Well, here it is, Merry Christmas, and, as ever with the British Library Crime Classics range, rather than everybody having fun, everybody’s getting a bit murdery instead. As with last year’s Crimson Snow, Martin Edwards has been rummaging around in Santa’s sack to find a collection of Christmas crime tales from the Golden Age of mystery. But did he find the presents we wanted or just some lumps of coal?
I’m pleased (but not particularly surprised) that Martin has unearthed some real gems here, only one of which I’ve seen before. It starts strong with A Christmas Tragedy by Baroness Orczy, By The Sword by Selwyn Jepson, an interesting inverted crime tale, and the titular The Christmas Card Crime by Donald Stuart.
The best is yet to come though, with the British Library finally deciding that John Dickson Carr is British enough to include his work, with Blind Man’s Hood. It’s a notch above most of the other tales here, which is saying something, despite the fairly obvious structure of the tale – not that it’s not that typical of his writing given the inclusion of… well, read the tale and find out. And it is worth mentioning too the penultimate story in the mix, Crime At Lark Cottage, a clever little tale that I really enjoyed.
As with every collection, there are a couple of, well, lumps of coal, as it can’t all be to everyone’s taste. My particular lump was the final tale from Julian Symons, which just seemed like a drawn out shaggy dog story. A couple of other tales, from E C R Lorac and John Bude seemed a bit short to really develop the ideas therein as well.
But this is another strong collection from the British Library range and, if you’ve still got time to nip to a bookshop, an ideal present for any fan of crime fiction in your family.