Review : The Mistletoe Murder And Other Stories by P . D . James

We are halfway through December and I have still not got into the spirit of Christmas which is why I decided to pick up some Xmas themed books ( any genre but primarily suspense ) . This anthology of four short stories by P . D James is my first pick . The Christmas themed stories do not elaborate on the ” good old fashioned English Christmas ” traditions – rather these traditions seem to happen in the background while at the heart of each of these three Christmas themed stories is something sinister and mildly unnerving . While this might not sound like an exactly great read ” to get into the Christmas mood ” , if suspense is your primary genre and you are game for something bolder than a ” Christmassy cozy mystery ” , I would urge you to give this one a shot this holiday season . . .

My thoughts on the book

The Mistletoe Murder has a best selling crime novelist recount her tryst with murder at her grandmother ‘ s house some fifty years earlier . Recently widowed , she was hoping to have a quiet Christmas with only one other guest – her cousin Paul . Unfortunately , there is another guest and an obnoxious one at that , who is also a distant cousin of Paul . But this guest ends up getting murdered inside the locked library and our narrator starts sleuthing as she is not very happy with the police investigation . Does she find out the murderer ‘ s identity ? While TMM ‘ s ending confirmed what I suspected all along , ( I would have abandoned James had it not been for the ending as the earlier faux solution to the murderer ‘ s identity was not convincing and I had promised myself that I would not suffer any book with preposterous solutions atleast during the holiday season . . . ) , still it was a very engaging read .

In A Very Commonplace Murder , a pedantic filing assistant discovers a stash of pornographic magazines and develops the habit of letting himself into the office premises secretly post office hours on Fridays to go through them . Soon , he discovers that the apartment opposite is being used by a pair in an illicit relationship and he starts playing the peeping tom . One day , the lady is found dead and her lover is facing the gallows . . . Will this man speak up and save an innocent man from the gallows ? ( not to mention the consequences for himself when he reveals why and how he came to be on the scene . . . ) . The author explores the psyche of the narrator and the result is a somewhat disturbing read . . . Still , this one packed in a superb final twist too – definitely the best in the collection had it not been for the creepiness factor . I am still wondering if it was a good idea to include this one in this holiday theme collection . . .

In The BoxDale Inheritance , Dalgleish’s godfather , The Canon , has received an inheritance from Great Aunt Allie , but he is reluctant to accept it as it might be tainted . ” Great Aunt Allie ” had married the Canon ‘ s grandfather and The Canon wants Dalgleish to investigate the extent ( if any ) of Great Aunt Allie ’ s involvement in his grandfather ‘ s death ( for which his step – grandmother stood trial and was later acquitted . . . ) . But nobody would have guessed the truth . . . This story featured a brilliant twist which I had not seen coming and I just loved this one despite the truth having some sinister undertones . . .

The Twelve Clues of Christmas turned out to be a entertaining read as it did not have the menacing undertones which the others had . In fact , the victim ( in death ) and the household brought in some much needed lightheartedness to the proceedings ( after the somewhat disturbing A Very Commonplace Murder ) . Sergeant Adam D is on his way to his aunt ‘ s place for Christmas lunch when he comes upon a hitchhiker who asks Adam to drop him at the nearest telephone box to report the suicide of his uncle . But when Adam has a look at the dead man , he starts to suspect that the death at the rundown Harkerville Hall might not be a suicide and identifies the 12 clues that would solve the mysterious death . . . This one had me chuckling too often with its ” bumbling – X – tries – his -hand – at – murder – and – has – left – clues – like a – trail – for – a – mile ” kind of proceedings . . .

Rating : 4 . 5 / 5

If you have already read The Mistletoe Murder & Other Stories , let me know in the comments section about your thoughts on the book  . . . If you have any interesting Christmas themed recommendations , please do share them . Until the next review then . . .

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