Portrait Of A Murderer by Anne Meredith

Christmas, 1931, but Adrian Gray will not live to see it. As he invites his extended family to stay, many of whom have a reason to see him dead, he never expected that one of them would actually kill him. But someone does.

This, the 50th British Library Crime Classic, is a tale of what happened that dark Christmas Eve night. And what happened thereafter, as we follow the fate of the murderer from crime to… well, maybe punishment, maybe not…

After Mystery In White, it seems that the British Library is determined to release a Christmas title as part of their impressive range. If you want other Christmas titles from them, there’s also The Santa Klaus Murder and two collections of short stories, Crimson Snow and Silent Nights. I guess with the choice for the last two years to go for short stories, there aren’t too many Christmas novels out there that fit the bill.

And I’m not completely convinced about the choice of this one, as it’s not particularly Christmassy. Yes, it’s got the old house surrounded by unbroken snow routine, but there’s not a whole heap of Christmas on show here – just an excuse for the family get-together.

In many ways, this is the opposite to Dancing Death – that was a well-clued puzzle mystery which was admittedly lacking on character. This is deep in characterisation, but there’s no real mystery here. We find out who the killer is when the murder is committed and thereafter we follow the killer and the rest of the family to the story’s conclusion. While the tale is impressively told, this isn’t my cup of tea – I’m just not a fan of the inverted mystery.

Still, it is an important find on the part of the British Library, and if you are a fan of the form, there is a lot to like here. Worth A Look.


  1. Opinions seem very split on this one. I generally like inverteds but I didn’t much like this one. Too much tell, not enough show, and not always convinitelling. Great opening sentence.

    Liked by 1 person

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