The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories

Publisher: Knopf Canada
Just in time for the holidays! Knopf Canada publishes four Christmastime murder stories by P. D. James (two featuring a young Adam Dalgliesh), which together add up to an unexpected gift following her death in 2014.


As the acknowledged "Queen of Crime," P. D. James was frequently commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a special short story for Christmas. Four of the best have been collected together for the first time in one volume in a beautiful hardback edition.
     P. D. James's understanding of human nature illuminates each of these stories, making them ideal reading for the darkest days of the year. Each treats the reader to her masterfully atmospheric storytelling, a mystery to be solved, and enjoyable puzzles to keep the reader guessing. With wry humour, she pays tribute to her English crime-writing forebears, delighting in the secrets that lurk beneath the surface at enforced family gatherings and in old country houses--from the title story about a strained family reunion on Christmas Eve, to another about an illicit affair that ends in murder, and two cases that introduce James's poet-detective Adam Dalgliesh as a young detective sergeant.

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The horror of the murder, the concentration on every hour of that traumatic Boxing Day, has di­minished my memory of the journey and arrival. I recall Christmas Eve in a series of images, like a gritty black-and-white film, disjointed, a little surreal.

The bus, blacked out, crawling, lights dimmed, through the...
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PRAISE FOR

“[W]riting in her trademark careful and unhurried prose, James delivers the goods in the surprise department. . . . The book . . . represents James in very fine form.” —Toronto Star

“[A] lovely collection from the late P. D. James. . . . Here, we get the Queen of Crime in her prime, with Adam Dalgliesh on the trail and the title piece set in wartime England. As always with James, character dominates and murder is messy and damaging. These tales don’t end with tea and crumpets. This is the ideal stocking stuffer for any mystery fan, and it includes a masterful little essay by James on the importance of the short story. The preface by Val McDermid is the ideal introduction if, indeed, there is anyone who still needs one to the late Baroness James. I read it in a swoop after lunch and loved every page.” —Margaret Cannon, The Globe and Mail

“For those missing the Queen of Crime. . . . A lovely surprise for her fans.” —Toronto Star

“[T]his posthumous collection of short stories by the Queen of Crime, P. D. James, puts a Christmas spin on the whodunit to delightfully macabre effect. . . . You’ll have visions dancing through your head . . . but they likely won’t be sugarplums.” —Canadian Living

“A gift of short stories from P. D. James. . . . The late British detective novelist P. D. James was renowned as much for the elegance of her writing as for her plotting. That doesn’t obviate the bloody nature of her subject matter; James was clear about the many tolls taken by murder, but her intelligence and erudition shine forth on every page. . . . James, who died in 2014 at age ninety-four, was a great prose stylist, and these hitherto unpublished stories grant us the book of fresh material from a modern master. Since there won’t be any more Dalgleish novels, these tales are gift enough.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
 
“The best Christmas gifts are delightfully unexpected, maybe even wrapped and sent from a mystery giver. Which is exactly what this stocking-sized beauty of a book is: a special delivery from one of our best mystery givers, the inimitable P. D. James. . . . The Mistletoe Murder tales are short, sweet, wry, smart and darkly funny, and each has some Christmas connection. In other words, they’re perfect for cozying up by the fire, a cup of Earl Grey in hand, and wrapping yourself in a masterful whodunit.” —The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)

Mystery lovers are in for a very merry time with this posthumous collection of short stories set around Christmas (and Boxing Day) from Britain’s P. D. James. . . . She delivers four stellar stories that will please fans of the author and those who like a classic Agatha Christie ‘whodunit.’ . . . All four tales will entertain and delight.” —USA Today

“[F]or your thriller for Christmas, readers can do no better than The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories by the late great P. D. James. She always managed to combine realistic, well-observed human situations with subtle detective revelations. These collected items will be a real treat for more than her die-hard admirers.” —The Irish Catholic

“[A] box of crackers from P. D. James, a writer still viscerally missed by her readers.” —Mark Lawson, The Guardian

“Gearing up for the festivities, classic crime offers a rich collection of Christmas gifts. High on the list is this collection of P. D. James short stories. . . . In ‘The Mistletoe Murder,’ it is James herself who takes on the role of narrator to describe a personal encounter with violent death. Is she having us on? With the late Queen of Crime, you can never be quite sure.” —Daily Mail

“Devotees of literary crime fiction will long mourn the loss of P. D. James . . . But they will now welcome the arrival of The Mistletoe Murders and Other Stories with a frisson of excitement. . . . Throughout the collection, James displays all the qualities that lifted her to the heights of her work: purity of prose, mastery of setting, creativity of character and, most vitally, comprehension not only of the malevolent nature of murder but also of the myriad forces that can drive even the most unlikely people to kill. A Christmas present to be treasured, now and upon rereading, The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories reaffirms James’s stature, reopens the sadness of her passing and rekindles the pleasure of experiencing her imagination, her intellect and her integrity.”Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)

Who better to cater to your Christmas crime needs than P. D. James? . . . [W]ell-turned, atmospheric tales from one of crime fiction’s greats.” —The Age (Australia)

Four perfectly drawn short mysteries. . . . Has a great mystery writer ever gone about her craft more self-consciously than P.D. James? . . . The four tales in this slim volume . . . are old-fashioned, at least up to a point: no noir, yet plenty of shadows; no explicit sex, but ample erotic tension. And James spins them with the economy demanded by the short form. . . . Among the many pleasures of reading James is her evocative style. . . . what a pleasure it is to have ‘The Boxdale Inheritance’ and its three siblings as postscripts to James’s oeuvre.” —The Washington Post

“If you want knowing self-reflexivity, look no further than The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories . . . a short but beautiful set of hitherto-uncollected Christmas-themed P.D. James stories. . . . [T]hey show James at the height of her powers, gleefully defying expectations.” —The Guardian

“Fascinating.” —The Seattle Times