26 December 2013

Shivers and Shivs for Christmas

Murder for Christmas, edited by Thomas Godfrey
This one has been turning up on remainder tables for years, but when it was finally offered at $2 I finally broke down and bought it. It collects some classic mystery stories like Christie's "Adventure of the Christmas Pudding" (with Hercule Poirot), the standard Sherlock Holmes "Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle," the Lord Peter Wimsey country house story "The Necklace of Pearls," even an O. Henry crime story "A Chaparral Christmas Gift." As a collection of classic mysteries set at Christmas, it pretty much achieves the goal, although some of the mysteries have nothing to do with Christmas—some of them are just set during snow storms or have Christmas as a periphery reference. The Woody Allen story, "Mr. Big," I thought, was dumb, but then I've never been a Woody Allen fan. Damon Runyon has never much been a big favorite of mine, either, but your mileage may vary and you may enjoy "Dancing Dan's Christmas," which takes place in his universe of petty crooks. I had never read either Ngaio Marsh or Georges Simeon, and quite enjoyed both the Roderick Allyn tale and the Maigret story, the latter which involved a little girl with less-than-savory family, a topic still in the news today.

As a bargain book, I think it is worth it.

Just to note, mystery readers, this edition was originally published in the 1980s and re-released in 2007. This year a new book, The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries was released. You may wonder if it's worth bothering with this one. Well, actually, yes, only a dozen, more or less, of the stories in this book appear in The Big Book, and this book has stories not in that newer book, too. Who knows, you just may be a Woody Allen fan!

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