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Series Information:

This month we feature some true classics of the crime genre.

Some great crime novels can be lost to the sands of time, but luckily there is one collection of books that is reviving the true classics and making them available for everyone once more.

Pan Macmillan publishers have released a set of these master works under the title, "Pan Classic Crime". We feature all of the current releases below. We'd review them all, but most are well known in the crime genre, and adding yet another review is not necessary.

Just believe us, they're all classics, and all worth adding to your collection...


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Publisher: Pan Macmillan

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THE BEAST MUST DIE by Nicholas Blake

Here's an unusual murder mystery with a highly original twist!

Frank Cairnes is a detective fiction writer who writes under the pen name of Felix Lane.

From his lovely country retreat, Lane plots the perfect murder - but this isn't for his new book...this is a murder that he will himself commit.

His writing contract calls for complete anonymity, and this will be perfect for his well-planned murder. For revenge shall be his.

He sets out to murder the man who ran down and killed his six-year-old son. Unfortunately, he fails - but, in the first of many twists, the man is murdered anyway!

And Nigel Strangeways, private investigator, is called in to save Felix from the mess he has got himself in.

This is easily the best of all of Nicholas Blake's (real name C. Day Lewis) 20 novels.

Originally published in the first half of this century, this book starts slowly but grips your attention from the first page.

The narration starts with Felix's diary then, with the murder, moves into the more usual third person storytelling, and twists and turns with great agility. Forget Agatha Christie! The style, twists and charms of this book will make this a favorite of yours forever!

Highly recommended.



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Publisher: Pan Macmillan

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JOURNEY INTO FEAR by Eric Ambler

Secreted in a filthy, camped cabin on the Italian steamer Sestri Levante, an Englishman begins his terrified flight across wartime Europe.

For Graham, an engineer working for an arms company, the inconvenience which began in a hotel room in old Istanbul has become a nightmare from which he fears he may never wake. His pursuers have already wounded him - surely the next time they will not miss.

But who are they? And where on the long sea passage to Genoa will they make their move?

Journey into Fear is one of the handful of novels that Eric Ambler wrote before Word War II. And, like A Coffin for Dimitrios, it is a classic.

The protagonist is an English engineer returning from Turkey with valuable knowledge. Axis forces are determined to prevent him from doing so. In order to protect him, Turkish authorities have arranged for him to travel on a cargo ship which carries a few passengers -- all of whom have supposedly been investigated and found to be harmless.

Imagine then the terror he experiences when he discovers that one of the passengers is a man who recently tried to kill him. Now the supposedly safe cargo ship has become a trap from which escape seems impossible. His frenzied attempts to save himself are thwarted again and again.

This is the chilling masterpiece that has made Ambler a legend.



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Publisher: Pan Macmillan

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EPITAPH FOR A SPY by Eric Ambler

Josef Vadassy, a Hungarian language teacher, decides to break his journey from Nice to Paris at the windswept coastal town of St Gatien. And there his solitary nightmare begins...

Vadassy, a keen photographer, has made his first stop the village chemist, where he leaves a film to be developed. But instead of the expected picture of lizards, the film shows the locations of top secret military installations. The pictures cannot be released.

And, after a none too gentle arrest by two plainclothes policemen, neither can the man who calls himself Vadassy...

Many people who have heard of the legendary Eric Ambler think of him as a mystery writer, whereas he is actually a writer of novels of intrigue and suspense. The exception is Epitaph for a Spy which, while amply full of intrigue and suspense, is also a mystery story -- the only true whodunit that Ambler wrote.

However it is a mystery story of great integrity with none of the sleight-of-hand used by lesser authors to turn the least plausible person in the book into the guilty party in the last chapter. If you think of Ambler as a mystery writer, read Epitaph for a Spy and you won't be disappointed. But you will probably want to read Ambler's other intriguing novels as well.

Unlike most of the bestselling writers today, who merely put out glorified screenplays, Ambler (like Ian Fleming) uses style as well as plot to entertain. Epitaph for a Spy is an excellent book, with the southern French setting and characters very vividly described.

Excellent.



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Publisher: Pan Macmillan

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GREEN FOR DANGER by Christianna Brand

Pressed into wartime service, Heron's Park military hospital stands three miles from the nearest town. Far enough for isolation - but not far enough to escape nightly bombing raids and clamorous returning fire.

But for once the wards are silent, as the inmates consider new perils in their midst. A patient dies suddenly under anaesthetic and a nurse loudly claims to know what went wrong.

But soon she too is silenced...

Of the seven doctors and nurses who know the story - now there are only six.

Six pleasant, familiar faces. But behind one of them lurks the mind of a ruthless killer. And the killer will do anything to make sure that secret is left undiscovered.

This novel is one of Brand's most intricately plotted detection puzzles, executed with her characteristic cleverness and gusto. This is a great way to be introduced to Ms. Brand's other entertaining reads and can certainly can be read over and over again.

Green for Danger is one of the undoubted masterpieces of classic mystery fiction. Brand writes a classically constructed tale, with definite victims, murderer and sleuth. It is full of atmosphere, suspense, and finely constructed fair play. Green For Danger MUST NOT be missed by classic mystery fans.

A sure-fire winner.



Other books in the Pan Classic Crime series are:



Where to buy:

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 RLK! Spotlight On...
Past Features

 November 2000: John Sandford Click here to view.
 October 2000: Robert Crais Click here to view.
 September 2000: Janet Evanovich Click here to view.
 August 2000: Jim Thompson Click here to view.
 July 2000: Oxford English Dictionary Click here to view.
 June 2000: James Ellroy Click here to view.
 May 2000: Reader's Window Click here to view.
 April 2000: Richard North Patterson Click here to view.
 March 2000: Ed Gorman Click here to view.
 February 2000: Harry Turtledove Click here to view.
 January 2000: J. N. Williamson Click here to view.
 December 99: Phil Rickman Click here to view.
 November 99: Paul Thomas Click here to view.
 October 99: James Lee Burke Click here to view.
 September 99: Leisure Books Click here to view.
 August 99: Gerald Seymour Click here to view.
 July 99: Brian Lumley Click here to view.
 June 99: Michael Connelly Click here to view.
 May 99: Stephen Laws Click here to view.
 April 99: Gemma O'Connor Click here to view.
 March 99: Simon Clark Click here to view.
 February 99: Obsidian Books Click here to view.
 January 99: John Case Click here to view.

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