Updated: Sep 2
Peter Cheyney's Crime Club Card Game
(The twin Purple and Green versions were both published at the same time and are not separate editions)
First Published: 1939, Pepys Series
Illustrator or Designer: Not Credited but Peter Cheyney endorses the game.
Contents: 50 Cards + Rules Booklet
The pack consists of 50 cards, 6 series of 8 cards plus 2 Joker cards. There are 3 Detective series, Red, Light Blue & Yellow plus 1 Joker, The Figure of Justice. The 3 Crook Series are, Dark Blue, Dark Purple & Dark Green plus 1 Joker, A Masked Man.
Crime Club Light Blue Detective Series: Detective - Hercule Poirot, Assistant - Superintendent Battle, Police Car, Main Road, Bridle Path, Blood-Hounds, Crook's House, Handcuffs and Joker the Figure of Justice
Crime Club Red Detective Series: Detective - Lemmy Caution, Assistant - Carlotta, Police Car, Main Road, Bridle Path, Blood-Hounds, Crook's House, Handcuffs
Crime Club Yellow Detective Series: Detective - Inspector Macdonald, Assistant - Peter Vernon, Police Car, Main Road, Bridle Path, Blood-Hounds, Crook's House, Handcuffs
Crime Club Dark Blue Crook Series: Crook - Mr Colbeck, Assistant - Dr Harlow, Crook's Car, Main Road, Bridle Path, Hide-Out Cottage, Flashlamp, Loot and the Joker a Masked Man
Crime Club Dark Purple Crook Series: Crook - Mr Evans, Assistant - Janet Murch, Crook's Car, Main Road, Bridle Path, Hide-Out Cottage, Flashlamp, Body
Crime Club Dark Green Crook Series: Crook - Mr Woodspring, Assistant - Mr Glapthorne, Crook's Car, Main Road, Bridle Path, Hide-Out Cottage, Flashlamp, Loot
William Collins owned Castell Brothers, the publishers of Pepys series when The Crime Club card game was released in 1939.
Collins' Crime Club, was a long running and successful scheme to promote William Collins' crime fiction list. The club ran from 1930 to 1994 and the imprint published the first editions of many crime writer's works including almost all of Agatha Christie's novels. Other writers published by the Crime Club included E.C.R. Lorac, John Rhode, Ngaio Marsh and Peter Cheyney.
Members of the Crime Club were not compelled to make any purchases at all, they simply subscribed to a newsletter which made monthly recommendations. It is thought that "Club" had around 20,000 members in the mid 1930s.
The card game clearly promoted the Crime Club's books but I have yet to find an example of the Crime Club books promoting the card game, for example by way of an advert on a dust-jacket.
The symbol of the Crime Club was "The Hooded Gunman" who appears on the front of the game's box and on the backs of the cards. The Hooded Gunman also features on the card backs of "I Commit". The Photocrime Pepys Party Games were promoted as being "Crime Club Party Games" but only early editions bear the image of the Gunman.
For a brief history of Collins Crime Club see classiccrimefiction.com
For a longer read see the 400 page, full colour coffee table book: The Hooded Gunman: An Illustrated History Of Collins Crime Club by Dr John Curran (2019) Published by Collins Crime Club ISBN 978-0008192358
Peter Cheyney was a hugely successful author in the genre and is promoted as if he was also the author of the game. I am not sure how much he was actually involved, or rather he was chosen as a suitable celebrity author to endorse the game. The official Peter Cheyney website has much more information on his life and work petercheyney.com .
The only publication detail to be found in the game is the "Pepys Series" device on the box, there is no mention of Castell Brothers and no address given.
The twin Purple and Green versions were published simultaneously and are not separate editions.
The characters depicted and the author who created them:
Hercule Poirot and Superintendent Battle - Agatha Christie
Lemmy Caution and Carlotta - Peter Cheyney
Inspector Macdonald and Peter Vernon - ECR Lorac
Mr Evans and Janet Murch - Philip MacDonald
Mr Woodspring and Mr Glapthorne - John Rhode
Mr Colbeck and Dr Harlow - ?
Each pair of characters in the game is the creation of a Crime Club author but I have no idea which author created Mr Colbeck and Dr Harlow.
Game & Version Details
Crime Club - Padded Box Open (Purple)
Crime Club - Padded Box Base With Peter Cheyney Card (Purple)
Crime Club - Card Back (Purple)
Crime Club - Padded Box Open (Green)
Crime Club - Padded Box Base With Peter Cheyney Card (Green)
Crime Club - Card Back (Green)
Crime Club - Rules Front
Crime Club - Rules Back
Speed, Jack of All Trades 1/-
Snow White 1/6
Kargo, Belisha, Progress, Mickey's Fun Fair, The Crime Club 2/6
Crime Club - Card Values Sheets