Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Mistletoe Murder

I'm not one for reading short stories, particularly Christmas ones. But I have enjoyed P.D. James over the years and so decided to check this title out.  Lo and behold I discovered that at least three of the stories are an homage to Agatha Christie, and two of the four stories star Adam Dalgliesh, James's own detective.
Story one is told by a best-selling crime writer fifty-two years after the murder occurred . Typical of Christie, it takes place in a large atmospheric house where all but one of the guests invited for Christmas are related but have not met before. The one remaining guest is a coin dealer who is there to value coins the family wants to sell.  After the locked door murder, it is up to the crime writer to determine who did it and how.
The second story involves a law clerk, pornography, and murder.  A surprising one for me, neither Agatha Christie like or one I would have attributed to James.  The clerk discovers a deceased colleagues' stash of porn, which leads him to becoming a voyeur of an affair in the apartment across the alley.  When the murder occurs he has more than one reason for not going to the police.
The next two stories involve Dalgliesh, first as a young Sargent detective and the other as a Chief Superintendent.  In my favorite, the "Boxall Inheritance," a Canon has inherited a great deal of money and wants the Superintendent to investigate whether the woman who left him the money had murdered his grandfather many years ago.  This story is a delight with many twists and turns.  The last story is again set in a huge old mansion where the owner has supposedly committed suicide.  Dalgliesh is stopped while driving by and becomes involved in solving the murder. P.D. James and Agatha Christie are the grande dames of the large manor house, family secrets, and locked door murders.
Both wrote about respectable people who resort to murder. Beware though, these are not cozies.

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