Need a Clue? Find “New” Classic Golden Age Mysteries on hoopla!

Why do so-called “Golden Age” mysteries–written by a handful of British authors in the 1920s and 30s–appeal so strongly? Considering that they flourished specifically in the post-World War I era, it could be argued that these highly-crafted, ingenious puzzle-stories gave their first readers a sense of control after the horror and chaos of a senseless conflict. In these tales, good clearly triumphs over evil; evil is usually confined to a single murder (or perhaps a few related ones); and the good detectives (with whom the reader identifies) seldom die. It’s a comfortingly controlled world. One that, despite the dastardly deeds committed therein, still offers us a welcome respite from the messiness of real life.

Unfortunately, as you may have discovered, the oeuvre is somewhat limited. But if you think you’ve devoured every last crumb of classic mystery fare available, from Agatha Christie to Dorothy Sayers to Margery Allingham, don’t despair! Here’s your clue to discovering more delights. Republished under the auspices of the renowned British Library, the eight anthologies of short mystery fiction available on hoopla offer you tales from the era that have been out of print since before World War II. Herein, you’ll find bite-sized pleasures from familiar authors like G. K. Chesterton and new-to-our era writers like J. Jefferson Farjeon. Occasionally, you’ll even chance upon something from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his contemporaries a generation earlier. 

Edited and introduced by scholar Martin Edwards, each title in this set of British Library Crime Classics presents an array of stories sharing some familiar plot elements. Everything from the favorite country house murder to the not-so-bucolic countryside/village crime to the slightly grittier London mystery is well-represented in the series. And if it’s full-length tales you’re after, you can devour a pair of them from the largely-forgotten writer John Bude republished together just this year: Death in White Pajamas & Death Knows No Calendar.

So if you need a half-hour’s calm amid the present storms, dip into one or all of these classics, select a story at will, and settle in for a slice of pitch-perfect whodunit heaven.

You can access these British Library Crime Classics and more for free with your Marblehead library card on hoopla. If you don’t currently have a Marblehead card, get started here.

Bonus Borrows for Teens and Adults!

Tired of watching or listening to children’s Bonus Borrows on hoopla? There are many Bonus Borrows titles for teens and adults as well! Maybe you want to relive some classics from your childhood. Go down the rabbit hole with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, fly to Neverland in J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, follow the yellow brick road to L. Frank Baum’s Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, or join a wonderful horse on his journey through life in Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty.

For more mature classics, listen to the audiobook version of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. Enjoy the sounds of Shakespeare in some of his plays, including Hamlet, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and more. Solve mysteries with Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet or with Hercule Poirot in one of Agatha Christie’s classics, such as her short story, The Veiled Lady.

Teens may be interested in the Comics collection of Bonus Borrows. For those who enjoyed Netflix’s Stranger Things or The Witcher series, check out Stranger Things: Zombie Boys by Grag Pak or The Witcher Vol. 2: Fox Children by Paul Tobin. If you want to “live and let die,” check out this James Bond graphic novel. For those feeling Moonstruck, check out this 1st volume about a werewolf and her new girlfriend.

For adult fiction Bonus Borrows, Charlaine Harris has A Bone to Pick about the unexpected death of an elderly member of the recently disbanded Real Murders club. Find out what happens when Florence Green opens up a bookshop in Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel, The Bookshop. Look on the bright side of life, and death, in Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins by Katarina Bivald.

Browse through hundreds more titles in hoopla’s full Bonus Borrows collection before May 31!

The Majesty and Magic of Live Performance

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players
—W. Shakespeare, As You Like It

Live performances – operas, ballets, musicals, plays, concerts, and comedy shows – and documentaries about how they were created and the people who created them – are available on hoopla, a free service brought to you by the Abbot Public Library. You only need your library card to access hoopla.

Learn to play a musical instrument, or learn more about your favorite band or musical group – you can find all that and more on hoopla, including some of these gems:

Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Rigoletto tells a tragic story of love, passion, deceit, and sacrifice. A 1946 recording of this performance showcased the best Italian operatic voices of the time. 

The Phantom of the Opera, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and lyrics by Charles Hart: this legendary musical won numerous awards and is the longest-running Broadway show. 

This gorgeous, full-cast production, accompanied by over 200 musicians in the orchestra, was performed at the musical’s 25th anniversary celebration at the Royal Albert Hall.

Another legendary musical and spectator favorite, Les Misérables, composed by Claude Michel Schonberg, with lyrics by Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer, won many awards and is the longest-running musical in London’s West End. This production, performed for the 25th anniversary of the show, features an all-star cast that includes Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers.

Although there have been numerous film adaptations of Charles Dickens’ works, Great Expectations has never been produced for the theater, being considered too difficult to stage. This is the first – and very successful – staged performance of Dickens’ most popular book, which you now have a chance to experience.

A one-man show of Beowulf performed in old English, accompanied on the harp.

If you do not mind having Christmas in May, we suggest the gorgeous Nutcracker ballet, probably the most popular performance in the world around Christmas time.

And if you love The Nutcracker Ballet and wonder what it takes to produce such an eternally beautiful spectacle and to perform in it, then the documentary Getting to the Nutcracker is for you.

If you are interested in learning more about opera or classical music, we suggest the following documentaries:

Check out hoopla’s musical section, where you can find dozens of opera and ballet titles, as well as classical music, for listening. 

And if the classics aren’t to your taste, hoopla also has many other musical selections, from rock to gospel to pop.

Overdrive/Libby also has something to offer to the live performance experience: download and listen to recordings of live performances and full-cast audio plays of popular titles.

Black Water is a recording of a live performance of the chamber opera, created by Joyce Carol Oates (based on her novel) and composer John Duffy.

Angels in America is an audiobook performance of the National Theatre’s 2018 Broadway revival of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. The production features the entire cast, including Tony winners Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane. 

BBC Radio 4 has full cast dramatizations of the horror tale The Birds by Daphne du Maurier, and of Agatha Christie novels.

A variety of books (fiction and nonfiction) on the performing arts are also available through Overdrive/Libby, including: