“The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories” by P. D. James

Mike Finn's Fiction

The Mistletoe Murder

Listening to this collection of four Christmas crime short stories is a splendid way to pass cold, wet December evenings.

The first two stories, both read by Jenny Agutter, are strong, memorable standalone pieces. The second two stories, read by Daniel Weyman are light vignettes showing Adam Dalgliesh at work.

The collection opens with the title story, “The Mistletoe Murder”, which tells the story of a   murder at a country house at Christmas during World War Two. This is not a cosy mystery with a smart detective solving clever puzzles about who committed a largely bloodless crime. It is something entirely darker and more realistic.

The prose is as sharp-edged and precise as a scalpel. The young widow from whose point of view the story is told is perceptive and strong-minded. The murder is violent and bloody. The emotions are intensified by being muted in their expression. The plot…

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