Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Stalkings: Review

I have now officially completed all of my challenges for 2010. Finishing up Christmas Stalkings, mystery-themed short stories collected by Charlotte MacLeod, finishes off my Holiday Spirit Reading Challenge. I may read a few more Christmas books before the end of the year, but that will just be icing on the Christmas cookies--so to speak.

This collection of short stories didn't quite match up to MacLeod's first collection, Mistletoe Mysteries. The author list is just as impressive--including Elizabeth Peters, Robert Barnard, Reginald Hill, Dorothy Cannell, Patricia Moyes, and others--but the stories just weren't quite as good. I rejoiced to see a short story by Evelyn E. Smith included. I have enjoyed her novels featuring Miss Melville and looked forward to reading the short story. In "Miss Melville Rejoices" we have the older, self-appointed hit-woman setting her sights on a particularly repulsive former dictator who has decided to dress up as Santa for Christmas. That's what Miss Melville does, you see. She takes it upon herself to rid the world of slimey characters who for one reason or another are beyond the reach of justice. The story was adequate, but didn't have the same charm as the full-length novels--although it did have an interesting twist at the end. The best of the lot was MacLeod's own "Counterfeit Christmas" featuring her curmudgeonly Professor Shandy. Not that he's always prickly--but he does have a firm dislike for all the over-the-top decorating that goes on at Christmas at Balaclava College. And when counterfeiters try to take advantage of the festivities to pass some fake bills, he's more than happy to escape the blinky lights and track the criminal/s down.

Overall, I rate this collection as a two and a half out five. MacLeod's story earns a four and Smith's a solid three.

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