Book Review: Silent Nights Christmas Mysteries

Christmas, Silent Nights, mystery stories, short stories, British Library Crime Classics, BLCC, detective stories, book review, bookstagram

I’m still continuing on my new love affair with the British Library Crime Classics this month. Naturally, as it is the Christmas season, there can be no better time than to read the Silent Nights collection of Christmas mysteries!

As you can guess, this is an assortment of short story mysteries, each one of them set on or around Christmas Day. The first story is by a veteran of British detective stories – and of course that’s none other than Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes in the mystery of The Blue Carbuncle. Others include Dorothy Sayers, G.K. Chesterton Marjorie Bowen, Edgar Wallace and Margaret Allingham. The lot are assembled by crime writer Martin Edwards who has also written the foreword and a short piece about each writer before their story begins.

This is a great collection to read at Christmastime. Some of them are a little predictable but nonetheless enjoyable for it. Favourites include Raymund Allen’s A Happy Solution (a puzzle for chess fiends), Margery Allingham’s The Case is Altered (though I couldn’t help grimacing at the description of the girl ‘with eyes like licked brandy-balls’ – more Halloween than Christmas, by my way of thinking!), Edmund Crispin’s The Name on the Window (a very neat whodunit where the victim has left the murderer’s name written on the window – or has he?), and Sayers’ The Necklace of Pearls (always nice seeing Lord Peter Wimsey again!).

Ethel Lina White’s Waxworks lends a chilling tinge to the collection with the story of a female reporter spending Christmas night locked in a reputedly haunted waxwork museum and Joseph Shearing’s The Chinese Apple a slightly depressing note. Marjorie Bowen’s Cambric Tea was a standout where, though one easily guessed the ploy right away, still left me breathless as I watched the noose tighten around the characters’ necks.

This is a great collection (and also a good gift idea!) for mystery lovers at Christmastime. A fun book to savour for the season along with your minced pies and eggnog!


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