Blurb: In these timeless and witty essays George Orwell explores the English love of reading about a good murder in the papers (and laments the passing of the heyday of the 'perfect' crime involving class, race and poisoning), as well as unfolding his trenchant views on everything from boys' weeklies and naughty seaside postcards to being arrested in the East End.
Thoughts: I'd been wanting to read this since it was mentioned on a programme by Dr Lucy Worsley and was excited to spot it in Waterstones. A thoroughly entertaining read!
16. The Santa Klaus Murder - Mavis Dorel Hay
Blurb: Aunt Mildred declared that no good could come of the Melbury family Christmas gatherings at their country residence Flaxmere. So when Sir Osmond Melbury, the family patriarch, is discovered - by a guest dressed as Santa Klaus - with a bullet in his head on Christmas Day, the festivities are plunged into chaos. Nearly every member of the party stands to reap some sort of benefit from Sir Osmond's death, but Santa Klaus, the one person who seems to have every opportunity to fire the shot, has no apparent motive. Various members of the family have their private suspicions about the identity of the murderer, and the Chief Constable of Haulmshire, who begins his investigations by saying that he knows the family too well and that is his difficulty, wishes before long that he understood them better. In the midst of mistrust, suspicion and hatred, it emerges that there was not one Santa Klaus, but two. The Santa Klaus Murder is a classic country-house mystery that is now being made available to readers for the first time since its original publication in 1936.
Thoughts: I really enjoyed this Christmas cosy. I do enjoy a book where I don't instantly get the murderer and it was only as the characters realised who had done it that I too had figured it out. Very well written, with really good characters.
17. A Maigret Christmas and other stories - Georges Simenon
Blurb: It is Christmas in Paris, but beneath the sparkling lights and glittering decorations lie sinister deeds and dark secrets...
This collection brings together three of Simenon's most enjoyable Christmas tales, newly translated, featuring Inspector Maigret and other characters from the Maigret novels. In 'A Maigret Christmas', the Inspector receives two unexpected visitors on Christmas Day, who lead him on the trail of a mysterious intruder dressed in red and white. In 'Seven Small Crosses in a Notebook', the sound of alarms over Paris send the police on a cat and mouse chase across the city. And 'The Little Restaurant in Les Ternes (A Christmas Story for Grown-Ups)' tells of a cynical woman who is moved to an unexpected act of festive charity in a nightclub - one that surprises even her...
Thoughts: This was my first time reading Maigret and I was pleasantly surprised. Very easy to read, with really good scene setting of Paris. Think I will try some more Maigret in future.
18. Portrait of a Murderer: A Christmas Crime Story - Anne Meredith
Blurb: Adrian Gray was born in May 1862 and met his death through violence, at the hands of one of his own children, at Christmas, 1931. Thus begins a classic crime novel published in 1933, a riveting portrait of the psychology of a murderer. Each December, Adrian Gray invites his extended family to stay at his lonely house, Kings Poplars. None of Gray's six surviving children is fond of him; several have cause to wish him dead. The family gathers on Christmas Eve - and by the following morning, their wish has been granted. This fascinating and unusual novel tells the story of what happened that dark Christmas night; and what the murderer did next.
Thoughts: I wasn't sure what to make of this at first. The narrative styles change in each chapter which can take a bit of getting used to. I also had a panic justice would not be served (I do like my justice) but was very relieved all was sorted. Beware if you read this - there is some (not so unexpected) anti-semitism which should infuriate you.
Total pages this year: 6081
Hopefully next year less abandoned books and more books read!