Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Mistletoe Murder...

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 Mistletoe Murder by P.D. James
Okay, so it may be considered cheating but in order to hopefully hit my Goodreads goal of 80 books this year, I ran through my library grabbing the smallest new release books on the shelf. The first one I completed was The Mistletoe Murder: And Other Stories by P.D. James...and it was TERRIFIC.

P.D. James wrote something like 20+ thriller and detective type mysteries, and her book Children of Men was turned into one of my family's favorite films. But this is the first book of hers I've read, and I'm definitely adding some of her Detective Adam Dalgliesh books to my To Read list as the two short stories in this collection involving him were my favorites.

The author died in 2014 so this collection of short stories was a great surprise to fans who thought they'd never read a new book of hers again. Apparently she'd always written short Christmas themed Agatha Christie style stories for magazines and newspapers yearly, and these are four selections. The book starts with a Foreward talking about the author, and then a Preface by the author discussing mysteries. Both of these were actually entertaining, and I have to be honest that sometimes I skip those in books!

The title story shows an author talking about whether she's been touched by a murder herself, which is asked often by her fans. She tells the tale of an unpleasant guest during a Christmas party who ends up murdered in the library...such a common place for murder! The last paragraph is the kicker in this one.

Then we are treated to the author's very first short story, which isn't a whodunnit, but creepy as all get out. I agree with James' preface statements of how it's harder to  write a mystery short story because you're limited on descriptions etc. But this one stuns in an incredibly short footprint.

Then we get two stories of Detective Adam Dalgliesh, the last of which is tongue and cheek mystery at it's finest.
"The figure who leaps from the side of the road in the darkness of a winter afternoon, frantically waving down the approaching motorist, is so much the creature of fiction that when it happened to the newly promoted Sergeant Adam Dalgliesh his first thought was that he had somehow become involved in one of those Christmas short stories written to provide a seasonal frisson for the readers of an upmarket weekly magazine. But the figure was real enough, the emergency apparently genuine."
These stories are fantastic, and just go to show what's missing from some of the mysteries I've read recently. They try for that Christie cleverness, and a lot of the time they fall flat.

This collection is a small must-read for fans of Sherlock Holmes and classic detective mystery stories, and I imagine it would also be phenomenal as an Audiobook. It's only loosely a "Christmas book" as most stories happen around the holidays, but aren't a focus. I am giving it 5 stars on Goodreads.

Are you a fan of mysteries, thrillers and whodunnits? Do you consider it cheating to read small books like this?? Let me know in the comments here or over on my Facebook page!
*artwork in pic by Thing2

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