A classic country house mystery republished for the first time in nearly seventy years. Perfect for fans of Murder at the Old Vicarage and Partners in Crime.
When Dilys Hughes finds herself snowbound in the middle of a bleak and lonely stretch of Yorkshire, she has no option but to accept help from passing motorist Inigo Brown, who is on his way to visit his uncle. Arriving at his uncle's remote country house, Wintry Wold, the couple encounters a less than warm welcome from Inigo's new young aunt, Theresa. Why is she reluctant to let Inigo see his uncle, and is he really as ill as they are told? As the snowstorm brings more stranded strangers to their door, Dilys starts to realise that all is not as it seems at Wintry Wold. When the morning brings news of the death of Inigo's uncle, Dilys sets out to investigate - was it a natural death, or was it murder?
Another review alerted me to the fact that this is not a Christmas mystery, since the original title was simply Another Little Murder before the modern publisher added the word Christmas. Proof that you can’t trust anyone. So, this is a cheat and I want my money back! Nah, it would’ve actually been a charming enough little mystery and I wouldn’t even have noticed the absence of the Christmas theme since the setting is sufficiently wintry with lots of snow.
There are other problems however.
This book reminded me of Jefferson Farjeon’s Mystery In White – both begin really promisingly before quickly losing steam due to annoying characters and a nonsensical plot.
Dilys is a charming and feisty young heroine while Inigo is a bit goofy, but they make for a fun couple. I really loved the playful banter between the two main characters in the first chapter which unfortunately later gave way to less interesting conversations between the numerous guests of the house. The plot almost comes to a standstill here as Dilys is forced to take over some household duties due to the lack of servants and more and more strangers arrive at the house, all people who have also got struck in a snowdrift. It takes sheer ages for the mystery plot to materialize and even when it does eventually it is not very exciting.
There are also some logical issues to consider. It is constantly snowing outside, even the word blizzard gets mentioned. Now considering that this book is set pre-World War II it is difficult to imagine people just driving around on the blocked roads in their little vintage cars. So how on earth do they even make it to the house which after all is in the middle of nowhere?
Verdict: Not a great mystery, but if you are suffering from an acute lack of snow, this might be the right cure.