple if the BD&L series is meant to be a representative sampling of her Poirot and Marple mystery canon. It is so long since I read AC that I cannot remember which are the better titles and which are the relative stinkeroos, but there does appear to be some obvious omissions of her better titles from the B&N inventory - e.g., Lord Edgware Dies and Murder on the Links come immediately to mind. So I do hope that BD&L continues on publishing her mystery canon until at least all the better ones have been reissued.

Post edited to remove old news.

Mar 10, 2008, 1:30pm Top

Like I said, it's been a while. I think 24 sounds right. I think at the time, there was 18 with 6 more forthcoming. Still, a shame to see it end.

Mar 10, 2008, 5:33pm Top

And..they limited themselves to Poirot and Marple, leaving out such obvious (IMO) choices as "And Then There Were None", "Crooked House" and "Towards Zero". At least they put in "A Murder is Announced", which is a personal favorite.

I too am surprised at the lack of G.K. Chesterton, which I believe definiately needs to be added to the series.

As we all know, RD is a monster to deal with. dvdtherapy, how did you find out about the new 2008 title? Did you get it from RD? If so, PLEASE let me in on the secret with dealing with them.

Mar 11, 2008, 1:50am Top

Oh, no. There's no dealing with RD. I've talked to them half a dozen times, and most of the customer service reps have no idea what I'm talking about. I've been told twice that this series doesn't even exist and that I've "imagined" it. Telling you where I found out may just ruin my source, but I'll risk it. I found it on Amazon.com, as a used book. I have more than enough to read now, but if anyone snags one or hears about a new one, please add to this thread.

Also Engmaj08, what about the Tommy and Tuppence books? I haven't read them in 20 years, but they were very good too. I remember enjoying N or M? quite a lot.

Edited: Jul 13, 2011, 10:52am Top

>21 dvdtherapy: & 22

The fact that this AC series is limited to just the 24 titles actually makes it somewhat more appealing to me than if it was ultimately destined to include a full set of all of her 85 titles, many of which I know I would never get around to reading before I kick the bucket. Owning all 24 in this series would have a sense of completion for me, while owning those same 24 titles cherry picked from a full set of 85 would always leave me wondering why I chose those particular 24 titles versus any of the other 61; in that situation there would be no closure!

Again, not wanting to hijack this thread onto this Black Dog and Leventhal series, but since I'm clearly conversing here with two avid AC fans, I would be very interested to know how each of you rate those 24 titles selected for HC reissue by BD&L. As I previously stated, I voraciously devoured a large portion of AC's canon in my early teens, but now after more than 30 years I can't remember anything about any one of those books. In most cases I couldn't even tell you whether or not I've read that particular novel or story. When it comes to AC it's almost as if I had Alzheimer's!

>1 dvdtherapy:

BTW, at the weekend I did some searching on the web for a number of those Impress titles and in doing so I think I spotted a few incorrectly dated titles in your OP. I'm pretty certain that if you check your own copies (and please note, I myself do not own any of the following titles) you'll find that the Vera Caspary title was issued by Impress in 2002 (not 2000), the DLS Strong Poison was first issued by Impress in 2001 (not 2004, but it may have been reprinted / reissued in the Impress series in 2004), and the Eric Ambler was issued by Impress in 2004 (not 2005). Let me know if those dates check out. Thanks.

Edited: Mar 12, 2008, 5:37pm Top

Gosh, I haven't read an Agatha Christie book in a while, and I don't remember the plots of several of them either, other than a few that really stood out to me as great. She is, however, one of my favorite authors out of all that I have read (a title I don't frequently give to someone):) I actually think the editors did a good job in making these selections. As I recall, many of the Poirot novels didn't stand out as astoundingly different from one another, but those that I specifically remember (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Murder in Mesopotamia, Death on the Nile, The Mysterious Affair at Styles) are included. The Marple novels were all good, except I recall that the plot of "A Pocket Full of Rye" was not that believeable. Overall good selection, but Sleeping Murder and The Mirror Crack'd were very good as well, as was "They Do It With Mirrors". Heck, why not print all of the Marples! They are the best.

My surprise comes in the inclusion of "Hercule Poirot's Christmas", regarded by many as second rate, and "The Mystery of the Blue Train", which was Christie's least favorite of her novels.

My problem with the series is its' lack of "non-series" books, as stated above. Tommy and Tuppence are pretty good, too, but I never found them essential to a good understanding of Christie.

I love anything she writes, but one must admit that her later novels were definiately not up to the par of some of her earlier ones. The series we're discussing is reflective of that as well.

BTW, I think that we need more sets available like this, with the "best works" of our favorite authors.

Mar 13, 2008, 11:46pm Top

Thank you Rule42 per your post 24 you were correct on all 3 counts. Updates have been made to reflect that.

Edited: Feb 27, 2015, 11:03pm Top

>25 Engmaj08:

"Gosh, I haven't read an Agatha Christie book in a while, and I don't remember the plots of several of them either, other than a few that really stood out to me as great."

Clearly you are in exactly the same place as I am. I think I remember some titles not listed in the BD&L collection as standing out from the rest - for instance, Three Act Tragedy and Cards on the Table would be two of them - but even then I'm not quite sure if what I'm now remembering about them is that I had expected them to be great (before I read them) or that is how I felt about them afterwards. As for individual plots and storylines my memory is a complete blank; except for maybe those titles that were made into films (such as Murder on the Orient Express) and my having seen those movies one or more times since has refreshed my memory of the original novels' storylines.

"She is, however, one of my favorite authors out of all that I have read (a title I don't frequently give to someone)"

Actually I have never rated Christie very highly as a literate author. Even reading her as a 14 year old I felt she was very one-dimensional. But she is second to none when it comes to crafting a whodunnit plot, and thus she's the leading exponent of that genre. In fact, I consider her to be the quintessential genre author ... her novels and stories are all about plot and pyrotechnics, but they are endowed with no, or very little, literate substance or poetry. To some extent she was single-handedly responsible for both turning me into a voracious reader in my early teens (which is a gift that has kept on giving ever since then) while at the same time turning me off mystery genre writing for most of my adult life (because, based on my exposure to her canon, I felt that it lacked sufficient substance; plus hadn't I, after all, read most of the output of its very best exponent, so surely everything else would be inferior from there on out?).

So I guess I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with Christie - her books both turned me into a prolific reader at a very crucial period in my intellectual development while also demonstrating to me first hand how shallow and formulaic most genre writing tends to be. Just like a person should ideally have some fun hobbies to pursue in order to provide a healthy counterbalance to the stress and grind of daily work, so too Christie's books provided me with lots of fun lightweight reading that counterbalanced the more serious stuff I had to read for school in order to write book reports, etc. And for that I will always consider myself deeply indebted to her ... even if I haven't picked up one of her novels is nearly 35 years!

"My problem with the series is its' lack of "non-series" books, as stated above."

Well, two of the titles that I immediately thought of when trying to remember what I had read and enjoyed were The Man in the Brown Suit and Why Didn't They Ask Evans? neither of which were novels featuring Marple or Poirot, so I have to agree with you. The first featured Colonel Race as the detective and the latter featured Bobby Jones. I don't think Jones appears in any other of her crime novels, but I believe she wrote 3 or 4 featuring Colonel Race as the sleuth, so I don't know if you would consider that a "series" book or not?

Edited to correct a few long-standing typos.

Mar 14, 2008, 1:07am Top

>26 dvdtherapy:

You're very welcome. BTW, you added Laura to year 2002 but forgot to move it from year 2000, so now you have it listed twice.

Mar 14, 2008, 2:05am Top

Thank you. Fixed it. Again, you're right. This thread has turned into a Christie runaway. Not what I wanted, but I'll throw my final two cents in on the subject. I discoverd Christie at age 15 and read about 30 books, before my 17 year-old mind discovered James Bond Novels. I didn't read any more Christie for 20 years.

I remember vividly loving Death on the Nile and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Sometimes I have to struggle through Poirot's arrogance, but I always love the payoff at the end.
Since I've picked up my set, I have read a few. I enjoyed Dead Man's Folly, and The ABC Murders was excellent.

Oh, Engmaj08, I may need help with the Marples. I had never read one before, so I picked up the first one, Murder at the Vicarage. I was interested for about half the book, then it got (IMHO) very tedious. It was a struggle to finish it. Is there a better one you recommend?

One more little thing. Three books were published recently that were novelized from three of Christie's plays. They are Black Coffee, Spider's Web, and The Unexpected Guest. Has anyone read these? Granted she didn't write the novels, but the dialogue comes directly from the play's scripts. I read Spider's Web and thought it VERY entertaining.

Mar 14, 2008, 6:14pm Top

dvdtherapy, try A Murder is Announced. I remember really liking it.
I haven't read any of the play adaptations.

Rule42, I am also indebted to Agatha Christie for turning me into such an avid reader. I devoured most of her books when I was a young teenager. But, like you, I have trouble remembering most of the plots, so maybe that says something about Christie's writing after all... Also, I read the Marple's first, so that may be why I liked them so much. I need to reread some of Christie's works , especially as I picked up the BD&L series recently.

So, now comes my question. Is Agatha Christie really the best of her genre, as Rule42 and I suspected? I find your comments very interesting, as I never read mysteries again either after Christie (except for the occasional James Patterson novel when I feel like something really light). She certainly must have something going for her considering her rapid sales. I certainly enjoyed her novels when I was reading them, but at the time I was stepping up from the Hardy Boys, or something similar. LOL

Mar 14, 2008, 11:54pm Top

Thank you, I'll read that one next.

If anyone's interested, another copy of Home Sweet Homicide just went up on Amazon. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B0015O2OJU/ref=dp_olp_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1...

Mar 21, 2008, 10:49pm Top

Is there a list somewhere with the ISBNs on these? Or are these being issued as most of the WBR series without one?

Mar 22, 2008, 4:02am Top

"Or are these being issued as most of the WBR series without one?"

Not true! A large majority (over 70%) of the WBR titles issued in the USA have been assigned ISBNs. Even when you add the non-USA issued WBR titles into the mix that still only dilutes that % unsubstantially ... viz. over 60% of all the WBR titles issued worldwide carry an ISBN.

WRT the Impress series, at least the first two dozen titles issued in the series were assigned an ISBN. Both of these subscription series switched to having a single ISSN assigned to each series (rather than having an unique ISBN assigned to each book issued) sometime in 2003.

Edited: Mar 22, 2008, 7:31pm Top

I have been able to locate ISBNs for 67 of the 130 (according to CS at Reader's Digest FWIW) books in the WBR series. Thus, my question.

Edited: Mar 22, 2008, 11:32pm Top

I don't want to hijack this thread onto the RD WBR series, but since you asked this question here within the context of ISBNs assigned to the RD Impress Mystery series, I will answer your previous post here. But if this post stimulates a need for further interchange let's please move any further discussion of the WBR series back to the WBR thread where it belongs (or perhaps even continue it on a new WBR thread that is inaccessible to the LT trolls!).

At 67 titles you are only 6 titles short; there were 73 unique WBR titles issued in the USA between 1982 and 1995. At that juncture RD WBR issues started to "wrap around" (that is RD's own parlance for what it did based on a conversation I had with one of those ever-so-helpful CS folk on the other end of the 800 number). What that means is that in order to meet its bimonthly commitment to its North American WBR subscribers, rather than issuing a 74th new title in the series at the end of 1995, RD instead shipped a reprint of one of the 73 extant titles in the series.

RD then continued to ship bimonthly reprints in the WBR series from the end of 1995 until it resumed issuing new (but now unillustrated titles) in the series again at the beginning of 2003; but now without ISBNs assigned. It was only later on in 2003 that an ISSN was assigned to the WBR series. All of the WBR titles issued during what I have called the hiatus period were reprints of either extant USA titles (that were already assigned an ISBN) or first American printings of titles issued earlier in the UK (which were not assigned ISBNs when initially issued). Thus no new ISBNs had to be assigned to the "new" WBR series books mailed to subscribers during that whole hiatus period.

WRT my % numbers provided in my previous post, I was using 118 as the total number of WBR issues, NOT 130. 73/118 = just less than 62%. I would not trust that 130 figure any more than I would trust anything else those 800 number RD operatives tell you. But it does make you wonder, doesn't it?

So as to tie this post back in with the Impress Mystery series again ... I had wondered when I made my post #12 above whether the reason the annual release schedule for this series appears so erratic (viz. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 titles issued in different years!) is simply because there are some titles issued in it that were not covered by the OP. The ones issued during the first four years, when the books in this series were still being individually assigned ISBNs, should be the easiest to locate because every online bookselling DB uses the ISBN as a primary key. However, I spent quite a bit of time searching the web a couple of weeks back but I was unable to locate any "missing" titles in this series ... but you never know what might still turn up!

Apr 5, 2008, 10:20am Top

Thank you Rule42 for your comments. They are appreciated, and typos have been corrected.

Apr 5, 2008, 3:57pm Top

No Dashall Hammett?

No Chester Himes?

Edited: Apr 5, 2008, 7:12pm Top

One Hammett on the list. The Maltese Falcon. However, I agree the collection could use more. The question is, which would you choose? The Glass Key, The Dain Curse, The Thin Man....? All legitimate choices to be included as "Best Mysteries". I definetly would welcome any of them. Oh, and even though there are already two Chandlers, I'd love to see a few more.

Apr 5, 2008, 8:13pm Top

Maltese Falcon, right there in 2001, I missed it. Not The Thin Man but any other would do.

A Rage in Harlem

Devil in a Blue Dress

The Caveman's Valentine

Each and every one of them should be on the list.

Edited: Jul 13, 2011, 11:12am Top

>36 dvdtherapy: Once again, you are very welcome.

>38 dvdtherapy: & 37 "No Dashall Hammett?"

Personally I think one Dashiell Hammett in this series is enough, mostly out of recognition of his being the father of the modern hard-boiled detective crime novel. Because, as in the case of most true innovators, those imitators that came along later (such as Chandler, Cain and Mosley) all did crime noir considerably better than Hammett.

Let’s face it, today Hammett is much more written about than read … most people that claim to know his work have probably only seen the film versions of The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man rather than read the actual novels. Having just re-read both TMF and Chandler’s The Big Sleep in the last couple of weeks I was made acutely aware how different the literary talents of the two authors really are. Chandler’s prose is as fresh and engaging today as it was when it was written, while Hammett’s “tough-guy” writing style – that once appeared to be so “hard-boiled” that it gave this name to the whole sub-genre that Hammett ultimately spawned – quite honestly now sounds very flabby and stilted to my own reading sensibilities.

Even Hammett knew this about himself. He fully realized that with his Sam Spade novels (and especially his short stories) he was simply capitalizing on the low expectations of the readers of Black Mask magazine (and other similar pulp publications) and he personally yearned to write something with much more literary and long-term significance. So in the early thirties he actually rejected the genre that made him famous (and somewhat wealthy for awhile during the late twenties and early thirties) and turned his efforts to writing what he termed “socially significant novels” instead. This decision, of course, turned out to be the death of his writing muse and no new Hammett fiction was published during the rest of his lifetime.

If only Hammett had known that virtually 50% of all new books written and sold in the 21st century would be about the Templars he might have called his classic Sam Spade novel “The Cypriot Falcon” or “The Sicilian Falcon” or “The Falcon from Rhodes” instead … and then today we would ultimately trace all of the Templar-inspired fiction of Dan Brown and Michael Beigent et al (plus countless others) back to Dashiell Hammett too! :)

"No Chester Himes?"

I'm a big, big Walter Mosley fan (and own signed first editions of most everything he's written) so I personally became aware of Himes from the fact that Mosley is rarely praised or critiqued by others without at least one reference of comparison to his literary forebear. I am not actually acquainted with anything penned by Himes but, based on those continual comparisons with Mosley whenever Mosley is being discussed, I now recognize that he was expressing in the fifties and sixties what Mosley was later expressing 30-40 years later in the nineties and the new millenium, the main difference between the two being that Himes was a despairing lone angry voice screaming in the wilderness while Mosley's later "kinder and gentler" more conciliatory approach to similar themes has allowed him to garner best-seller status and no less than personal presidential approval.

Clearly Himes is a man that was way ahead of his time and appreciative audience. However, I fear that you may be on a bit of a lonely crusade WRT expecting the RD editors to recognize his literary talents in this particular series, just as I don't seriously expect the more contemporary best-selling output of Mosley to be recognized in it either. That's a pity and maybe someday we will both be pleasantly surprised.

Post updated to remove any reference to “Books most recently read” section of my LT profile.

Apr 5, 2008, 10:26pm Top

Insightful as always Rule42. I guess I'll take a minute and admit to exactly what you just said. I've read "Falcon", and unfortunately, I saw and heard Bogie as Sam Spade. I love the Glass Key (as a film) because of Alan Ladd, who can't be a fan of Alan Ladd, especially when he was young? The Thin Man....Well, guilty again. The Nick and Nora movies are beloved in my home, especially the first few. Have I read anything besides Falcon? No.

Chandler, on the other hand, is always a joy. My only complaint was that he wasn't more prolific. However, quality over quantity is better I think in literature. I'm just trying to think of which book I'd most like to see if they add a 3rd Chandler title. Lady in the Lake, The High Window, Farewell, My Lovely, too hard to choose one. Besides, we'll see a 2nd Christie long before a 3rd Chandler surfaces.

Edited: Jul 13, 2011, 11:18am Top

I'm afraid I could not resist making post #42 on this thread! :)

"Chandler, on the other hand, is always a joy."

And the reason Chandler is so much more readable than Hammett? ... I'll posit here that it's because he was educated and lived in Britain for a large portion of his life. In particular, he received a classical education from Dulwich College which boasts many other literary illuminati (such as P.G. Wodehouse, C.S. Forester, A.E.W. Mason and Graham Swift) as having graced its portals.

"My only complaint was that he wasn't more prolific. However, quality over quantity is better I think in literature."

That would, of course, be an argument in favor of Hammett (who only has five novels and a couple of collections of short stories to his name) and against Agatha Christie (who has some 85+ published works to her credit). But even creating only a small output still does not make Hammett's books any more literate. Within AC's canon there are a number of stinkers but the marketers of her work always sell them by puffing the reputation of her very best work (of which there are, as we both know, more than quite a few).

Notice that all the puff on the back of those BD&L editions are quotes about Christie's work in general (e.g., "AC is very, very clever indeed" or"Beautiful deductions" etc.) and very, very few of those comments address the actual work in hand. That is extremely typical of the blurb printed on Christie's books no matter who is publishing them. That way, whichever publisher is always able to sell lots of copies of the weaker titles, such as The Pale Horse, by printing all kinds of plaudits on the back of its dust jacket that were originally made about A Murder is Announced or The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. What the critics actually penned about TPH is probably not fit to be published anywhere!

"Besides, we'll see a 2nd Christie long before a 3rd Chandler surfaces."

Not necessarily so. Even subscribers to RD products must stick their heads into B&N or Borders every now and then, so why would someone pay upwards of $20 (I have no idea what the subscription cost plus postage for these books is) for a Christie title they can buy for $12 or less in their local bookstore? There is some calculated planning to what RD releases as its titles in both this and the WBR series, and one thing it avoids is releasing titles that cannot compete on a price-competitive basis at the time they are released.

Apr 6, 2008, 11:58am Top

I agree I am tilting at windmills suggesting Mosley, Himes or Green. They are just not the demographis that RD is aiming for. That is to bad, they certainly fit the "Best Mysteries of All Time" catagory.

I have read almost everyting Hammett wrote and in my opinion Chandler's writing does not hold a candle to his. But that is just my opinon.

Apr 6, 2008, 1:01pm Top

Good to see you back! As far as some nameless others' stupidity, whatever.....I find your comments very intelligent, insightful, and often downright hilarious.

BTW, I finished "A Kiss Before Dying" the other day. It was pretty good, but I guessed most of the plot twists. The ending was fairly good as well, if a bit contrived. For the day, I found the work deserving of its place in the series. I'm starting "Presumed Innocent" next.

Edited: Aug 20, 2008, 4:44pm Top

>44 Engmaj08:

"... very intelligent, insightful, and often downright hilarious."

OMG ... please, please ... the management of this web site really doesn't want to encourage such obviously degenerate behavior on its message board, so if you see any evidence of those types of despicable vices being displayed on the LTMB please take the time and effort to immediately flag them.

"BTW, I finished "A Kiss Before Dying" the other day."

I finished it the other week and, as I had anticipated, thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a very cleverly structured and intricately layered story, and quite a remarkable effort for someone's first novel, not to mention an extremely mature and self-confident work for something written by a 23 year old. In fact, perhaps it's the author's very youth that's the ultimate key to this book's enduring success. Because the novel's story line is so audacious in its overall implausibility that it must either be the creation of a very young writer who feels virtually invincible, or the product of a very seasoned writer who's learned through vast experience exactly what can and cannot be pulled off.

Anyway, whether or not the young Levin fully realized exactly what he was doing, IMO he does ultimately pull this unlikely plot off with quite some panache. For instance, writing the whole first section of the book without ever referring to Bud Corliss by name, but only by third person pronouns, and thereby keeping his true identity hidden from the reader as long as possible, was truly masterful. Until I experienced it first hand I wouldn't have believed such a ploy could have worked.

Levin's use of back-to-back listings of both letters and newspaper articles to drive the narrative forward were similarly original stylistic devices that IMO worked extremely well in this novel because of the judicious usage Levin made of them; whereas, for instance, to make just one obvious comparison, I found the journal and newspaper articles used to similarly drive the story line of Bram Stoker's Dracula along to be quite annoying because that whole novel is written in this manner and, after awhile, it becomes rather tedious and instead starts to hinder rather than aid that novel's narrative.

The book is also a treasure trove of early fifties collegiate Americana. The quoted references to the then (viz. 1950-51) contemporary culture through what were at the time popular jukebox song lyrics (an understandable quirk of style given that Levin spent a portion of his later career as a song lyricist and musical bookwriter), as well as references to contemporaneous novels (e.g., Marquand's latest) and film revivals (e.g., Lost Horizon) all add to the overall atmosphere and authenticity of the story. Not that Levin had to make any special effort to add these kind of details into the narrative because he wrote the novel in 1952-53 during the first couple of years after having completed college himself - so he was merely capturing the contemporaneous culture of his own day which this novel now pristinely preserves for anyone that takes the effort to read it today.

The secret of good fiction writing (as well as good theater and cinema) is in being able to completely seduce the reader into "suspending his disbelief" for the entire duration of the story (or play or film) that you wish to present. If at any stage in the story-telling process that "suspension of disbelief" is allowed to drop then the story is usually considered a failure. As already stated, the chances of maintaining the suspension of the reader's disbelief in a plot where a sociopath consecutively romances to the point of marriage three sisters, without each of the later ones knowing about the earlier romance and death of their younger siblings, would appear, on the surface, to be pretty damn slim. However, Levin's crisp descriptive passages and realistic dialogue, his inclusion of interesting details of Americana (although Levin would not have seen it as such at the time) to create genuine period atmosphere, plus the interspersion of innovative narrative techniques, all combined to keep me so fully engrossed that any thought of unsuspending my own disbelief before turning the last page never had a chance to arise.

The fact that Bud's father-in-law (once he finally married the third sister) turned out to be a character straight out of an Ayn Rand novel made for a truly wonderful and satirically mordant ending to this fine book, and IMHO it fully deserved the Edgar Award that it received in 1954 (amongst many others) as that year's best first novel.

"I'm starting "Presumed Innocent" next."

That will be my next one too when I return back to mystery fiction ... cos in the mean time I've gotta sneak some of these pesky WBR classics I keep buying into my reading schedule somewhere! :(

Edited: Apr 9, 2008, 2:35am Top

>43 TLCrawford:

"I have read almost everyting Hammett wrote and in my opinion Chandler's writing does not hold a candle to his."

ROFLMAO here ...

Oh dearie mees, dash and damn it,
Just learnt a chap called Chandler
Can't hold a candle to Hammett.
In similar vein, it seems to mees,
Janet, Barbara and Jane Roberts
Can't see the woods for the trees!

Good luck in your lonely crusade tilting at windmills ... and feel free to mix metaphors with me here anytime you feel the urge. :)

>39 TLCrawford:

BTW, do you really feel Devil in a Blue Dress is Mosley's best Easy Rawlins novel? Like Ira Levin's first work, I think it was an extraordinarily mature and self-confident book by a young writer, but I also feel that his canon improves with each outing. So I'm not so sure I would personally pick that particular title for the ImPress series as being the best of Mosley's crime fiction.

Edited: Apr 28, 2008, 6:24pm Top

So which are the hardest titles to purchase in this series? I'm assuming here that hard-to-find equates to scarce which in turn equates to carrying the most expensive secondary market prices. And I fully realize that the easy answer to this question is that the most recently issued ones are the hardest ones to track down. What I'm really asking is: after compensating for that "most recent" factor, which ones are the hardest to locate? I currently own 33 titles which I had very little problem obtaining in near fine condition at reasonable prices, but I suspect that from here on out it is going to become a lot more difficult, as well as a lot more expensive, to obtain some if not many of the titles I'm still seeking.

For instance, the OP stated that he owns copies of all but 3 of the current 57 issued ImPress titles. I recently saw a copy of Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters sell for over $40 so I'm guessing that that is one of the 3 he's still missing. I suspect that the Michael Connelly is also hard to find.

Edited: Apr 19, 2008, 12:45am Top

>1 dvdtherapy:

OK, I've got some more date corrections for you. I believe that both the Ken Follett and Frederick Forsyth titles that are currently allocated to 2002 in the OP are really 2001 issues. I now have copies of both these books, plus inserts, and there is nothing on the proprietary information pages of either of these titles that identifies them as being issued in any particular year. However, both of their inserts are copyrighted in 2001 plus their ISBNs also correctly sequence them as being 2001 issues.

These two changes make much more sense to me (see post #12) ... because it now becomes clear that this series has been consistently issued at the rate of 7 titles per year since 2001. The fact that there appears to be 8 releases in 2003 and 2005 and only 6 releases in 2004 and 2006 probably only reflects the fact that titles which are copyrighted in the December of one year are not actually issued to subscribers until the beginning of the next year.

This series was initially issued in 1999 and 2000 at a frequency that was half the current release rate, but once it caught traction and became popular enough with RD subscribers then the release rate for new titles starting in 2001 was doubled to the current one book per every 7 and a bit weeks rate of issue.

Edited: Apr 25, 2008, 1:31pm Top

I checked out both books, but could not find a print date inside. I also do not have inserts on those two. I'll take your word for it of course. List has been updated.

Edited: Apr 28, 2008, 4:39pm Top

>49 dvdtherapy:

I cannot "prove" that those two titles were actually published in 2001 any more than I can prove a book with a copyright date of, say, 2005 was actually published in that year! For instance, I refer you to the titles Robinson Crusoe and Mansfield Park in the WBR series - both have a copyright date of 2005, but the former was released to subscribers in December 2004 and the latter was released in January 2006. However, if you check the ISBNs of the Follett and Forsyth titles you'll see that the Follett has a numeric value that lies between the ISBNs of "A" is for Alibi and Where Are the Children?, and the Forsyth has a numeric value that lies between the ISBNs of Strong Poison and The Maltese Falcon.

It also seems highly unlikely that the inserts for those two books would be printed a year before the associated books were published and shipped. I don't have many of the Mystery Magazine inserts but none of the ones I do have are copyright dated differently than the books they come with. Have you seen such discrepancies with your inserts? BTW, I totally agree with you that the inserts in this series are pretty naff and, unlike the WBR inserts, not worth worrying about. I'm so glad I learned that from you here before I jumped in and started bidding for these books on the internet, because if I had snubbed my nose at copies sans inserts I would have ended up allowing a lot of reasonably priced excellent condition copies of a number of the titles slip through my fingers.

Finally, the regular release of 7 new ImPress titles per year (once the series got going) seems much more likely than the previous scenario where only 5 titles were released in 2001 and then 9 were released the next year. You can determine from reading post #12 that that quirk has been bugging me ever since I read the original version of your OP. Now I can sleep soundly at night once again! :)

Edited: Apr 27, 2008, 10:18pm Top

Ahh... The missing titles. Since that post, I have narrowed the gap by one. I was missing Christie's Orient Express, Black Echo, and the one that's still bugging me, Crocodile on the Sandbank. I have picked up Black Echo. Glad that search is over. I have no need for Orient Express as I have a much nicer version already (part of my 85-piece Christie set). There are a lot of "Sandbanks" to be found, but I'm still not ready to plunk down $40 for one. I can wait. Should be about that time for a new issue I'd say.

OK. I bit the bullet. Found one for $30. So, minus the Christie, I'm complete.

Edited: Sep 13, 2012, 11:51pm Top

"There are a lot of "Sandbanks" to be found, but I'm still not ready to plunk down $40 for one."

So is that Elizabeth Peters title the only one in this series carrying that sort of price tag? I'm assuming that the original HC first edition of that novel is very expensive and highly sought after such that collectors are now pursuing the ImPress edition as a more reasonably priced HC alternative ... and bidding it up in the process. Or is the ImPress edition of this title so particularly nice and aesthetically pleasing that it stands way out from all the others?

"I have no need for Orient Express as I have a much nicer version already (part of my 85-piece Christie set)."

Neither had I before this damn thread ... now I own both the BD&L and ImPress editions! :( But at least doing that caused me to go re-read it ... or maybe read it for the first time, because although I well know the "plot twist" - viz. it's a whodunit where everybody dunit! - I had absolutely no recall of any of the novel's details that would have reminded me of having read it before. So maybe I just remembered the movie? Consequently, I immediately read AC's Five Little Pigs which I was pretty certain I HAD read as a young teenager. Still nothing! Is there something wrong with my memory or is it something about AC's writing that makes it totally forgettable?

In Christie's defense, I must say that I had forgotten (or had never realized) exactly how much tongue-in-cheek sardonic humor is ingrained in Christie's writing style. She's a much better writer than I had remembered her as being and gave her credit for earlier (see post #27). Perhaps, after all, I have allowed my English teachers (from those days) into brainwashing me retrospectively into accepting that I had wasted my time reading Christie ... hell, what did I know at the time? I probably only immersed myself in reading AC for about a year (around the age of 14 or 15) but I was averaging 1-2 of her books a week. I eventually abandoned her to move on to Ian Fleming novels instead. I see that as a perfectly natural transition ... my male pubescent hormones were boiling and the women in Fleming's novels were beautiful, sexy and seductive; plus his characters jet-setted around the world, fought evil, gambled, drank, blew things up, drove fast cars, and here's the kicker - every now and then Bond actually got one or more of the beautiful women into bed and had SEX! For a 14 year old boy, sex with women is a much more fascinating real life mystery than some theoretical blood-stained corpse in a library!

So, dvdt, how many of those 85 Christies have you read?

Edited: Apr 27, 2008, 6:03pm Top

First of all, third title? The only one I know about for 2008 is the Rice title. Do you have info on a 2nd issue? As per Christie, I'm trying to remember between recent and my foray into Christie 20 years ago. I'd say 27 titles give or take a few.

Can anyone tell me how to attach a photo in this thread?

Edited: Apr 27, 2008, 9:05pm Top

"Do you have info on a 2nd issue?"

No. If I did I would have posted it here like you did for the Craig Rice. However, we are almost into May so it must already have been issued. Otherwise there won't be 7 titles in 2008. I also don't know who was on the cover of the last issue of Fortune magazine; but I DO know that that particular issue was published within the last two weeks. Because that magazine is issued bi-weekly.

"I'd say 27 titles give or take a few."

Which may well be why BD&L stopped at 24 titles (as per post #20). I'm just throwing that thought out there. Market research may have shown that the passion and interest of AC fans, no matter how fervent initially, eventually dwindles into ambivalence after a certain number of books. Very, very few readers are going to commit themselves to reading the complete canon of Christie. Two dozen or so titles may have emerged as the optimal number that most Christie fans reach before finally moving on to other authors. I'm still not so sure I would have chosen quite the same 24 titles that the BD&L editors did, but that may have also been determined by the financial managers of the Christie estate; from their perspective it would probably be bad management to allow BD&L to cherry pick only the very best two dozen.

Does your 85 book set only cover her mystery/crime fiction, or are her non-mystery fiction and her non-fiction works (written as Agatha Christie) and her romance fiction (written under a nom de plume) also included? Does it include the script of the stage play The Mousetrap?

Edited: May 2, 2008, 2:51pm Top

The 85 book set was purchased from the U.K. and it includes all her works of mystery (novels & short stories), the plays (yes, including The Mousetrap) and her autobiography. Her few other works were not part of this set. Here is the website if you want to see what they look like, although Planet Three Publishing is no longer selling these.


Jun 14, 2008, 9:15pm Top

Update to post #1 - New book spotted!

Edited: Jul 21, 2008, 6:32pm Top

>56 dvdtherapy:

The Quiller Memorandum is a personal favorite read from my teenage years. But now I'm wondering how I will feel about it if and when I reread it? Because I've now read four of the BD&L Agatha Christie novels that I recently purchased and they were all rather average IMO. I would probably rate them all 3 or 3.5 stars using the LT rating system. I didn't dislike any of them; I just thought they were all relatively average whodunits compared to other mysteries I've read. I certainly wasn't as awe-inspired by any of them to the same extent that, say, Richard Attenborough or P.D. James (just two of the many celebs. whose plaudits for AC are quoted on the rear of the BD&L DJs) are obviously enthralled by her work. IMO her plots are a lot more contrived and unsatisfying than I remembered them being - except for "Orient Express" which I knew was contrived before I even started it. Although I didn't intend it that way, all four of the titles I read were Poirot outings, so I'm definitely going to make a point of reading one of her Marple mysteries next.

Edited: Sep 8, 2008, 11:02pm Top

>14 Engmaj08:

"Which books in the series are your favorites?"

Back when this question was posed above I only owned 10 titles in this series and had read only 5 of them. Since I now own over forty of these mostly elegant ImPress Mystery editions and have just finished reading my twentieth title in the series I now feel a little better qualified to respond to it. I've read all twenty of these books in the last year or so except for the Arthur Conan Doyle work which I read as recently as the late nineties, but which I dipped into again so as to refresh my opinion of it in order that I could be more objective with my rating of it WRT all the other titles listed. That same rationale also enticed me to recently re-read the Frederick Forsyth title again, since I had originally read that one over 36 years ago when it was first published.

So my current list of 10 favorite titles in the ImPress Mystery series to date would be:

1. Presumed InnocentScott Turow (4.5)
2. The Day of the JackalFrederick Forsyth (4.0+)
3. A Kiss Before DyingIra Levin (4.0+)
4. The Talented Mr. RipleyPatricia Highsmith (4.0+)
5. Whip HandDick Francis (4.0)
6. The Eye of the NeedleKen Follett (4.0)
7. 'A' is for AlibiSusan Grafton (4.0)
8. PostmortemPatricia Cornwell (4.0)
9. The Big SleepRaymond Chandler (4.0)
10. The Silent World of Nicholas QuinnColin Dexter (4.0-)

The scores given in parentheses are how I rate these works using the LT 5-star system, but according to the criteria I define at the end of my LT profile. The ten titles that didn't make the cut are the following:

11. AshendenW.S. Maugham (4.0-)
12. Anatomy of a MurderRobert Traver (3.5+)
13. The Sign of Four & The Valley of Fear – A. Conan Doyle (3.5)
14. Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie (3.5)
15. The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett (3.0+)
16. Calamity Town – Ellery Queen (3.0+)
17. The Doorbell Rang – Rex Stout (3.0)
18. Strong Poison – Dorothy L. Sayers (3.0)
19. The Scarlet Pimpernel – Baroness Orczy (3.0-)
20. Where Are the Children? – Mary Higgins Clark (1.0)

The Mary Higgins Clark work was probably one of the worst pieces of drivel I've ever read and should not have been included in this series IMO. Nor should the classic Orczy, but at least that one was fairly well written. I also don't think the RD editors chose the best Rex Stout effort for this series ... but they certainly gave it the most juvenile board design! :(

One of the more recent titles read was the Sue Grafton which I was not expecting great things from based on the OP's comments in post #15. Coming just after forcing myself to finish the MHC drivel I was not particularly looking forward to it. However, I thought it was a pretty good read; Grafton writes very good descriptive narrative creating excellent modern "hard-boiled mood" and enabling her to craft very well-formed and interesting characters. Plus, like Follett, Doyle, Traver and Christie, she also has a good sense of humor which always scores an author brownie points with me. It may have also helped that I had my expectations lowered by the comments in post #15, thus making me pleasantly surprised after expecting something dire, but I don't think I'm over-compensating here; I felt Grafton "out-Chandlers" Chandler to the same extent that Chandler "out-Hammetts" Hammett!

The next ones up for reading in this series will be the John D. MacDonald and the second Raymond Chandler issues, both of which I believe have the potential to gain a place in my current top-ten list. After that it will probably be the Martin Cruz Smith title which I've been meaning to get to for quite some time.

WRT my reacquainting myself with the works of Agatha Christie I've now read 7 of my recently purchased 10 BD&L editions. The next AC title that I intend to read is Evil Under the Sun which I don't remember having read before - not that that means anything given the success rate of my current recall WRT which AC titles I've already read. For instance, of those seven titles I've just read I was pretty certain that I'd read at least four of them when I was a teenager, yet none of those felt much like re-reads this time around. However, that was not the case when I re-read the Frederick Forsyth novel which I originally read in the same timeframe as the Christies ... everything in that novel was very familiar, as it should have been. So I don't believe it's simply my own memory that is at fault here ... or is it?

Jul 23, 2008, 12:34pm Top


Try "A Murder is Announced". I think it was my favorite :)

Edited: Jul 24, 2008, 6:31pm Top

>59 Engmaj08:

Yes, I did note that when you stated it earlier on - and, for what my recall is worth, I also remember that one as being pretty good too. I'm trying to read the BD&L titles I own in as close to chronological order of publishing as possible. I guess if I want to be totally pedantic about only reading chronologically I believe the last one that I should have read was Evil Under the Sun which was originally published a year earlier than The Body in the Library - but that one is a Poirot title and I was ready for another Marple outing instead. "Evil" will be the next one up and after that A Murder is Announced (1950) and then A Caribbean Mystery (1964) which are the only other Marple mysteries that I currently own.

Which segues me quite nicely to your earlier comment that you felt the Marple mysteries were AC's best. Taking that statement at face value, one possible reason why that might be the case is that most of the Marple novels where written in AC's mature years (1942-1965) when she was at her literary peak. Although she only had 5 Poirot novels under her belt when she had her first Marple mystery ("Vicarage") published in 1930, by the time she got to writing her second Marple mystery ("Library") twelve years later (1942) AC had by then written 20 Poirot novels, the aforementioned "Evil" being the twentieth one.

Then from 1942 to 1965 AC wrote Marple and Poirot novels at about the same rate - viz. 9 of each. Furthermore, as she entered this mature writing period Miss Marple was a fresh creation while, as I stated earlier, by this same time she was pretty damn fed up with Poirot to the point of beginning to quite detest him. So although AC wrote an equal amount of Marple and Poirot novels during her most experienced writing years, the focus of her best creativity went into the Marple works whilst she was only churning out the Poirot ones mostly to satisfy the demands of her readers (and consequently her publishers).

Of course The Body in the Library - which I just finished - does not go very far in justifying that argument as it is one of AC's weaker efforts, although the first couple of chapters were quite humorous. AC really allows her sense of humor out to play with the Miss Marple mysteries. Unfortunately the book deteriorates as it proceeds; I got the impression that AC padded an idea that was probably only sufficient to sustain a short story into a (barely) full length mystery with this one. I'm not exactly sure why that particular title was included in the reissues published by BD&L, let alone the first batch of 8 titles in that series, because it is quite inferior to the other 7 titles chosen for that first BD&L release.

Jul 28, 2008, 11:31am Top

Another new book in circulation. The Franchise Affair , by Josephine Tey is the newest one.

Jul 28, 2008, 5:42pm Top

Hi dvdtherapy, thanks for the update. I believe the two 2008 issues that you are missing in your OP that were released prior to the Adam Hall title are:

Serious Intent – Margaret Yorke
Edwin of the Iron Shoes – Marcia Muller

I'm not certain of this though, and I cannot point you to a current eBay or Amazon listing of either of these titles in order to prove it. However, it is a lot easier to locate a title once you know what you are looking for, so please add them to post #1 if and when you verify them.

So what didn't you like about the Sue Grafton? I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by it. Do you have any suggestions for what I should read next once I've finished the Dick Francis that I'm reading?

Edited: Jul 31, 2008, 12:02pm Top

So, I have a funny story. I recently won a large box of Best Mysteries on eBay, which included the title "Serious Intent" by Margaret Yorke. I was very excited to have a "rare" title, I guess, since I have no such luck with "World's Best Reading". Well, I got my books today, looked at "Serious Intent", and it is not an ImPress release! It is the same size, but definitely not the same series. Oh well...I'll probably read it anyway when I have time.
It also came with the free addition of "Crocodile on the Sandbank", sadly severely water damaged (and, therefore, not shelf worthy) :) I wonder why this title is always so expensive. It doesn't seem to be rare, as it can be found as readily as any other book in the series. I say we randomly pick a book that some of us have a duplicate of and say that it's rare as well so we can sell them for $60 apiece.
On a side note, I did some research regarding "Edwin of the Iron Shoes" as well, and it seems that this and other Marcia Muller titles have been published by "Impress Mystery", but it is not the same company. They are not the same size or design as our series.

Edited: Aug 4, 2008, 1:25am Top

>63 Engmaj08:

"It is the same size, but definitely not the same series."

Ah, thanks, I'm so relieved to learn that. Which was, of course, why I put those 2 titles out there; so I would find out one way or the other! :) Those are not the first two titles that I have seen misidentified with this series, but all the other ones were obviously bogus, whilst those two authors and titles both seemed like they could have been feasible additions to this series.

"I'll probably read it anyway when I have time."

Ahhhh, I bet you say that about every book you add to your library! :)

"... 'Crocodile on the Sandbank', sadly severely water damaged ..."

I guess your copy must have spent too much time laying on the sandbank, eh? I do so hate to have sand in my books, don't you? It's almost as bad as walking on spilled sugar on the floor! BTW, does your copy have any teeth marks or little chunks bitten out of it? Just curious.

"I wonder why this title is always so expensive. It doesn't seem to be rare, as it can be found as readily as any other book in the series."

Well, I think the explanation is partially the one I gave back in post #52; viz. that HB copies of the Dodd, Mead & Company first edition of that book have now become so expensive that some Peters fans are now opting for the ImPress Mystery edition instead, thereby providing a pool of buyers prepared to pay quite a bit more than the average title in this series commands. However, that is just a working hypothesis. The other factor that might come into play here is a kind of "web groupthink" mentality - but that factor needs a little further explanation (please bear with me here).

If you keep bidding on (or even just observe from the sidelines) a given book title being offered online, and every time watch it sell for much more than you yourself are prepared to pay for it, then you can come to one of only two conclusions. Either (a) the number of available copies of that book is relatively low versus all the pent-up demand for it, thus it's actually worth that high of an asking price; or (b) as you claim (and I concur with your intuition) the number of available copies of that book are quite plentiful relative to all the demand for it, so the book is not actually worth the high prices continually being paid for it, and thus all the people that do pay those amounts are ninnies.

You have to be a bit of an egotist (I'm right and everyone else is a ninny) to adopt rationale (b) so most people would suggest that rationale (a) is the only correct explanation, and the "working hypothesis" presented above is indeed my attempt to do exactly that. In which case, in order for you to obtain a comparatively dry and sand-free copy of the "overpriced book" that you seek, you too must be prepared to spend what everyone else appears prepared to pay for it. Besides, real life is full of examples of where a majority of ninnies with no appreciation of true value determine the market prices of stuff ... try buying a tulip bulb in Holland in 1636 during the height of the tulip mania; or a "dotcom" high tech stock in January 2000; or a single family residence during the height of the recent housing bubble that is still deflating (and will continue to do so for quite some time yet).

However, accepting rationale (a) - and thus going off and bidding $50-$60 for the next copy of the Peters title that you stumble across online - if rationale (b) is actually the correct explanation does have the ironic effect of turning you into a ninny too! Because now you would be paying $50-$60 for something you intrinsically feel is worth only $7-$15 simply because you have seen lots of other people (a.k.a. ninnies) do it before you - monkey see, monkey do! And that is the "web groupthink" mentality I referred to; and it's the froth that economic bubbles are made of.

That Peters title may not be quite as widely available as the Rex Stout one, say, but it is, as you state, still fairly common. So how did its price initially get bumped way up there - that is, what was the initial cause of the "ImPress Peters bubble"? I'm guessing the explanation is the following. On websites such as Amazon, the listings for used books that are reasonably priced get cleared out fairly quickly (because the book sold) while the listings that are clearly overpriced languish (because no sensible person is willing to pay such a stupid price). Which means that, for instance, if all the copies of a harder-to-find-than-average book priced under $30 are immediately sold, the only ones that will be visible most of the time are the stupid ones offering to sell it priced anywhere from $30 to $300 (quite frankly, when it comes to possible maximum prices the sky's the limit).

Now suppose I'm a used bookseller that just bought a lot of 50 ImPress Mystery titles in an estate sale for a $1 apiece. I intend to sell them online but I'm not sure how to price them. Because these are books that can only be purchased via subscription there is very little information generally available about them (and you yourself know exactly how accurate and helpful RD customer service is WRT inquiries about its products!) while they are also nowhere near expensive enough to appear in any of the many catalogues of collectible books. The only easy pricing strategy left to me is to price my book based on the prices being asked by other sellers for that title in similar condition. Thus, if the only copies of the Peters title listed, when I go to determine how to price my own copy, are all the ones priced over $50 (that none of the sensible buyers have touched) then it is very likely that I will also price my copy accordingly. Once again, a case of monkey see, monkey do. And thus the bubble expands.

To backup this theory I suggest that you research the current "online going rate" for an ImPress Mystery edition of Ashenden. If only the Amazon website is to be believed, a copy of this one is worth between $50 to $75 before even the cost of S&H is added. Since I paid something like $6 (including S&H) for my copy in the winter of 2006 that tenfold increase in value in 18 months would be very pleasing news to me ... if only I didn't also see copies of it being offered on eBay for BIN prices of $5 - $10. Rats! :(

"... this and other Marcia Muller titles have been published by 'Impress Mystery', but it is not the same company."

I'm surprised that RD haven't gone after that company legally for trademark infringement ... or vice versa if that company was using that name before RD started using it. It would appear that the other ImPress Mystery only publishes PBs.

Aug 6, 2008, 7:38pm Top

After taking quite a break, I'm going to go back to reading this series in order. I'm sometimes afraid that my energy goes more into collecting books than into reading them. I certainly can't let that happen! Rule42's ratings of the individual books have really encouraged me to read them, as it seems that they have done a good job of picking titles so far. (BTW, I'll have to read that Mary Higgins Clark title. Isn't she supposed to be good?)
It's funny because I stopped a quarter of the way into "Presumed Innocent" because I got busy and thought the book was going nowhere. I'm starting it again since it is Rule42's top rated book!

Also, I just finished "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" - it didn't really feel like a re-read, but who doesn't already know the ending. I agree that there is some humor I don't remember from the first time around, but I was also surprised by the "clews" in the book that left me feeling like "that would never happen in real life." In other words, several things were not really that believable. The "dictophone"...come on. And this stuck out from the beginning as something important strictly because of it being so wierd to hear this today.

Aug 10, 2008, 2:55am Top

"I'm starting it again since it is Rule42's top rated book!"

For me, the Turow tome pretty well has everything a good novel should have. It is well written (IMO it's always a good sign when I have to refer to a dictionary a number of times while reading a book); the characters are all well-developed (and thus interesting); it captures the political intrigues and power-plays of the fictional DA's office (I've always been a big fan of TV shows like Law and Order that show the complete "behind-closed-doors" political, legal and judicial aspects of what is involved in a criminal investigation, and not just the more mundane "cops-and-robbers" street action that all the TV crime shows of the 50s through the 70s focused on; I guess the show NYPD Blue was pivotal in that more contemporary shift of focus); it has great courtroom scenes that appear to my sensibilities to be authentic (unlike the more melodramatic and unrealistic Perry Mason ones we all grew up with!); and the story line has lots of psychological and cerebral twists and surprises that keep you turning the pages. They were not all earth-shattering, barely-credible melodramatic ones (à la Christie), but rather lots of small ones ... which is all it takes to maintain tension in a novel of any kind.

Furthermore, unlike the somewhat overrated Christie mysteries, the clues in Turow's novel as to the real identity of the murderer are actually right out in front of you for most of the latter part of the novel, rather than being just vaguely and obscurely hinted at - viz. how is an unexplained moved armchair immediately going to make you suspect the doctor narrator of being the perpetrator? Once you learn that fact in "Roger Ackroyd" you don't feel, "Arrrr, I should have known that all along," but instead you feel cheated, betrayed and intellectually violated ... or, at least, that was how I felt. Because everyone knows that it's a total no-no for the narrator of a whodunit mystery to also be the perpetrator of the crime - making a murderer the official documentor of his own crime is somewhat the moral equivalent of putting an alcoholic in charge of the drinks cabinet!

If ACD had had Doctor Watson be the perpetrator of any of the crimes that Sherlock Holmes investigated there would have been a major reader revolt against him; so why do so many people think that that particular Christie whodunit is her best one? IMO, it just shows me that most people reading Agatha Christie do not understand and appreciate the unspoken rules inherently involved in crafting a whodunit novel; rules that Christie flagrantly violated in "Roger Ackroyd"! It wasn't a "very clever mystery with a surprising twist" in my mind but rather a total betrayal of the basic axioms that determine the whodunit genre. It's perfectly OK to write a novel where the protagonist is an anti-hero (and do be sure to check out the Patricia Highsmith title as soon as you can), but IMHO it's a betrayal of office, and of the reader's inherent trust in the narrator of a whodunit story line, to have either of the persons playing the modern equivalent roles of Doctor Watson or Sherlock Holmes turn out to be the bad guy.

"it didn't really feel like a re-read"

So it's not just me that feels that way, then?! Phew ...

"... but who doesn't already know the ending."

I'm quite sure I must have known the ending when I read this one the first time around, but quite frankly it surprised me again on the re-read because, as I've repeatedly complained about, I can hardly tell the difference between a Christie I've read before and one that I haven't! Alzheimer's ... the disease that keeps on giving! :(

Edited: Aug 19, 2008, 3:31pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Aug 20, 2008, 1:02pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Aug 20, 2008, 8:37pm Top

>68 dvdtherapy:

"When I got home from work last night, I was greeted by an angry wife ..." AND "Apparently, without my knowledge, she's been reading those books."

Damn, dvdtherapy, it sounds like you've completely lost control of your household. From my own experience of these kind of situations, since your wife has now started reading books without your knowledge, things can only get much worse for you from here on out. Before you know it, the next thing she'll probably be doing is asking to be treated as YOUR goddam equal!

You should have known there was something wrong when your wife kept coming out of the kitchen to nag at you. Because that's usually a sign that you've made her chain too long! :(

What's that? Gee, I really don't know. If there is an irony font on LT then nobody's told me about it!

"They've been OK, to good, but I haven't found a stunner yet."

Hmm, that sounds just like my dating resumé. Why don't you use my ratings in post #58? Since I last updated that post I've read a couple more of the titles in this series, both of which I rated 5 star reads (i.e., I considered them both better outings than the Turow). #1 on my list is now Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye and #2 is now John D. MacDonald's The Deep Blue Goodby. I suspect from your comments in post #41 that you've already read the Chandler, so why don't you give the MacDonald a whirl for your next engagement with this series? I know I'm definitely going to make the effort to track down and read some more of the Travis McGee novels.

BTW, you might also enjoy some of the Grafton-baiting portions of this thread. Start reading around about post #360.

I'll now add a touch of quality to this post by ending it with a "long deep blue goodbye"! :)

Aug 21, 2008, 1:36am Top

Thanks Rule, I'm all over that MacDonald. I was hoping that one would be a good one.

Oh, by the way....I might be in trouble. I think she wants to vote this year. Yep....lost all control....

Edited: Aug 22, 2008, 6:06pm Top

OK. I read The Deep Blue Good-By last night. Perfect length for in betweeen dinner and bedtime. That was pretty good. I must say it had a very satisfying ending. I also will now be on the lookout for more Travis McGee novels. Faith in the series renewed, if not yet restored.

Aug 23, 2008, 5:53pm Top

Well that's good to know. Let's see if I can't move you the next step along towards restoring your faith in this series. If you haven't read The Long Goodbye (TLG) yet then, since I know you're a fan of his, make sure you read that one next. It's probably Chandler's best novel from a literary perspective. But, then again, surely no one is reading Chandler today purely for his plots?! I didn't like The Big Sleep (TBS) nearly quite as much because IMO the plot of that one is way too complicated and action-oriented à la Hammett - there are far too many characters with dubious motives simultaneously executing their own interweaved agendas and IMO it's all very cumbersome and gets in the way of why I personally like to read Chandler ... which is for his insightful perspectives and social commentary, and his sardonic and witty narrative.

The plot of TLG is a lot more straightforward than TBS and the key characters are much better developed and therefore much more engaging. However, the main reason I enjoyed it more is that it's a longer novel than TBS, and most of that extra length is taken up with what Chandler does best - viz. his finely wrought prose. I can think of no other writer before or since that can come up with quite so many highly perceptive, colorful and sharply lyrical similes and metaphors per page as Chandler, and this novel abounds with them. Many writers since Chandler have tried, and some can even maintain it for a few chapters, but in most cases all their best efforts usually descend back into being simply pastiche or sentimental homage to this highly original stylistic master of the crime noir genre.

And on that note I want to retract what I said earlier about Grafton "out-Chandlering" Chandler in post #58 above. At his best - and Chandler is on tip-top form in TLG - there simply is nobody else that can "out-Chandler" Chandler. Grafton is a fine writer (much better than I expected) and at her best she might indeed be able to equal or better the more Hammett-influenced side of Chandler's writing; in fact, as my ratings indicate, I enjoyed her "Alibi" novel more than Chandler's TBS. So I think that comment reflects much of my disappointment with TBS.

OTOH, TLG is a way far better work which was written while Chandler was nursing his wife Cissy through her long fatal illness. There's a lot of heavy drinking to excess in TLG; one of the central plot threads in the novel is the hiring of Marlowe to watch over Roger Wade, who is a popular author that's hit the bottle, in order to try and keep him dry so that he can complete his next popular historical romance, and I suspect that Chandler wrote a lot of himself into this character since he too, like so many top-flight authors, was an alcoholic. After Cissy finally died in 1954 Chandler started to hit the bottle pretty hard again until he finally attempted suicide in 1955. It's that sort of real life anguish and torment from which real art is usually wrought, and which is why I suspect all of the sensual women and the heavy drinking appear so vividly genuine in this novel.

It's also nice to see the noir knight-errant Marlowe finally fall in love and get laid for a change. I can't help thinking that Philip Marlowe would have had a much better literary sex life at the hands of John MacDonald who is one of the few authors I've read that can pen realistic and natural sex scenes. Usually, most crime authors completely ruin their mysteries and whodunits when they try and introduce romance and sex into them, and for me it's usually a complete no-no.

Ergo I did not enjoy very much The Scarlet Pimpernel which, admittedly, is NOT a mystery novel at all, but rather an historical romance (possibly something Roger Wade might have aspired to having written!) set against a background of aristocratic subterfuge and international daring-do; but whatever it is, it should NOT have been included in the ImPress "Best Mysteries of All Time" series!

Ergo I also found problems with the Robert Traver novel, which IMO definitely took a turn for the worse once he tried to have his main protagonist - the lawyer that is defending the incarcerated murderer on an insanity plea - fall romantically in love with the owner of the bar and hotel where the murder crime was committed. That romantic interlude probably cost that novel a full star in my rating of it, because I was quite engaged with it up until that point.

Ergo I also did not like very much the Dorothy L. Sayers offering where Lord Peter Wimsey falls in love (that is, if you can actually call pseudo-upperclass nitwitted infatuation with a person of the opposite sex "love") with the woman that is accused of poisoning her ex-lover. Sheesh, am I the only person that finds the writing of Ms. Sayers incredibly digressional (a.k.a. long-winded and completely off the story line) and annoyingly snobbish? IMO the only saving grace she has is her playful sense of humor and the great swath of Biblical and classical quotations she sprinkles liberally around her novels. When it comes to the crime and mystery genre Sayers is an accutely perceptive and intelligent lady and IMO all her best writing lies in the non-fictional analyses that she has penned about the genre rather than anything that she has created within it.

As for Mary Higgins Clark, what more can I say, other than that today I made an eBay bid on another copy of her dreadful piece of piffle just so that I will have a physical copy I can joyfully burn without destroying the integrity of my own ImPress Mystery collection. * Light bulb goes on above Rule42's head. * Hey, dvdtherapy, why don't you read the MHC title next? Once you are done with it send me an email and I'll make you an offer for your entire collection. :)

Edited: Jul 4, 2012, 1:57am Top

OK, a new 2008 ImPress Mystery issue spotted and verified: Chiefs by Stuart Woods. Where on earth is this thread's concierge when you need him? I bet he's off surreptitiously reading his tenth Travis McGee novel ! :)

And for Engmaj08, here are my current ratings of the Agatha Christie titles that were re-issued by BD&L. I've now read all of them and rank them as follows:

1. Death on the Nile – Poirot (4.0+)
2. The Hollow – Poirot (4.0)
3. A Murder is Announced – Marple (4.0)
4. Murder at the Vicarage – Marple (3.5+)
5. Murder on the Orient Express – Poirot (3.5+)
6. Murder in Mesopotamia – Poirot (3.5)
7. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Poirot (3.5)
8. The Moving Finger – Marple (3.5)

9. The Mystery of the Blue Train – Poirot (3.5--)
10. Sad Cypress – Poirot (3.0++)
11. 4.50 from Paddington – Marple (3.0+)
12. The A.B.C. Murders – Poirot (3.0+)
13. Evil Under the Sun – Poirot (3.0+)
14. The Tuesday Club Murders – Marple (3.0+)
15. The Mysterious Affair at Styles – Poirot (3.0)
16. After the Funeral – Poirot (3.0)

17. Peril at End House – Poirot (3.0)
18. Hercule Poirot's Christmas – Poirot (3.0)
19. A Caribbean Mystery – Marple (3.0)
20. At Bertram's Hotel – Marple (3.0)
21. Appointment with Death – Poirot (3.0)
22. Five Little Pigs – Poirot (3.0-)
23. Cat Among the Pigeons – Poirot (2.5+)
24. The Body in the Library – Marple (2.5)

( Edited to update the list of titles rated. )

Sep 9, 2008, 8:40pm Top

Thanks Rule, you beat me to that one. No time for McGee. Work's kicking my butt lately. Be careful with the Blue Train, Christie said it was her least favorite book. I've never read it, but, tell you what. I'm off for a couple of days, I'll start it tonight and see how it goes.

Sep 11, 2008, 3:29pm Top

So how was it? One of the reasons I chose that one for my next read is precisely because it is one of the "marginally contentious" choices for the set of 24 BD&L reissues (as discussed earlier on this thread). One of the things that I did before I made post #24 above was go to each of the B&N, Chorion and BD&L websites and check the member reviews and ratings of each of the 24 BD&L titles on them, and thus that designation of "marginally contentious" by me is based on the various user rankings and ratings I found on those websites.

That status of "least favorite" for The Mystery of the Blue Train is Christie's own description of it (made in her autobiography, I believe) and is based more on the series of traumatic events in her personal life leading up to the time of writing it - and hence the emotional difficulties they caused her in being able to focus on and complete it - than it is a true reflection of how well that title has subsequently fared with the literary reviewers and her book buying and reading public. I've repeatedly read on the web that although Christie herself rated it her "least favorite" mystery novel (which many people naturally interpret to simply mean "worst"), most serious AC critics would claim that there are many other candidates in her mystery canon more deserving of such a dire assessment. It might be more accurate to call it the mystery novel AC "least enjoyed writing." And that is an entirely different concept!

Any mother of multiple children can probably tell you which was her most difficult and troubling pregnancy - but it doesn't follow at all that the child that was the most difficult and painful to deliver will consequently grow up to be the least accomplished of that mother's progeny.

Edited: Mar 9, 2011, 5:49pm Top

I have almost all the BMAT titles and can locate all that are rediculouly priced that I don't have. The mystery title to me is Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon.I have searched the internet high and low and it is not offered. Comments please. I am new to this forum but will offer info and ask questions from time to time. On March22 Rule42 mentioned that there were 73 titles in the WBR series. I have more titles than that. What does RD charge for each book in the BMAT series? Why is Mildred Pierce in this series? I have 4 books I would gladly trade.The Chill,Home Sweet Homocide,The Riddle of the Sands and The Moonstone. Would gladly trade these duplicates in excellent condition but no insert for Chiefs, anything from 2010 or from 2009 Fletch,And Then There Were None or The Ivory Grin. Trade or purchase. wdoe @ verizon .net

Nov 22, 2008, 10:44am Top

It appears that another new title has surfaced. Post#1 is updated.

Edited: Feb 7, 2009, 7:02pm Top

Thanks for adding the 2008 Ngaio Marsh and Erskine Childers titles to your OP, dvdtherapy. It would appear that the first title of 2009 is John le Carré's The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. IMO this one is long overdue for the "espionage mystery" portion of this series *rolls eyes* which actually accounts for many of the better reads in this collection.

Quite frankly, I'm still a little baffled why more than 10 years after the initiation of this "best of" series we still haven't seen any representation in it of the works of Georges Simenon, G.K. Chesterton, John Dickson Carr, John Creasey, Nicholas Blake and Julian Symons - to name just a handful that I would have chosen over, say, Lisa Scottoline - and yet we've already had second helpings from some of the other authors already exemplified in the series. I really would love to be a fly on the wall in the Reader's Digest office when the editors have their meetings that determine which authors and titles get added to this series!

Edited in order to try and encourage all of the author touchstones to work ... without success, apparently. :(

Feb 10, 2009, 2:17am Top

Thanks for that tidbit Rule. Title confirmed and Post 1 updated. That may just pull me back in. I've actually wanted to read that one for some time now. By the way, I've been off these for a while as my Dad got me into these Terry Goodkind books. Anyone read this series? I've been enthralled for the last 3 months, but I'm halfway into book 5 now and seriously getting bogged down. Is there any hope for this series to bounce back or is it better to walk away now? Anyone?

Aug 16, 2009, 11:26pm Top

Update. 2 New Titles found. See Post #1

Nov 1, 2009, 12:26am Top

New book found, post 1 updated.

Apr 30, 2010, 11:12am Top

Updated post #1 - New books found.

Sep 18, 2010, 12:13am Top

Just picked up The Man From The Sea by Michael Innes. Its a 2010 release.

Jan 20, 2011, 4:50pm Top

Is this thread still alive? Does anyone have books from this series they are willing to trade?

Feb 6, 2011, 12:56am Top

>84 Roryhawke:

No, unfortunately it's now deader than a doornail. It was found lying in a large pool of blood in the middle of the Library floor. But no one seems to know who killed it. It's a mystery! :(

Feb 9, 2011, 7:12pm Top

Hi all. Just found your chat line. I have all 76
books dating back to 1999. I also have all but 5
of the reader's digest world's best reading series.
In another corner I have all the Louis L'Amour leather
bound (fake) editions. All have been located and
purchased on the secondary market. Mostly good-
will. The fun is in the hunt. I just went through all books and gave a whole box to the good-will.
I also have the complete set of Classic Illustrated
comic books from the 40's and 50's. I bought
them with my paper route money.

Edited: Feb 20, 2011, 8:28am Top

modelabum, I agree completely that the fun is in the hunt.

There are 74 titles at the top of this thread. Could you provide the additional titles/authors/years that you have?


Feb 16, 2011, 12:10pm Top

The Innocence Of Father Brown
C. K. Chesterton 2010

The Man From The Sea
Michael Innes 2010

The Horizontal Man
Helen Eustis 2011 (?)

Edited: Mar 9, 2011, 9:10pm Top

I was at a charity store this morning and found a like-new hardcover book, The Scarlet Pimpernel from The Best Mysteries of All Time series published by Impress/Reader's Digest. There is an insert (4.75 x 7.75 inches) with a photo of the baroness and a 14 question match up game. It says: "Translate, Please! Can't figure out what they're saying in The Scarlet Pimpernel? Try to match the phrases to their correct meaning." 14 words and phrases are lined up along with the answers in scrambled order. By looking at the answer key at the bottom a person can match up: En avant! (meaning Let's go!), Fop (meaning a vain man), Sou (meaning French copper currency), etc. I liked the flower on the cover and liked that the flower pattern was repeated at the beginning of each chapter. I paid $2 for the book.

Mar 11, 2011, 2:28pm Top

Found another one yesterday at Goodwill.

"Death Of A Dissident"
Stuart Kaminsky (2010)

Someone who is not computer illiterate like
me should update post #1.

Edited: Apr 21, 2011, 9:07pm Top

I've been following the conversations for about a year. I hit this site while trying to build a buy list. I actually subscribed for about a year in 2003/2004. The series got me hooked onto the Mystery Genre and they have been a big part of my reading ever since. I'm a retired Army officer/ small college library director so I now have time to read 3 -5 books a week. I was shocked to see how much "Crocodile on the Sandbank" was going for in the used book market - I gave my library it and some other 8 or 9 titles when I moved to Georgia in 2005. Thanks to every one who has added to the list. I will share a "secret" with you. I have 51 titles now and got most of them thru The Paperback Swap Club ( We swap HB's too) My favorites in the series that I have read are Deadlock, Black Echo, and Dance hall of the Dead Also the Spy who Came in from the Cold which was read when I was on a John Le Carre kick. Thanks to Modelabum for the 2010 & 2011 additions. PS I am OldEd because I am 78.

Apr 21, 2011, 9:02pm Top

How do you add books to this List?

Edited: May 9, 2011, 1:05pm Top

Here is a list of all the books I have in the Impress Mystery Series. They are all for sale if anyone needs some of them to add to their collection. You can buy one book or all of them if you would like. The books are in like new condition and have never been read. Some of them have the inserts in them and some don't. If you have any questions you can email me at dherrig_55@hotmail.com or reply to this thread. Thank you.

Deadlock - Sara Paretsky
Last Seen Wearing - Hillary Waugh SOLD
I Married a Dead Man - Cornell Woolrich
The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey SOLD
The Sign of Four/The Valley of Fear - Arthur Conan Doyle SOLD
Death of a Peer - Ngaia Marsh SOLD
A Stranger in My Grave - Margaret Millar
A Great Deliverance - Elizabeth George
Briarpatch - Ross Thomas
The Horizontal Man-Helen Eustis SOLD
Dance Hall of the Dead - Tony Hillerman SOLD
The Thirty-Nine Steps & Greenmantle - John Buchan
Mildred Pierce - James Cain
The Tiger in the Smoke - Margery Allingham
Above Suspicion - Helen MacInnes
Ashenden - W. Somerset Maugham SOLD
The Man From the Sea – Michael Innes SOLD
Calamity Town - Ellery Queen
Crocodile on the Sandbank - Elizabeth Peters SOLD
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Orczy
A Coffin for Dimitrios - Eric Ambler
The False Inspector Dew - Peter Lovesey
The Man With a Load of Mischief - Martha Grimes SOLD
Gorky Park - Martin Cruz Smith
A Thief of Time - Tony Hillerman
The Deep Blue Goodbye - John D. MacDonald
The Chill - Ross MacDonald
Friday the Rabbi Slept Late - Harry Kemelman
The Laughing Policeman - Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo
The Doorbell Rang - Rex Stout
Ice - Ed McBain SOLD
Home Sweet Homicide - Craig Rice
Clouds of Witness - Dorothy L. Sayers
The Long Goodbye - Raymond Chandler
Death of A Dissident – Stuart Kaminsky SOLD
Payment Deferred - C.S. Forester
Burglars Can't Be Choosers - Lawrence Block SOLD
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold - John Le Carre
And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie
L.A. Requiem - Robert Crais SOLD
Fletch - Gregory Mcdonald SOLD
A Morbid Taste of Bones - Ellis Peters
I, the Jury - Mickey Spillane SOLD

May 9, 2011, 3:39pm Top

From the entries in this thread, I've created a Publishers Series at http://www.librarything.com/publisherseries/The%2520Best%2520Mysteries%2520of%25...

Looks like 79 works, so far, including those in post 62, which I could not confirm (either as part of the series or the year). Any member may edit/delete an entry on the work's main page, at the bottom of the "Common Knowledge" section.


Edited: Jun 1, 2011, 9:03am Top

Osbaldistone-Thanks for creating the Publisher Series. It's a great idea. Possible edits for you to consider - I believe two of the books that you show are not part of the ImPress Best Mysteries series; "Edwin of the Iron Shoes" (2008) and "Serious Intent" (2008).

Jun 2, 2011, 8:39pm Top

>95 gerrs:
Thanks. If you're certain, feel free to delete them from the list. As I mentioned, I took them from post 62, but there was some uncertainty stated. In the meantime, I've added a '?' to these two to indicate uncertainty.


Jul 13, 2011, 1:15pm Top

>94 Osbaldistone: - 96

Hmm, I don't see any way of currently editing the Publishers Series page for this series in order to add back in the titles that were incorrectly omitted from those listed in post #1 nor to remove the two spurious titles that were added despite the information to the contrary provided in posts #63, #64 and #95. Looks like what has been created here is the LT equivalent of a Wikiality that is now cast in concrete in perpetuity. Although the OP at the top of this thread is now a little out of date, what is posted there WRT this series IS ACCURATE, and for the most part it is the summation of information provided by contributors (within the thread) that actually own the series, and so know what they are talking about, rather than yet another incomplete list of titles created by someone that doesn't!

Also, am I the only person that feels the Publishers Series page should use the correct LT book images for this series rather than the random selection of images that are currently being displayed? Otherwise, what's the point?

Jul 13, 2011, 5:16pm Top

Publishers Series is part of Common Knowledge and, like other CK fields, can be edited on the individual works pages by anyone. If there is a work that should not be included, you are free to go that work page and delete the info in the Publisher Series field (of course, the person who put it there in the first place is also free to add it back). It is not "cast in concrete in perpetuity".

Edited: Jul 14, 2011, 12:52am Top

>98 sqdancer:

Ahhh, I was trying to get edit access to the Publishers Series page via the Common Knowledge page (once I found I couldn't edit the actual page directly). I have gone ahead and deleted the spurious Marcia Muller and Margaret Yorke titles and added in the missing 2003 Ngaio Marsh work (using its original UK publication title of Surfeit of Lampreys rather than its US publication title of Death of a Peer under which it was released in this series). I have also correctly ordered the titles on that page by their (roughly) bimonthly release dates through to the end of 2009 (because I'm not quite sure of the correct sequence of the titles after that point).

If someone knows how to make that Marsh title show up on the Publshers Series page under its correct title in this series I'm sure it would be much appreciated. I also don't see any way of selecting the correct Impress Mystery book image for these titles to be displayed on the Publishers Series page. Which is a bit of a pity really because pretty good quality images have been uploaded to LT for the first 70 or so titles in this series. Perhaps I'm missing something?

Jul 13, 2011, 10:04pm Top

>99 Rule42:
Thanks for the fix. I agree that the book owners can best enter the books in the series into the Publishers Series CK field. However, when I compiled the info from this thread into the Publishers Series, the thread was almost a year old, and no one had even started the task. Seems like someone carefully entering the best available info without all the books in hand is better than no one entering the info at all.

I too would like for the correct publisher image to appear, but, at this point in time, the CK entry doesn't tie to a publisher; nor do the images. The 'Publisher Series' field simply notes that a work was issued as part of a publisher series. The odd images are unsettling, though; especially when displayed immediately below the series title.


Jul 14, 2011, 8:01pm Top

I made one further correction to the Publishers Series page today that I missed yesterday. The edition of Home Sweet Homicide that is issued in this series is by Craig Rice and not Kate Morgan. BTW Os, just FYI, this thread was started on 16 Feb 2008 so it was over three years old (not almost a year old) when you first posted on it, although it had become pretty dormant by the end of 2009 (see posts #84 and #85).

There are two (possibly three) of the latest titles missing from this series as it is currently listed on the PS page because there are normally seven new titles issued to its subscribers every year, and we are already into July. But that is par for the course since most of the readers that dip into this series (if not collect it outright) pursue the books on the secondary market rather than by subscribing directly to RD (for reasons that are well-documented both here and elsewhere on LT!). Consequently, it normally takes a few months before the newly published titles start showing up on the secondary market, which is the point at which someone is able to log them on this thread. So the current inventory of titles is about as up to date as it ever gets.

It would certainly be nice if an optional third parameter (the "order" info. being the second field) could be permitted for the line entry that is made in the CK area of the associated work's page that would permit the URL of the corresponding ImPress Mystery book image to be entered there. If present, the book image pointed to by that URL could then be displayed at the top of the PS page in preference to the default image that is currently displayed for all the books in this series, and which would continue to be displayed in the cases where that optional third parameter was absent. IMO that's a relatively trivial piece of programming that would significantly improve all of the LT Publisher Series pages, not just the ImPress Mystery one.

Aug 10, 2011, 8:05pm Top

Whew! you guys are blowing my old mind. But thanks to all for posting the list and additions. A Small note of possible interest: they started the series using ISBN 07621xxxxx, They have switched to an ISSN. All titles since the changeover no longer have a distinctive ISBN but all carry the same ISSN 1544-4007. The change was made in 2002. "Shroud For an Nightingale" has an ISBN; " The Big Sleep" has the ISSN . I have a nice copy of GORKY PARK and one of THIRTY NINE STEPS to trade or sell - email me at edseufert@bellsouth.net if interested.

Edited: Aug 21, 2011, 9:27pm Top

Just came across another 2011 title - Smallbone Deceased by Michael Gilbert. Added it to the Publishers Series page.
By the way, Osbaldistone, great job on the Publishers Series page.

Edited: Sep 19, 2011, 10:58pm Top

Reader's Digest has an online book store. I have seen this series of books for sale there. Be prepared it is not user friendly, big surprise. The search feature is useless unless you know the title of the book that you want. They generally don't have more than 125 books for sale on it at one time so you can just scan everything to see if one of the mysteries is being offered. They sell for $25 to $29 apiece. Only the most recent one being offered will be on there and I can see no rhyme or reason as to how often they post them. www.readersdigetstore.com

Edited: Jun 24, 2012, 12:56am Top

If anyone is interested in trading Impress Mystery titles, here is a list that I have for trade:

The Tiger In The Smoke - Margery Allingham
In the Heat of the Night - John Ball
Green for Danger - Christianna Brand
The Long Goodbye - Raymond Chandler
Riddle of the Sands - Erskine Childers
Where Are the Children? – Mary Higgins Clark
The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins
Whip Hand – Dick Francis
A Great Deliverance - Elizabeth George
A Thief of Time - Tony Hillerman
In a Lonely Place - Dorothy B. Hughes
The Perfect Murder - H.R.F. Keating
Friday the Rabbi Slept Late - Harry Kemelman
The False Inspector Dew - Peter Lovesey
Above Suspicion - Helen MacInnes
The Deep Blue Goodbye - John D. MacDonald
Ashenden - W. Somerset Maugham
Ice - Ed McBain
A Stranger in My Grave - Margaret Millar
Deadlock - Sara Paretsky
Home Sweet Homicide - Craig Rice
Clouds of Witness - Dorothy L. Sayers
Strong Poison - Dorothy L. Sayers
Final Appeal - Lisa Scottoline
The Laughing Policeman - Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo
The Doorbell Rang - Rex Stout
Presumed Innocent - Scott Turow

Also, here is my list of titles that I am looking for:

The Day of the Jackal - Frederick Forsyth
The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
Mortal Stakes - Robert B. Parker
Laura - Vera Caspary
Dance Hall of the Dead - Tony Hillerman
The Black Echo - Michael Connelly
The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn - Colin Dexter
I, the Jury - Mickey Spillane
The Man With a Load of Mischief - Martha Grimes
The Franchise Affair - Josephine Tey
Grave Mistake - Ngaio Marsh
The Three Coffins - John Dickson Carr
Fletch - Gregory Mcdonald
The Ivory Grin - Ross MacDonald
Payment Deferred - C.S. Forester
Burglars Can't Be Choosers - Lawrence Block
The Man from the Sea - Michael Innes
Smallbone Deceased - Michael Gilbert

If you are interested or have questions email me at cabookcollector@gmail.com


Edited: Jul 14, 2012, 8:15pm Top

Add "Hopscotch" by Brian Garfield to the list - 2011. Also see Abebooks, they have a number of ImPress Mystery books listed, most at reasonable cost. Use key word ImPress Mystery

Edited: Jul 14, 2012, 8:13pm Top

correction - I just checked, it's 2011

Sep 4, 2012, 11:25am Top


Hopscotch - Brian Garfield, found a copy at a library sale yesterday. RalphBFM

Dec 9, 2012, 8:25pm Top

Add: Gentle murderer - Davis 2012, Red Harvest - Hammett 2102, Eighth Circle - Ellin 2011, I.O.U. - Pichard 2011, Trent's Last Case - Bentley 2011, Lasko Tangent - Patterson 2011; found these on Amazon, use key word ImPress mystery

Edited: Dec 12, 2012, 12:31pm Top

>106 OldEd: and 109

Feel free to add as you see fit. Go to the work's main page, scroll down near the bottom to the last field in the group "Common Knowledge", labeled "Publisher series". Assuming there isn't already an entry under "Publisher series" for this work labeled "The Best Mysteries of All Time", create a new one by simply entering the following:

The Best Mysteries of All Time (yyyy)

where yyyy is the year of publication.

Double check your spelling of the series title before saving. One letter off and it will create a new series by the mispelled title.


Feb 4, 2013, 1:53pm Top

I have this (The Innocence of Father Brown) from 2010: http://www.amazon.com/Innocence-Father-Brown-Best-Mysteries/dp/B004H2UPSY/ref=sr... that wasn't on your list. (Your list has otherwise been very helpful, by the way.)

Edited: Feb 4, 2013, 6:04pm Top

If you mean the 'Publisher series' , I'm amazed it was not there, since that's the work I have of this series, and what got me working on getting info from this thread into the series to begin with. Anyway, it's there now. I suppose I may have gotten so engrossed in setting up the lists that were in this thread that I forgot about my own book. %^)


Mar 7, 2013, 9:44pm Top

Add to 2010 in the list back in the beginning:
Death of a dissident - Kaminsky, The Innocence of father brown - Chesterton,
the man from the sea - Innes maybe 2010??

Mar 7, 2013, 9:49pm Top

They seem to be pretty consistent at 7 titles in a year

Edited: Mar 8, 2013, 2:55am Top

>113 OldEd:
These three are all here, listed as 2010, in the publisher series.

Aug 15, 2013, 5:18pm Top

Found this group by searching on "Impress Mysteries" and I'm glad I did as the list in the first posting saved me a lot of time in making my own wantlist as I've started to collect this series. I believe I've spotted two more that aren't yet listed; MICHAEL INNES - The Man From The Sea (2010) and AGATHA CHRISTIE - The Mysterious Affair At Styles (2012). I'll attempt to add these to the main list. Two questions: 1) Could someone please explain the reference to "fake" Impress Mysteries volumes, and 1) does anyone know of any 2013 titles yet? (Has the series been halted with those last 2012 releases?) Ok; three questions then. But all worth asking, I hope.

By my count there are now 89 titles. I still need 62 of them, but them I've just gotten started.

Curt Phillips

Aug 15, 2013, 5:39pm Top

Actually, Maybe before adding those two titles (above) I'd better wait and let some of you folks verify them first. I've not actually seen them myself, but I saw the listings in an eBay auction listing.

I bought a copy of Ross Macdonald's THE IVORY GRIN today at a library sale. I've just started reading it and it's a pretty good noir, but then I've read Macdonald before and he's always good.

Curt Phillips

Aug 30, 2013, 11:31pm Top

A couple of new titles to add:
Francis Isles, Before the Fact, 2012
W R Burnett, The Asphalt Jungle, 2013

Sep 2, 2013, 12:29am Top

>118 annamarienick:
They're in now.


Nov 21, 2013, 12:59pm Top

With my latest, The Asphalt Jungle, I now have 92 books in the Best Mysteries series. I really do not know if more are coming or not. I can't get anyone to talk at R.D.

Nov 21, 2013, 1:00pm Top

Edwin of the Iron Shoes and Serious Intent are not part of the series by Impress.

Nov 22, 2013, 12:31am Top

>120 modelabum:
They seem to have started loosing steam in 2011. They may be done.


Feb 4, 2014, 9:54pm Top

I have seven for 2011, six for 2012, and only one for 2013. I don't understand why they feel the need to repeat authors when there are so many more that could be included. A copyright problem perhaps.
Os: I finally managed to maneuver to publishers series page but am unsure how to proceed to add titles. ( I hope I'm not losing it at 81 years) OldEd

Feb 5, 2014, 9:55pm Top

>123 OldEd:

Well, OldEd, to add a title, you go to the work page for that title. At the end of the common knowledge section, you'll find the publishers series block. Click on the edit button (pencil) to add or change an entry. You might want to look at an entry already in for this series so you can copy the format, but it's pretty simple.

hope that helps.

Edited: Feb 24, 2014, 1:24pm Top

The list previously posted here has been replaced by an updated list of authors and titles in 128 below.

Feb 21, 2014, 1:28pm Top

I have 92 titles on my list for this book series. I still have a few of them missing from my collection, but still searching.

The three books missing from the list above in #125 of readerslibrary are:

Christie, Agatha - The Mysterious Affair at Styles - 2012
Elkins, Aaron - Old Bones - 2012
Innes, Michael - The Man from the Sea - 2010

Edited: Feb 23, 2014, 1:08pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Mar 6, 2014, 12:02pm Top

Dear lowboz,

I have not seen any additional books identified for 2013 or 2014. However, I am attaching an updated list of the Reader's Digest, Select Edition "The Best Mysteries of All Time" (in the ImPress Mystery series) to include the books you mentioned. That way, LibraryThing users will have a complete list of the Impress mysteries that we know were published through early 2013.

I recently spoke with a Reader's Digest customer representative and learned that this series is still being published. New subscriptions are still being taken, but only for books not yet published in this collection. RD said they are now publishing about six books per year in this series. Therefore, it appears likely that five titles for 2013 are missing from the list below, and likely at least one title from 2014.

It seems that back issues, i.e., previous publications, are not available through Reader's Digest, at least that was what I was told. I hope some LibraryThing readers will have some additional information.

Allingham, Margery - The Tiger in the Smoke 2005
Ambler, Eric - A Coffin for Dimitrios 2004

Ball, John - In the Heat of the Night 2005
Bentley, E.C. - Trent's Last Case 2011
Block, Lawrence - Burglars Can't be Choosers 2010
Brand, Christianna - Green for Danger 2005
Buchan, John - The Thirty-Nine Steps & Greenmantle 2009
Burnett, W.R. - The Asphalt Jungle 2013

Cain, James - Mildred Pierce 2003
Carr, John Dickson - The Three Coffins 2009
Caspary, Vera - Laura 2002
Chandler, Raymond - The Big Sleep 2002
Chandler, Raymond - The Long Goodbye 2005
Chesterton, G. K. - The Innocence of Father Brown 2010
Childers, Erskine - Riddle of the Sands 2008
Christie, Agatha - And Then There Were None 2009
Christie, Agatha - Murder on the Orient Express 1999
Christie, Agatha - The Mysterious Affair at Styles 2012
Clark, Mary Higgins - Where Are The Children? 2001
Collins, Wilkie - The Moonstone 2002
Connelly, Michael - The Black Echo 2004
Cornwell, Patricia - Postmortem 2000
Crais, Robert - L.A. Requiem 2010
Crispin, Edmund - The Moving Toyshop 2012

Davis, Dorothy Salisbury - A Gentle Murder 2012
Dexter, Colin - The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn 2005
Doyle, Arthur Conan - The Sign of the Four/The Valley of Fear 2007

Elkins, Aaron – Old Bones 2012
Ellin, Stanley - Eighth Circle 2011
Eustis, Helen - The Horizontal Man 2011

Follett, Ken - The Eye of the Needle 2001
Forester, C.S. - Payment Deferred 2010
Forsyth, Fredrick - The Day of the Jackal 2001
Francis, Dick - Whip Hand 2001

Gardner, Erle Stanley - The Case of the Velvet Claws 2002
Garfield, Brian - Hopscotch 2011
George, Elizabeth - A Great Deliverance 2005
Gilbert, Michael - Smallbone Deceased 2011
Grafton, Sue - "A" is for Alibi 2001
Grimes, Martha - The Man With a Load of Mischief 2006

Hall, Adam - The Quiller Memorandum 2008
Hammett, Dashiel - The Maltese Falcon 2001
Hammett, Dashiell - Red Harvest 2012
Highsmith, Patricia - The Talented Mr. Ripley 2000
Hillerman, Tony - A Thief of Time 2005
Hillerman, Tony - Dance Hall of the Dead 2003
Hughes, Dorothy B. - In a Lonely Place 2006

Iles, Francis - Before the Fact 2012
Innes, Michael – The Man from the Sea 2010

James, P.D. - Shroud for a Nightengale 2002

Kaminsky, Stuart - Death of a Dissident 2010
Keating, H.R.F. - The Perfect Murder 2010
Kemelman, Harry - Friday the Rabbi Slept Late 2007

Le Carre, John - The Spy Who Came in From the Cold 2009
Levin, Ira - A Kiss Before Dying 1999
Lovesey, Peter - The False Inspector Dew 2006

MacDonald, John D. - The Deep Blue Goodbye 2004
MacDonald, Ross - The Chill 2003
MacDonald, Ross - The Ivory Grin 2009
MacInnes, Helen - Above Suspicion 2007
Marsh, Ngaio - Death of a Peer 2003
Marsh, Ngaio - Grave Mistake 2008
Maugham, W. Somerset - Ashenden 2006
McBain, Ed - Ice 2003
McDonald, Gregory - Fletch 2009
Millar, Margaret - A Stranger in My Grave 2002

N: O:
Orczy, Baroness - The Scarlet Pimpernel 2007

Paretsky, Sara - Deadlock 2004
Parker, Robert B - Mortal Stakes 2002
Patterson, Richard North - The Lasko Tangent 2011
Peters, Elizabeth - Crocodile on the Sandbank 2004
Peters, Ellis - A Morbid Taste of Bones 2007
Pickard, Nancy - I.O.U. 2011

Queen, Ellery - Calamity Town 2003

Rendall, Ruth - Judgment in Stone 2009
Rice, Craig - Home Sweet Homicide 2008

Sayers, Dorothy L. - Clouds of Witness 2006
Sayers, Dorothy L. - Strong Poison 2001
Scottoline, Lisa - Final Appeal 2008
Sjowall & Wahloo, Maj. & Per - The Laughing Policeman 2007
Smith, Martin Cruz - Gorky Park 2007
Spillane, Mickey - I, The Jury 2006
Stout, Rex - The Doorbell Rang 2000

Tey, Josephine - The Daughter of Time 2003
Tey, Josephine - The Franchise Affair 2008
Thomas, Ross - Briarpatch 2005
Traver, Robert - Anatomy of a Murder 2000
Turow, Scott - Presumed Innocent 1999

U: V: W:
Walters, Minette - The Ice House 2012
Waugh, Hillary - Last Seen Wearing 2004
Woods, Stuart - Chiefs 2008
Woolrich, Cornell - I Married a Dead Man 2003

X: Y: Z:

Feb 27, 2014, 3:20pm Top

A very good list.....The same 92 books that I have. My granddaughter found my library and took a few to read. She is now hooked. Guess who will inherit them.

Edited: Feb 28, 2014, 3:38pm Top

Dear modelabum,

Thanks for your comment.

I'm pleased to know this list is now up to date, at least through the first part of 2013. Since you have all 92 books, are you a subscriber? If so, do you know the other books published in 2013 and the title(s) published so far in 2014?

The very best to you and your granddaughter.

Mar 2, 2014, 2:54pm Top

No, I am not a subscriber. All of my books were purchased on the secondary market. This includes "The World's Best Reading" series, All of the Louis L'Amour collection by Bantam, The Automobile Quarterly collection, Over 200 of the National Geographic hard cover books, The classics by Gramercy publication, and several shelves of the greatest literacy by the world's best authors and several more shelves of just books I like, including gardening, how to, poetry, and because I'm an old car buff ( I'm currently restoring a Model A) Lots and lots of books on old cars. These and other interests (golf @ bowling) tend to keep me busy in retirement of 19 years.

Jun 14, 2014, 3:08pm Top

Are these books abridged? How is the print size?

Jul 18, 2014, 7:29pm Top

I was hoping that there would be more posts of the latest releases. I have the following:


The Asphalt Jungle - W.R. Burnett
A Dram of Poison - Charlotte Armstrong
Cat and Mouse - Christianna Brand

Jul 19, 2014, 6:07pm Top

>133 hanleda:
Added to the publishers series

Jul 19, 2014, 10:59pm Top


It looks like you are missing the following although mentioned above:


Red Harvest - Dashiell Hammett
Gentle Murderer - Dorothy Salisbury Davis
The Moving Toyshop - Edmund Crispin
The Ice House - Minette Walters
The Mysterious Affair at Styles - Agatha Christie
Old Bones - Aaron Elkin

To respond to Fey these are not abridged books.

Edited: Mar 21, 2015, 8:27am Top

Hopefully, this Book Talk string has not gone dead from lack of interest. I imagine more than myself has current interest.

Can someone make comments to the current status of the book series? I am a relatively new collector of this series, and have put together a list of 94 titles, starting in 1999, with roughly 7 books per year average except for the first two years. Is this correct? The LT Publisher Series list does not quite have everything listed.

I am in need of four books to complete the 94 (two from 2012 and two from 2013). My list ends with three books listed for 2013 (Burnett, Brand, Armstrong). Were more books issued by RD/Impress subsequent to these? Or is the series terminated?

Thank you for any current information that anyone can provide.

Edited: Apr 9, 2015, 2:46am Top

>135 hanleda:

I have updated the Common Knowledge sections for those books to include them in this publisher series.

However, you don't need to wait for me...as mentioned in previous posts (e.g. 110) any LT member can do this. Just go to the main page for the work, scroll down to the Common Knowledge section to the "Publisher Series" entry near the bottom, and add an entry for The Best Mysteries of All Time". Be sure to spell the series title exactly right, and add the year in parentheses after the series title. Check an existing book on the list to see the exact format/content.


Apr 9, 2015, 2:50am Top

>136 lowboz:

If you have any books in this publisher series that are not currently in the series list we're maintaining in connection with this thread, or if you are quite sure they belong there, you can add them to the list as I've described in post 137 (and earlier, in post 110). We actually don't maintain a list - we add the series name and the publication year to the 'Publisher series' common knowledge field on the work page for each. Any LT member can add an entry this way - add yours if they are not already done.


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