2 Books I Read Over Christmas
Having talked about New Year and January in my previous post, I'm turning back the clock today to the festive period, which seemed like an absolute eon ago. I clearly am still enjoying messing with time. Today's post features a review of a couple of books that I read over Christmas. Both novels are firmly planted in the Christmas crime genre and I enjoyed them both.
The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict
At the start of December, I was given by my lovely in-laws a mysterious package wrapped in brown paper. It was book shaped and contained an additional Christmas treat - The Christmas Murder Game. Not only is this a delightful Christmas novel, but it contains a mystery within a mystery centred around the plot. Given that my incredibly well-read father in law enjoys a fiendish cryptic crossword, I knew I was in for a treat
Lily Armitage never intended to return to Endgame House - the grand family house where her mother died 21 Christmasses ago. Until she receives a letter from her Aunt asking her to return to take part in an annual tradition - The Christmas Game. The Challenge? Solve 12 clues to find 12 keys. The Prize? The deeds to the Manor House.
Lily has no desire to win the house. But her Aunt makes one more promise. The clues will also reveal who really killed Lily's mother all those years ago. As a snowstorm cuts them off from the village, the game turns deadly. Soon Lily realises she is no longer fighting for an inheritance, but for her life.
What an interesting premise this book was! First off, the novel itself - A country house at Christmas, cut off by a snowstorm with one of the party being a murderer. Classic. Sign me up I say! It is also nice when a novel is set near where you live, so I loved recognising parts of the area.
I enjoyed learning about the family members and the tradition of the Christmas game. I have to say I did not have a lot of love for Lily, the main character finding her a little bit wet. But was happily enjoying the story not to care too much. I did work out quite early on who the murderer was, which is rare for me.
But the USP of this book is the puzzles that we, the reader, can share in. The author has kindly inserted within the text 2 further puzzles for us to solve! For me and because I cannot focus on more than one thing at a time, I chose to read the story first and then return to the puzzles. And these are ingenious! If you have someone in your family who is a fan of puzzles or cryptic crosswords, then this would be brilliant for them.
Overall, this was a fun book to read in the run up to Christmas and a seriously clever premise.
Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards
I have spoken many times about my love for the British Library Classics series. This gorgeous series of books can be found at the start of most crime sections and feature vintage style covers and stories from the Golden Age of Crime Writing. The books can be standalone novels or collections of short stories often featuring authors such as Dorothy Sayers or Margery Allingham. In short these are a glorious collection of crime fiction writing.
Christmas is a mysterious, as well as magical time of year. Strange things can happen, and this helps to explain the hallowed tradition of telling ghost stories around the fireside as the year draws to a close.....When television becomes tiresome and party games pall, the prospect of curling up in the warm with a good mystery is enticing - and much better for the digestion then yet another helping of plum pudding.
This is a cracking series of short stories all set in and around Christmas. There are country houses where a murder takes place, theft on a busy train where all the suspects are heading home for Christmas and an Arthur Conan-Doyle classic where a jewel, a goose, and a confused man allow Holmes to work his magic.
Special mention must be made to the story Waxworks by Ethel Lina White, This was a big scare of a story. A fearless reporter agrees to spend a night in a waxworks museum after a number of people have not made it through the night. As the night goes on she notices there is one extra waxwork. This story gave me goosebumps as the tension increased per sentence.
All in all, I really enjoyed these stories and they were a pleasure to read while tucked up in bed.