The Arsenal Stadium Mystery, by Leonard Gribble

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The Independent Culture

The mystery these days at the Emirates is where to find a parking space, but this innovative whodunnit was originally published in 1939, when Arsenal were still at Highbury and double-yellow lines had yet to be invented. A best-seller in its day, and made into a successful film, it can lay claim to being the first football-related thriller. It is also notable for its use of real-life members of the Arsenal team as characters. But so much for history: is it still worth reading nearly 70 years on? Certain aspects are dated: for a start, the action takes place in a haze of cigarette smoke, as everyone, players included, puffs away as if there is no tomorrow. As indeed there isn't for the victim, who is taken ill on the pitch while facing Arsenal and expires. Enter Slade of the Yard, jut-jawed and steely-eyed, and the plot rattles along, clues strewn at every turn, until Slade gets his man. Like Arsenal in more recent years, it does the double: while scoring highly for nostalgia, it also holds its own in the suspense stakes.

Published by GCR Books in paperback, £12.95.

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