Friday, 9 December 2016

Review: Another Little Christmas Murder by Lorna Nicoll Morgan

I was attracted to this book because of the cover and the title*, which goes to show just how shallow I am! At the time, the ebook version was a little bit expensive (it has since come down in price) so I borrowed a copy from the library. Because I was so keen to start reading it, I also downloaded a sample to my Kindle, and was initially disappointed because the first six pages were a long description of the heroine driving through snowy Yorkshire. I thought I'd made a horrible mistake! But when my library copy arrived I gave it another go, and became completely hooked!

The story is a typical cosy murder mystery. It was written in 1947 and it would be easy to make comparisons with Agatha Christie, but their writing styles are completely different. (Christie's  stories are more fast-paced, with fiendishly clever plots). But I liked the inter-action between Morgan's characters and they were different to the usual retired colonel/vicar/spinster types. For a start, our heroine (Dilys) is a commercial traveller - a partner in a firm of manufacturing chemists. Determined to reach her next stop by nightfall, she drives through the hills of Yorkshire and gets stuck in a snowstorm. She is quite pragmatic about it (something I loved about this character!) but ends up being rescued by Inigo Brown, who is on his way to stay with his uncle at Wintry Wold. Such is the snowstorm, they are soon joined by many others, much to the indignation of Inigo's new, young, and very glamorous Aunt Theresa.

Although the story starts off a bit waffly, once it gets going there is lots of witty dialogue, particularly between Dilys and Inigo, and even a hint of a romance. The potential suspects are introduced gradually, so the reader can get a real sense of who is who, and Dilys is a very likeable, almost modern heroine. I was well on the way to giving the book 5 stars, but towards the end it became a bit farce-like, with lots of 'mysterious' goings-on in the middle of the night, the heroine stalking the corridors with a poker, and cars being sabotaged. Although one strand of the mystery was easy to guess at, the identity of the murderer took me completely by surprise. 

If you love vintage murder mysteries, you will enjoy Another Little Christmas Murder, and I would have loved to have seen Dilys in more stories. 

*One niggle: there was no mention of Christmas until the epilogue, when one character mentions going to 'spend Christmas' with their family!

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