As an antidote to all the dross that appears in book shops around this time of year and the plethora of 'sleb' biographies and the onslaught of 'sleb' cookbooks I have been hunting around for books that I would be happy to receive if anyone gave them to me. I hasten to add that my family do not buy me books any more for obvious reasons...
I have reviewed Mr Bazalgate's Agent here, this is one of the early detective novels being reissued by the British Library and now here is another, The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay. Who? I hear you cry and no, I had never heard of her either but it seems the was a novelist of the Golden Age of British Crime Fiction and her three detective novels were published in the 1930s and are now very rare indeed. So delighted to receive this in the post and it has all the ingredients dear to my heart in a detective novel.
We have a gathering at a country house for Christmas. It is the home of Sir Osmond Malbury, the family patriarch and the place is seething with relatives and acquaintances who would be happy to see the back of him. Nearly everyone will gain from his death and when he is discovered with a bullet in his head on Christmas day, well the game's afoot.
The story is told from the viewpoint of various of the characters which is a device that I am very fond of - think of Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie where Poirot solves a murder years later by interviewing all those present and we are then given the events from five different angles.
It gets a bit confusing at times with protagonists zapping and out of doors and up and down stairs and it seems that instead of one Santa Klaus the discovery of a second costume reveals that there was a second Santa around which nobody knew about and makes the identity of who was who even more difficult.
A delightful story and beautifully produced by the British Library. An excellent stocking filler for fans of crime of this genre.
Another review of this story can be found at the Blog Do you Write under your Own Name here.
And now for something completely different. Once again, from the British Library and, once again, a book which would make a wonderful present for bookish friends. A Literary Christmas: an Anthology. I simply adore these kind of books and this is one of the best of its kind, full of poetry, essays and excerpts from one's favourite Christmas books as well as those I did not know.
So we have the familiar Little Women ('Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents' grumbled Jo); Mr Fezziwig's party from A Christmas Carol (my most favourite of all); Bob Cratchit's Christmas dinner; and then the unfamiliar, to me at any rate, an excerpt from Mr Milliner by Wodehouse, Nancy Mitford on Christmas Day and a story from Saki.
The illustrations are also quite wonderful, lots of Victorian ladies and gentleman in colour and black and white and Aubrey Bearsley creeps in there too. A beautifully produced book and such lovely paper which is eminently strokeable.
Check out the British Library bookshop for these books and many other interesting titles and gifts. Forget My Best goals by Wayne Rooney or How to knock up a Christmas Dinner for 35 using ten pints of Cream by Nigella and look at these instead. Much more interesting..........