Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Silent Nights : Christmas mysteries - ed Martin Edwards
One of the books I finished reading over the weekend was Silent Nights, an anthology of Christmas mysteries, mostly from the Golden Age, edited by Martin Edwards. This is one of the wonderful British Library Crime Classics, a very successful series of mystery novels & short stories reprinted by the British Library. Silent Nights is a mixture of well-known & newly resurrected stories. The first story features Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, is an old favourite involving the theft of a famous diamond & a Christmas goose. The Necklace of Pearls by Dorothy L Sayers is another favourite, more stolen jewellery & a clever plot that tests the skills of Lord Peter Wimsey.
One of the most interesting & atmospheric stories is Waxwork by Ethel Lina White. A waxworks museum has a reputation for being haunted. Two people have tried to brave the ghosts by staying in the museum overnight & been found dead next morning,. Ambitious young reporter Sonia is determined to succeed where others have failed but can she debunk the stories? The tension is heightened as the night wears on & I was almost looking through my fingers at one point. I haven't read any Edgar Wallace but the story included here, called Stuffing, is beautifully plotted as well as quite funny. Both the good & the bad get their just deserts.
Edmund Crispin is another favourite author. I read all his books one summer many years ago & Gervase Fen, Professor of English Language & Literature at Oxford, is a wonderful character. Reading this story again after so many years that I'd forgotten the solution, I thought that Stephen Fry would be a very good Fen if the books were ever made into a TV series. In The Name on the Window, architect Sir Lucas Welsh is found stabbed in a supposedly haunted pavilion at the home of fellow architect Sir Charles Moberly. Before his death, he had time to write the name of his murderer on the window but all is not as it seems.
This is an excellent anthology of stories. I read one every night over a couple of weeks & I like to read anthologies that way. Reading too many short stories at once can be a little indigestible but one a day is perfect & this collection was just what I needed in the busy & hot days before Christmas.