Murder Under the Christmas Tree – short stories

 Murder Under the Christmas Tree cover

Murder Under the Christmas Tree is a compilation of short stories by well known authors, all set around about Christmas – as you would expect.

The first story is The Necklace of Pearls by Dorothy L. Sayers. I’m quite a fan of Sayers but I have to admit that I was a wee bit disappointed with this one as I guessed the solution fairly quickly.

The other contributers are Ian Rankin, Margery Allingham, Arthur Conan Doyle, Val McDermid, Ellis Peters, Edmund Crispin, G.K. Chesterton, Carter Dickson and Ngaio Marsh. The sleuths include Holmes, Lord Peter Wimsey, Cadfael, Father Brown, Rebus and others you will recognise.

It’s quite a collection of authors and I’m sure there’s something for everyone here, well everyone who enjoys a good murder around the festive season – as I do!

I read this book for the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge.

Uncle Bernac by Arthur Conan Doyle

Well, who knew that Conan Doyle wrote historical novels, not me anyway, but this is one of them. I’ve only tried one other book of his and I can’t even remember what it was. It was one of the very few books which I just had to give up on, I normally plough on regardless, determined to finish a book and hoping that it’ll somehow get better, gnashing my teeth all the way to the bitter end. But Sherlock Holmes and I just didn’t get on, in fact if I had been left in a room with him alone and he started up on me with all his smug stuff, there just might well have been a murder! I know millions of people don’t agree, I’m obviously just odd but I don’t worry about it

Uncle Bernac originally belonged to my Great-Uncle Robert and it’s a 1912 copy. This is the front plate. It has been in our house for years now but I just realised recently that it is by Conan Doyle and that is why I decided to put it on Katrina’s 2011 Reading List.

It’s a story told by Louis de Laval of how when he was a child his French aristocratic parents had fled from the Revolution and ended up living in England. After Louis’ father dies he receives a letter from his Uncle Bernac asking him to return to France. However the words ‘Don’t Come’ have been faintly scribbled on the outside of the envelope, and Louis is in a quandary.

As he has always been a Republican and had a secret admiration for Napoleon he decides to go and try to present himself to the emperor in the hope that he will be able to make himself useful to him. The alternative is to stay on in England and a life of penury.

Getting to France is no easy task and Louis’ adventures begin sooner than he wishes. It’s set in 1803 with Napoleon’s army camped out along the coast of France preparing to invade Sussex and Kent. If you enjoy books set in that time and place then you’ll probably like this one, as I did.

Ian Rankin’s Reichenbach Falls

Late last night I watched Reichenbach Falls which had apparently been on before but I had missed it. At first I thought this was going to be another Rebus investigation but it was far more convoluted than anything in the Rebus series. I really enjoyed it and it wasn’t just a bog-standard crime investigation. I suppose it is a dark tale, but it also shows the beautiful architecture and scenery around Edinburgh, and the film can be enjoyed for that aspect alone. I think it will be of interest to anyone thinking of going there for a visit.

The film maker has really shown what I think of as the hidden Edinburgh at the Water of Leith and St Bernard’s Well, which I didn’t even know existed until recently. At times it was like an advert for Tourism Scotland and was very easy on the eyes. It did go from ‘the sublime to the cor blimey’ but that’s the old Scottish split personality, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jekyll and Hyde thing.

Rankin threw in plenty of other Scottish writers one way or another and Richard Wilson played the part of Arthur Conan Doyle.

I’m hoping that the above link is available for people outside the UK to view. Otherwise it might be available on Netflix.