True Detective, Master Detective, True Crime Monthly and Murder Most Foul are today the leading international true crime magazines. But how did they start?
In fact they’ve an illustrious publishing history going back more than 80 years. The first issue of True Detective magazine appeared in America in 1924, quickly followed by the first Master Detective.
They soon established themselves as favourites on the nation’s newsstands with their in-depth, gripping accounts that got inside the psyche of both criminal and detective, along with lavishly presented photos of the people and places involved in each case.
This was quite unlike anything the public had seen before – including actual police photos from the scene of the crime itself, presented in top-quality printing along with expertly crafted prose that described in lingering detail some of the more lurid scenes from modern life – and all wrapped up in beautifully designed painted covers.
True Detective and Master Detective gave the reading public more than the newspapers or newsreels could give them – complete case reports with fascinating insights into detection methods – in an era when forensic science was advancing in leaps and bounds and forcing the criminal fraternity into greater and greater feats of ingenuity in an effort to commit the perfect crime.
But, as readers of the dozens of detective magazines spawned by True Detective knew full well – the perfect crime simply didn’t exist. If there was one thing the early detective magazines showed time and again, month after month, it was that good will almost always prevail over evil.
True Detective and Master Detective revolutionised the magazine business and created a burgeoning genre, perhaps the most popular form of reading-matter in pre-WW2 America. And the phenomenon was not confined to the 49 states; copies were shipped around the world to readers hungry for their next dose of true crime.
That’s where the Britain and Ireland entered the picture. They’d already had a taste of the American crime magazines when, in 1950, an enterprising publisher launched editions of True Detective and Master Detective for Britain and Ireland. An instant success, they are still published to this day, and have been joined over the years by other successful magazines – True Crime Monthly, launched in 1981, and Murder Most Foul quarterly, launched in 1991 – plus a host of Summer Specials, Winter Specials and a unique selection of paperbacks in the famous True Crime Library.
So today you can still enjoy the very best crime stories in the world’s most-enjoyed titles: True Detective, Master Detective, True Crime and Murder Most Foul.