Hillman-Curl was founded in September of 1935 by Alex Hillman, president of Godwin and Arcadia House, and Samuel Curl, the firm’s sales manager. Mysteries began appearing under the new imprint in 1936, priced at $1.50 per novel; the price went to $2.00 in 1938. In 1937 the Clue Club line was begun. Under the editorship of Edmund Clinton Woodbridge, Hillman-Curl established the following “bill of rights” for mystery readers.
A NEW BILL OF RIGHTS
FOR DETECTIVE STORY READERS!
1. A Clue Club Mystery must have an exciting plot which is intrinsically interesting aside from the actual solution of the crime.
2. All characters must be well-drawn flesh and blood people whose prototypes can be found in everyday life.
3. The actual perpetrator or perpetrators of the crime or crimes must be prominent characters introduced early in the narrative.
4. All purposely misleading circumstances must be carefully avoided.
5. The crime or crimes must be solved by logical deduction derived from material clearly presented to the reader without the aid of supernatural devices or psychic power.
This Bill of Rights, with only some minor changes in wording, was first devised by William Godwin, Inc., in 1933. Later, on the jackets of other books this note appeared:
CLUE CLUB MYSTERIES
Under this imprint Hillman-Curl, Inc., publishes each month outstanding mystery novels by distinguished writers. The sign of the skull is a guarantee that the book is original and well-written.
We search tirelessly for new writers of talent so that our titles will maintain their standard of leading the field.
NOTE: The three 1936 titles were not Clue Club Mysteries. The imprint didn’t begin until 1937. As far as I can tell, the first title in the series was Steve Fisher’s Murder of a Pigboat Skipper. And while Bill Deeck felt Photocrimes should be included among the 1937 entries, it is not a Clue Club title, and as far as I’m concerned only marginally qualifies as a crime fiction title.
– Bill Pronzini
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