Title: The Santa Klaus Murder
Author: Mavis Doriel Hay
Re-published by BL-Publishing/Posioned Pen Press on 6th October 2015
Genre: Mystery Classics
The Santa Klaus Murder is a classic country-house murder mystery. Sir Osmond Melbury’s at their country residence Flaxmere. The Christmas celebrations go as planned (well, knowing how ‘good’ Sir Osmond is when it comes to gatherings and celebrations). Santa Klaus comes in, bearing gifts and a murder. A murder?? Yeah, the Santa goes out, bursting crackers and after a while, a Santa comes back to announce Sir Osmond Melbury’s murder!
It looks like everybody in the Melbury benefits from Sir Osmond’s death. But there was one person who hated the old man so much that they murdered him. Is that person Santa Klaus? (Not the old man from the North Pole!)
I wanted to read something Christmas-y, just to get me into the holiday mood. I didn’t want to read the same old Christmas stories like Christmas Carol and others. So, I thought ‘Why not read a murder mystery set during Christmas?’ I had Hercule Poirot’s Christmas in mind but somehow ending up picking Mavis Doriel’s The Santa Klaus Murder.
Overall, The Santa Klaus Murder is a good read. There’s murder, Christmas spirit (before the murder, of, course) and some pretty good red herrings that is sure to send the readers on a wrong track. But… there are awful lot of characters.
Sir Osmond Melbury had five kids – George, Hilda, Edith (Dittie), Eleanor and Jennifer; Mildred Melbury(Sir Osmond’s sister); George is married to Patricia and they have three kids – Enid, Kit and Clare; Edith’s husband is Sir David Evershot. Eleanor’s husband is Gordon Stickland and their two kids are Osmond and Anne. Hilda’s daughter is called Carol while Jennifer’s beau is Philip Cheriton. Then there is Oliver Witcombe who plays Santa Klaus. Henry Bingham the chauffeur, Grace Portisham the secretary, Perkins the butler, John Ashmore the former chauffeur; Colonel Halstock, DI Rousdon, and Kenneth Stour. Phew!
I couldn’t keep a track of who’s who as the story began. At some point, I gave up thinking about it. The only characters I liked (and remember their names throughout, ahem 😉 ) are Jennifer, Hilda, Carol, Miss Portisham, Bingham and Witcombe. Quite a few but okay, who’s counting! When Ashmore made an appearance in the latter part of the story, I had to refer the list of characters to know who he is!
Let me stop talking about my superb memory power (remembering names specifically!). What did you say your name was? Jane? Eh?
The second half seemed a tad dragged. The red herrings are there, all right. Lots of them. I thought I knew who the murderer was, after all, all the clues were pointing towards them. Then *checks the character list* , no, cannot reveal the name here, this particular someone says something and Colonel Halstock has a light-bulb moment.
Kenneth Stour’s role seemed a bit fishy as the story began. The poor chap helped the police in finding clues and stuff but somehow I didn’t like the fella . Dittie plays quite a role – I really liked her decision to stay with her husband, no matter what the circumstances. The Ashmore twist was totally unnecessary! Okay, not really, I am just venting out my frustration at being fooled into believing a trap called red herring.
Numerous characters in the story kinda ruined the mood for me. The writing and the storytelling are really good. Doriel Hay has written three detective fiction novels in total and I do have plans to read the other two.
Featured Image Credits: Goodreads