Friday, December 19, 2014


Mavis Doriel Hay’s The Santa Klaus Murder (1936) is a classic “the family gathers at Christmas” story.

When my wife saw the title of the book, she asked, “Is Santa Klaus murdered, or does Santa do the murder?”

Santa does the murder. The problem is to figure out who was wearing the suit.

His family almost universally hates Sir Osmond Melbury of Flaxmere. He uses his money to bully his children and grandchildren.

When they gather one more time for Christmas, one family member predicts such gatherings are nothing but trouble.

And that’s what happens. Sir Osmond ends up in his study with a bullet in his head. Any of the family or servants could have done it.

Colonel Halstock, chief constable of Haulmshire, investigates.

This is a classic cozy story. Different characters narrate different chapters (a la The Moonstone).

The first two-thirds of the book (at least) lays out the details. The solution lies somewhere among the myriad of details.

British Library Crime Classics recently reprinted this long-out-of-print classic. I stumbled across it (as an ebook) while looking for Christmas mysteries.

The Santa Klaus Murder is what I expected from a cozy written before my birth. It is clue-driven and ends with a long postscript that explains what happened in intricate detail.

Truthfully, I skipped a few parts of this book (too intricate for me), but I enjoyed reading this classic at Christmas time.

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