Silent Nights: A British Library Crime Classic is a collection of Christmas-themed short stories by writers working during the Golden Age of crime fiction. Editor Martin Edwards has selected both well-known and lesser-known but deserving examples of the best fiction of the time. The selection ranges from well-known writers like Dorothy Sayers and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the less-familiar Ethel Lina White and Leo Bruce (Rupert Croft-Cooke). The book thus becomes an opportunity to revisit old friends and to make a list of writers to read more of in the future.
The stories are all set around Christmas, and they are all carefully-constructed whodunits, but the style and content vary greatly. G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown specializes in redemption more than condemnation, and “The Flying Stars” features a clever crime and a careful resolution, while Marjorie Bowen’s “Cambric Tea” is a darker, more vengeful tale. The detectives run the gamut as well: Dorothy L. Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey is a highly-educated gentleman; Leo Bruce’s Sergeant Beef takes pleasure in being lower class. Both of them get their man in the end. The cases include theft, murder, and the good old locked-room mystery (very cleverly done).
Silent Nights is an excellent collection for the mystery aficionado. It is a chance to get acquainted—or reacquainted–with some of the best writers in the genre. It comes out from Poisoned Pen Press on November 3, 2015, just in time for a little relaxing holiday reading of your own or to give to a friend.