Writer: Various edited by Martin Edwards
Publishing House: British Library Crime Classics
Date of Publication: October 1st 2015
Rating: 5 stars
‘’When television becomes tiresome, and party games pall, the prospect of curling up in the warm with a good mystery is enticing – and much better for the digestion than yet another helping of plum pudding.’’
Martin Edwards has given us one more beautiful literary gift. An atmospheric collection of good old British mysteries set during Christmas. The days when lights and goodwill can’t actually scare the monsters away, when festivities and revelry can’t always conceal evil intentions. And let’s be honest. What can be better than a British crime story?
The Blue Carbuncle by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Our favourite Holmes and Watson duo has yet another mystery to solve and this one involves stolen jewels and a goose.
Parlour Tricks by Ralph Plummer: A mystery where a magician and a retired officer meet to play their one mind-games. Superbly done!
A Happy Solution by Raymond Allen: An elaborate game of chess can lead to the perpetrator. Beware of lost pawns…
The Flying Stars by G.K.Chesterton: A sleuth-priest investigates a mystery where politics, Commedia Dell’Arte and theatrics hold the key.
Stuffing by Edgar Wallace: A mighty entertaining mystery of lost addresses, food stuffing and a very fortunate couple.
The Unknown Murderer by H.C.Bailey: A team of sleuth-guests investigate the attempted murder of a boy and uncover the dark secrets that have been well hidden in an old manor.
The Absconding Treasurer by J.Jefferson Farjeon: Who said that only the wealthy can be murdered over money? This is a rather predictable but well-written story.
The Necklace of Pearls by Dorothy L.Sayers: One of the jewels in the collection. An ingenious theft of valuable pearls acquires a new dimension once the solution is revealed.
The Case is Altered by Margery Allingham: Oh, the ways to win a young lady’s heart…
Waxworks by Ethel Lina White: This is the second time I’ve encountered this story in a Christmas collection and I can honestly say that I loved it even more! A haunting, heart-pounding, nightly adventure of a brilliant young journalist and a series of mysterious deaths.
Cambric Tea by Marjorie Bowen: One of the most exciting stories in the collection. A young doctor is reunited with the woman he still loves. Unfortunately, she chose to become the wife of a terrible man. A story full of twists until the very end.
The Chinese Apple by Marjorie Bowen: Possibly my favourite story in the volume. A wealthy woman returns to the manor of her troubled childhood to meet her niece who has lost both of her parents. But the enigmatic young lady hides so much more than meets the eye and the timing proves to be less than perfect when a vicious murder takes place next door. Dark, foggy London provides the best setting for this gem.
A Problem in White by Cecil Day-Lewis: An interesting twist in the classic British trope of the murder in the train.
The Name on the Window by Edmund Crispin: No collection would be complete without a traditional locked-room mystery and the whispering of the name of the culprit. But what if everything is just a smoke screen?
Beef for Christmas by Leo Bruce: Never underestimate a boisterous Sergeant.
‘’Christmas may be when we dream of peace on Earth and entertain feelings of goodwill, but there are limits. It is a mysterious, as well as magical, time of year. Strange things can happen.’’