Review : The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories ( editor : Martin Edwards )

My next read for the holiday season is The Christmas Card Crime , an anthology of Christmas mysteries edited by Martin Edwards . The individual stories have been rated ( check out the stars next to the title for the rating ) . Also , there are only quick holiday season references and no detailed delving into the festivities of the season . Still , I would say that there are some gems here which should not be missed . . . Here’s a quick look at the teasers for each of the eleven stories – I should warn you that this is a mixed bag . . .

A Christmas Tragedy by Baroness Orczy ** :

Lady Molly ‘ s lady – in – waiting is the narrator here . I have several complaints against this one – the narrator ‘ s tone was obsequious throughout the story ( I could have lived with that if Lady Molly had done some decent detective work . But her actions and suspicions are frequently attributed to her excellent intuition ** Duh!!** ) and took on a snobbish tone when it came to narrative about the servants of the manor where she is investigating the murder of one Major Ceely . The motive for the murder seems to be pretty absurd and there is next – to – nothing detection done by our ” detective ” whose detective powers are praised to the skies . While I can understand that the pen has been wielded by one of Lady Molly ‘ s social standing to warrant this narrative style and that it has not aged well , the close to zero detective work made this a boring read . I would suggest anyone to save this one for the last and start with Crime At Lark Cottage or The Christmas Card Crime . . .

By The Sword by Selwyn Jepson **** :

The Cathertons have always died by the sword . Read this one to find out how this family curse plays out in the latest death in the family . A clever one but the story – telling could have been better with holding the reader ‘ s interest . . .

The Christmas Card Crime by Donald Stuart ***** :

A group of passengers in a train end up in a lodge with a shady past . One of the passengers ends up murdered and another seems to have someone shadowing her . Plus there is the torn half of a Christmas greeting card which she seems keen to protect from someone . Why is it that an old , torn Christmas greeting card hold much value /? The solution to this one is a really clever one . . .

The Motive by Ronald Knox **** :

A lawyer narrates a curious case in which he defended a man named Westmacott ( yes , that ‘ s a nod to Agatha Christie ) . A very interesting and clever story but you might probably have to stick with the somewhat mediocre narrative to get to the superb ending – I would say that the ending is worth persisting with this one . ( The narrative alone would have got only 3 stars but I loved this story – so , bumping it up to a 4 . . . )

Blind Man ‘ s Hood by Carter Dickson **** :

A couple arrive at their host ‘ s late and a young woman narrates the story of a mysterious death in the same house . A superb locked room mystery with a delicious paranormal twist at the end . . .

Paul Temple ‘ s White Christmas by Francis Durbridge *** :

Paul and his wife have flown to Switzerland for Christmas but what they don ‘ t expect is a mini – adventure which plays out the moment that land in Switzerland . There is not much mystery here and it is very predictable . . .

Sister Bessie or Your Old Leech by Cyril Hare ***** :

Timothy , a banker , recounts his tracking down of his ” blackmailer ” and getting rid of this supposed blackmailer . But , in a deliciously ironic twist , he has only put himself at the mercy his blackmailer once again who signs the blackmail notes as Your Old Leech . . . I loved this one and will be picking up more by this author in the future . . .

A Bit of Wire Pulling by E . C . R . Lorac :

Inspector Lang from the Yard recounts a murder which took place in a Christmas party in which he was present .

I am not very good at visualizing contraptions or mechanisms even if they are explained in the For Dummies fashion . So I would reserve my judgement on this one . I only remember that the solution involved what the title is about – some wire pulling .

Pattern of Revenge by John Bude *** :

Two men loved Karen Gaborg and one of them is now serving time for her murder . Now , the other one is confessing to Karen ‘ s murder and detailing how he framed his rival for her murder . Some elements of the solution were not very surprising but it was a pretty decent read . . .

Crime at Lark Cottage by John Bingham ***** :

John Bradley stops at a home near Skandale where a woman and her daughter reside . The woman seems frightened and hints that she would like the visitor to stay for the night . Eventually Bradley comes upon a newspaper article which enlightens him as to the strange situation which he finds himself in . . .

This one has a brilliant narrative which managed to fool me about the trajectory the plot was about to take with a superb twist at the end . . .

Twixt the cup and the lip by Julian Symons *** :

A jewel heist masterminded by a bookseller goes awry in every way possible , all thanks to his bungling comrades . The narrative is on the lighter side and the solution is quite clever . . .

If you have already read this anthology , 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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