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Retro covers for the Golden Age of Crime

By September 20, 2020No Comments

I may not care much for this type of mystery or thriller novel, but the covers for this British Library Crime Classics series are a testament to the ability of the designers to capture the mood of the 1930s and 1940s.

The style of the covers with their flat colours is a direct reflection of many of the posters produced for the railways and the Underground.

That makes the three examples shown here particularly appropriate, since murder and trains seem inextricably entwined.

It’s not hard to see reasons why: strangers thrown together on a journey, each with their own reasons for boarding a train.

Perhaps fleeing from some crime, perhaps hoping to make a fresh start in a new city or country.

It only takes the opening of a carriage door to dispose of a body, or to make an unseen escape.

And when you arrive at your destination, there’s a whole new world for an author to explore.

I’d argue that the greatest novel set on a train is Patricia Highsmith’s ‘Strangers On A Train’, followed by Graham Greene’s ‘Stamboul Train’. Of course, any list would also have to include ‘Murder on the Orient Express’.

(You might also want to check out Andrew Martin’s Jim Stringer series, starting with ‘The Necropolis Railway’.)

Of course, with over 80 titles, the Crime Classics series has all sorts of settings, characters and plots besides those set in the golden age of steam.

With authors who range from the famous to the now-forgotten.

But since the books all have an instantly recognisable cover style, you know what to expect as soon as you pick one up.