By Gilbert B. Elwyn
My brother and I discovered recently that we have the same tradition: each Christmas we read a detective story that is set in the Yuletide season. Martha Grimes (Inspector Jury), Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot), Colin Dexter (Inspector Morse) and Ellery Queen (Ellery Queen) are among the many notable authors and sleuths who have found novel-length crime at Christmas time.
There are also short stories and short story collections to enjoy in front of the blazing fire while
sipping your eggnog. By far the best of these is Murder for Christmas edited by Thomas Godfrey. Sherlock Holmes, Lord Peter Wimsey, Inspector Alleyn, Albert Campion, Inspector Maigret, Ellery Queen, Father Brown, Inspector Ghote, and my personal favorite of all, Nero Wolfe all take a turn. But there are some surprises, too: John Collier, Damon Runyan, Stanley Ellin, and O. Henry put their signature twists to Christmas crime stories and authors not often associated with the genre such as Woody Allen, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Thomas Hardy are also represented, along with nine others.
And for stocking stuffers, in between the stories, there are thumbnail sketches of the authors, Christmas themed vignettes, and some of the most macabre drawings this side of Charles Addams, all done with a deliciously sinister twist by Gahan Wilson.
Merry Christmas from