Not me, I hope, but the characters in two Christmas mysteries I’ve just read back to back. Mystery in White I bought in a charity shop a while ago and saved for Christmas. Until I read the introduction to the book, I hadn’t realised that J Jefferson was the brother of the more famous Eleanor. When I posted a review of another BLCC book on Amazon, saying it was the worst I’d read, someone commented on the lines of, ‘You think that’s bad! Try Mystery in White and read my review.’ I didn’t bother with his review but I have to agree that the book was disappointing. When a train becomes stuck in snow, a group of travellers make a break for it and find an apparently welcoming house, with fires blazing and tea laid. But there’s no one at home. The ill-assorted characters decide they have no alternative but to trespass and make themselves comfortable. One of their number is a psychical researcher and immediately detects ‘horror’ in the house. What that is, you have to read the book to find out. There are two solutions, one found by the stranded ones and the other by the police. Which is correct?
I think The Crime at the ‘Noah’s Ark’ was one of the free Dean Street Press offerings; again acquired a while ago. I mentioned it here as the first Molly Thynne mystery in which Dr Constantine and Chief Inspector Arkwright of the Yard meet up. The theme is similar to that of Farjeon’s book: snow prevents a number of travellers from reaching their Christmas destinations and they put up at the fine old inn ‘The Noah’s Ark’. This tale has the advantage of many more characters, a body and a theft (rather than a lot of spooky speculation) and plenty of suspects. I enjoyed it until the end, which I found unsurprising.
A better ‘stranded at Christmas’ book than either of these is a children’s story: Castaway Christmas by Margaret J Baker. The children make their way to a house where they are supposed to meet their parents for Christmas, only to find themselves cut off by rising floods. Luckily there are no murderers about but there are genuine problems of damp, lack of food and of course, no presents.
When I fished this photo out of my files I remembered that I’d once started an occasional series called Puffin Covers. I then found I’d last posted one in 2012! Tsk.