Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The Mistletoe Murder & Other Stories

 The Mistletoe Murder & Other Stories
(2016) by P. D. James

A quartet of mysterious short stories--three of which take place during the Christmas holiday season and two of which feature James's Adam Dalgliesh. She provides the reader with some surprises and twists to delight the mystery fan. I knew there was a twist coming the first of the stories, but I actually anticipated it twisting in a different direction. Nicely done. ★★★★

"The Mistletoe Murder": An unpleasant distant relation of our narrator is murdered on Boxing Day. And it seems as if none of the three people in the house could have done it. But James manages to pull off an interesting little twist.

"A Very Commonplace Murder": Not really a detective story--but a very creepy one about a man whose taste for pornagraphy puts in the the position to exonerate a young man accused of murdering his lover. But will he? And if he won't, why?

"The Boxdale Inheritance": Chief Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh's godfather, a very conscientious man of the cloth, asks him to investigate a 67-year-old murder. The woman accused (and acquitted) of murdering his grandfather has recently died and left Canon Boxdale the money she inherited. The Canon doesn't want to touch the inheritance if his Great Aunt Allie (really step-grandmother) was really guilty. Will the Canon be able to enjoy the inheritance with a clear conscience? (*originally published as "Great Aunt Allie's Flypapers" in 1979. I knew I had read it before somewhere.)

"The Twelve Clues of Christmas": A young Sergeant Dalgliesh runs across a suspicious death on his way to his aunt's house. He produces a dozen clues that convinces the ranking local officer that the bizarre suicide is really murder.

First line (1st story): One of the minor hazards of being a bestselling crime novelist is the ubiquitous question, "And have you ever been personally involved in a real-life murder investigation?"; a question occasionally asked with a look and tone which suggest that the Murder Squad of the Metropolitan Police might with advantage dig up my back garden.

Last lines (last story): "My dear Aunt Jane, I don't think I'll ever have another case like it. It was pure Agatha Christie."


Deaths = 10 (one drowned; one hit on head; one suicide; one shot; two natural; one stabbed; one hanged; two poisoned)

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