“It may not be that simple.” Iris spoke from the top of the ladder, where she’d been taking advantage of Maude Daneson’s inattention to redistribute the tinsel as she saw fit. “He may be perfectly normal most of the time, unless something triggers him off. If no one ever triggered him off, they’d never know. To them, he’d just be that kindly man down the street whose always so good to his wife, adores his kiddies, climbs trees to rescue cats, and helps little old ladies across the street.”
“This time, he’s killed a little old lady,” Ann said. “And with her own scissors.”
It’s Christmastime in London, and someone is counting down the days until the 25th—with corpses. The brutal crimes appear to be random, but each unusual murder brings the killer nearer to a quiet boarding house and its unsuspecting lodgers.
- Rude salespeople, frustrated parents corralling crying children, overly packed buses and trains…these are some of the more annoying aspects of the holiday season. They are especially irritating for the killer. Every other chapter is a stream of consciousness diatribe from the killer’s point of view. And it’s surprisingly relatable.
Babson’s narrative is sometimes dry, but in the end I found that to be part of this story’s charm. While the characters aren’t terribly stacked with extensive backstories or even that much depth, possibly because the book is short (less than 200 pages), they all do their part to pull the story along. Characters go about their occasionally mundane Christmas preparations, completely clueless to the danger heading their way. The mystery isn’t the most complex, but it did keep me guessing. Just don’t pick this up expecting the intricate plotting of Christie. Still, there’s something about Babson’s Christmas tale that pulls you in—maybe it’s the way the killer is slowly swallowed by holiday induced mania. I spent a cozy afternoon curled up with this older mystery; The Twelve Deaths of Christmas is a pleasant distraction from wrapping gifts and baking holiday treats.