The Santa Claus Murder is another gem in the British Library Crime Classics which are being brought into print again by Poisoned Pen Press.
This one is a true manor house mystery. The setting is a country estate which fills up with family members for Christmas. Most of the characters are blood relations of the victim, so it is really hard to figure out who may have been so desperate.
Sir Osmond likes to gather his family together at Christmas. He has set views and is stingy with his purse. He will reward his children only if they fall in line, otherwise they are on their own. The eldest daughter marries against his wishes and bears the wrath of her father. Widowed early, she has led a hard life. She needs money to put her girl through college but grandpa won’t pay! The girl has to get a job and work for school fees.
Another daughter marries for money and for her father and is living in wretched misery. She still yearns for the love of her youth. One daughter is very chic but always wants more money. The youngest daughter is the one on the chopping block now. She is in love and wants to marry but her father wants her to stay single and look after him. Add an old spurned aunt, a gold digging secretary, a bitter old retainer and you would be spoilt for choice for the murderer.
The book is narrated by different characters. This is an oft used technique but puts some strain on the reader. In this book, there are a number of narrators, almost every character is one at some point or the other. So there is some repetition in terms of events. One can actually forget who is ‘talking’ at a given point.
The book will keep you guessing till the end. Well, almost till the end. A true mystery for die hard mystery fans, The Santa Claus Murder is a must read.
Oh and why Santa Claus? Well, read to find out!