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The mistletoe murder and other stories
2016
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Summary
Just in time for the holidays! Knopf Canada publishes four Christmastime murder stories by P. D. James (two featuring a young Adam Dalgliesh), which together add up to an unexpected gift following her death in 2014.


As the acknowledged "Queen of Crime," P. D. James was frequently commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a special short story for Christmas. Four of the best have been collected together for the first time in one volume in a beautiful hardback edition.
P. D. James's understanding of human nature illuminates each of these stories, making them ideal reading for the darkest days of the year. Each treats the reader to her masterfully atmospheric storytelling, a mystery to be solved, and enjoyable puzzles to keep the reader guessing. With wry humour, she pays tribute to her English crime-writing forebears, delighting in the secrets that lurk beneath the surface at enforced family gatherings and in old country houses--from the title story about a strained family reunion on Christmas Eve, to another about an illicit affair that ends in murder, and two cases that introduce James's poet-detective Adam Dalgliesh as a young detective sergeant.
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Booklist Review
Four previously uncollected stories appear as a kind of after-dinner chocolate left on the pillows of the late mystery master's fans. As Val McDermid notes in her insightful foreword, James often employed the conventions of the cozy, but she was anything but cozy, wittily subverting those conventions to tell much darker tales. That is certainly true in these four spot-on stories, two of which star James' much-loved series hero, Adam Dalgliesh, at earlier stages of his career. Dalgliesh himself describes one of the plots, that of The Twelve Clues of Christmas, as being pure Agatha Christie, and so it is, except for the brutality of the murder itself. Perhaps the jewel in this very small but sparkling crown is the other Dalgliesh story, The Boxdale Inheritance, in which, as often happens in James' novels, Dalgliesh has little trouble identifying the murderer but acts out of concern for the individuals involved rather than from any rigid sense of justice. McDermid sums up the collection perfectly: These stories are a delicious gift to us at a time when we thought we would read no more of P. D. James' work. --Ott, Bill Copyright 2016 Booklist
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