Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Peter Cheyney and The Crime Club Card Game

Peter Cheyney authored the Crime Club card game, which was first published by Pepys (Castell Brothers Limited) in 1935. Peter Cheyney was a top author of British detective and mystery books in the 1930s and 40s, and to have him get personally involved in the creation of a card game for The Crime Club was quite a coup.

The set comes in a wonderful gold-lined box, featuring a sharp padded lid. The top of the box is embossed in gold, and a special card for Peter Cheyney is glued to the bottom of the box. The card game was released with two color varieties: the 1935 first edition features a padded dark purple box, with card backs of purple. The second edition, around 1938 or 1940, had a dark green box with green-backed cards, so there wouldn't be any confusion.

The game contains 50 cards, mostly made of characters from Peter Cheyney's books (such as Lemmy Caution), however there are exceptions, such as Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. The cards are made up of 6 suits with 8 cards in each suit. There are 3 detective suits, and 3 crook suits. Each suit features characters, objects, and locations. There are also two jokers included in the set, as well as the instruction booklet and 4 value reminder slips. The back of each card features the masked Crime Club gunman on a geometric pattern. The card illustrations of Cheyney's Lemmy Caution and Carlotta are reissues of the classic architypes taken from John Pisani’s book cover artwork for the Collins editions of “This Man is Dangerous” and “Poison Ivy”.

The complete list of characters available in the game is:
  • Lemmy Caution
  • Hercule Poirot
  • Mr. Colbeck
  • Dr. Harlow
  • Superintendent Battle
  • Mr. Glapthorne
  • Mr. Woodspring
  • Inspector Macdonald
  • Peter Vernon
  • Mr. Evans
  • Janet Murch
  • Carlotta
The game is played as a two-part process: the first step in the game is to collect and make up a good hand. Then, in the second part of the game, the players attempt to take as few tricks as possible. Obviously, the game gets better as you play it, as the players quickly figure out what makes up the best hands for a winning strategy. The Crime Club card game is played with at least two players, and up to six can be accommodated using a single pack of cards -- for more than six players, it is recommended that you use two packs of cards.

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