It’s taken me longer than it should have, but this afternoon I finally finished the formatting of a checklist that should be of interest to everyone who reads and collects mysteries published during the Golden Age of Detection.


    Compiled by Victor Berch, the title is “A Checklist of HARPERíS SEALED MYSTERY SERIES,” and to tempt you even more, here are the first two paragraphs of Victor’s introduction to the list:

    Following in the footsteps of Doubleday, Doran & Co.ís entrance into the mystery series with its Crime Club series early in 1928, Harper Brothers introduced in 1929 an unusual concept for its series. Each publication was to have a certain portion of the mystery story sealed off from the reader at a climactic point in the story. If the reader wished to continue to discover the authorís explanation and solution to the committed crime(s), the reader would then have to break the seal and read on.

    Should the reader lose interest in the authorís story and returned the book to the bookseller with the seal intact, the reader would be refunded the cost of the book.

    This series of books, obviously very collectible today, was published between 1929 and 1934. The most prominent author included in the series was beyond a doubt John Dickson Carr, with nine books in the series (in six years!). It’s the cover of one of these that you see here up above. Other authors include Freeman Wills Crofts, Milton Propper, Mary Plum, Hulbert Footner and Albert Payson Terhune.

    Thanks to Bill Pronzini and his collection, covers of some two dozen or more are included. The list is too long to have posted on the blog. You’ll find it instead here on the main Mystery*File website. (Follow the link.)

    And just how many of the books were returned to Harper’s for a refund? You’ll have to read Victor’s article.