The best Detective Novels : Colecção Os Melhores Romances Policiais


Francis D. Grierson (1888-1972), O Negro Assassino (Murder in Black, 1935; Portuguese translation : Adolfo Coelho, 1938).  Colecção Os Melhores Romances Policiais, Volume 44, 2nd edition, 1947


The Lisbon-based publisher Livraria Clássica Editora launched in the early 1930’s a Series of  International Crime Fiction classics :  Os Melhores Romance Policiais.   This series was interrupted in the mid 1950’s. It consists of 124 volumes.  The two first authors published there were two Belgians,  both from Liège.  The first one was Stanislas-André Steeman (1908-1970) with  Seis homens mortos (1932).The second one, of course,  Simenon. The series would publish two other successful  Belgian authors after the war (both hidden under the pseudonym Paul Kenny). French Language Crime Authors are certainly over-represented there. In an era when the British authors members in the Detection club  (including  Chesterton, Anthony Berkeley, Agatha Christie,  Freeman Wills Crofts, R.Austin Freeman, Ronald A. Knox, A.E.W. Mason,  Baroness Orczy,  Dorothy L. Sayers, Henry Wade, and Victor L. Whitechurch ) asserted their worldwide dominance,   Os Melhores Romance Policiais published  mainly translations of  French  works originally published by Gallimard, Ferenczi   or Librairie des Champs Elysées, in series such as Le Masque or Crime et Police.
Several novels translated for Melhores Romances Policiais had won the “Roman d’ Aventures” Award, which was created in 1930 to promote  Crime Fiction writing in French.  Steeman’s Six hommes morts  won it in 1931. Among the French authors of  Livraria Clássica’s “best Crime Novels” feature notably :
-Algeria born and Cambridge educated Charles de Richter (1887- 1975), who published many thrillers inspired from Edgar Wallace in the Éditions de France Series ” À ne pas lire la nuit”.
-Jean-Toussaint Samat (1891- 1944),  a former journalist with Le Petit Marseillais who published in Le Masque and in a number of other French Series of the 1930’s, for Baudinière, Ferenczi, and Editions de France. 
-Marcel Marc, author of Les Trois Crimes de Veules-les-Roses (Gallimard, 1931).
The list includes, too, Pierre Nord, Louis-Léon Martin Edouard Letailleur and Léon Groc, Francis Didelot and Maurice-Bernard Endrèbe.
The first ten books published there are listed on  the blog Rua da Morgue : (
1 – Seis homens mortos de S. André Steeman
2 – Condenado à morte de Georges Simenon
3 – A casa fatal de Leon Groc
4 – O segredo de H.21 de Adolfo Coelho
5 – O “autobus” desaparecido de Leon Groc
6 – Quem matou? De Charles Kingston
7 – Três crimes de Marcel Marc
8 – “ M” de Leonard Falkner
9 – A horrível morte de miss Gildchrist de Jean Toussaint-Samat
10 – O mistério de Loverval de S. André Steeman

The rest of the list  up to number 115 is repoduced here, taken from Saint-Gilles (Pseudonym for famous and amazingly prolific Fleuve Noir author Georges-Jean Arnaud)  Não matem o inspector! ( Ne tirez pas sur l’inspecteur, Quai des Orfèvres award 1952, translated by Carlos Monteiro (Os Melhores Romances Policiais ; 115, 1953)
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