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review 2017-12-16 08:02
Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries
Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries - Various Authors,Martin Edwards

On the whole, it's pretty much a safe bet that just about any anthology collection is bound to be hit or miss: some stories will hit all the marks, while others will be, at best, 'meh'.

 

Silent Nights is one of the rare ones where even the weaker stories are better than average. I reviewed the first 4 here, but here are my thoughts concerning the remaining stories.

 

Stuffing by Edgar Wallace - ★★★  There was a definite The Blue Carbuncle vibe to this story.  It was short, and amusing, and was amongst the stories in this book with the most Christmas spirit.  It was short and told in third person so even though I really enjoyed it, it was hard to rate it higher.

 

The Unknown Murderer by H.C. Bailey - ★★★1/2  This one was just plain weird, but oddly satisfying.  Twisted story / mystery, but the ending was unsatisfactory.  I wanted more information.

 

The Absconding Treasurer by J. Jefferson Farjeon - ★★★  I'm not sure I'm destined to be a Farjeon fan.  This is the second story I've read by him and I'm left feeling short changed.  I liked the writing, but the mystery was really non-existent.  The investigator doesn't share his thoughts with the reader - or the clues - so you're with him for almost the entire story, and then suddenly he goes for a walk, finds a body and voila! knows the solution to the entire mystery.  The writing saves this from a 2 star story though.

 

The Necklace of Pearls by Dorothy L. Sayers - ★★★★  I'm a fan of Whimsey, so even though Sayers pulls something of a Farjeon in this short story, I find I didn't mind quite as much.  Even though I don't think the reader gets enough information to solve the mystery, we do at least get all the elements, making it easy to see where Whimsey is going.  And the crime's concealment was freaking ingenious.

 

The Case is Altered by Marjory Allingham - ★★★  The fact that I had to look this one up again because I remembered nothing about it probably says more than I can for the story.  It's not bad, nor badly written, it just wasn't memorable.

 

Waxworks by Ethel Lina White - ★★★★★  I was sure I was going to dislike this one when I read the author intro, where Edwards highlights the author's focus on writing suspense stories.  But oh man this one was so good!  Even though I knew how it was going to turn out - really, everything about the first part of the story made the ending inevitable - I had no idea how that ending was going to happen.  I was expecting something far less subtle than I got, and that subtlety, and the twisty bit, was what made the story so good.

 

Cambric Tea by Marjorie Bowen - ★★★  This story started out promising to be another 5 star, but in a gothic vain, but lost steam at the very end, with a disappointingly weak ending that felt the result of the author writing herself into a corner and then copping out.

 

The Chinese Apple by Joseph Shearing - ★★★  Oddly enough, as this is written by the same author as Cambric Tea under a pseudonym, this story's problem was the exact opposite of Cambric Tea's:  weak build up and a solid ending.   What is supposed to be the plot twist was obvious to me from the start; but the ending was so satisfying it scored extra points from me.

 

A Problem in White by Nicholas Blake - ★★★★1/2  An Encyclopaedia Brown type of mystery!  I had a very hard time at the start figuring out the characters - the author gave them all nicknames, then two pages in gave them their proper names, confusing me to no end.  But Blake gives the reader all the clues and then doesn't give the solution - it's at the back of the book, allowing readers to try to guess whodunnit without being influenced.  (I haven't had a guess yet, because I need to re-read it again now that I have a better idea of who is who.)

 

The Name on the Window by Edmund Crispin - ★★★★  I really enjoyed the writing in this one an awful lot, which made the abrupt ending to the 'locked room' mystery easier to put up with.  I'll definitely be reading more Crispin.

 

Beef for Christmas by Leo Bruce - ★★★★1/2  I've read Bruce's other series involving the Professor and I like him as a main character better, but Beef's a very clever man and the writing was top notch.  The reader doesn't get all the facts, but the story compensates; this one felt far more complete than a lot of short stories often do.

 

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review 2017-12-12 22:58
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 5 - Advent: Golden Age Christmas Vignettes
Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries - Various Authors,Martin Edwards

 

Book themes for Advent: Read a book with a wreath or with pines or fir trees on the cover.

 

Silent Nights is the first of (at this point) two Christmas mystery short story anthologies in the British Library's "Crime Classics" series, edited by Martin Edwards. The anthology combines stories by well-known and -remembered authors (e.g., Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Wallace, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Margery Allingham) with stories by authors who, even if they may have been household names in their own time -- and many were members of the illustrious Detection Club -- have since been rolled over by the wheels of time; not always deservedly so.

 

The standout story in the collection is doubtlessly Arthur Conan Doyle's The Blue Carbuncle (one of my all-time favorite Sherlock Holmes adventures that shows both ACD and his protagonists Holmes and Watson at their absolute best), but I enjoyed almost all of the stories -- in varying degrees, and not all of them were apt to make me want to go on reading an entire novel by the same author, but several did; and thus, I am glad that I have extended my "Detection Club / Golden Age crime fiction quest" to the likes of J. Jefferson Farjeon, Ethel Lina White, Edmud Crispin, Leo Bruce, and Nicholas Blake (better known as Cecil Day-Lewis, poet laureate and father of actor Daniel Day-Lewis).

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review 2017-12-09 20:20
Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries
Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries - Various Authors,Martin Edwards

Like any collection of short stories, this one is a mixed bag. Martin Edwards is, of course, an expert in the stories and authors selected here, but as with his other selections, and indeed any other selection, his tastes and favourites are somewhat different to mine.

 

And, let's not forget that some authors are better at writing short stories than others. The authors selected for this collection seem to represent some of the big names of mystery writing, but not necessarily the ones who were good at shorts.

 

 

The Blue Carbuncle (Arthur Conan Doyle) - 5*

One of my all-time favourites.

 

Parlour Tricks (Ralph Plummer) - 3*

Quick and fun but not difficult to solve.

 

A Happy Solution (Raymond Allen) - 2.5*

Convoluted.

 

The Flying Stars (G.K. Chesterton) - 3.5*

Ah, Father Brown, you observer of human frailty. Far superior to old biddy Marple but quite quaint ... unless you happen to catch the BBC tv series or the 1960s German adaptation.

 

Stuffing (Edgar Wallace) - 4*

Typical Wallace humour, I'd say.

 

The Unknown Murderer (H.C. Bailey) - 3.5*

Dark and unsettlingly evil.

 

The Absconding Treasurer (J. Jefferson Farjeon) - 2*

This one just felt like a rushed listing of plot points and character names. 

 

The Necklace of Pearls (Dorothy L. Sayers) - 4*

A fun Christmas country house jewel theft story.

 

The Case if Altered (Margery Allingham) - 3.5*

A fun Christmas country house espionage story.

 

Waxworks (Ethel Lina White) - 4.5*

Waxworks turned out to be brilliant, tho probably better at home in a horror collection.

 

Cambric Tea (Marjorie Bowen) - 2.5*

Meh. Great concept but too drawn out. I guess, the length meant to give time for the suspicions to develop and linger, but it didn't quite work for me. Also, I had predicted the ending rather early on.

 

The Chinese Apple (Joseph Shearing) - 2*

This one just did not grab me at all. In fact, I had to read several paragraphs two or three times, and still managed to fall asleep.

 

A Problem in White (Nicholas Blake) - 2.5*

I should have enjoyed this one more than I did - we had a number of clues to solve the puzzle and I loved the setting: starting on a train and with a background story of a great train robbery. (And I actually had to imagine P.D. with the voice of Sean Connery - until he said he was "English on the outside, Scotch on the inside"...).

However, this one struck me as one where the author wanted to let us know how incredibly clever he is, and that dampened my enjoyment.  

 

The Name on the Window (Edmund Crispin) - 3*

This was an interesting one, but then I do love a locked room mystery.

 

Beef for Christmas (Leo Bruce) - 3*

Much like The Name on the Window, this one was fun, even tho it bears a remarkable resemblance to a certain story featuring a certain Belgian gent.  

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review 2017-12-08 16:28
Henry Frei - der Neue
Böses Kind: Der erste Fall für Kommissar Henry Frei - Martin Krist

Inhaltsangabe

JEDE LÜGE HAT IHREN PREIS. DIESE WIRD DICH TÖTEN.
Ein Mord mitten in der Hauptstadt. Das Opfer wurde erschlagen und gekreuzigt. Kriminalkommissar Henry Frei und sein Team ermitteln.
Suse, heillos mit ihren Kindern überfordert, seit ihr Mann sie verlassen hat, ist in Panik: Ihre Tochter Jacqueline ist verschwunden. Die alarmierte Polizei glaubt der Mutter kein Wort.
Wo ist Jacqueline? Wer zieht seine blutige Spur durch Berlin? Ein Wettlauf gegen die Zeit beginnt.

 

Meine Meinung 

Martin Krist überrascht mich immer wieder mit seiner Ideenvielfalt.

Gerne würde ich diesen Autor mal eine Woche in seinem Alltag begleiten, schauen, wie er lebt und arbeitet und vor allem WIE ihm ständig diese neuen Ideen kommen.

Diese Aussage beziehe ich nicht nur auf die Fälle an sich, sondern Herr Krist ist für mich „der Meister der verbindenden Reihen“. Nachdem ich mich bereits in seine Bücher um David Gross und Paul Kalkbrenner eingelesen habe, war ich zunächst sehr überrascht mit „Böses Kind“ auf einen neuen Namen zu stoßen. Kriminalkommissar Henry Frei.

 

Nun ist der erste Fall gelesen und man kann es gar nicht in Worte fassen, aber der Autor ist ein Wunderwerk der Autorenkiste. Regelmäßig erscheinen neue Thriller aus seiner Feder. Ich würde bei drei verschiedenen Ermittlern mit der Zeit sowas von den Überblick verlieren, aber nicht Martin Krist.

Gekonnt schafft er es auch bei Henry Frei einen völlig eigenständigen, gut durchdachten und ausgearbeiteten Charakter zu erschaffen. Wenn ein Team in einem Thriller nicht passt, geht für mich das Licht schon beinahe aus. Da kann der Fall noch so spannend sein. An die Seite von Frei setzt der Autor die frisch gebackene Mutter Louisa Albers. In Kombination mit Frei gefiel sie mir sehr gut und das Team weist sowohl ergänzende, als auch völlig gegensätzliche Merkmale auf. Da freue ich mich schon sehr auf ein Wiedersehen.

Wie schon bei David Gross und Kalkbrenner möchte ich unbedingt mehr von Henry Frei erfahren. Interessant fand ich wieder den persönlichen Aspekt und Einblick in das Privatleben des Ermittlers. Seine Tochter steckt in einem schwierigen Alter und schwärmt gerade für den ersten Freund und sein Sohn hat das Asperger-Syndrom, eine Form des Autismus. Als Ergotherapeutin danke ich an dieser Stelle für das Wort Ergotherapie im Buch und für die sehr realitätsnahe Darstellung des Alltags mit einem autistischen Kind.

 

Wie zu erwarten, setzt uns der Autor nicht nur einen Fall oder eine Perspektive vor die Nase, sondern will die Gehirnzellen jedes Lesers zum Nachdenken motivieren.

Allein schon den Prolog wusste ich nirgends hinzustecken, dennoch bleibt er durch gekonnt eingesetzte Szenen immer im Hinterkopf.

Dann wäre da Suse, die dreifache Mutter, welche total überfordert ist. Nicht nur der kleine Hund Tapsi, nein, auch ihre 14 jährige Tochter Jacqueline ist verschwunden und Suse weiß sich keinen Rat, wo sie sein könnte.

Und dann wäre da noch der Mord an einer Frau in einem Hotel, der anfänglich gar keine allzu große Bedeutung zu haben scheint.

 

Das Krist der Meister der Verflechtungen ist, zeigt er in diesem Buch dadurch, dass wir auf einige bekannte Namen, wie Sackowitz oder Wittpfuhl treffen. Der Mann hat wirklich Großes vor, daher freue ich mich auf jegliche weitere Bucherscheinung.

 

Auch wenn Martin Krist immer wieder mit neuen Charakteren und Ideen auftrumpft, bleibt eins gleich: der Pageturner-Modus.

Man fliegt durch kurze, gekonnt in Szene gesetzte Kapitel förmlich durch dieses Buch. Zu erwähnen ist, dass fast jedes Kapitel einen Cliffhanger hat. Der Meister der Cliffhanger also auch noch. Hier einen Stopp einzulegen, ist als Thriller-Fan schon echt schwer.

 

Zum Fall selbst möchte ich gar nicht allzu viel verraten.

Mir gab er wieder sehr viele Rätsel auf, die erst am Ende zum Licht fanden.

Und wie er den Fall, inklusive Spannung wieder nach vorne trieb war wieder super.

 

Das berüchtigte Ende. Wie immer böse. Da heißt es nur Abwarten und Tee trinken.

_______________________________________________________________

 

Puh, der Teil unter dem Strich fällt mir hier gar nicht so leicht in Worte zu fassen.

Einerseits ist der Punkt, den ich an dieser Stelle ansprechen möchte mein kleines Highlight, aber auch der Punkt, zu dem mir in dem Reihenauftakt etwas gefehlt hat. Und zwar trägt das Buch nicht nur die Überschrift „Böses Kind“, sondern man findet auch den Schriftzug „Alanna“ auf dem Cover wieder. Im Buch wird dieser Name mit einem alten Vermisstenfall in Verbindung gebracht. Da Henry Frei eine Verbindung zum Fall hat, kam mir dies zu kurz. Ein Blick auf Band 2 zeigt mir, dass auch dort wieder Alanna auftaucht. Die Geschichte ist also eindeutig noch nicht erzählt. Da der Name im Buch für mich einen zu kurzen Part einnahm, fehlt mir an dieser Stelle etwas. Ich bin aber umso gespannter, wie ich in der Hinsicht auf Band 2 reagiere.

 

Mein Fazit

Martin Krist schafft es wieder mich für seine Charaktere und seinen Fall einzunehmen. Auf elektronischer Basis gelesen besteht hier fast die Gefahr eines wunden Fingers, aber das sollte man in Kauf nehmen.

Der kleine fehlende Wink im Buch macht es für mich nicht perfekt, aber alle Krist-Fans und die, die es noch werden möchten, kann ich „Böses Kind“ wärmstens empfehlen.

 

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review 2017-12-07 08:23
Reading progress update: I've read 80 out of 256 pages.
Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries - Various Authors,Martin Edwards

I'm reading this with BrokenTune and Themis Athena as a buddy read and since it's a book of short stories, I'm marking my status updates as reviews for the individual stories I've read to date.

 

My 4 stars is a sorta/kinda average of the three stories, which I've rated individually below.

 

I skipped The Blue Carbuncle - well, I skimmed it, because it's one of my favourite ACD/Holmes stories - as I've read it several times before and I like to save it for re-read right at Christmas.  But if you've never read it and would like to experience Sherlock Holmes, and want something seasonally appropriate, start with this one; it's fun and an excellent mystery!

 

Parlour Tricks by Ralph Plummer - ★★★  Edwards (the editor of this anthology) believes this is the first time this short story has ever been reprinted after it's first appearance in a Christmas Annual of 1930.  Nothing is known of the author.  It's a short story and it has a suggestion of cleverness to it, but mostly I found it just o.k.  It's very short and one of those stories that start in the middle of things, leaving the reader to struggle to figure out who is who and what is happening.  Just about the time that's all sorted, the story is over.  

 

A Happy Solution by Raymond Allen - ★★★★  I admit, when I saw in the introduction that the story used chess as a plot point I expected to be bored.  Because like all things space related, chess is one of those things I should like, but don't.  I get bored.  I suspect if I'd been taught to play speed chess I'd like it better, but never mind.  The point is, I was wrong - this story was pretty good!  Chess figured in, but other factors play into the plot too; factors that are much more interesting to me.  Allen also does a very good job drawing the characters, making this a much more satisfying short story.

 

The Flying Stars by G.K. Chesterton - ★★★★½  Confession:  a few months ago I announced I could not read any more Chesterton because I'd read two of his works and both left me feeling like he was just entirely too flowery and verbose for my tastes.  But something felt a bit... off, after I wrote that and I soon figured out why:  I'd mentally conflated him and Christopher Morley.  Which is absolutely as embarrassing as you'd imagine it would be.  It would be nice to take the easy out and blame it on age, but honestly I've always done this - someone in the mists of my adolescence tried to teach me memory tricks and it backfired, and now I get odd connections 'stuck' in my head. 

 

Knowing this, I was sheepish, but determined to read this story, and I'm glad I did.  It's my first Father Brown story, and even though I did not like the other short story of his I'd read, The White Pillars Murder (and yes, I'm certain that one was his - I checked), I did like this one.  It was all the things White Pillars wasn't: focused, concise, well-plotted, and interesting.  Father Brown's presence is subtle, but never sidelined, and the plot was really well done.  Even though I felt like the characterisations spotlighted the guilty party, the story never felt predictable.  I'll gladly read more of Chesterton's Father Brown.  Although I'm still not going near Morley's other stuff.

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