Book Review: Murder on Christmas Eve: Classic Mysteries for the Festive Season by Cecily Gayford

Murder on Christmas Eve: Classic Mysteries for the Festive Season by Cecily Gayford
My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 stars)
Publisher: Profile Books

As my last Christmas murder mystery was a disappointment, I jumped right into this with fingers crossed the title really meant what it read. I'm happy to report, this little collection is on-brand. I really enjoyed eight of the ten here so, four stars. My favourites:

The Trinity Cat by Ellis Peters- a clever story in which elderly Miss Patience has been murdered and the rectory cat intent on ferreting out his Christmas present points the paw at the guilty party. The power of the catnip (or catmint, as it's called here) will not be denied. I'll pretty much read anything Peters writes and this made me want to revisit Brother Cadfael.

The Santa Claus Club by Julian Symons- in which Francis Quarles must figure out a locked room mystery that has Lord Acrise murdered during a dinner in plain sight. The culprit is a little obvious but it's a neat little read.

No Sanity Clause by Ian Rankin- a modern story in which a man recently released after serving his time leans back into theft during a hotel Christmas party and crosses paths with two people, one of whom gives him another chance. Fuzzy on feels but a bit wobbly on ethics. Loved that main character utilized the library and counted books in things he fantasized about for Christmas.

The Footprint in the Sky by John Dickson Carr- in which Dorothy Dolly Brant is thought to have committed assault on her neighbour in the night during a bout of sleepwalking. But the answer lies in the fact that the crime is upside down. Clever.

A Wife in A Million by Val McDermid- in which a disgruntled wife is, instead of handing out holiday cheer, out slipping a little arsenic into grocery items and DS Maggie Staniforth is on the case and dealing with her own disgruntled wife. Very cleverly told.

Cambric Tea by Marjorie Bowen- in which there's no murder but there is a plan for framing people for one. Enjoyable and all four characters are fairly unsympathetic.

As Dark As Christmas Gets by Lawrence Block- in which there's no murder but a manuscript is thought to have been stolen and Leo Haig & his assistant Chip are on the case. This was so neat that I actually looked up the author's series these characters live in. It appears that Leo doesn't show up until book three so I'll likely begin there. His Nero Wolfe obsession is unique & I know little more than my father was also a Nero Wolfe fan so, I'm intrigued. I also found out that the story was written as a Christmas gift to Otto Penzler with the sole requirement being the story be set in The Mysterious Bookshop. As it happens I've just this week. bought a copy of a collection of Christmas mysteries complied by Otto Penzler. Kismet.

On Christmas Day in the Morning by Margery Allingham- in which the postman is killed on Christmas morning causing quite a commotion but this still turns out to be a heartwarming tale to end on.

I'd recommend this for fans of Christmas mysteries. It's ten stories in a neat little paperback that doesn't take a lot of time to get through. Not every one is a murder but I felt those were still on-brand and fit well for the most part. I have the other two books in this trio and will be reading them.

Summary: Christmas Eve. While the world sleeps, snow falls gently from the sky, presents await under the tree ... and murder is afoot. In this collection of ten classic murder mysteries from the best crime writers in history, death and mayhem take many festive forms, from the inventive to the unexpected.
From a Santa Claus with a grudge to a cat who knows who killed its owner on Christmas Eve, these are stories to enjoy - and be mystified by - in front of a roaring fire, mince pie to hand.

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