Whoever says crime and Christmas don’t go together is just wrong. Long, dark nights. Stressful travel and strained families. Overworked retailers and overwrought children. Of course someone is going to snap, sooner or later. The more adventurous criminal might even use the busy season to distract from their dastardly activities. Editor Martin Edwards has put together a delightful selection of Yuletide crime stories, cheerful enough to put any reader into the holiday spirit.
“The Black Bag Left on the Doorstep,” introduced the character Loveday Brooke, a female detective, in 1893. Here she attempts to solve a jewelry theft, and the appearance of a mysterious bag, disguised as an upper class maid.
“We are none of us at our ease with each other now,” she said, as she poured out hot tea for Loveday, and piled up a blazing fire. “Every one fancies that every one else is suspecting him or her, and trying to rake up past words or deeds to bring in as evidence. The whole house seems under a cloud. And at this time of year, too; just when everything as a rule is at its merriest.” Here she gave a doleful glance to the big bunch of holly and mistletoe hanging from the ceiling. ~Loc. 269
A G.K. Chesterton story finds a sinister plot at the center of a skating pond, an impossible locked room mystery that requires a postman’s delivery, a man found dead near his wireless radio, and a decades old secret hidden beneath the perfect Christmas tree in the back garden…
“Give Me a Ring” is a crime story that has a veneer of the supernatural.
It was Christmas Eve and nearly five of the clock, but an afternoon less like the traditional ideas of the season would be hard to imagine. True, a little snow had fallen in the early hours, but this was rapidly churned into slush by the relentless London traffics and about mid-day a haze of fog began to spread over the city. … The fog that had been no more than a gauze curtain, shot with gold lights from the stalls and shop-fronts and the street lamps, became a curtain of darkness. … The sight of a window where a light was still burning, at the end of the ribbon of darkness, gave her heart a sudden lift. Walking close against the wall, for the pavements here were narrow and she had no wish to trip over the kerb, she made where way to that welcome golden pane. ~ Loc. 2477
The story had so many twists and turns, I’m still not sure what to think of it.
I highly recommend this collection for your crime-y Christmas Eve reading.
My thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and Sourcebooks for the NetGalley access.
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (October 12, 2021)
Paperback: 320 pages