Series: British Library Crime Classics
Published by Poisoned Pen Press on October 4, 2022
Genres: Vintage Mystery
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An ingenious lost Christmas mystery returns to print for the first time since 1944
'Did you say he was ill?' asked John from behind.
'Nothing much. Wanted some mince pies. Paulina said they were unlucky before Christmas, so of course he ate five or six.'
Good old Uncle Willie - rich, truculent and seemingly propped up by his fierce willpower alone - has come to stay with the Redpaths for the holidays. It is just their luck for him to be found dead the morning after Christmas day, dressed in his Santa Claus costume, seemingly poisoned by his favourite chocolates. Or was there something sinister in the mince pies? If so, was it the ones stashed in his room or those sent to him mysteriously by post? More importantly, since his will was recently redrafted, who stands to gain by this unseasonable crime?
First published in 1944, Murder After Christmas is a lively riot of murder, mince pies and misdirection, cleverly playing with beloved murder mystery tropes to create something pacey, light-hearted, and admirably suited for the holiday season.
Uncle Willie is rich and old, and therefore would be much more useful to his greedy relatives dead than alive, if only they could be sure who he’d left his money to. Several of his relatives joke on a regular basis about murdering him. The Redpaths have reluctantly invited him to stay over Christmas and would be quite happy if he included them in his will. They’re not the only people who want Uncle Willie’s money though, and soon others are turning up to try to inveigle themselves into his good graces. And of course, Uncle Willie is indeed murdered – after Christmas.
Murder After Christmas is an odd book. It’s full of holiday cheer – Santa Claus, mince pies, snow, Christmas decorations, and food. It’s funny, even if the jokes get a bit repetitive, and the characters are eccentric to say the least. The plot is twisty and turny and people act in all kinds of odd ways. The plot might be a bit overcomplicated and over the top, but I enjoyed it. It’s a fun, lighthearted, Christmassy read.
This does sound like fun. Murder and Christmas shouldn’t go together, but in books like these it seems to work. ;D
I love a good country house at Christmas murder.
What else did he write ?
Death in Real Life (1943) and The Unenchanted Circle (1933), neither of which I’ve read.