Desperately Seeking Members of the Prestigious Collins Crime Club

by AndreChevalier on April 5, 2018 · Modern Firsts

Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient ExpressDuring the golden age of detective fiction, when classic murder mystery novels were at the peak of popularity, Sir Godfrey Collins, started the Collins Crime Club (1930–94), as an imprint of British book publishers William Collins & Sons.  Until then, the Scottish printing and publishing company found success as a printer of Bibles and other religious and educational books. Collins also published all but the first six of Agatha Christie’s novels; the British editions of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe; Ngaio Marsh’s books starting with Overture to Death; John Rhode, Freeman Wills Crofts, and, Hulbert Footner, among others. When the Club was brought to an end in April of 1994, it had issued a total of 2,025 first editions of crime novels with the highest standard of quality.

Three new crime books were published, by the publisher, on the first Monday of every month, with the exception of the years after World War II, at which time the number of new books being issued dropped dramatically to an all-time low. In 1946, Collins released a mere 16 new books. Orders came through the subscriber newsletter that was sent out every three months, listing the latest books which had been or were in the process of being issued.  After the first few years, the subscriber count reached 20,000 according to Collins, enabling the publication count to remain close to 5,000 per title on average.

Collins early first editions from the 1930’s and 1940’s are quite scarce. Despite the large production volumes and large demand for high quality crime novels during the golden age of detective fiction (predominately the 1920’s and 1930’s), collectors picked up most of what survived in good condition. As a result, the market availability of the Collins Crime Club pre-war first editions in dust-wrappers is now extremely limited. A number of dealers are also eagerly seeking first state copies with the following characteristics:

  • Red/orange cloth boards with black lettering
  • Always dated, with the exception of “A Policeman at the Door” by Carol Carnac which is not dated.
  • Dust-wrappers carry a price of 7/6 or more (second state published with 3/6)
  • Exception are the dust-wrappers without a price which are “Colonial First Editions” made available for sale to a number of British colonies during that time.


The following list broken up by author includes the majority of the titles issued prior to 1940 that are in hot pursuit:

Miles Burton : The Hardway Diamonds Mystery (1930), The Secret of High Eldersham (1930), The Three Crimes (1931), The Menace on the Downs (1931), Death of Mr. Gantley (1932), Murder at the Moorings (1932), Fate at the Fair (1933), Tragedy at the Thirteenth Hole (1933), Death at the Crossroads (1933), The Charabanc Mystery (1934), To Catch a Thief (1934), The Devereux Court Mystery (1935), The Milk Churn Murder (1935), Death in the Tunnel (1936), Murder of a Chemist (1936), Where is Barbara Prentice? (1936), Death at the Club (1937),  Murder in Crown Passage (1937),  Death at Low Tide (1938), The Platinum Cat (1938), Death Leaves no Card (1939), Mr. Babbacombe Dies (1939).

Alice Campbell : The Click of the Gate (1932), The Murder of Caroline Bundy (1933), Desire to Kill (1934), Keep Away from the Water! (1935), Death Framed in Silver (1937), Flying Blind (1938), A Door Closed Softly (1939).

Agatha Christie : Murder at the Vicarage (1930), The Sittaford Mystery (1931), Peril at End House (1932), The Thirteen Problems (1932), Lord Edgeware Dies (1933),  Murder on the Orient Express (1934), The Listerdale Mystery (1934), Why didn’t they Ask Evans? (1934), Parker Pyne Investigates (1934), Three Act Tragedy (1935), Death in the Clouds (1935), The ABC Murders (1936), The Hound of Death (1936),  Murder in Mesopotamia (1936), Cards on the Table (1937), Murder in the Mews (1937), Dumb Witness (1937), Death on the Nile (1937), Appointment with Death (1938), Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (1939), Murder is Easy (1939), Then Little Niggers (1939).

Roger East : Murder Rehersal (1933), Candidate for Lillies (1934), The Bell is Answered (1934), Twenty-Five Sanitary Inspectors (1935), Detectives in Gum Boots (1936).

Jefferson Farjeon : The Mystery on the Moor (1930), The House Opposite (1931), Murderer’sTrail (1931), The “Z” Murders (1932), Trunk Call (1932), Ben Sees it Through (1932), The Mystery of the Creek (1933), Dead Man’s Heath (1933), Old Man Mystery (1933), The Windmill Mystery (1934), Sinister Inn (1934), Detective Ben (1936), Holiday at Half Mast (1937), Mystery in White (1937), Darl Lady (1938), End of an Author (1938), Seven Dead (1939), Exit John Horton (1939).

John Ferguson :  Death Comes to Perigord (1931), Night in Glengyle (1933),  The Grouse Moor Mystery (1934), Death of Mr. Dodsley (1937).

Fielding : The Craig Poisoning Mystery (1930), The Wedding Chest Mystery (1930), The Unfold Farm Mystery (1931), Death of John Tate (1932), The Westwood Mystery (1932), The Tall House Mystery (1933), The Cautley Conundrum (1934), The Paper-Chase (1934), Tragedy at Beechcroft (1935), The Case of the Missing Diary (1935), The Case of the Two Pearl Necklaces (1936), Mystery at the Rectory (1936), Scarecrow (1937), BlackCats are Lucky (1937), Murder in Suffolk (1938).

Hulbert Footner : The Viper (1930), The Folded Paper Mystery (1930), Easy to Kill (1931), The Casual Murderer (1932), Dead Man’s Hat (1933), The Ring of Eyes (1933), The Almost Perfect Murder (1933), Murder Runs in the Family (1934), Dangerous Cargo (1934), The New Made Grave (1935), Murder of a Bad Man (1935), The Kidnapping of Madame Storey (1936), The Dark Ships (1937), Tortuous Trails (1937), Murder in the Sun (1938), Death of a Celebrity (1938), The Nation’s Missing Guest (1939), The Murder that had Everything (1939)

Anthony Gilbert : The Case Against Andrew Fane (1931), The Body on the Beam (1932), The Long Shadow (1932), Death in Fancy Dress (1933), The Musical Comedy Crime (1933), An Old Lady Dies (1934), The Man in Button Boots (1934), The Man who was too Clever (1935), Courtier to Death (1936), Murder by Experts (1936), The Man who wasn’t There (1937), Murder has no Tongue (1937), Treason in my Breast (1938), The Clock in the Hatbox (1939), The Bell of Death (1939).

Henry Holt : The Scarlet Messenger (1933), Calling All Cars (1934), Murder at the Bookstall (1934), Tiger of Mayfair (1935), Unknown Terror (1935), There has been Murder (1936), Wanted for Murder (1938), The Whispering Man (1938), The Mystery of the Smiling Doll (1939).

Dale King : Obelists En Route (1934), The Curious Mr. Tarrant (1935), Obelists Fly High (1935), Careless Corpse (1937), Arrogant Alibi (1938).

Vernon Loder : The Essex Murders (1930), Death of an Editor (1931), Red Stain (1931), Death in the Thicket (1932), Death at the Wheel (1933), Suspicion (1933), Murder from Three Angles (1934), Two Dead (1934), Death at the Horse Show (1935), The Case of the Dead Doctor (1935), Ship of Secrets (1936), The Deaf-Mute Murders (1936), The Little Man Murders (1936), Chose your Weapon (1937), The Men with the Double Faces (1937), The Button in the Plate (1938), A Wolf in the Fold (1938), Kill in the Ring (1938).

Philip Macdonald :  The Link (1930), The Noose (1930),  Murder Gone Mad (1931), The Choice (1931),  Mystery at Friar’s Pardon (1931), The Maze an Exercise in Detection (1932).

Virgil Markham : Shock! (1930), The Devil Drives Us (1932), Song of Doom (1932), Inspector Rusby’s Finale (1933), The Dead are Prowling (1934), The Deadly Jest (1935),  Snatch (1936).

John Rhode :  Tragedy on the Line (1931), The Hanging Woman (1931), Mystery at Greycombe Farm (1932), Dead Men at the Folly (1932), The Motor Rally Mystery (1933), The Claverton Mystery (1933), The Venner Crime (1933), The Robthorne Mystery (1934), Poison for One (1934),  Shot at Dawn (1934), The Corpse in the Car (1935), Hendon’s First Case (1935), Mystery at Olympia (1935), Death at Breakfast (1936), In the Face of the Verdict (1936), Death in the Hopfields (1937), Death on the Board (1937), Proceed with Caution (1937), Invisible Weapons (1938), The Bloody Tower (1938), Drop to his Death (1939), Death Pays a Dividend (1939), Death on Sunday (1939).

John Stephen : The Strange Fig (1931), Murder Game (1931), The Chinese Jar Mystery (1934), For the Hangman (1935), The Bell in the Fog (1937), The Corpse and the Lady (1938), Rope Enough (1939).

About the author

Article by Andre Chevalier. You can connect with Andre Chevalier on Andre+

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sophie B March 2, 2020 at 8:19 pm


I am a MA Publishing Media student and was wondering if you could recommend any reading on this topic? I am finding it hard to find info on the Collins Crime Club from archives or academic sources. Do you know of any?



janet May 21, 2018 at 7:24 pm

I have a copy of “ to catch a thief , Burton ,1934 , Are you interested in this book .


R E Faust July 20, 2019 at 11:36 am


I am if it is still available



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