Murder on Christmas Eve

Title – Murder on Christmas Eve

Author – Compilation of short stories edited by Cecily Gayford

Published – 2017

Genre – Crime fiction

I’m not someone who tends to read ‘seasonal’ fiction, if anything I prefer to read books set in a different season to the one I’m in. Who doesn’t want to escape into the hot sun when they’re stuck in a dreary British winter? But in this case I couldn’t resist the cover!

The stories are from a mix of writers, both contemporary (Ian Rankin, for example) to more classic crime (John Dickson Carr, Margery Allingham). The setting for all is around Christmas but some are more ‘festive’ than others. I’ve read some good crime fiction short stories but the quality of these was a bit hit and miss. With the stories being written decades apart it’s difficult to know if they had all been specifically written as a Christmas short story or if they were just what the editor managed to find.

The GK Chesterton story was the longest and was a very complete puzzle and it’s always good to see Father Brown. Although I did feel that the story could have finished a few pages before it did and it wasn’t really connected to Christmas. I also enjoyed the first story ‘The Trinity Cat’, by Margery Allingham, this is probably the closest to my expectations of what the stories would be like. Many of the other stories were about a sleight of hand or a misunderstanding – perhaps the limitations of the short story format meant that this was the easiest was to present a puzzle and solve it. And some of them managed to miss the mark completely.

The collection is short and perhaps would make a good present for someone who isn’t normally a crime fiction fan.

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