Book: The Santa Klaus Murder
Author: Mavis Doriel Hay
Publisher: The British Library Crime classics published by Poisoned pen press
Publication Year: 2015
Book Cover: Cute
I love historical mysteries – the mysteries written in the era when there wasn’t much technological advance in crime detection. The detectives at the time had to rely on keen observation, and their intellectual prowess, which made an interesting plot for fiction. Though the technical stuff makes for an interesting non-fiction, it makes a tedious fiction if not handled correctly (which is what most of the authors do).
So, I had high hopes when I started reading The Santa Klaus Murder, and the book didn’t disappoint me. It is a quaint mystery combined with family conflicts making it a compelling read.
The Santa Klaus Murder begins with Aunt Mildred declaring that no good could come of the Melbury family Christmas gathering at their country residence Flaxmere. And her prophecy comes true, when the Patriarch, Sir Osmond Mulbery is found dead, with a bullet in his head.
Of course, everyone in the family has perfect motives for the murder, but the only person who had the opportunity – Santa Klaus – is the one with no motive.
The family is in chaos; the atmosphere filled with suspicion, and hatred, when it emerges, there wasn’t one Santa Klaus, but two.
Like all the crime classics, The Santa Klaus Murder has the sketch of the house plan, and the introductions of the characters at the beginning. The story starts introducing the characters as they arrive to the country house at Flaxmere, and evolves with a steady tempo up to the events that lead to the murder. Mavis Doriel Hay has managed to convey the undercurrents of tension under the facade of celebrations.
The book has more than sixteen characters, and most of the characters are well-developed. As with most of the historical novels, the characters in the story have a lot many class prejudices of the period. Sir Osmond Mulbery isn’t a likeable character, and neither is his family with the sole exception of his grand-daughter Carol. Carol has an energetic personality, and integrity. However, the author has managed to evoke sympathy for even the unlikeable characters as the story progresses.
The novel is written in a multiple perspective following the point of view of seven characters. The different perspectives, which are clearly demarcated, depict the mistrust, and prejudices of the POV characters as they describe others, and also acquaints the readers with every angle of the case.
Most of the characters try to keep little things to themselves to protect someone. Those things ended up being significant. As the mystery deepens, it keeps you guessing at the murderer’s identity. If you like me can guess the murderers after half the novel, the plot is still intriguing enough to read till the last page.
I’m glad that the British Library decided to republish this book. If you are a fan of the crime fiction of the golden age of British crime fiction, then you have to read it.
I recommend The Santa Klaus Murder to everyone who loves a murder mystery.
You can buy The Santa Klaus Murder at Amazon
*I got a review copy from Poisoned Pen Press via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.