’TIS THE SEASON TO GUESS WHODUNIT.
Ahh, Christmas! When twelve mystery masters get into the holiday spirit, it’s time to trim the tree, deck the halls…and bury the bodies.
The ghost of a tragic Christmas past walks in John Dickson Carr’s “Blind Man’s Hood.” Dorothy Sayers unwraps a classic conundrum left under the tree in “The Necklace of Pearls.” Rex Stout invites us to catch a clever killer in his novella “Christmas Party.”
All together, an even dozen of these delightful diversions entertains us with a peek into the more wicked side of human nature, reminding us that more than just stockings can be hung by the chimney with care.
ISAAC ASIMOV • JOHN DICKSON CARR • AUGUST DERLETH • STANLEY ELLIN • EDWARD D. HOCH • NICK O’DONOHOE • ELLERY QUEEN • S. S. RAFFERTY • ALICE SCANLAN REACH • DOROTHY L. SAYERS • ROBERT SOMERLOTT • REX STOUT
As a rule, I’m not as fond of the mystery anthologies co-edited by Asimov as I am of the sf anthologies. I enjoy some mysteries—most notably, of course, the Sherlock Holmes canon—but I wouldn’t consider myself a mystery fan by any means.
And yet I rather enjoy this particular volume of Christmas mysteries; I’m not sure why. Asimov is present in the form of “The Thirteenth Day of Christmas,” which is a nice enough story but hardly his most impressive. And although John Dickson Carr’s “Dead Man’s Hood” is an excellent piece, it’s more a ghost story than a mystery and would have fit in better in the later anthology, The Twelve Frights of Christmas. One is also disappointed that “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” is missing, being a Sherlock Holmes Christmas mystery.
Still, it’s a strong enough anthology on the whole. The Sherlock Holmes pastiche in the book, “The Adventure of the Unique Dickensians” by August Derleth, was a little too obvious (i.e., I figured it out), as was Alice Scanlan Reach’s “Father Crumlish Celebrates Christmas,” but I pretty much enjoyed the others, most notably the Ellery Queen story, “The Dauphin’s Doll.” I would definitely recommend it to mystery fans in a more festive mood.
|“The Thirteenth Day of Christmas”|