Book Review: The Santa Klaus Murder

The Santa Klaus Murder
Mavis Doriel Hay, 1936, ebook reprint 2015

New Release! I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for the purpose of review.

Premise: Part of the British Library Crime Classic series of reprints. Sir Osmund Melbury has gathered his fractured family for the holiday. There’s a lot of money at stake for remaining in Sir Osmund's good graces, so naturally he ends up dead, and everyone has a motive.

I liked the first half of this book much more than the end and resolution. I don’t know whether it dragged on too long, or I just lost track of who said what to who when. But I did like the first half quite a bit.

The book explicitly switches between perspective, especially in the first few chapters. These chapters each take the form of a narrative of events written after the fact by one of the characters. You learn a lot about what the characters think of each other and their descriptions are often amusingly snide. The main body of the narrative after the murder is told by the constable in charge of solving the case, with a few interlocutions from an assistant.

The main question of opportunity involves a Santa Klaus outfit. One man wears such an outfit to hand out gifts, and someone dressed as Santa hands out crackers that would conveniently mask the sound of a gunshot, and someone dressed as Santa was seen near the study where Sir Osmund is later found dead. Tracking the costume or costumes and the movement of all the people in the house at the time of the murder falls to the constable, but not all of the members of the family are exactly forthcoming about what they were doing and when.

I really enjoyed the style of this book - it has more than a little classic dry British wit - but I found the resolution of the tale a bit dry and unsatisfying.

3 Stars - A Good Book