Martin Edwards

Crimson Snow

"A superb buffet for Christmas!"


Synopsis: 'Crimson Snow' brings together eleven vintage crime stories set in winter. Welcome to a world of Father Christmases behaving oddly, a famous fictional detective in a Yuletide drama, mysterious tracks in the snow----, and some very unpleasant carol singers. The mysterious events chronicled by a distinguished array of contributors in this volume frequently take place at Christmas. There's no denying that the supposed season of goodwill is a time of year that lends itself to detective fiction. On a cold night, it's tempting to curl up by the fireside with a good mystery. And more than that, claustrophobic house parties, when people may be cooped up with long-estranged relatives, can provide plenty of motives for murder. including forgotten stories by great writers such as Margery Allingham, as well as classic tales by less familiar crime novelists, each story in this selection is introduced by the great expert on classic crime, Martin Edwards. The resulting volume is an entertaining and atmospheric compendium of wintry delights.

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It is great to see the Christmas anthology, which in past years had gone by the wayside, flourishing now under the British Library Classic Crime series. As always, Edwards has been diligent in bringing not just the usual suspects, Christie, Sayers, Allingham, et al. but many of those who are not so well known and have sadly drifted into the no man's land of out-of-print. Whilst it is always a pleasure to be re-acquainted with Albert Campion in 'The Man with the Sack' which is a pleasing mystery for our charming detective, I really enjoyed the others by lesser known authors. I am a huge fan of the forgotten writer, and so I was in my element with stories by Fergus Hume, which although doesn't have a major twist, was a great pleasure to read. Edgar Wallace is classed as crime's errand younger son, a bit like those who look down their nose at Jeffrey Archer. However, what these two men have in common is that even though neither may be Shakespeare, in their lifetimes they sold millions of books. Wallace delivers a clever little tale which was great entertainment, which both Wallace and Archer excel at. Julian Symons delivers a clever mystery which wasn't his usual fare as he preferred the psychological thriller and Ianthe Jerrold serves a delicious morsel with her short, 'Off the Tiles'. As with all anthologies, some stories are stronger than others, but what I love about these short stories is that with all the chaos that Christmas brings, it is beneficial to be able to sit down for twenty minutes and feel you have at least read something, even if it is only a small entrée! Edwards delivers something a little different here, and for me, I have found a few authors I will be researching thanks to his very fine detection work on seeking out these lost classics. A superb buffet for Christmas!

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