The Santa Klaus Murder
Mavis Doriel Hay
Poisoned Pen British Library Crime Classics, Oct 6 2015, $12.95
In Haulmshire County, three generations of the Melbury family, their professional staff and their servants arrive at Flaxmere to spend Christmas together. However, the annual gathering proves fatal to the family patriarch Sir Osmond when someone shoots him in his study on Christmas Day.
Chief Constable Colonel Halstock leads the homicide investigation into the death of his overbearing, obnoxious neighbor. As he considers every adult at the gathering a suspect, Halstock muses over what took so long for someone to kill Osmond. After interviewing everyone and looking for clues at the crime scene, the only individual with opportunity is Santa Klaus who lacked a motive for murdering the victim. As he continues to grill the family and seeks why, each interviewee keeps modifying their story.
An entertaining English Golden Age manor house police procedural, The Santa Klaus Murder is a wonderful whodunit due to a rigidly adhered to SOP-oriented lead constable who personally knows many of the suspects and the victim. Character-driven, subgenre fans will appreciate this “historical” holiday homicide and want to read Mavis Doriel Hay’s other 1930s mysteries (see Murder Underground and Death on the Cherwell).