The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories

P.D. James. Knopf, $24 (176p) ISBN 978-0-451-49414-6
The four previously uncollected mysteries in this collection show that James (1920–2014) was just as adept at the short form as she was at novel length; they efficiently introduce characters and create atmosphere, while posing fair challenges to readers eager to match wits with her. The title story presents a solution to a very cold case, provided by a mystery author who was in the house where an antiques dealer was bludgeoned to death. The author subtly conceals the signpost to the truth in “A Very Commonplace Murder,” the most complex selection, in which an alibi witness dithers over coming forward to clear an innocent man. In “The Twelve Clues of Christmas,” Adam Dalgleish, her series lead, comments, “I don’t think I’ll ever have another case like it. It was pure Agatha Christie.” Such a comparison isn’t gratuitous—the puzzles are sure to please Christie fans, while offering enough psychological depth to satisfy those who want to emotionally invest in the characters, even if they appear for just a few dozen pages. Agent: Carol Heaton, Greene & Heaton Ltd. (U.K.). (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/08/2016
Release date: 10/25/2016
Compact Disc - 978-1-5247-0806-1
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-5247-0892-4
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-1-101-97380-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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