Sunday, July 3, 2016


Sometime in the mid 1940s Lippincott introduced their most successful and long-running mystery imprint after abandoning the "Masked Man" idea. Main Line Mysteries made use of a clever logo showing a train engine with smoke trailing out of the smokestack in the form of a question mark with the logo name in a railroad crossing sign. The design also doubles as a stylized skull and cross bones. The series began about 1943, flourished throughout the 1950s and ended sometime around 1967. Authors included such stalwart mystery icons as William Irish, Edmund Crispin, Frances & Richard Lockridge and Patricia Wentworth. They also signed on lesser known writers with fairly long careers such as Paul Whelton and his private eye series featuring Garry Dean and Stewart Sterling who created one of the first arson investigator detectives, Fire Marshall Ben Pedley.

As a publisher that began with nursing textbooks it should come as no surprise that the editors were drawn to medical mysteries and detective novels with hospital settings. I found a slew of them in my research and added a few of the DJs from those books to the assortment below. Can't be a coincidence, IMO.

After-Dinner Story (1944)
Darkness of Slumber (1944)

Deadline at Dawn (1944)
Call the Lady Indiscreet (1946)

The Dancing Detective (1946)
Rx for Murder (1946)

Angels Are Painted Fair (1947)
The Main Line Mysteries logo appeared on the DJ spine panel, spine of book, and the title page

Blood Is a Beggar (1946)
Where There's Smoke (1946)
Dead and Dumb (1947)
published in the UK under its better known title: Swan Song
Dead Wrong (1947)
Dead Man Blues (1948)
Diagnosis: Homicide (1950)
An Edgar Award winner for Best Short Story
The Ivory Dagger (1951)
Ladies' Bane (1952)

Death and the Gentle Bull (1954)

Live Bait for Murder (1955)
Murder Is Insane (1956)
The Cactus Shroud (1957)
Death Paints a Portrait (1958)
Clues for Dr. Coffee (1964)
Murder Can't Wait (1964)


  1. Excellent. Can I assume MurdeI Is Insane has some connection to an insane asylum?

    1. I don't have all of these books as in the other posts on this type. But I ordered a copy of MURDER IS INSANE after I found the DJ. Can't verify anything about the asylum. All I know about this one comes from a plot blurb: "All true whodunit buffs will delight in the killer's wonderfully macabre method for committing his crimes." Couldn't pass this up based on that line!

  2. John, these are such terrific covers. I'm assuming they are all hardbacks. It's possible I might have come across these authors, who I have never read before, at the Books by Weight exhibition I frequent. They specialise in old hardbacks. It's also possible I have overlooked these books not knowing their literary value.

  3. Lots of authors there that I've never heard of. But with covers that good I'd buy them anyway!

  4. Thank you for this informative post. I take it that my grandmother Zelda Popkin's _So Much Blood_ (1944) would have been one of the early titles in this series. As J. F. Norris suggests, it had a medical theme (murder via dicoumarin). Popkin had written five previous novels featuring a female detective, Mary Carner, which were published by Lippincott (and Dell paperback) between 1938 and 1942.