Writer: Various, edited by Martin Edwards
Publishing House: British Library Crime Classics
Date of Publication: November 10th 2016
Rating: 5 stars
‘’But seated in the holly-decked apartment before a noble fire which roared bravely up the wide chimney we cared nothing for the frozen world out of doors. We laughed and talked, sang sings and recalled adventures, until somewhere about ten o’clock we fell into a ghostly vein quite in keeping with the goblin-haunted season.’’
The Ghost’s Touch (Fergus Hume): A doctor narrates the incidents that took place in an English country house haunted by a tragic ghost. But it is ambition and greed that we should fear, not visitors from the other side…
The Chopham Affair (Edgar Wallace): Gold-diggers, womanizers, lawyers and murder.
The Man With the Sack (Margery Allingham): Albert Campion reluctantly accepts an invitation to spend Christmas with a less than agreeable company, motivated by the pleas of the daughter of the family. When Sheila’s fear turns to reality, it is up to him to set things straight.
Christmas Eve (S.C.Roberts): Rather a toned-down version of Sherlock but entertaining nonetheless.
Death in December (Victor Gunn): The cantankerous – and all-around brilliant- Bill ‘Ironsides’ Cromwell offers his services when a frightening apparition becomes a very, very real murder.
Murder at Christmas (Christopher Bush): A Christmas mystery of golf, accents and how to incorporate holly into your festive decorations…
Off the Tiles (Ianthe Jerrold): An artist falls from the roof of her house. Inspector Quy doesn’t believe it was an accident and the list of suspects is short but tricky. A clever little mystery.
Mr. Cork’s Secret (Macdonald Hastings): A murder disrupts the plans of a successful hotelier for grandiose Christmas and the arrival of a glamorous couple with their famous jewels seems impossible. However, it is the arrival of the famous Montague Cork that will reveal a vile plan. An exciting story with a healthy dose of Cornish mystery.
The Santa Claus Club (Julian Symons): A Santa Claus club and an interpretation of A Christmas Carol hide quite a lot of secrets…
Deep and Crisps and Even (Michael Gilbert): Detective Sergeant Petrella joins a carol-singing party and a Christmas puzzle comes his way. Also, there must be an awful lot of Protheroes in the British Isles. I come across one every other story…
The Carol Singers (Josephine Bell): A tragic death takes place on Christmas Eve. The victim is an elderly lady and the horrible incident wreaks havoc in the local community. As a side note, I surely am right not to open the door to carol singers. Ever!
And that’s it for this year’s Christmas collections. It’s been jolly fun, indeed!
‘’The snow lay deep on North London that December. People were busy buying Christmas presents, laying in unusual quantities of food and drink, hanging holly over pictures and mistletoe in the front hall, devising excuses to prevent their in-laws coming to stay, and generally behaving exactly like everybody else all over the civilized world – except Scotland where, as is well known, is celebrated a curious deviationist festival known as Hogmanay.
Crime followed the seasonal pattern. A little shop-lifting in the crowded shops by day. A marked increase in brawling as the public houses stayed open for an extra half-hour to celebrate the season of goodwill; and the ever-present problem of people who went away and left their houses unguarded and at the mercy of housebreakers, who recognise no close season.’’