The Santa Klaus Murder
by Mavis Doriel Hay
“Aunt Mildred declared that no good could come of the Melbury family Christmas gatherings at their country residence Flaxmere. So when Sir Osmond Melbury, the family patriarch, is discovered – by a guest dressed as Santa Klaus – with a bullet in his head on Christmas Day, the festivities are plunged into chaos. Nearly every member of the party stands to reap some sort of benefit from Sir Osmond’s death, but Santa Klaus, the one person who seems to have every opportunity to fire the shot, has no apparent motive. The Chief Constable of Haulmshire, who begins his investigations by saying that he knows the family too well, wishes before long that he understood them better. In the midst of mistrust, suspicion and hatred, it emerges that there was not one Santa Klaus, but two.”
So my Mum bought me The Santa Klaus Murder for Christmas two years ago, I did not know anything about it, apart from reading the blurb. I had put it on one side to read, but kept on having newer books to read that took my interest more, that is until now. I felt that I should read it in time for Christmas this year.
Slowly the family arrive at Flaxmere and you get a feel for the different couples/families, and the issues behind why they interact in the way that they do. However, Sir Osmond is determine to have Santa Klaus give out presents to the children and when the first outfit does not turn up, he demands another to be sent immediately. Everyone thinks that he may have changed his will, but no one wants to discuss it, as it may make him change his mind again, and no one trusts his ‘new’ secretary. When the police arrive everyone seems to be in shock, but some of them cannot remember exactly where they were or who was with them. It all gets rather complicated to sort out for Colonel Halstock.
Okay, so I read that in less than 12 hours (including sleeping)! It was incredible, however, the one down point I have is because it was written in 1936, there is a bit of a challenge to understand some of the wording and the way it is written. I had to re-read some sentences a few times to understand what was being said. I liked that accents were put in by actually dropping letters and spelling things how they are said ‘”I paid a good price for this ‘un, considerin’ the age, an’ a car like this is worth nothin’ in the market now”‘.
I think my favourite part was once the Colonel got there and you saw everything through his eyes, it was interesting having the first accounts from different people (and a couple later on), but I did have to keep an eye on the chapter headings to see whose point of view I was on. I liked the fact that it was explained why we had the aforementioned different people and also the fact that the Colonel put notes and the such like into his account.
I think my favourite characters were probably Jennifer, Hilda, Carol, Philip and Colonel Halstock. The other family members were a bit more ‘less ordinary’, the ones I have mentioned were far more down to earth and normal. However, several of them you do come to like more as the story progresses and you find out more about them.
There were plenty of twists and turns as a good murder mystery should have, and I was kept guessing on if I was correct or not, I thought I had got it early on, to then have my suspicions thrown out for someone else, until I thought on that person again and I stuck with it in the back of my mind, but I got so involved and engrossed in the story I could not put it down until it was almost falling out my hands for tiredness.
The Santa Klaus Murder was all tied up by the end, however, I am left wondering how the family lived afterwards.
While reading the Santa Klaus Murder, I described it as a good old-fashioned murder mystery in a big family house in the countryside at Christmas. I would recommend it to anyone. 4 out of 5.