The lull between Christmas and New Year is perfect for catching up on some reading especially if Santa brought you some books as presents but with all the comings and goings I find it hard to get stuck into a novel so short stories are my favourite reads at this time of year. These are some of my favourites of 2017:
A Maigret Christmas, George Simenon, Penguin
It’s Christmas in Paris but beneath the sparkling lights and glittering decorations lie sinister deeds and dark secrets. In the first of this collection of three stories, Maigret’s Christmas is interrupted by two unexpected visitors who tell him a mysterious intruder dressed as Father Christmas has broken into a little girl’s room on Christmas Eve.
I really enjoyed this quirky tale. I must admit that I haven’t read other Maigret books but will be putting this right in 2018. The plot is unusual and cleverly constructed and the setting is perfect. I love the characterisation, especially the detective and his wife.
(I received a copy of this story from Penguin via Netgalley in return for an honest review)
Murder on Christmas Eve, Profile Books
A superb selection of festive crime tales by popular authors including Ellis Peters, Val McDermid, Ian Rankin and GK Chesterton. My favourite was Cambric Tea by Marjorie Bowen. A young doctor is called to a sick man who claims he’s being poisoned by his wife. The doctor’s shocked to discover the wife is a woman he was once in love with – can she really be to blame? I loved the situation and the characters and although the revelation at the end didn’t come as a surprise it was logical and satisfying
Murder Under the Christmas Tree, Profile Books
Ten classic Christmas mysteries featuring crime’s best-known sleuths including Holmes, Rebus and Cadfael.
In my favourite, The Necklace of Pearls by Dorothy L Sayer, a valuable necklace goes missing at a Christmas dinner and Lord Peter Wimsey makes an ingenious discovery. I love the way it unfolds and the brilliant hiding place.
Sleep No More, PD James, Faber & Faber
Six murderous tales from the Queen of Crime. My favourite was Mr Millcroft’s Birthday. It’s about a terrible secret revealed to a brother and sister by their elderly father when they visit him in his care home. Is he telling the truth or is it his crafty way of getting them to pay for more desirable accommodation? I loved the way this played out.
Mystery Tour, The CWA Anthology, Orenda Books
A collection of criminally good stories set around the world, including a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a terrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. It’s hard to pick a favourite but if I had to it would be You’ll be Dead by Dawn by CL Taylor which starts with a body found washed up on a Thai beach. It’s a very well structured psychological tale with a great ending.
Have you got any short crime recommendations for the year ahead?