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These Long-Lost Crime Classics Are Back—and Ready to Thrill You This Summer

Three vintage detective tales are primed for rediscovery.

Library of Congress Crime Classics
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  • Photo Credit: Alfons Morales / Unsplash

Get excited, gumshoe: Lovers of classic crime fiction will have three very special cases to crack this summer. Poisoned Pen Press and the Library of Congress have announced that they’re teaming up to reissue a curated selection of out-of-print books. This unprecedented collaboration will make rare, vintage mystery novels widely available to a whole new generation of eager readers. 

To make this new launch possible, the Library of Congress is digging into its extensive archives to resurface little-known mystery books that were originally published between 1860 and 1960. In turn, Poisoned Pen Press will breathe new life into the layout and packaging of these classic stories. This includes designing new book covers inspired by images in the Library’s collection, adding author biographies, and including contextual introductions for modern readers written by Edgar Award-winning editor and critic Leslie S. Klinger.

Related: 9 Classic Detective Fiction Novels Every Mystery Fan Needs to Read 

The Library of Congress Crime Classics series kicks off with the release of three thrilling reads: That Affair Next Door by Anna Katharine Green (1897), which features the first woman sleuth in a series; The Rat Began to Gnaw the Rope by C. W. Grafton (1943); and Case Pending by Dell Shannon (1960), who was one of the first female writers to pen a police procedural. Each novel was groundbreaking in its own right and left an impact on the mystery genre. Yet they’re largely forgotten today and are nearly impossible to track down—until now. 

This spring and summer, new paperback and ebook formats of these classic mysteries will be released. You can now look forward to having a long-lost crime classic in your possession with just a few clicks. Scroll down to learn more about these revamped classics, and place your order today for a thrilling glimpse into the past.

Related: 9 Perplexing Locked Room Mysteries for the Sleuth at Heart 

Available Now

lost crime classics

That Affair Next Door

By Anna Katharine Green

Long before Nancy Drew or Miss Marple were on the scene, Miss Amelia Butterworth was sniffing out clues and catching criminals red-handed. That Affair Next Door centers on suspicious deeds in Butterworth's own neighborhood. Late one evening, the amateur sleuth observes suspicious activity at her neighbor’s house. The next morning, a young woman is found dead, having been stabbed with a hat pin and crushed beneath a cabinet. Veteran Detective Ebenezer Gryce is assigned to the case. At first, he butts heads with the inquisitive Miss Butterworth, but he soon learns that she has superior deductive skills, and they end up working together to solve a perplexing whodunit.

"This inaugural volume in the Library of Congress Crime Classics series, featuring the first woman sleuth in a series, is a must for genre buffs." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

Release date: June 2, 2020

lost crime classics

The Rat Began to Gnaw the Rope

By C.W. Grafton

Available for preorder!

Humor and the hard-boiled style were thought to be incompatible, until C.W. Grafton—father of mystery writer Sue Grafton—pulled off both in this innovative crime novel. The youngest partner at a small law firm, socially awkward Gil Henry is the furthest thing from a cynical, world-weary noir detective. But when he agrees to take on an inheritance case that results in multiple attempts on his life, Gil realizes that he’s inadvertently become embroiled in a dangerous mystery. Somebody out there has an explosive secret—and they won’t stop until Gil is silenced...

"The superior prose and logical but surprising plot twists amply justify this volume's reissue as a Library of Congress Crime Classic." —Publishers Weekly

"A worthy addition to an outstanding new series. " —Booklist

Release date: August 4, 2020

lost crime classics

Case Pending

By Dell Shannon

Available for preorder!

One of the first female writers to pen a police procedural, Dell Shannon also raised eyebrows among her contemporaries for depicting a Mexican-American detective during the racially fraught 1960s. When a woman’s battered body is found in an abandoned lot, Los Angeles detective Luis Mendoza notices striking similarities to an unsolved murder from six months earlier. Fearing that there’s a serial killer on the loose in his city, Mendoza joins forces with Detective-Sergeant Hackett to unravel a complex case involving murder, exortion, and other seedy operations.

This post is sponsored by Poisoned Pen Press. Thank you for supporting our partners, who make it possible for Murder & Mayhem to continue publishing the mystery stories you love.