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A Christmas Day Murder
on 29 November 2013
All I have ever known about Mavis Doriel Hay is the years she was born and died, and the titles of her three crime novels, so it was a real treat to find this book back in print. I have no idea how well this was received on its first publication in 1936, but those who love the 'Golden Days' should lap this up.
It is Christmas, 1935, and at the house Flaxmere the family are gathering for the festivities. Sir Osmond Melbury has even decided this year to have a Santa as a treat for the children. Alas for Sir Osmond, on Christmas Day he is found shot in his study. Colonel Halstock, the Chief Constable and a family friend arrives with a team, but can they work out who the killer is?
The actual story is told in a multi-narrative form, although the main narrator is Colonel Halstock. As the people in the house are interviewed stories start to change slightly over the next few days, and there are some red herrings as well. For the police they need to know the exact details of where people were at certain times, what they witnessed, and any other things that could prove relevant, but this is easier said than done.
This is a really good country house murder that should hold the attention of most people, although if like me you are an avid reader of whodunits then you should be able to work out who the killer is before the final denouement. What I really enjoyed about this story though was the postscript in where certain questions are posed and the answers posited. This means that for instance someone new to such stories can see how certain conclusions were reached to ascertain who the real murderer is. With such a 'guide' if you will, this would be a good choice for a reading group, especially if most people are more familiar with more modern crime novels.