Another Little Christmas Murder – Lorna Nicholl Morgan
If you are in search of a cosy murder to read at this time of year, I would recommend Another Little Christmas Murder by a woman, for a change, Lorna Nicholl Morgan. I picked it up on impulse, never having heard of this author, especially when I noticed it was published in 1947 and thus a genuine historical murder mystery, rather than vaguely set in the past.
Also refreshingly, this book’s main character is a woman, a business woman in her own right, who does not sit around waiting for a man to sort the situation out. For those of us who are nervous drivers or passengers at this time of year, Dilys Hughes rushes in where I would hesitate to venture in a little car in snow, the bleak Yorkshire moors. She gets stuck, but is rescued by a young man rejoicing in the name of Inigo Brown, who is en route to see his uncle in a snowbound family home of Wintry Wold. The welcome from a new, young aunt, Theresa, is almost as cold as the bedrooms in the house. Furthermore, there are several others there, equally stuck by reason of broken down vehicles and dubious servant type roles, if not alcohol consumption. The Uncle is not seen, but is very ill and needing nursing. Mysterious footsteps in the night lead Dilys to investigate, and what she discovers throws all that she has been told into doubt.
This is a Golden Age mystery in that is is a closed set of characters stuck in a large house with mysterious goings on.There is no central detective obvious from the start, and so everyone is suspect, and nothing is as it seems. There are many characters to keep in mind, and some are better drawn than others, but I liked Dilys and her determination to find out what is going on. Many, many cigarettes are consumed, alcohol taken, and there is some violence, but nothing gory or nightmare inducing. There are red herrings, a fresh air fiend, and lots of snow and car mending. There is a vehicle chase at the end, and knowing a little of the roads in the area I was suitably chilled. It is not great literature, and not a classic bound for tv adaptation, but a good winter (Christmas is not really mentioned, despite the title) mystery for an afternoon and evening’s consistently good read.