The Christmas Card Crime & Other Stories is a short story collection compiled by the British Library in an effort to bring back to print many stories that have not seen the light of day in more than half a century.
Yes, I know this review is being written in July, but I received an advanced copy for review from the publisher and if I’m being honest, I’m a Christmas lunatic and will take my festive fiction when and where I can get it. That being said, many of these stories could barely be classified as Christmas themed. I’m talking a few throwaway lines at the beginning of the story to set the novel in December and then it’s never mentioned or touched on again.
However, that doesn’t hold true for all of them. There are many stories that make great use of the season. The title story – The Christmas Card Crime by Donald Stuart – builds a locked-room mystery around killing involving a torn Christmas card, Sister Bessie or Your Old Leech (my favorite of the bunch) by Cyril Hare involves a bit of blackmail originating from a family Christmas party and John Bingham’s Crime at Lark Cottage invokes a great twist ending during a tense Christmas Eve in the country.
A few of the stories just didn’t do it for me, but that’s to be expected in a short story collection from various writers. It’s sort of a mixed bag when it comes to a reader’s taste. One story in particular, The Motive by Ronald Knox, put me to sleep; it was about as dry as fireplace kindling.
There seems to be very little in the way of Christmas-themed fiction around the holidays that isn’t primarily romance, so I welcome a bit of mischief, misdirection and mayhem under the tree. While The Christmas Card Crime & Other Stories isn’t perfect, it’s worth checking out. You’re not going to like everyone at a Christmas party, are you?
The Christmas Card Crime & Other Stories will be released on October 01, 2019