The Mistletoe Murder

The late P.D. James, author of many popular novels, turned her hand to the classic detective short story in The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories. In the style popularized by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, four of James's excellent pieces have been collected here. Two of them have Christmas themes, including one starring a young Sergeant Adam Dalgliesh, making this slim volume a perfect stocking stuffer for mystery lovers.

These stories feature a young woman who is quite sure she's solved a murder during the height of World War II, but unsure if she should get involved; a rather sleazy law clerk who witnessed a murder from his office window, but who can't report the death without being discovered for his minor crimes; and the impeccable Dalgliesh--in one story doing a favor for his godfather, and in another waylaid en route to a Christmas dinner.

With James's trademark wit and skill, these tales quickly draw the reader in, and, in spite of their brevity, offer a surprise or two. The art of the mystery short story is a tricky one--providing enough information to keep the reader interested, but not so much that the conclusion is immediately obvious. James's pitch-perfect balancing act is sure to leave readers bereft at her loss all over again, even as they enjoy the gift of these last few holiday stories. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm
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