Last week I launched off a series of polls to find out which novels or story collections were the most popular from the British Library Crime Classics series. I decided to do split the books from the series into 5 groups, as the series is now at the lofty height of 50 books! In each poll readers could select up to three texts. Based on the results of these polls a final two polls will be launched to help narrow down the favourite British Library Crime Classic novel and Story Collection. It was really interesting when I finally looked at the results. There were some expected results, but there was actually also a large number of surprises. Who knew Freeman Wills Crofts was so popular? [Has JJ been secretly voting more than once?]
Anyways let’s start with the top three winners from Group 1:
- Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon
- The 12:30 from Croydon by Freeman Wills Crofts
- Family Matters by Anthony Rolls
I was not surprised by Farjeon’s popularity in this group, as it was this very title which really grabbed the public’s attention and rapidly increased the popularity of the series. As you can see Crofts has also nabbed a top 3 position, (be prepared for more of that), and I was also glad that Roll’s novel made it through as well. Every other novel in the group did get at least one vote except The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams and Gil North’s Sergeant Cluff Stands Firm.
And here are the top three books from Group 2:
- Mystery in the Channel by Freeman Wills Crofts (Why? Why? Seriously why?)
- Quick Curtain by Alan Melville
- Verdict of 12 by Raymond Postgate
So yes as you can a slightly surprising front runner (for me anyways). The only two novels not to receive votes this time around were Anthony Rolls’ Scarweather and William Stephens Hayward’s Revelations of a Lady Detective. The position of 4th place is crowdedly held by the two John Bude titles in this round, The Sussex Downs Murder and Death on the Riviera and Mavis Doriel Hay The Santa Klaus and each of these texts were only one vote away from third place.
Group 3’s top three winners were:
- Death of Anton by Alan Melville
- The Hog’s Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts (Look whose back. Again!)
- Murder of a Lady by Antony Wynne and Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel Hay
Much relief all round that Melville’s title made into the top 3, this title being one of my favourites from the series. Miles Burton and John Bude also followed closely behind these three, though no votes were given for Lois Austen-Leigh’s The Incredible Crime, nor for John Rowland’s Murder in the Museum.
Group 4 was the final poll for the remaining novels in the British Library series and the top 3 here were:
- The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley
- Death of An Airman by Christopher St John Sprigg
- Antidote to Venom by Freeman Wills Crofts
Berkeley’s novel unsurprisingly gained the most votes out of all the novels in the series, not that this isn’t deserved, as it really is an excellent story. Once again of course Crofts makes it into the final three, (who knew he was so popular?), and when it comes to the final vote, (for the novels), Crofts will have four entries going in, which is more than any other author, though Alan Melville also has both of this titles going into the finals as well. The voting was much more concentrated in this round, with all these three texts being way ahead of the others. The three texts to not receive any votes were Gil North’s The Methods of Sergeant Cluff, John Rowland’s Calamity in Kent and Andrew Forrester’s The Female Detective.
Last but not least was the poll purely focused on the short story collections and due to the voting being much more spread in this round, (with many joint winners), I have decided to do a separate final poll for them. Your top 3 choices were:
- Crimson Snow and Miraculous Mysteries
- Murder at the Manor
- Serpents in Eden and Capital Crimes
Is anyone else surprised by the results? Any omissions or additions which seem perplexing? Or is it just me who can’t fathom the popularity of Crofts? Given the number of Bude titles in the British Library Crime Classics series I was surprised that none of them made it into the top 3, though they were often in 4th position. The least popular titles in the series definitely seem to be those which were originally published pre 1900 or post 1960, as only one text from these two time periods got any votes, Leonard Merrick’s Mr Bazalgette’s Agent. Additionally both titles from John Rowland in the series failed to garner any votes.
So without further ado here are the final two polls, the first focusing on the novels and the second, the short story collections. In the first poll you are allowed to vote for up to 3 books, but in the second poll you can only vote once, given the smaller number of texts: