Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mistletoe Mysteries: Review

Mistletoe Mysteries, a collection of short stories collected by Charlotte MacLeod made for a nice little holiday diversion and a nifty addition to my reading for the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge. The book is made up of a variety of mystery story types by authors ranging from Mary Higgins Clark and Isaac Asimov to Marcia Muller and Aaron Elkins. It has everything from ghost stories to murders and robberies to missing teenagers. I enjoyed nearly all of the stories--there were just a few weaker tales hidden among the holiday gold. My favorite stories are "The Haunted Crescent" by Peter Lovesy and "Silent Night" by Marcia Muller.

In "The Haunted Crescent" we have one of the ghost stories in the collection. An ex-policeman is waiting in a reputedly haunted house on Christmas Eve. We are told that this is when the ghost is said to walk. Right on schedule, a pale young woman in white appears and the tale unfolds....but there is an unexpected twist at the end that makes this story more than your run-of-the mill ghost story. Lovesy does an excellent job of drawing the reader in and then pulling a clever bit of sleight of hand to change the perspective.

"Silent Night" finds Muller's detective, Sharon McCone, scouring the city on Christmas Eve for her run away nephew. The charm of this story isn't so much the mystery--there isn't much beyond the mystery of the nephew's location--but in what Sharon learns about her nephew and herself along the way. It is a nice, very short tale of redemption and how just a little attention to others can make a difference.

I give this collection three and a half stars out of five--with the two stories above rating four stars apiece.

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