Crimson Snow (2016) by Martin Edwards (ed)
Once again Martin Edwards has gathered together a delicious selection of holiday treats for the Golden Age mystery lover. We have Christmas ghosts, spurious Santas, mysterious strangers who leave no tracks in the snow-covered country-side, and criminous carolers...among other mysterious fare. Well-known authors such as Margery Allingham, Michael Gilbert, Julian Symons, Edgar Wallace, and Josephine Bell appear with those who may not be as familiar to mystery fans. All but two are seriously good mysteries and Josephine Bell closes the book out with a very dark and sad tale that brings home the plight of those who left alone on Christmas. There's even one story that offers a final challenge to the reader--with the answer at the end of the book. Can you figure out Cork's secret? Overall, an excellent collection for Christmas--or any time you're in the mood for a holiday mystery or twelve. ★★★★
A quick look at the stories enclosed.
"The Ghost's Touch" by Fergus Hume: In which a schemer is caught in his own ghostly trap.
"The Chopham Affair" by Edgar Wallace: a heartless blackmailer gets his just desserts from a very surprising source.
"The Man with the Sack" by Margery Allingham: Albert Campion puts a stop to a Christmas-time diamond theft.
"Christmas Eve" by S. C. Roberts: Sherlock Holmes and the puzzle of the purloined pearls.
"Death in December" by Victor Gunn: When Chief Inspector Bill "Ironsides" Cromwell accepts his sergeant's invitation to spend Christmas at Cloon Castle, his family's country seat, he's gloomily anticipating a stay with silly party games, chitchat with people he doesn't know, and other social inconveniences. He immediately perks up when a mysterious figure crosses the drive between them and the castle--leaving behind no footprints. And there's soon more ghostly and murderous incidents to investigate. A fitting Christmas present for savvy detective.
"Murder at Christmas" by Christopher Bush: Ludovic Travers spends a week with his colleague for Christmas and golfing. While there he becomes involved in the murder of a swindler whose body is found in the woods.
"Off the Tiles" by Ianthe Jerrold: In the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, an artist falls to her death from the tiled roof. Some say it was suicide; some say it was a deadly accident--Inspector James Quy soon knows it is neither.
"Mr. Cork's Secret" by MacDonald Hastings: Montague Cork's insurance company underwrites a policy covering a fabulous ruby and diamond collection known by the unappealing (to me anyway) name of Alouette's Worms without his input. He's uneasy about the transaction and follows the jewels to the Paradise Hotel...where he becomes embroiled in murder and robbery.
"The Santa Claus Club" by Julian Symons: The wealthy business bigwig Lord Acrise receives a death threat which tells him that he will die at the annual Santa Claus Club dinner where all the members (all wealthy) dress up as old Saint Nick and hold a raffle in support of charity. He asks private investigator Francis Quarles to attend as his guest and quasi-bodyguard, but murder strikes despite the detective's presence.
"Deep and Crisp and Even" by Michael Gilbert: Sergeant Petrella trails a suspicious character encountered when he (Petrella) took part in a round of Christmas caroling. Just who is the man who gave drinks to the carolers in Mr. Hazel's house? [Just my two cents...I like Michael Gilbert a lot. This story? Not so very much.]
"The Carol Singers" by Josephine Bell: The death of an elderly woman on Christmas Eve results in a long investigation to bring the crime home to the villain/s of the piece.
Deaths = 10 ) four shot; one drowned; one stabbed; one strangled; one fell from height; one poisoned; one natural)