Thursday, January 19, 2017

Crimson Snow: Winter Mysteries by Martin Edwards

The Ghost's Touch by Fergus Hume
I had read The Mystery of a Hansom Cab and enjoyed it so I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed this short story as well. The narrator (Lascelles) is spending Christmas at Ringshaw Grange where the owner is very poor but has the family estate while his cousin is very rich but has no property. The narrator is invited to the family estate for Christmas where it turns out the entire party is all men under the age of thirty. Also at the family estate? A ghost that is supposed to be a former Ringshaw bride who kills people who sleep in a certain room. The room the rich cousin is put in. The rich cousin who has a heart problem. 
Lascelles smells a rat and surreptitiously switches rooms with the rich cousin. The story plays out in a wonderful and enjoyable manner.

Four stars.

The Chopham Affair by Edgar Wallace
A blackmailing gigolo (Alphonse/Alphonso RIbiera) is found dead in a car next to an equally dead car thief.

Short, sweet, interesting. 4 stars

The Man with the Sack by Margery Allingham
Albert Campion has been invited to Christmas by one of his insufferable relatives. At first he's going to decline, but then his cousin writes him also pleading for him to come. It seems that she is in love with a poor man whose father was sent to jail for theft but her mother is pushing her at the young man of their guests, the son of an insufferable, newly wealthy family.
On the way down, Albert sees someone that he recognizes, a thief that he saw prosecuted many years ago. But he puts it in the back of his mind as he settles in for Christmas with his family, with the rich guests, and his cousin's beau. There is mention of a twelve thousand pound (cost, not weight) necklace that, of course, goes missing and the beau is immediately accused of the theft.

Pure Campion goodness, 4 stars

Christmas Eve by S. C. Roberts
A Sherlockian play where a young woman comes to Holmes for help because her employers necklace has been stolen but Holmes can't seem to follow the plot.

Serviceable, three stars

Death in December by Victor Gunn
Chief Inspector Bill "Ironsides" Cromwell is going to his assistant's family home for Christmas. Begrudging and grumbling as usual, he is nonetheless as shocked as his assistant to see a mysterious figure in the drive who disappears and leaves no footprints. Then someone brings up the subject of the family "Death Room" and a particularly annoying neighbor becomes insistent on spending the night, despite the host's obvious discomfort. In a surprise, he is not the one who ends up dead. Rather he sees a dead body but it has then mysteriously disappeared and now he has descended into what may be permanent lunacy.
Ironsides seems to have a clear idea of what might have happened even when the others seem stymied. The solution is a little out there but I enjoyed it.

Four stars

Murder at Christmas by Christopher Bush
A former swindler is murdered. There are a few of his victims in the small town and it's up to the narrator to help figure out how, with so many good alibis, the man could have died.

Three stars

Off the Tiles by Ianthe Jerrold
A woman, trying to help her neighbor get into her locked house, has fallen off the roof. Was it the neighbor who hated the dead woman for trying to woo her nephew into the arts (literally, he's a painter)? Or was there something more sinister at work?

An interesting twist, three and a half stars

Mr. Cork's Secret
Monsieur Aloysia, hotel manager, has a few problems. His hotel is overrun by the press hoping to get pictures of a film star and his new wife (who haven't yet arrived), his hotel is booked to the gills and there are still people asking to come, and there's a dead body in room 143. Luckily, the well-known insurance man, Mr. Cork, is one of the people wanting a room. It seems Mr. Cork has ensured some of the film stars' jewelry for a rather fabulous amount and he wanted to see about his investment. And it's a good thing he did so he can help solve the murder.

Three stars

The Santa Claus Club by Julian Symons
A detective is hired to protect a man who is receiving threatening letters. The man is a very rich one who gathers with other rich men to very ostentatiously raise money for charity every year. They take turns dressing up as Santa and collecting the funds. Our detective's customer ends up dead by the detective is able to solve the case.

Three stars

Deep and Crisp and Even by Michael Gilbert
I'm not sure that I completely understood this one. A young policeman, Petrella, is left in charge while in between Superintendent's and believes that something nefarious may be going on at the local boarding house.

Two stars

The Carol Singers by Josephine Bell
Mrs. Fairlands lives in her converted house quite happily, even at eighty-one years old. At least, she lives that way until Christmas Eve when she is robbed, tied up, and left to die in her own home. It's up to Inspector Brooks to figure out this... rather confusing mystery.

Three stars

Overall a nice pick of mysteries and a book I enjoyed. 4 stars
This book came out January 3

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