cover image The Christmas Egg: A Seasonal Mystery

The Christmas Egg: A Seasonal Mystery

Mary Kelly. Poisoned Pen, $14.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-4642-1228-4

First published in 1958, this so-so mystery from Kelly (1927–2017) centers on some stolen jewels. Det. Chief Insp. Brett Nightingale is called to the London bedroom of Princess Olga Karukhin after the Russian emigre is found dead of unknown causes. An empty trunk suggests she was burglarized, and the crime may be linked to a series of others that the inspector has been investigating. The reclusive Karukhin remained housebound by choice out of fear of the Bolsheviks, and, instead of living as she could have afforded to, was hoarding a treasure trove of jewels. From a jeweler with whom the princess was in touch shortly before her death, Nightingale learns she’d been looking to sell some of her valuable possessions. The question of how she died quickly takes a backseat to the hunt for the burglars. The well-rounded Nightingale, a member of an amateur opera company, compensates only in part for lengthy scenes with only tangential bearing on the plot. This is one of the British Library Crime Classics’ weaker entries. (Oct.)