Short Stories
The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories

by P. D. James
Knopf, October 2016, $24

The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories is a posthumous publication of four superior uncollected stories by P. D. James. The title story is the puzzle of an unsolved murder on Christmas Eve in 1940. It is told by an aging crime novelist who, as a young war widow, was invited to her estranged grandmother’s estate where the murder occurred. The plot is pristine and the conclusion is as subtle and satisfying as anything the genre has to offer. The complex and clever “A Very Commonplace Murder” is as surprising as it is entertaining, without ever cheating the reader with a false clue. The final two stories feature Ms. James’ series character DCI Adam Dalgliesh. “The Twelve Clues of Christmas” finds Dalgliesh in a very Agatha Christie-esque tale as a young sergeant investigating a suicide far from his own jurisdiction. In “The Boxdale Inheritance” DCI Dalgliesh investigates the source of an inheritance tainted by the rumor of murder, but what he finds is unsuspected and even sweet.

Ben Boulden
Teri Duerr
October 2016