cover image Midwinter Murder: Fireside Tales from the Queen of Mystery

Midwinter Murder: Fireside Tales from the Queen of Mystery

Agatha Christie. Morrow, $16.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-303036-7

The dozen stories in this welcome reprint collection, most featuring Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and Christie’s other series detectives, amply display the author’s storytelling gifts. The strongest is a standalone that originated as a radio play, “Three Blind Mice,” a variation on her classic And Then There Were None. After Molly Davis inherited Monksford Manor from her aunt, she and her new husband decided to run it as a guesthouse. But after they and their four guests become snowbound during a blizzard, the Davises learn that someone in their home is a killer seeking revenge for an old wrong. Poirot recounts one of his rare failures in “The Chocolate Box,” in which his deductions lead him astray, and he also fails to get his quarry in “The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge.” Miss Marple demonstrates her belief that tittle-tattle can be a valuable tool in investigating murder in “A Christmas Tragedy.” While none of these tales could be ranked with the prolific writer’s best work, they provide a sample of her skill at hiding clues. Both fans and newcomers looking for suspenseful escapism will be pleasantly diverted. (Oct.)