Book Review: Crossed Skis: An Alpine Mystery by Carol Carnac


Crossed Skis: An Alpine Mystery
Carol Carnac
Title: Crossed Skis: An Alpine Mystery by Carol Carnac

Rating: 4 stars (🌟🌟🌟🌟)

Publisher: British Library Publishing

I loved this! The setting was fantastic (piles of snowy awesome, mountains, chalets and skiing!) & the mystery is more a London police procedural with a concurrent thread running with an Alps vacationing party of 16 in which the sought after killer is embedded under an assumed identity.

The detectives are presented with a grisly situation upon happening onto a house fire with a horribly burned corpse. It's soon clear that there's been a murder and the notice of the impression of a ski pole in the mud is the first clue. The vacationing group was a chaotic and jovial bunch with varying knowledge of each other (siblings, friends, friends and acquaintances of friends).

Kate is the main organizer and one of the main characters of the story. She was inquisitive and interested in people so when she senses something amiss with missing money, she wonders what is going on and who is the mystery centred on. When it comes to her notice that the CID is asking questions at her boarding house and arrive in the Alps, she's sure it's to do with the travelling group somehow. She was a good character and I found her quite a good investigator in her own right. I'd read another book with her as the sleuth. The story culminates with the two threads merging, the killer outed and an exciting scene on the slopes. I'd thought it was going to zig but the story zagged and I loved every minute of it. When the title popped up I had the "A-ha!" moment and that was cool as well.

I chose to read this because it's the time of year I want my mysteries wintry and this more than satisfied. This is a great addition to the British Library Crime Classics and I recommend it. I'd read another by Carnac (aka E.C.R. Lorac). This is the eighth book in the Julian Rivers series but she has many books under her other name in the BLCC reissue series.

Favourite passages (surprise, mostly related to the atmosphere & setting):

"Snow and mountains are the only reality and in spite of their beauty there’s an element of terror in them."

"They had emerged from the pine woods now, and were in bright sunlight again, travelling up a wide valley shut in by snowy crests, the intense whiteness confusing distances, so that the valley seemed a vastness of immeasurable untrodden snow, stretching from the track to the mountain tops, the horse and sleigh dwarfed to insignificance."

"A blue dusk seemed to caress the snow: stars were beginning to gleam above the mountains and the valley shone with golden specks from lighted windows. The sound of sleigh bells and the soft thud of horses’ hooves on the beaten snow tracks combined to make enchantment of the Austrian village."

"Kate Reid took one good look at what she could see of Lech and was well satisfied. It was an Austrian village, set in a wide Alpine valley, with a stream racing in torrents between snowy banks. Cradled on all sides by the embracing snow slopes, dominated by mountain peaks, Lech yet retained the charm of a village. It had the comely wide-eaved wooden houses familiar to travellers in Switzerland, which clustered round an enchanting little stone church, whose tall rather gaunt tower was crowned by an onion-shaped cupola, glowing golden in the lucid light. Neither the hotels, nor the polyglot crowds in ski-ing kit, destroyed the impression that Lech was an Austrian mountain village, which had its own way of life, its own character, developed and bred in the mountains: something picturesque and yet sturdy, colourful and independent, to which the winter sports crowd was but an incident in a life of sturdy independence, whose ways and traditions had developed in its mountain environment."

And one because detectives in detective novels reading detective novels is awesome:

"Lancing had bought six Penguin detective novels, from which he derived much entertainment: he left them all in the train at Langen—“as propaganda”, he said to Rivers."

Summary: An atmospheric holiday novel from one of the most consistently popular authors in the series, Carol Carnac (also known as E.C.R. Lorac).
‘Crossed skis means danger ahead…’

In London’s Bloomsbury, Inspector Julian Rivers of Scotland Yard looks down at a dismal scene. Here is the victim, burnt to a crisp. Here are the clues – clues which point to a good climber and expert skier, and which lead Rivers to the piercing sunshine and sparkling snow of the Austrian Alps.

Here there is something sinister beneath the heady joys of the slopes, and Rivers is soon confronted by a merry group of suspects, and a long list of reasons not to trust each of them. For the mountains can be a dangerous, changeable place, and it can be lonely out between the pines of the slopes...

As with each of the novels published under E C R Lorac in the Crime Classics series, the author’s sense of place is beautifully realised in all its breathtaking freshness, and she does not miss opportunities; there may be at least one high-stakes ski-chase before this chilling mystery can be put to rest.

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