Thursday, December 17, 2020

Book Review - The Mistletoe Murder and Other stories; P.D. James

                                               The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories; P.D. James 

                                                                          Knopf - 2016

P.D. James (1920 - 2014) was one of those authors I always meant to read but, it took until 2020 to try her books.  In this offering, published after her death, there are (4) short mysteries in fewer than 200 pages. The last (2) feature Detective Adam Dalgliesh, a character she featured in (14) earlier mysteries. All of the stories have some merit but, it was the first (2) that I enjoyed the most: The Mistletoe Murder and  A Very Commonplace Murder.

The Mistletoe Murder - was the most descriptive in the collection. It takes place at a remote country estate some (60) years earlier just after WWII.  It tells the story leading up to the murder of a black sheep of a family, needless to say, the deceased cousin was not well liked.  There were not a lot of characters in this mystery so not too many suspects but, still a surprise unraveling at the end. The story was told is the first person, a good character study too.

A Very Commonplace Murder uses a delightful blend of wit and humor. Sixteen years earlier Ernest Gabriel witnessed a crime. However, he was doing something he should not have been doing - spying on a couple. Since he has dirt on his hands, he is reluctant to come forward as a witness for the accused.

The Boxdale Inheritance - a young lovely wife is suspected of poisoning her much older, wealthy husband. She was found not guilty but, the suspicion that she killed him followed her through old age. Sixty-seven years later the case has been reopened at the request of the grandson of the victim since the inheritance may have been ill gotten. 

The Twelve Clues of Christmas - Was it murder or suicide?  The owner of Haskerville Hall is dead and it originally appears to be a suicide but, further investigation - (12) pieces of evidence points to murder.

Overall, this was a fun way to spend a few brief hours during the month of December.  While I enjoyed this short collection, I'm not sure I feel motivated enough to go back and read the (14) book series.

Rating - 4/5 stars


  1. I always enjoyed James' writing and read most of the Dagliesh mysteries over the years. I remember reading this one for a book club I was in at the time several years ago. It was not really one of her most memorable and in fact I had forgotten about it until I read your review.

  2. All of those stories do sound pretty good.

  3. I need to read more P.D. James. Her stories always make me laugh. :)

  4. I thought this was quite an enjoyable anthology too but I like her full length novels better.

  5. P D James is one of my very favourite authors. I like the writing style factual, a bit of dry wit.

  6. I am about to start this book! It is the December pick for my Bookie Babes reading group.

  7. I like the idea of 4 short mysteries in one book, I'll bet they were satisfying.

  8. I have mixed feelings about P.D. James's books. I've enjoyed some but found some incredibly underwhelming. I do recommend Death Comes to Pemberley though. It's very different from her usual and is a historical mystery involving Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I read it earlier this year and really enjoyed it.


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