A Christmas Most Foul

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

A Christmas Most Foul is a nice anthology of 4 holiday themed golden age British stories. Two are short stories, two are full length novels. The two by Margery Allingham both feature Campion. The Nicholas Blake offers a nicely turned out Nigel Strangeways tale, and the final book of the quartet is an Inspector Appleby mystery by Michael Innes. First publication dates for the 4 vary from 1936 to 1965.

Re-released by Agora on 25th Nov 2018, this edition is 475 pages and available in ebook format.

The precis are available on the book blurb. They're all classic British writing by masters of the form at the top of their respective games, 3 are mysteries. Word in Season, the second story featuring Campion isn't a mystery but more of a charming vignette.

Generally with collections/anthologies I skip around a bit with the order of the stories. This anthology I wound up reading cover to cover in two sittings. They're all light and engaging and intelligently written and plotted.

All of the stories work very well as standalones and I could see this being a good introduction for readers who are interested in golden age British crime but who aren't already in possession of a comprehensive collection.

Four stars, really enjoyed these in front of the fireplace with a glass of mulled wine and cheese and crackers. Bliss.
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I couldn't finish the mysteries in this book because i found them dull. Mysteries are a matter of taste, and these did not suit mine.
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An interesting collection of mystery stories and novellas dating from the 1930s and 1940s, set in Britain and marking a very different era. Allingham’s tales, “On Christmas Day in the Morning” and “Word in Season: A Story for Christmas,” were clever and fun, leading me to want to read more of her Campion works. Likewise, Nicholas Blake’s Nigel Strangeways novella, “Thou Shell of Death,” kept me involved and guessing, while also providing engaging prose:

Nigel, after a brief stay at Oxford, in the course
of which he had neglected Demosthenes in favour
of Freud, had turned to the profession of criminal
investigator—the only profession left, he was wont
to remark, which gave scope for good manners and
scientific curiosity. (loc 279)

The butler let them in, nicely grading his
reception to their respective social stations, Nigel
being accorded the tepid affability due to a
gentleman, while Bleakley, who was only a person,
received a welcome without the chill off.
(loc 2429)

The final story, also a novella, by Michael Innes, “There Came Both Mist and Snow”, a bit more cumbersome than those preceding it, is the story of a Christmas house party narrated by one of the participants. There is a lengthy set up of all the participants, then the central “event” followed by the gradual working out of a solution. It was clever but seemed over-written for my taste. Of course how Innes could have done this differently I really don’t know.

All in all, it seems to round out to 4* of holiday crime reading I do recommend. These Golden Age writers knew what they were doing!


A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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If you are a fan of Christmas an old fashioned British Mysteries, this is a book for you. However, be aware that the pace is slow and you will need to invest time into this collection of short stories and two novels in a bind up. This would be a great gift for the Anglophile mystery lover in your life. 

Thank you NetGalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I really enjoyed this collection of Christmas stories!  Of course, some of them are better than others but if you enjoy English whodunits it should definitely be on your Christmas reading list.

I especially liked Word in Season and There Came Both Mist and Snow.  The other two were good too!

Thanks to Agora Books and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) provided by the Author and Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an fair and honest review. 

I'm a sucker for Christmas stories and I love a good mystery. Lovers of classic British mysteries, this is for you. This should be fun!

On Christmas Day in the Morning by Margery Allingham - The murder of a Postman is not what it seems, or is it. Albert Campion is on the case.

Word in Season by Margery Allingham - Campion and his wife are having a spat and his dog is going to take this Christmas to bring comfort to him.

Thou Shell of Death by Nicholas Blake - A WWI flying ace, Fergus O'Brian, has received threating letters, but it's not as it appears. Gentleman detective, Nigel Strangeways has a lot of suspects to work with in this strange house party group.

There Came Both Mist and Snow by Michael Innes  - Arthur Ferryman is coming home for Christmas, but home isn't what it used to be and when one of his cousins is shot in the study, Inspector Appleby has to untangle this web of family deceits.
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A fun compilation of Xmas mysteries by some of the best Golden Age writers - I found the Allingham pieces the most fun, Thou Shell of Death is about 40 pages too long and There Came Both Mist and Snow is a real English country house bit of flippery (although entertaining).  Honestly, Allingham is always a high point and most writers would pale in comparison so I'd save the two short stories for last.  A recommend for sure!
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I loved this book. I like short stories anyway, but the Christmas theme, and the settings were great. Highly recommend.
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What’s not to like here?  Margery Allingham, Nicholas Blake and Michael Innes, all in one volume!  This is a collection of vintage, traditional style British mysteries.  Those by Allingham are short stories, the other two are full length novels. 

The short stories were just okay, nothing particularly outstanding, but to be fair, I’m not really a fan of short stories, no matter how well written they are.  However, I really enjoyed the novels.

“Thou Shell of Death” which features Nigel Strangeways as the sleuth, combines well rounded characters, a well plotted mystery and a most unexpected ending in a novel well worth reading.  This is a fairly typical British country house novel.  It is notable for the fact that it introduces us to Georgia who later becomes Mrs Nigel Strangeways.  This was my favorite story in the book.

“There came both Mist and Snow” is one of the Sir John Appleby series.   Innes was an English professor for a time, and possibly that influenced his choice of title, which is a phrase from “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  I like Innes’s writing but don’t consider this to be one of his best offerings.  I felt that there was quite a lot of setting the scene before the story really got going, but I still found it an enjoyable book.
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A Christmas Most Foul is a holiday collection of cozy British mysteries. The collection includes two short stories as well as two novels, all of which are charming and well-written.

The characters are interesting and the plots are well-done. From a country house murder to a Christmas morning miracle, there is something here for any fan of British mysteries. I guarantee that you’ll want to sit in front of the fireplace with your feet up and a cup of tea by your side as you enjoy this holiday offering.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review.
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Thia is a collection of holiday mysteries ... for fans of traditional British crime with a festive twist.  These are considered cozies written many years ago.

On Christmas Day In The Morning by MARGERY ALLINGHAM is an  Albert Campion Mystery.

WORD IN SEASON:  A STORY FOR CHRISTMAS by MARGERY ALLINGHAM .  This one was my favorite.  In the hour before Christmas, all animals are given the gift of speech.  In this story an elderly dog agonizes over whether he should speak to his human or not.

THOU SHELL OF DEATH by NICHOLAS BLAKE  is a Nigel Strangeways Mystery, BK 2.  A man receives three threatening letters telling him he has 3 weeks to settle his affairs.

THERE CAME BOTH MIST AND SNOW by MICHAEL INNES  is an  Inspector Appleby Mystery, Bk 6.    A man's cousins come visiting ... and they're all brandishing revolvers.

BOOK BLURB---these holiday tales are perfect for snowy days and fireside nights. Including two Christmas short stories from Queen of Crime, Margery Allingham, and two novels from Nicholas Blake and Michael Innes.

Many thanks to Agora Books and Netgalley for the digital copy of this eclectic collection.  Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
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