Review: Cecily Gayford (Ed) – A Very Murderous Christmas

Christmas should be a time of joy and family. In these 10 crime short stories written by the best classic crime writers Christmas becomes a time of murder and mayhem instead. Well… as long as you are in the Northern Hemisphere and have a snowy Christmas.

So I’m not usually one for crime novels, and you wouldn’t expect me to enjoy a set of crime short stories. However, I’m in a bit of a reading slump at the moment, and I figured what would it hurt if I read it? As I have always said, short stories are a good way of working out whether you want to read more by a specific author.

The Man with the Sack by Margery Allingham – Nifty! I actually rather liked this one. I’m not sure it was the right short story to start the volume though, not enough oomph.

The Adventure of the Red Widow by Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr – I was underwhelmed by this one. I know that Sherlock Holmes is the namesake of crime (along with Agatha Christie), but I didn’t really enjoy the writing style and I would have preferred more clues so I could solve it myself.

Camberwell Crackers by Anthony Horowitz – This was a good one! I find it interesting how so often the ‘bad guy’ briefly exposes themselves with a look, but the detective isn’t sure what to make of it. 

The Flying Stars by GK Chesterton – Eh, average.

A Problem in White by Nicholas Blake – I could have liked this one because it offered me the clues to solve the ‘whodunnit’ by myself. However, I was irritated by the way the different characters were referred to by their types and therefore that I couldn’t always follow who was who.

Loopy by Ruth Rendell – This was an interesting premise, but so loopy 😉 that it didn’t work for me.

Morse’s Greatest Mystery by Colin Dexter – Average. I hardly remember what it was about, and I only just read it!

The Jar of Ginger by Gladys Mitchell – I was keen to read this one from the name. However, it didn’t actually play out the way I expected it to. What kind of ginger was it exactly? Crystalised ginger? I expected powdered ginger.

Rumpole and the Old Familiar Faces by John Mortimer – This actually had a lot in common with one of the other stories (The Man with the Sack) and so didn’t offer much new.

The Problem of Santa’s Lighthouse by Edward Hoch – This one was ok, but I would have liked some more clues so I could solve it for myself.

Overall this set of short stories was rather underwhelming. I’ll still give it 3 stars, but I feel that your reading time could be spent better elsewhere.

Allen & Unwin | 28th November 2018 | AU$19.99 | paperback

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