I have a thing for short detective stories. The Golden Era of detective fiction is rife with shorts stories. Greats like Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown, Arsene Lupin, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple … I love them all. Detective fiction these days are full-length novels, and I enjoy them, but at the end of the day, I long for the old shorts. So I was delighted to find detective short stories from a more contemporary author.
P.D. James has Canon Doyles’ mastery of short story and vivid description. Her uncanny observation of humanity gripped me. The humor was great, too. Here is a paraphrase from The Twelve Clues of Christmas, starring Adam Dalgleish:
“You would think people regularly commit suicides over holidays.”
“East Anglians are a robust stock. They come close, but they resist somehow.”
The sly meta comments induced chuckles. For example: “The library, that most fatal room in popular British fiction.” Anyone who read Agatha Christie will enjoy that.
The mysteries themselves are simple, but not obvious — like all good mysteries should be. Seasoned mystery readers might find the length too short. The whole book is snack size, but it is delightful entertainment.
I’ve checked out two books by P.D. James since finishing The Mistletoe Murders because I wanted to read more Adam Dalgleish. I’m reading The Lighthouse at the moment. I approve the first chapter. The ones that follow are decent. I’m at the point where the victim is found dead — hanging on the titular lighthouse. So far, so good. I’m looking forward to reading the rest.