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

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Visualising a collection of 2075 books : The “Spécial-Police” authors


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The picture above is based on the total of books published by each of the authors who contributed to the legendary “Spécial Police” Series. Launched in 1949 it helped turning its publishing house, Fleuve Noir, into France’s most successful popular literature publisher. When it stopped, in 1987 it  had published  generations of new authors. The biggest names on the words representation above are the biggest contributors. Georges J. Arnaud, Mario Ropp (aka Maïa Devillers), Peter Randa (aka André Duquesne),  Adam Saint Moore (aka Jacques Douyau)  and of course San-Antonio (aka Frédéric Dard) feature here prominently.  But many important names in the history of French Noir, as well as those of well-liked, prolific authors can be found here too.  André Helena, Léo Malet, Serge Laforest,  Jean Mazarin, Roger Vilard,  M.G. Braun (aka Maurice-Gabriel Brault), André Lay  and many more.