The Mistletoe Murder: And Other Stories

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9781524708061: The Mistletoe Murder: And Other Stories

Four previously uncollected stories from one of the great mystery writers of our time--swift, cunning murder mysteries (two of which feature the young Adam Dalgliesh) that together, to borrow the author's own word, add up to a delightful "entertainment."

The newly appointed Sgt. Dalgliesh is drawn into a case that is "pure Agatha Christie." . . . A "pedantic, respectable, censorious" clerk's secret taste for pornography is only the first reason he finds for not coming forward as a witness to a murder . . . A best-selling crime novelist describes the crime she herself was involved in fifty years earlier . . . Dalgliesh's godfather implores him to reinvestigate a notorious murder that might ease the godfather's mind about an inheritance, but which will reveal a truth that even the supremely upstanding Adam Dalgliesh will keep to himself. Each of these stories is as playful as it is ingeniously plotted, the author's sly humor as evident as her hallmark narrative elegance and shrewd understanding of some of the most complex--not to say the most damning--aspects of human nature. A treat for P. D. James's legions of fans and anyone who enjoys the pleasures of a masterfully wrought whodunit.
From the Hardcover edition.

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About the Author:

P. D. JAMES was the author of twenty-one books, many of which feature her detective hero Adam Dalgliesh and have been televised or filmed. She was the recipient of many honors, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award and the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature, and in 1991 was created Baroness James of Holland Park. She died in 2014 at the age of ninety-four.
From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The Mistletoe Murder

One of the minor hazards of being a bestselling crime novelist is the ubiquitous question, “And have you ever been personally involved with a real-life murder investigation?”; a question occasionally asked with a look and tone which suggest that the Murder Squad of the Metropolitan Police might with advantage dig up my back garden.

I invariably reply no, partly from reticence, partly because the truth would take too long to tell and my part in it, even after fifty-two years, is difficult to justify. But now, at seventy, the last survivor of that extraordinary Christmas of 1940, the story can surely safely be told, if only for my own satisfaction. I’ll call it “The Mistletoe Murder.” Mistletoe plays only a small part in the mystery but I’ve always liked alliteration in my titles. I have changed the names. There is now no one living to be hurt in feelings or reputation, but I don’t see why the dead should be denied a similar indulgence.

I was eighteen when it happened, a young war-widow; my husband was killed two weeks after our marriage, one of the first RAF pilots to be shot down in single combat. I had joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, partly because I had convinced myself it would have pleased him, but primarily out of the need to assuage grief by a new life, new responsibilities.

It didn’t work. Bereavement is like a serious illness. One dies or one survives, and the medicine is time, not a change of scene. I went through my preliminary training in a mood of grim determination to see it through, but when my grandmother’s invitation came, just six weeks before Christmas, I accepted with relief. It solved a problem for me. I was an only child and my father, a doctor, had volunteered as a middle--aged recruit to the Royal Army Medical Corps; my mother had taken herself off to America. A number of school friends, some also in the Forces, wrote inviting me for Christmas, but I couldn’t face even the subdued festivities of wartime and feared that I should be a skeleton at their family feast.

I was curious, too, about my mother’s childhood home. She had never got on with her mother and after her marriage the rift was complete. I had met my grandmother only once in childhood and remembered her as formidable, sharp--tongued, and not particularly sympathetic to the young. But I was no longer young, except in years, and what her letter tactfully hinted at—a warm house with plenty of wood fires, home cooking and good wine, peace and quiet—was just what I craved.

There would be no other guests, but my cousin Paul hoped to be on leave for Christmas. I was curious to meet him. He was my only surviving cousin, the younger son of my mother’s brother and about six years older than I. We had never met, partly because of the family feud, partly because his mother was French and much of his youth spent in that country. His elder brother had died when I was at school. I had a vague childhood memory of some disreputable secret, whispered about but never explained.

My grandmother in her letter assured me that, apart from the three of us, there would only be the butler, Seddon, and his wife. She had taken the trouble to find out the time of a country bus which would leave Victoria at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve and take me as far as the nearest town, where Paul would meet me.

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 unlit waste of the countryside under a reeling moon; the tall figure of my cousin coming forward out of the darkness to greet me at the terminus; sitting beside him, rug-wrapped, in his sports car as we drove through darkened villages through a sudden swirl of snow. But one image is clear and magical, my first sight of Stutleigh Manor. It loomed up out of the darkness, a stark shape against a grey sky pierced with a few high stars. And then the moon moved from behind a cloud and the house was revealed; beauty, symmetry and mystery bathed in white light.

Five minutes later I followed the small circle of light from Paul’s torch through the porch with its country paraphernalia of walking-sticks, brogues, rubber boots and umbrellas, under the blackout curtain and into the warmth and brightness of the square hall. I remember the huge log fire in the hearth, the family portraits, the air of shabby comfort, and the mixed bunches of holly and mistletoe above the pictures and doors, which were the only Christmas decoration. My grandmama came slowly down the wide wooden stairs to greet me, smaller than I had remembered, delicately boned and slightly shorter even than my five feet three inches. But her handshake was surprisingly firm and, looking into the sharp, intelligent eyes, at the set of the obstinate mouth, so like my mother’s, I knew that she was still formidable.

I was glad I had come, glad to meet for the first time my only cousin, but my grandmother had in one respect misled me. There was to be a second guest, a distant relation of the family, who had driven from London earlier and arrived before me....
Excerpted from The Mistletoe Murder by P. D. James. Copyright © 2015 by P. D. James. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Book Description Random House Audio Publishing Group, 2016. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. Four previously uncollected stories from one of the great mystery writers of our time--swift, cunning murder mysteries (two of which feature the young Adam Dalgliesh) that together, to borrow the author s own word, add up to a delightful entertainment. The newly appointed Sgt. Dalgliesh is drawn into a case that is pure Agatha Christie. . . . A pedantic, respectable, censorious clerk s secret taste for pornography is only the first reason he finds for not coming forward as a witness to a murder . . . A best-selling crime novelist describes the crime she herself was involved in fifty years earlier . . . Dalgliesh s godfather implores him to reinvestigate a notorious murder that might ease the godfather s mind about an inheritance, but which will reveal a truth that even the supremely upstanding Adam Dalgliesh will keep to himself. Each of these stories is as playful as it is ingeniously plotted, the author s sly humor as evident as her hallmark narrative elegance and shrewd understanding of some of the most complex--not to say the most damning--aspects of human nature. A treat for P. D. James s legions of fans and anyone who enjoys the pleasures of a masterfully wrought whodunit. From the Hardcover edition. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781524708061

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Book Description Random House Audio. No binding. Book Condition: New. Four previously uncollected stories from one of the great mystery writers of our time--swift, cunning murder mysteries (two of which feature the young Adam Dalgliesh) that together, to borrow the authors own word, add up to a delightful entertainment. The newly appointed Sgt. Dalgliesh is drawn into a case that is pure Agatha Christie. . . . A pedantic, respectable, censorious clerks secret taste for pornography is only the first reason he finds for not coming forward as a witness to a murder . . . A best-selling crime novelist describes the crime she herself was involved in fifty years earlier . . . Dalglieshs godfather implores him to reinvestigate a notorious murder that might ease the godfathers mind about an inheritance, but which will reveal a truth that even the supremely upstanding Adam Dalgliesh will keep to himself. Each of these stories is as playful as it is ingeniously plotted, the authors sly humor as evident as her hallmark narrative elegance and shrewd understanding of some of the most complex--not to say the most damning--aspects of human nature. A treat for P. D. Jamess legions of fans and anyone who enjoys the pleasures of a masterfully wrought whodunit. From the Hardcover edition. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Audio CD. Bookseller Inventory # 9781524708061

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Book Description Random House Audio Publishing Group, 2016. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. Four previously uncollected stories from one of the great mystery writers of our time--swift, cunning murder mysteries (two of which feature the young Adam Dalgliesh) that together, to borrow the author s own word, add up to a delightful entertainment. The newly appointed Sgt. Dalgliesh is drawn into a case that is pure Agatha Christie. . . . A pedantic, respectable, censorious clerk s secret taste for pornography is only the first reason he finds for not coming forward as a witness to a murder . . . A best-selling crime novelist describes the crime she herself was involved in fifty years earlier . . . Dalgliesh s godfather implores him to reinvestigate a notorious murder that might ease the godfather s mind about an inheritance, but which will reveal a truth that even the supremely upstanding Adam Dalgliesh will keep to himself. Each of these stories is as playful as it is ingeniously plotted, the author s sly humor as evident as her hallmark narrative elegance and shrewd understanding of some of the most complex--not to say the most damning--aspects of human nature. A treat for P. D. James s legions of fans and anyone who enjoys the pleasures of a masterfully wrought whodunit. From the Hardcover edition. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781524708061

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