Going through my library to cull books, I discovered a number of novels, novellas and a couple of short story collections with a Christmas theme. While Christmas mysteries can be read year round, and are, in fact, sometimes best read at any other time of the year – at least if you like the holidays untarnished by thoughts of dark deeds – other Christmas fiction is usually best read in December, which is why I decided to embark on a reading spree with a Christmas theme. I am not one to let mysteries disturb me, so I am including some of those as well as the science fiction, fantasy and romance Christmas stories I found. Here is the first review.
Ann Granger was my mystery author #41, and I promised I would review her as an author once I had read some more of her books. Since this one is part of the same series as the previous one, I will leave the review for until after I have read A Rare Interest in Corpses, which is from another series of hers, a historical one.
Series detectives: Consul Meredith Mitchell and C.I.D. Alan Markby
No. in series: 2
Year of publication: 1991
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Amateur and police
Setting & time: The Cotsworlds, England, contemporary
Story: It’s almost Christmas and Meredith Mitchell has been called for home duty by the Foreign Office and faces a year of commuting between her rented cottage in Pook’s Common, a tiny hamlet in the Cotsworlds not far from Bamford, where her old acquaintance, Alan Markby, is stationed. She hardly has time to meet and form a liking for her neighbour, Harriet Needham, before Harriet is killed in what at first seems to be an accident caused by a fox-hunt protester spooking her horse, but which turns out to have been made fatal by a large doze of sedative that no-one who knew Harriet believes she would have knowingly taken. Alan starts to investigate the death, and so does Meredith.
Review: This was a promising mystery right up until the resolution, which was unfortunately based on coincidence rather than detective work. Granger continues developing Meredith and Alan as characters, and shows a possible romantic rerlationship that may blossom in future books if she doesn’t stop being so sensible and he so careful. I am looking forward to seeing how that turns out, but I was disappointed with the resolution, which is hurried and could have been made much better.
Rating: 2+ stars for being mostly an okay mystery.
I started reading a second Christmas mystery, We Wish You a Merry Murder by Valerie Wolzien, but it failed the 50 page test*, so I put it in my moochables stack. Next I will probably try The Christmas Thief by Mary Higgins Clark, or possibly Miracle and other Christmas stories by Connie Willis. Which reminds me: I have a review of her To Say Nothing of the Dog coming up.
*The 50 page test: If, after 50 pages (or 1/4 of a long book), the book has not started being interesting, stop reading and find something else. Life is too short to waste on uninteresting books.