I have said it before and I will say it again, cosy Christmas crime books are my go-to seasonal reading.
Murder in Midwinter: Ten Classic Crime Stories for Christmas is, well, a collection of ten crime stories set around the festive period.
I figured instead of trying to sum up all the stories in one go, I’ll talk a little about each. A quick summary followed by my opinion on the tale in question.
First up, The Queen’s Square by Dorothy L. Sayers. A classic murder at a fancy dress party story. I did like how the murder happened and the party guests rather unpleasant gossiping was funny.
Sister Bessie by Cyril Hare was a pretty good tale. A well-to-do man has received another threatening blackmail demand from someone calling themselves Leech. Thing is, he was under the impression that Leech was already dealt with.
The reveal was satisfying and this entry was rather compelling.
The Invisible Weapon by Nicholas Olde is about an engineer found dead at his job, but there is no sign of a weapon anywhere.
I tried to be nice but man this one was a bit of a letdown compared to the others. In fairness, I do read a lot of stories like that so I saw the troupe coming a mile off.
Paintbox Place by Ruth Rendell is one of my favourites since our noisy old lady lead reminds me so much of my Gran.
Said lady passes her time by keeping an eye on her neighbours, very little gets past her judgemental glare. So when one of them turns up dead, she tries to solve it herself.
Charming and pretty witty, I loved it.
The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet by Sir Ather Conan Doyle is not a bad Sherlock Holmes story, but I am confused on its inclusion since this one takes place in February but there is snow as a plot point so I guess it counts.
It looks like a pretty open and shut case when a son is found seemingly caught red-handed. Holmes suspects that there is more going on beneath the surface.
Again, a standard Holmes story however I enjoyed it none the less.
The Man from Nowhere by Edward D. Hoch was probably the most unique story in this collection. A man shows up one day, with no clue to his identity and his memory is missing. A few start to grow suspicious as he begins to profit off this.
I had no idea where this was going and loved the ride. It kept me on my toes compared to some of the others.
The Avenging Chance by Anthony Berkeley is not a story to read while eating chocolate. A woman is poisoned after eating chocolate gifted to her husband.
A Present for Ivo by Ellis Peters was the only story where I felt genuine concern for the lead. Sara goes above and beyond for a local Christmas event, yet due to a sinister plot, a young boy is placed in harm’s way.
Sara was both brains and bravery, doing everything she could to save Ivo. I liked her and the story for the most part but I wasn’t a fan of how it ended.
Finishing off the collection is Rumpole and the Health Farm Murder by John Mortimer. This one was my overall favourite so I was glad it ended on a good note.
Rumpole is dragged to a Health Farm for Christmas and hates it. Things get interesting when a body turns up.
It’s clever, got a chuckle out of me and I liked the reveal.
Overall, these are all good stories to get you into the festive mood. While I certainly prefer some over others, there aren’t any duff ones. Even ones I wasn’t fussed about were well written, they were just not my cup of hot cocoa.
I recommend Murder in Midwinter, especially if you love cosy crime. If you are looking for something intense or hard-hitting, this isn’t the book for you. These are short and sweet stories, making this a great read after reading something heavy.
Leave a Reply