website statistics The Mistletoe Murder And Other Stories - PDF Books Online
Hot Best Seller

The Mistletoe Murder And Other Stories

Availability: Ready to download

Four previously uncollected stories from one of the great mystery writers of our time--swift, cunning murder mysteries (two of which feature the young Adam Dalgliesh) that together, to borrow the author's own word, add up to a delightful "entertainment." The newly appointed Sgt. Dalgliesh is drawn into a case that is "pure Agatha Christie." . . . A "pedantic, respectable, c Four previously uncollected stories from one of the great mystery writers of our time--swift, cunning murder mysteries (two of which feature the young Adam Dalgliesh) that together, to borrow the author's own word, add up to a delightful "entertainment." The newly appointed Sgt. Dalgliesh is drawn into a case that is "pure Agatha Christie." . . . A "pedantic, respectable, censorious" clerk's secret taste for pornography is only the first reason he finds for not coming forward as a witness to a murder . . . A best-selling crime novelist describes the crime she herself was involved in fifty years earlier . . . Dalgliesh's godfather implores him to reinvestigate a notorious murder that might ease the godfather's mind about an inheritance, but which will reveal a truth that even the supremely upstanding Adam Dalgliesh will keep to himself. Each of these stories is as playful as it is ingeniously plotted, the author's sly humor as evident as her hallmark narrative elegance and shrewd understanding of some of the most complex--not to say the most damning--aspects of human nature. A treat for P. D. James's legions of fans and anyone who enjoys the pleasures of a masterfully wrought whodunit. From the Hardcover edition.


Compare

Four previously uncollected stories from one of the great mystery writers of our time--swift, cunning murder mysteries (two of which feature the young Adam Dalgliesh) that together, to borrow the author's own word, add up to a delightful "entertainment." The newly appointed Sgt. Dalgliesh is drawn into a case that is "pure Agatha Christie." . . . A "pedantic, respectable, c Four previously uncollected stories from one of the great mystery writers of our time--swift, cunning murder mysteries (two of which feature the young Adam Dalgliesh) that together, to borrow the author's own word, add up to a delightful "entertainment." The newly appointed Sgt. Dalgliesh is drawn into a case that is "pure Agatha Christie." . . . A "pedantic, respectable, censorious" clerk's secret taste for pornography is only the first reason he finds for not coming forward as a witness to a murder . . . A best-selling crime novelist describes the crime she herself was involved in fifty years earlier . . . Dalgliesh's godfather implores him to reinvestigate a notorious murder that might ease the godfather's mind about an inheritance, but which will reveal a truth that even the supremely upstanding Adam Dalgliesh will keep to himself. Each of these stories is as playful as it is ingeniously plotted, the author's sly humor as evident as her hallmark narrative elegance and shrewd understanding of some of the most complex--not to say the most damning--aspects of human nature. A treat for P. D. James's legions of fans and anyone who enjoys the pleasures of a masterfully wrought whodunit. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for The Mistletoe Murder And Other Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 This author was a treasure, I feel as if I grew up with and alongside her stories. Apparently at her death it was discovered that she left twenty short stories. This short book contains four of them. Loved the introduction by Vale McDermid, a wonderful author in her own right. The first story, the title story, had a zinger of a surprise ending. Two stories feature a young Adam Dalgliesh, and though the second was predictable, easily solvable, the first was great. Old fashioned mystery with a 3.5 This author was a treasure, I feel as if I grew up with and alongside her stories. Apparently at her death it was discovered that she left twenty short stories. This short book contains four of them. Loved the introduction by Vale McDermid, a wonderful author in her own right. The first story, the title story, had a zinger of a surprise ending. Two stories feature a young Adam Dalgliesh, and though the second was predictable, easily solvable, the first was great. Old fashioned mystery with a style reminiscent of Agatha Christie. The second story in this book, probably surprised me the most, because I had no clue where it was going. Totally gobsmacked, full of James's trademark psychological darkness. Not a very large collection but happy to read anything by this author. Anything left of her writing is a total gift to her lifelong fans. ARC from publisher.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Stiletto-Sharp Crime Fiction: "The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories" by P. D. James “But one thing in particular sets P. D. James apart from the mainstream tradition of Golden Age English crime fiction, with its stately homes and bourgeois villages where reality never rears its ill-mannered head. She understands that murder is nasty and brutal, that it is fueled by the most malevolent of motives, and she’s not afraid to face that dar If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Stiletto-Sharp Crime Fiction: "The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories" by P. D. James “But one thing in particular sets P. D. James apart from the mainstream tradition of Golden Age English crime fiction, with its stately homes and bourgeois villages where reality never rears its ill-mannered head. She understands that murder is nasty and brutal, that it is fueled by the most malevolent of motives, and she’s not afraid to face that darkness head on.”   In the preface of the edition of “The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories” by Val McDermid.   I’m very particular in what I read fiction-wise, and therefore I avoid most genre fiction. P.D. James, however, brought such grace and style to the mystery that I became a true fan. This is the last P. D. James I hadn’t read yet (it was published this year, collecting some of her short fiction). Back in the day, I’d to pace myself slowly to make them last because I knew in my heart she wouldn’t last forever... P. D. James was so brilliant that the Agatha Christies I read as a teen now seem flat and characterless. Christie was at least a good plotter, but James was better. She produced the kind of thing that I liked. I continued to read her books just to see if she would ever allow Adam Dalgliesh to be truly happy and settled (he will be floating in a kind of limbo state now, nothing in his personal life resolved).   You can find the rest of this review elsewhere.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Vivian

    Cozy mystery meets satire. I selected this book for THE MISTLETOE MURDER short story for my Yule season reading. I may or may not read the other selections at a later date. Shocking to have to admit, but this is my first PD James story. I know, I know. What have I been doing with my life? Nonetheless, I am happy to have begun the author journey with this little gem. An English country manor Christmas setting shines with it's ragged World War II charm as the first person narrator takes us through Cozy mystery meets satire. I selected this book for THE MISTLETOE MURDER short story for my Yule season reading. I may or may not read the other selections at a later date. Shocking to have to admit, but this is my first PD James story. I know, I know. What have I been doing with my life? Nonetheless, I am happy to have begun the author journey with this little gem. An English country manor Christmas setting shines with it's ragged World War II charm as the first person narrator takes us through the incident. It all seems so very civil, until it's not. Nothing sordid or graphic per se, but the means of violence definitely made me smile as did the zinger at the end of the tale. Like a friendly slap to the face. Nicely done. Fabulous start and nice addition to my Yule list. Addendum: A Very Commonplace Murder - Dark and grim. A very cynical and disillusioned view of the average human. Morality and selfishness are front and center in this scathing remembrance of events past. The Boxdale Inheritance - Well, James is quite the cynic. I do think this is the beginning of a fine reading relationship. I love the twist. The Twelve Clues of Christmas - The weakest of the bunch, but amusing and sad commentary on familial life, again. So, I've read them all. I'll leave the rating though the last story detracts from the overall strength of the others. Nice set of short mysteries.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    The 2016 Preface to this collection of stories invokes Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, and Agatha Christie. James mentions that short story mysteries are challenging to write because the author must give their psychological studies an immediate point, without all the space that a novel presents, all in service to the surprise and satisfaction of the reader. Agatha Christie is explicitly mentioned in at least one story, but it is Sayers and Conan Doyle who I think are evoked The 2016 Preface to this collection of stories invokes Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, and Agatha Christie. James mentions that short story mysteries are challenging to write because the author must give their psychological studies an immediate point, without all the space that a novel presents, all in service to the surprise and satisfaction of the reader. Agatha Christie is explicitly mentioned in at least one story, but it is Sayers and Conan Doyle who I think are evoked most completely. This collection brings together four very short detective stories all centered on the Christmas season and, no matter when James actually wrote her preface, there can be no doubt that these are a substantial Christmas gift to her readers. I listened to the Penguin Random House (Faber Audio) production of this book, and enjoyed them absolutely. The stories are not new: one was written in 1969, another in 1979, 1995, 1996. It may be possible to find the stories elsewhere, but I am going to recommend you listen to these. Altogether the reading is about 3 hours, and the time spent listening places you way back in time, out of your daily life and into the early 20th Century, recalling a time when the mystery greats were stalking the earth. Born in 1920, James centers her first story, "The Mistletoe Murders", about the time she in real life married Ernest Connor Bantry White, an army doctor, in 1941. Her husband White developed a psychological illness during World War II, and James subsequently had to support the family which included two young daughters. She did not begin writing until the 1950s, but from the time of the war she worked in hospital administration for a London hospital board, a job she held until her husband died in the mid-1960’s, two years after her first novel featuring Adam Dalgliesh, called Cover her Face, was published. James then took a position as a civil servant within the criminal section of the Home Office. [info courtesy of Wikipedia]. There are two Dalgliesh stories in this collection, both deliciously demonstrating his unrivaled talent for observation and deduction, which prompts one character in “The Twelve Clues of Christmas” to compare him to Ms. Marple. Dalgliesh was of course a man in a man’s world and was recognized as a great detective by his own colleagues and those of the local constables. It is reassuring for me to find in this story the understanding of the staff of a local CID is quite up to the standards of the Met, though they allow Dalgliesh to strut his stuff before they take the case in hand themselves, on Christmas Day. Each of these stories have James’ special intelligence and quiet control about them. If I had to choose a favorite from among these, it might be the first story, “The Mistletoe Murders,” which reveals the abyss most creepily, the dark river flowing beneath the surface of our world. This CD set or audio download is a great Christmas treat for parents or anyone who appreciates stories told in the vein of those earlier great mystery story-tellers, Conan Doyle, Sayers, Christie, and Poe. The reading is done most ably by TV and film star Jenny Agutter and Daniel Weyman, narrator of the complete series of Dalgliesh novels. Publication date is set for October 25, 2016. Of course the set will be available in e-reader and paper formats as well. Don’t miss these little gems.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lotte

    4.25/5! Mostly cozy (and one not so cozy!) Christmas mysteries filled with lots of little twists and surprises. This was the perfect read for this time of the year.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    Actual rating 4.5/5 stars. This is a collection of four tales that each feature the windswept and isolated English countryside, a forbidding manor house setting, and an odd assortment of untrustworthy characters. Oh, and an unhealthy dose of murder. The anthology is inspired by authors such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers and is penned in a similar style to those featured throughout the Golden Age of crime and detective fiction. Its contents evoke a similar forbidding atmosphere, feature Actual rating 4.5/5 stars. This is a collection of four tales that each feature the windswept and isolated English countryside, a forbidding manor house setting, and an odd assortment of untrustworthy characters. Oh, and an unhealthy dose of murder. The anthology is inspired by authors such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers and is penned in a similar style to those featured throughout the Golden Age of crime and detective fiction. Its contents evoke a similar forbidding atmosphere, feature the same cunning concluding twists, and focus on the same pre-war genteel class of characters. The Mistletoe Murder - 5/5 stars - This was a compelling little mystery with a very limited cast of characters. Due to this small number of individuals who feature throughout the scant pages I felt I should have been able to decipher who the perpetrator was. Alas, I failed and waited until the very last line for James to reveal the necessary information to update the reader. A Very Commonplace Murder - 4/5 stars - This second short story was unlike the first as it was both a far racier creation and one with more evil lurking within its just as brief pages. What was similar to the first, however, was how cleverly deceived I yet again was. The twist occurred close to the end of the story with another also delivered on the very last line. The Boxdale Inheritance - 4/5 stars - Family secrets abounded in this short tale. It featured a larger cast of characters and all remained suspects throughout it. The ending was unforeseen but despite remaining just as intriguing throughout as the previous two tales, I found this conclusion not as satisfactorily delivered. The Twelve Clues of Christmas - 5/5 stars - I loved how clues littered this text and how protagonist and reader alike were allowed its span of pages to decipher their true meanings and form a complete picture of how and why the crime was committed from them. I failed entirely, of course, but the central character was a more astute judge of characters and a less easily deceived individual, luckily.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Hall

    This anthology of four previously uncollected short stories based around a common theme of Christmas is my first read of P.D. James and this slimline volume was absolute reading indulgence! Complete with a foreword by Val McDermid which points out that despite “knowing nods to the conventions of traditional ‘cosy’ mystery stories”, P.D. James was in actual fact anything but a cosy crime author and confronted the darkness in humanity head-on. In common with other British authors of her time, McDe This anthology of four previously uncollected short stories based around a common theme of Christmas is my first read of P.D. James and this slimline volume was absolute reading indulgence! Complete with a foreword by Val McDermid which points out that despite “knowing nods to the conventions of traditional ‘cosy’ mystery stories”, P.D. James was in actual fact anything but a cosy crime author and confronted the darkness in humanity head-on. In common with other British authors of her time, McDermid also mentions how central to her characters the role of reputation and respectability is. Indeed just how much the characters in these short stories care about their reputations and standing proved fascinating and something which I had previously always associated with the writing of Ruth Rendell. The Mistletoe Murders This first story was my absolute favourite and sees a female war widow narrator travelling to spend Christmas with her grandmother and her cousin, Paul, only for a unexpected guest to make an appearance. The obnoxious guest, another distant relation of Paul’s, is found murdered the very next morning with his body discovered in the locked library in the true Agatha Christie tradition. As a police inspector arrives at the imposing Stutleigh Manor the previous evenings events are dutifully recounted and our fascinated narrator tests her own deductive powers. Sly glances and wry humour are present throughout the forty-pages and the amusement of the author at delivering “one of those Christmas short stories written to provide a seasonal frisson” is cleverly explored. A Very Commonplace Murder Less detective story, more a creepy narrative of a voyeuristic filing assistant and his fascination with spying on an illicit relationship, this story relates to the curious position of power that the voyeur is placed in when he witnesses a murder. Suddenly becoming pivotal in determining a young man's future, whether he can afford to face the associated slander and job loss that it would entail is another matter. The Boxdale Inheritance Canon Hubert Boxdale, himself an elderly man, is godfather to DCI Adam Dalgliesh and is faced with something of a moral dilemma as to whether to accept what he fears may be a tainted legacy. Bequeathed £50,000 in the will of Great Aunt Allie, a much younger woman who married his grandfather and subsequently stood trail for his murder, Boxdale asks Dalgliesh to cast his eye over the investigation and the 1902 trial. Despite Great Aunt Allie being found not guilty at her trial, Boxdale’s conscience has always erred on the side of caution, and it is to his godson that he turns for assistance. This poignant tale showed a tactful and considerate Dalgliesh at work and I liked his honest endeavour and sensitivity and am keen to see him over the longer format of a full length novel. The Twelves Clues of Christmas This second story featuring Sergeant Adam Dalgliesh has a more playful air than the previous one, and sees Dalgliesh attending to a suicide at the dilapidated Harkerville Hall. On route to his aunt’s for Christmas lunch, Dalgliesh discovers a host of clues that point to murder and consequently identify the involved parties. Humorous descriptions of characters and the setting gives this story a noticeably lighter air than the others and perhaps because of this it felt less meaningful and neglected the subtle psychological element which was present in the others. In summary, four short stories of which two are absolute gems, one more lighthearted and one slightly unsettling. Given how unsatisfying short stories can often be, it was a pleasure to see such a skilled writer at work.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Idarah

    This makes my third P.D. James book in about a month's time, and I really enjoy her writing style! She combines the Golden Age of mystery with the contemporary, and it's a wonderful marriage. What I could never put my finger on before was highlighted in the Foreward to this volume of short stories written by Val McDermid, and it's the reason why I really love her writing style! "Those settings are another hallmark of P.D. James's work. Her stories are always very specifically located in te This makes my third P.D. James book in about a month's time, and I really enjoy her writing style! She combines the Golden Age of mystery with the contemporary, and it's a wonderful marriage. What I could never put my finger on before was highlighted in the Foreward to this volume of short stories written by Val McDermid, and it's the reason why I really love her writing style! "Those settings are another hallmark of P.D. James's work. Her stories are always very specifically located in terms both of time and place. She is meticulous in her descriptions, summoning up backdrops against which we can readily picture the events as they unfold. She makes those settings work for a living—they create atmosphere and often foreshadow what is to come." I hope we'll get a new collection of unpublished stories this year. One can hope! In the meantime, I have a whole back catalogue of her works to get through.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    It has been nice dipping into the work of P.D. James again with these four Christmas-themed stories. What a joy to read these, including one taken from her own life. I've been reading her mystery novels for years and likely will return to some and read them again. I've always liked Adam Dalgliesh on the page or in the televised series. He appears in two of these tales. James definitely will be missed but this is a nice reminder of her talents and characters. She remains as close as the nearby li It has been nice dipping into the work of P.D. James again with these four Christmas-themed stories. What a joy to read these, including one taken from her own life. I've been reading her mystery novels for years and likely will return to some and read them again. I've always liked Adam Dalgliesh on the page or in the televised series. He appears in two of these tales. James definitely will be missed but this is a nice reminder of her talents and characters. She remains as close as the nearby library or bookstore. This is a small collection, readable in an afternoon. Enjoy!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    I enjoyed these little short stories for this time of the year - when life can get hectic! There are four cozy short story mysteries in the book, all taking place at Christmastime. I thought the last two were better than the first...so I'm rating this somewhere around the middle at 3.5 stars. I enjoyed these little short stories for this time of the year - when life can get hectic! There are four cozy short story mysteries in the book, all taking place at Christmastime. I thought the last two were better than the first...so I'm rating this somewhere around the middle at 3.5 stars.

  11. 4 out of 5

    HBalikov

    Each Christmas my wife and I try to find something to read that enhances the holiday. This was her gift to me. First: I enjoyed reading the stories Second: Part of the enjoyment was the obvious self-reflection of the characters and the author of their involvement in the classic British mystery format Third: There were some surprises and satisfactions along the way Fourth: I would have enjoyed these more if Christmas had really been inoculated more fully into each You may feel differently. My thanks Each Christmas my wife and I try to find something to read that enhances the holiday. This was her gift to me. First: I enjoyed reading the stories Second: Part of the enjoyment was the obvious self-reflection of the characters and the author of their involvement in the classic British mystery format Third: There were some surprises and satisfactions along the way Fourth: I would have enjoyed these more if Christmas had really been inoculated more fully into each You may feel differently. My thanks to GR friends Marita and Trish for their excellent reviews. I recommend taking a look at those if you are in need of further enlightenment.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This little gem is an enjoyable collection of four short stories from the late P.D. James, a master (mistress?) of the genre. Three of them were set at Christmas and two featured a young Adam Dagliesh, so was an excellent choice for a pleasurable Christmas holiday read. This little gem is an enjoyable collection of four short stories from the late P.D. James, a master (mistress?) of the genre. Three of them were set at Christmas and two featured a young Adam Dagliesh, so was an excellent choice for a pleasurable Christmas holiday read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    First time I have read a PD James book. A very enjoyable little book of 4 short stories. It does entice me to search out more of her works.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Umut Rados

    Excellent one from PD James! I love her writing and this book had amazing short murder mysteries perfect for Christmas.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    Maybe 3.5. I enjoyed these - good fun Christmassy mystery stories. The first story, 'The Mistletoe Murder' was definitely my favourite. Maybe 3.5. I enjoyed these - good fun Christmassy mystery stories. The first story, 'The Mistletoe Murder' was definitely my favourite.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ammar

    This short collection of four mysteries written by P.D. James and three of them are Christmas themed. The Mistletoe Murder, The Boxdale Inheritance, and The Twelve Clues of Christmas. The last two are her strongest stories in this collection and they feature detective Adam Dalgliesh. They are beautifully crafted, and they keep you guessing till the last phrase. I enjoyed how she would insert a specific time and place for each story, each setting was life like and drawn from real places and perha This short collection of four mysteries written by P.D. James and three of them are Christmas themed. The Mistletoe Murder, The Boxdale Inheritance, and The Twelve Clues of Christmas. The last two are her strongest stories in this collection and they feature detective Adam Dalgliesh. They are beautifully crafted, and they keep you guessing till the last phrase. I enjoyed how she would insert a specific time and place for each story, each setting was life like and drawn from real places and perhaps real people. Each of those stories would give the reader that cold winter feeling, yet radiant a bit of the fireplace into the reading room and a cup of tea.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Obsidian

    This collection reminded me a lot of Agatha Christie. I thought the first short story was very cleverly done and for me afterwards things just kind of went downhill from there. Two of the stories stars PD James, Adam Dagliesh characters. I found him interesting enough to pick up one of her longer books starring him. Other than that, a good way to pass the time. This was a very short collection (only 176 pages) so I was able to read through these four short stories fairly quickly. All of them take This collection reminded me a lot of Agatha Christie. I thought the first short story was very cleverly done and for me afterwards things just kind of went downhill from there. Two of the stories stars PD James, Adam Dagliesh characters. I found him interesting enough to pick up one of her longer books starring him. Other than that, a good way to pass the time. This was a very short collection (only 176 pages) so I was able to read through these four short stories fairly quickly. All of them take place around Christmas too which I thought was kind of cute and also kind of messed up. I think that if the stories had been longer they would have left me with a better impression. The Mistletoe Murder": A young woman who is recently widowed during WWII goes to visit her estranged family. A murder occurs that leaves her figuring out who killed a house guest and why. What I did enjoy was the reveal at the end that left me with even more questions. "A Very Commonplace Murder": This one was quite disturbing. You don't get the reveal until the end which surprised me. "The Boxdale Inheritance": Chief Superintendent Dagliesh is called in by his godfather to investigate a possible 60 plus year old crime in order to determine who the real killer was and if they got away. "The Twelve Clues of Christmas": Dagliesh appears in this one again and quickly solves who murdered an eccentric elderly men using twelve clues left in the locked room.

  18. 5 out of 5

    TBV

    Ideally to be read at Christmas time (hint: mistletoe), these four short stories are excellent palate cleansers between heavier or longer literary fare. ### The Mistletoe Murder An unexpected invitation to a family Christmas celebration leads to murder. The last paragraph of this story left me gobsmacked! ### A Very Commonplace Murder It had all happened by chance. By chance he discovered and indulged his voyeuristic tendencies. Who knows what he might witness? ### The Boxdale Inheritance This short sto Ideally to be read at Christmas time (hint: mistletoe), these four short stories are excellent palate cleansers between heavier or longer literary fare. ### The Mistletoe Murder An unexpected invitation to a family Christmas celebration leads to murder. The last paragraph of this story left me gobsmacked! ### A Very Commonplace Murder It had all happened by chance. By chance he discovered and indulged his voyeuristic tendencies. Who knows what he might witness? ### The Boxdale Inheritance This short story features Adam Dalgleish, the main protagonist in the author’s series about that character. The Canon, who happens to be Dalgleish’s godfather, has received an inheritance from Great Aunt Allie, but he is reluctant to accept it as it might be tainted. Great Aunt Allie had some involvement in a murder scandal, and the Canon wants Dalgleish to investigate the extent (if any) of Great Aunt Allie’s involvement. ### The Twelve Clues of Christmas This story features the young sergeant Adam Dalgleish. ”The hall came upon them with such suddenness that Adam instinctively braked. It reared up in the headlights, looking more like an aberration of the natural world than a human habitation.” Add deep snow and strange suicides for a touch of the gothic. This story had me laughing out loud several times. It is atmospheric, very funny, and as Dalgleish says it is also very Agatha Christie.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bam cooks the books ;-)

    *My rating falls between 3 and 3.5 stars on this one. Four short stories by the late P.D James are contained in this slim volume. The first, the eponymous "Mistletoe Murder," is a tale told by someone 52 years after an unsolved murder was committed, when everyone else involved has passed away. Now the truth can be told. In story #2, "A Very Commonplace Murder," a man can give the accused an alibi for the murder of his lover, but to do so would put his own career in jeopardy. A crisis of conscien *My rating falls between 3 and 3.5 stars on this one. Four short stories by the late P.D James are contained in this slim volume. The first, the eponymous "Mistletoe Murder," is a tale told by someone 52 years after an unsolved murder was committed, when everyone else involved has passed away. Now the truth can be told. In story #2, "A Very Commonplace Murder," a man can give the accused an alibi for the murder of his lover, but to do so would put his own career in jeopardy. A crisis of conscience with a nice twist. Stories 3 and 4 involve our old friend, Adam Dalgliesh! In "The Boxdale Inheritance," Adam is asked by his godfather to investigate whether his step-grandmother might have in fact murdered his grandfather--a crime for which she was acquitted almost 70 years before. And the final story, "The Twelve Clues of Christmas," Adam is on his way to his aunt's for Christmas when he is called upon to investigate an apparent suicide. He comes up with 12 clues that point to murder, Agatha Christie-style.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

    This was a collection of short stories in the vein of Agatha Christie. It contained two early Dalgliesh short stories. So if you haven’t started reading that series start with this book. And be sure to read the first story last. Whilst reading it you will find out why.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andreia ❤The Butterfly Lover❤ Amo Borboletas

    1. The mistletoe murder - 3 stars 2. A very commonplace murder - 2 stars 3. The boxdale inheritance - 1.5 stars 4. The twelve clues of Christmas - 0 stars

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    I hesitated to read this last year because it had mixed reviews and I am such a fan of PD James, I hated to be disappointed in her. Of course, I was not disappointed. These stories are all excellent and at least two are brilliant. The second story, A Very Commonplace Murder, while rather distasteful, is exceptional as a crime story. This was the perfect companion for the dark, cold evenings of late autumn, sitting by the Christmas tree with a cup of strong, hot tea.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn C.

    2.5 Stars - 3 Stars

  24. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    Festive felons... PD James was one of my favourite crime writers for many years, so much so that for a couple of decades she was one of my elite group of “must read on publication day” authors even back when this meant paying expensive hardback prices rather than waiting for up to a year for the paperback to come out. It's been a long time though since I revisited her, so I was keen to see if her magic would still work for me in this collection. There are four stories in the audiobook, ea Festive felons... PD James was one of my favourite crime writers for many years, so much so that for a couple of decades she was one of my elite group of “must read on publication day” authors even back when this meant paying expensive hardback prices rather than waiting for up to a year for the paperback to come out. It's been a long time though since I revisited her, so I was keen to see if her magic would still work for me in this collection. There are four stories in the audiobook, each quite substantial in terms of length. They were originally written as special short stories for Christmas editions of magazines and newspapers and cover a wide time period from the late '60s to the mid-'90s. As one would expect, the quality is variable, but only within the range of good to excellent. I listened to the audiobook version, with two stories each narrated by Jenny Agutter and Daniel Weyman, both of whom give excellent performances. There is also a short introduction, narrated by Agutter, in which James considers the differences between writing in short and long form, and discusses the place of the short story in the history of crime fiction. (I believe there's a further introduction from Val McDermid in the paper book, but that's not included in the audio version.) The Mistletoe Murder narrated by Jenny Agutter, first published in 1995 A country house mystery with the traditional body in the library! This is told from the perspective of a first-person narrator, a war widow who is visiting her grandmother over Christmas while WW2 is still underway. An unexpected and unpleasant guest arrives and is promptly murdered. The narrator uses her status as a family member to uncover the secrets that led to his death. While very well written, I found this a rather uneasy mix of traditional golden age style with a storyline that felt too modern in its concerns to quite fit that approach. It's also very dark and somewhat depressing for a Christmas story, I felt. Murder is always fun, but the war aspect and the bleakness of the motivation aren't. I admired this story more than I enjoyed it. A Very Commonplace Murder narrated by Jenny Agutter, first published in 1969 This is James at her best. Gabriel, a respectable middle-aged lawyer's clerk, witnesses something that would be vitally important evidence in a murder trial. But since he was doing something he shouldn't have been at the time, he finds himself reluctant to come forward. This is a deliciously wicked tale where we see Gabriel twist his conscience into knots to justify his actions – a beautifully constructed psychological study of a weak and not very nice man. James maybe goes a little far at the end, but I found this added the touch of melodrama the story needed to make it into a shivery chiller – perfect seasonal entertainment! The Twelve Clues of Christmas narrated by Daniel Weyman, first published in 1996 The first of two stories featuring James' long-running detective, Adam Dalgleish. In this one, Dalgleish is still a young copper with his name to make. He is driving through the snow to spend Christmas at his aunt's Suffolk house when he is stopped by a man who asks for his help. The man's uncle, the curmudgeonly old owner of Harkerville Hall, has apparently committed suicide, but Dalgleish soon finds clues that suggest it may have been murder. Again, James is trying to reproduce golden age style here and openly nods to Agatha Christie, as she also did in The Mistletoe Murder. This one works better in that the motivation is more appropriate to the golden age era, and it's certainly entertaining, but for me it doesn't have the depth that James achieves when she sticks more to her own style. The Boxdale Inheritance narrated by Daniel Weyman, first published in 1979 Dalgleish is asked to look into an old murder by his elderly godfather, Canon Hubert Boxdale. The Canon's grandfather died of arsenic poisoning way back in 1902. His young second wife was tried for the crime but found not guilty. Now she has left the Canon some money in her will, but his conscience won't let him accept unless he is sure she didn't acquire it by murder. Again a much more traditionally James-ian story in this one, concentrating more on the psychology of the characters than on clues and tricks, though there's some of that too. In the short space available, James hasn't much time to develop a cast of suspects, so Dalgleish's detection seems a bit too slick. But this is well outweighed by the storytelling and characterisation. Another excellent one to end on. I found it interesting that I enjoyed the two early stories considerably more than the ones from the '90s. This chimes with my feelings about James' novels – that she lost her spark towards the end of her career and began to get too involved in 'issues' or general 'cleverness' at the expense of her real strength – excellent psychological studies. Her 'gentleman detective' also started to feel rather out of place among the more realistic police officers of modern crime fiction, and her later books felt somewhat anachronistic – almost out-dated. But she retained her story-telling skills throughout, and this shows through in the later stories from this collection too. Of course, even when she may have gone off the boil a little, a writer of the stature and skill of PD James was still head and shoulders above most of the competition. A thoroughly enjoyable set of stories overall, then, that would work just as well for newcomers as established fans. 4½ stars for me, so rounded up. www.fictionfanblog.wordpress.com

  25. 4 out of 5

    Zuky the BookBum

    I read this novel as my BookBum Club book for November! Check out this page to find out more about my very own Book Club! I decided I wanted to read a seasonal book this year and I found this one lurking on my shelf from last year when I also decided I wanted to read a seasonal book… but didn’t. I’ve reviewed each of the short stories one-by-one. There’s only 4, so it’s not a massive review, don’t worry! ~ The Mistletoe Murder I really loved the writing in this one! It hooked me straight away. I inst I read this novel as my BookBum Club book for November! Check out this page to find out more about my very own Book Club! I decided I wanted to read a seasonal book this year and I found this one lurking on my shelf from last year when I also decided I wanted to read a seasonal book… but didn’t. I’ve reviewed each of the short stories one-by-one. There’s only 4, so it’s not a massive review, don’t worry! ~ The Mistletoe Murder I really loved the writing in this one! It hooked me straight away. I instantly connected with our narrator, even though she’s a bit of an enigma. With short stories, you rarely get to know the characters very well, but I liked how our narrator was strong willed and sassy. This story is a classic whodunit murder mystery. Not as complex as Christie, but definitely gives off those vibes. The conclusion to the story was pretty obvious, but the last little paragraph bought a smile to my face! ~ A Commonplace Murder This one takes on a completely different tone from the story before it. Rather than being a cosy murder mystery, this one is that little bit darker. You’re introduced to a not very likeable narrator who holds an innocent mans freedom in his hands. The story for this one is grittier and dirtier and comes to a shocking conclusion. When I first finished this one, I was adamant I didn’t like it, but after letting it brew for a while, I realised that this one is very clever, and since it was published in 1969, was probably innovative for it’s time, and I can appreciate that! ~ The Boxdale Inheritance This one was definitely my least favourite of the batch. It was definitely still a nice old school mystery to read about but it wasn’t exactly exciting like the last two. This one took me a little longer to read than the others because I was getting distracted by various bits which didn’t happen when I read the other two stories. It was a nice introduction to Dalgliesh, and I think the conclusion of the crime was actually more intricate than the others, but it didn’t gel with me like the others did. ~ The Twelve Clues of Christmas I really liked this story in the collection! I connected with Dalgliesh in this one much more than I did in the other beforehand. I also liked how the characters in this one were sassy and outright with each other. Even though the crime in this was easily guessable, I really enjoyed the way it was set out and how we came to know about the 12 clues of who committed murder! ~ Even though I hate a modern cosy mysteries, when it comes to old-school ones, I love them! This short story collection was exactly what I needed to help me on the track to enjoying reading again. I read it one sitting, and even though it is a short book, that’s not something I do very often, so it really had me hooked!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kat | Rustic Pages

    My rating: 3.5/5

  27. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    It's the busy time of year even for us retired folks because it seems to take longer to do everything. This year I was able to get myself in gear early enough to check out short, easily-read (or listened to) Christmas books. P.D. James’ name caught my eye as I am a big fan of hers. It wasn't until I began listening that I realized this was a collection of short stories. I usually avoid short stories; I don't like getting into a story, acquainted with characters just to have the story end. Howeve It's the busy time of year even for us retired folks because it seems to take longer to do everything. This year I was able to get myself in gear early enough to check out short, easily-read (or listened to) Christmas books. P.D. James’ name caught my eye as I am a big fan of hers. It wasn't until I began listening that I realized this was a collection of short stories. I usually avoid short stories; I don't like getting into a story, acquainted with characters just to have the story end. However, I kept listening, and found this collection of four stories, (two with Adam Dagleish) very enjoyable. Even better was an introduction to the collection by Madame James herself. I don't know whether the print copy includes James’s intro; so I recommend getting the audio on this one

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Four vintage who dun it's that are perfect for easy read post-Christmas toasty entertainment. All quite different- but quite English in early last century mores. James vying for Agatha's posits. Extremely comparable and oh so dishy. Four vintage who dun it's that are perfect for easy read post-Christmas toasty entertainment. All quite different- but quite English in early last century mores. James vying for Agatha's posits. Extremely comparable and oh so dishy.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Fictionophile

    This book is a final gift from the esteemed novelist P.D. James. A woman who understood the detective story inside and out, who had a deep understanding of human nature, and melded those two with a writing ability that continues to be coveted by many. With a foreword written by the respected and talented author, Val McDermid, this book of four Christmas-themed mystery stories is a true gem. It will be especially appreciated by fans of James’ Adam Dalgliesh mystery series, as two of the short sto This book is a final gift from the esteemed novelist P.D. James. A woman who understood the detective story inside and out, who had a deep understanding of human nature, and melded those two with a writing ability that continues to be coveted by many. With a foreword written by the respected and talented author, Val McDermid, this book of four Christmas-themed mystery stories is a true gem. It will be especially appreciated by fans of James’ Adam Dalgliesh mystery series, as two of the short stories feature a young Dalgliesh! The Mistletoe Murder – The first story is a meticulously rendered English country house mystery. A murder takes place Christmas night, a night when only four people are staying at the grand Stutleigh Manor, as the butler and his wife have been given the night off to be with their families on Christmas. The only clues are a few drops of water on the floorboards and some displaced mistletoe from over the door… A Very Commonplace Murder – The second story features a clerk who has a secret vice. He discovers a secret stash of pornography and trespasses in his workplace after hours to indulge his penchant for reading the illicit material. It is there that he witnesses a rendezvous between two lovers. When he hears that the woman was murdered he debates whether he should ‘step up’ and tell the police what he has witnessed, risking his job and his reputation. This one has a delightful post twist! The Boxdale Inheritance – The third story features a young Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh. His godfather, a canon, has recently inherited a large sum of money. Although he could sorely use the money, he is reluctant to accept as he is wary of the money’s provenance. He enlists Dalgliesh to look into a cold case to set his mind at rest. The Twelve Clues of Christmas – The fourth story finds a young Dalgliesh stopped in his car on the way to visit his aunt for Christmas. A man tells him that a relative has just committed suicide and he needs to call the police as the phones at Harkerville Hall are not working. Dalgliesh drives him to a phone box, then home to the Hall. When Dalgliesh views the dead man’s body and the room where he lay, he notices several inconsistencies which pique his keen detective’s mind. Although she can be quite verbose (a trait I admire) P.D. James has adapted admirably well to the confined and restricted scope of the short story. Her characters are still well developed and her settings and descriptions well wrought. A few of my favorite quotes/descriptions from this book: “Bereavement is like a serious illness. One dies or one survives, and the medicine is time, not a change of scene.” “Her mean little mouth and dark suspicious eyes suggested that her mind was as tightly corseted as her body.” (about Stutleigh Manor) “It loomed up out of the darkness, a stark shape against a grey sky pierced with a few high stars. And then the moon moved from behind a cloud and the house was revealed; beauty, symmetry and mystery bathed in white light.” I immensely enjoyed all four of the stories contained in this book. My favorite was “A very commonplace murder”, due mostly to its wonderful plot twist. I received this book from Knopf/Penguin Random House via Edelweiss in consideration of a review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anbolyn

    I am giving this 4 stars perhaps not for the pure quality of the stories (I'd probably give them a 3.5) but for the fact that this is the last opportunity to enjoy a new offering from the wonderful P.D. James. I've long been a fan of her Adam Dalgliesh mystery series and two of the four stories in this slim volume feature him, though my favorite story (the title one), is not a Dalgliesh story -- it is an eerie and atmospheric tale set at a remote country house at Christmastime during WWII. It ha I am giving this 4 stars perhaps not for the pure quality of the stories (I'd probably give them a 3.5) but for the fact that this is the last opportunity to enjoy a new offering from the wonderful P.D. James. I've long been a fan of her Adam Dalgliesh mystery series and two of the four stories in this slim volume feature him, though my favorite story (the title one), is not a Dalgliesh story -- it is an eerie and atmospheric tale set at a remote country house at Christmastime during WWII. It has the slight feel of one of Sarah Waters's moody books with the added bonus of being a locked room mystery. I loved it. Her writing here is, as always, elegant yet unaffected with a wry undertone. I would recommend this to James fans and to those who appreciate literary British mysteries written by authors such as Elizabeth George, Ruth Rendell or Minette Walters.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.