I am coming out of my Christmas Pon Farr (I was going to say – ‘google it’. So I did – google and wiki both have lots of info!) And I have read all of the Christmas mysteries I got from the library. (I had read several of them last year.) Plus one by Michael Innes that included 2 other novels – which I just finished a few minutes ago.
Here are mini-reviews of these books, from Otto Penzler’s Ten Best Christmas Mystery Novels list:
Excellent writing, a great plot, a bit more gore and pain than strictly required : >. William L. DeAndrea’s Killed on the Ice. If I was ever to go back to reading mainly mysteries again, he’d be right near the top of my list.
Who can resist an old Ellery Queen? The Egyptian Cross Mystery – the Christmas tie-in is very loose – the mystery starts at Christmas, but most of the action is in summer. And this is weird, very convoluted, not quite as good now as it was, methinks. But a good look at its time and place, 1930s America.
Upon Some Midnights Clear, by K. C. Constantine – A Mario Balzic mystery was published in 1985, and is excellent – we spend a lot of time inside of Chief Balzic’s head (a fascinating place), look at small town politics, policing, just plain people studying. Policing is probably not this loose any more – but it should be.
Carter Dickson is the named author of The White Priory Murders. I knew from many years ago’s mystery reading that it must be John Dickson Carr, whose writings about The Toff were legend. So I was sure this 1934 novel must be nearly a locked-room mystery, and terrific. It passed the test on all counts.
What a tangle! That’s all that can be said of the great story by Margaret Millar, Vanish in an Instant. Wow. And the 1952 world of women and men’s relationships is certainly true to that time.
The Corpse in the Snowman is definitely a Christmas mystery, with lots of snow in an English winter thrown in. And it is definitely not a comedy. Turns out the author, Nicholas Blake, is actually Cecil Day-Lewis, who must be Daniel Day-Lewis’ father. Another great period piece, 1941 Britain, but obvious set a bit earlier than that, probably early 30s, from the household staff size, and lack of war or coming war references. Convoluted, twists and turns, and all good. An Agatha Christie, with a bit more description thrown in.
A Comedy of Terrors, featuring Michael Innes Assistant Commissioner, Scotland Yard, Sir John Appleby, is not exactly a comedy, and not exactly full of terror (quite cerebral, don’t you know), but features a wealthy and whacked-out British set of mostly cousins, set in Industrial Britain, in the 1930s – Arthur, Basil, willard, Hubert, Geoffrey, Lucy, Cecil, Anne plus three other characters – and Inspector Appleby. He was so interesting that I went ahead and read the other 2 Appleby novels in the book: One-Mad Show and The Secret Vanguard. All of these are concerned with the changing culture in Britain as they were being written, and The Secret Vanguard is a good war-closing-in picture of the country.
Yum! and Aaaaaaahhhhh! What a Great Christmas, especially from the reading point of view. I’ll be back in the real world any day now.