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The Santa Klaus Murder

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  2,509 ratings  ·  419 reviews
When it comes to Christmas stories, one typically thinks of those that embody the spirit of the season, such as O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” and Charles Dickens’s 'A Christmas Carol'.

The Yuletide-themed murder mystery is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. But in 1936, Mavis Doriel Hay wrote 'The Santa Klaus Murder', one of three detective novels she publ
Paperback, 243 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Poisoned Pen Press (first published 1936)
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Average rating 3.42  · 
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 ·  2,509 ratings  ·  419 reviews

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Apr 16, 2022 rated it liked it
*3.5 stars*

Sir Osmond Melbury is hanging onto life – (he has already suffered one stroke) – and to his money, and his influence. He maintains his influence by the subsidies he offers his children if they please him, and by the promise of a division of the spoils in his will when he dies.
He wants to act the part of a paterfamilias at a good old family Christmas – son, daughters, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, sisters, grand-children, prospective fiancés and a few more for good measure, are all a
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

I don't know about the rest of you, but for me at Christmastime nothing hits the spot like a good old family murder mystery!

I do assure everyone that I adore my husband & children. Mostly.

Mavis Doriel Hay only wrote three detective novels in total, & this was her final one. I can get the other two from another library in my area, but I am not sure I am going to bother.

There was a lot that was right with this novel.

Every character was a character & I didn't need to refer to the People in the
Nov 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good example of a Golden Age traditional mystery, set around the classic Country House party – this time set during Christmas, when the Melbury family meet up for Christmas at the family home, Flaxmere. However, rather than being a time of good cheer and festive feasting, virtually all the family members – plus two guests – have misgivings about this annual get together and, to add to all the various alliances and intrigue, Sir Oswald Melbury is considering changing his will.

It is fair
Dec 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's really great that The British Library are reprinting these classic crime novels and whilst this wasn't the strongest from that goldern age, it was still a perfect mystery to enjoy over the festive period.

The idea that the only guest who didn't hold a grudge with Sir Osmond Melbury had the perfect opportunity to see him off by wearing a Santa costume at a family gathering was a great hook.

The book opens with various testimonies from a few of the family members which adds to a nice bit of unr
samantha  Bookworm-on-rainydays
This was a very good quit read!!I loved the period it's in the 1930's Witch was fun to read and the murder is cleverly performed, and it takes some thought to determine who the culprit is.(witch is why i'm giving it five stars i normally figure it out pretty quit) lots of red herrings abound in this enjoyable classic mystery. ...more
Dec 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: christmas, reviewed

“Well, I’m jiggered!” said Constable Mere. “We looked in that pile! I’d’ve said there couldn’t be a dead rat left in it, let alone Father Christmas’ Sunday suit!”

I was inspired by Moonlight Reader to pick this up. The Santa Klaus Murder is another installment of the British Library Crime Classics series that focuses on works by authors of the Golden Age of Mystery, who have been largely neglected in favour of such giants of the genre as Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Gladys Mitchell, et
Jan 07, 2019 marked it as british-crime-library-classics
The Hook Take away the title and that The Santa Klaus Murder is part of the The British Library Crime Classics, the picture that remains bids us "Welcome", please come inside for a cozy, comfy fire and good cheer. But you better watch out, because this Santa may not be jolly ol' St. Nick.

The Line - "Really, Colonel Halstock, really, when the children are to be put through the fourth dimension or whatever you call it, and terrified, poor little things, out of their lives, really, it is too much!”
"So there we all were; as we were so unpleasantly forced to realize later on, nearly all of us with good cause for wishing Sir Osmond dead and few with any cause to wish him long life."

Well, this went on longer than necessary. As a Christmas themed murder mystery, this had all the things. A country house, an ill-tempered, bully of a patriarch, a handful of adult children uneasy with their inheritance prospects, a young secretary that adds to their unease. children that are mostly invisible s
Sep 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars I received this from Net Galley

This is a golden oldie Christmas mystery story and I am so glad. It was books like this that sparked my interest in reading. I always envisioned staying in an English manor house where nobody seems to do anything but have a good time. There are activities and lots of food and, oh yes, a murder.

As the family gathers at Christmas time, the old man contemplates changing his will. You know what that means. Someone has to murder him. Who does and why is the
I actually read this a little while ago, delighted to find an unknown-to-me Golden Age mystery writer. Now, having read and moderately enjoyed it a second time thanks to Netgalley, I don't know whether it's my fault or the book's that I honestly can't remember whodunnit…. It could just be my brain. I do have the memory of a goldfish.

The murder of a crotchety patriarch on Christmas Day, when the entire family is gathered as well as a few extras, leads to an interesting investigation. It's a coun
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews, 1930s
Mavis Doriel Hay’s first novel, Murder Underground (1934), had an interesting North London boarding house setting, but lacked any sense of mystery. By the time she wrote The Santa Klaus Murder (1936), she had mastered the mystery element...but unfortunately lost the setting.

What we have here is a fairly routine country house gathering of minor gentry accompanied by an equally routine gathering below stairs. A baronet is murdered and no less a personage than the Chief Constable of Haulmshire is
Actually 3.5 stars. An enjoyable country house mystery.
tom bomp
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
This book had quite a few problems, although it was enjoyable enough just to breeze through.

1) Way too many characters. The front page of the book has a list of them with a very short description which is very handy but made less useful by the fact that each character is referred to in multiple different ways that require you to check through the opening list. This makes it very hard to keep track of each character's motivations, movements etc and means only a few get much interesting characteri
A decent 3 1/2 star mystery. This cozy Christmas mystery is set in the 1930's in the countryside outside Bristol. The Melbury family led by Sir Osmond gathers together, and there are plenty of additional guests. Of course, there's a murder in the library - actually the study - and it's the family patriarch who is dead. Almost everyone is a suspect, and various possibilities are considered. The Christmas holiday makes investigating a bit more complicated as some people are away for the holiday.

Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Quite good holiday murder mystery. Hay made me suspect several people at various times but I didn't guess the solution! I did find the cast of characters a bit hard to sort out at first but after the first 30 pages or so, I had gotten them straight in my mind. ...more
This was fun. And incredibly odd.
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aunt Mildred, sister of Sir Osmond Melbury, declared that no good could come of the Melbury family's Christmas gatherings at their country residence, Flaxmere. She did not realise how prophetic her words were to be.

Sixteen members of the family plus servants and a few other guests arrived to celebrate the festive season. Sir Osmond had organised for a Santa Klaus to distribute presents to everyone but Santa's suit, ordered in good time, did not arrive. Another was hastily ordered and specially d
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, christmas
I specifically chose this 1936 title (newly published in US) because it was of a classic mystery era. Adjusting to earlier writing styles and conventions usually isn't an issue for me, but this one posed challenges. The first five chapters leading up to the murder are each presented from a different character's perspective, and we later learn these were written accounts requested by the acting constable. Perhaps if this had been framed as such at the outset it would have helped, but either way t ...more
Barb in Maryland
A wonderful Christmas mystery. Very warm and casual narration, a clever crime (murder) and an interesting cast of suspects. Our lead crime-solver is Colonel Halstock, the Chief Constable of the fictitious shire. He spends a good deal of his time trying to keep the lead policeman, Detective Inspector Rousden, from hastily jumping to conclusions.
Our victim, Sir Osmond Melbury, is your garden variety domestic tyrant who, it is rumored, was about to revise his will. He did so love controlling the pu
Matt Spaulding
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Dreadfully dry and drawn out. All characters could easily have been guilty and I wouldn't have cared. Crazy slow pacing. Only truly engaging for a few chapters. ...more
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-owned
"There is a tacit understanding among the Melburys that there shall be no more family gatherings at Christmas time at Flaxmere."

This took me the entire month of December to read. It didn't absorb me to the point where I couldn't put it down. In fact, I found it to be rather slow moving until about the middle and then things picked up. However, it truly was a pleasant enough read with no real clue towards who the murderer could be. The plot was rather vague and very circumstantial until the end
Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was ok
This is a book for the holidays. Not too draining, and fairly similar to most mysteries of the period- a manor house, a large affluent family with a whole cast of servants and locals, set in the 1930s, a death and then the unraveling of motives and lies until the murderer is unmasked!! Can't say I would recommend it, but I was happy reading it with some Christmas cookies and hot cocoa. ...more
Claire Huston
Dec 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended for classic mystery fans who need a break from peace and goodwill to all. 3/5 stars.

This review was originally posted on my book blog.

If you're looking forward to reading a classic murder mystery, your heart lifts when you open the book and the first thing you see is a map of the ground floor of a country house which is basically the Cluedo (Clue for those of you in the US) game board. :-)

It's not just its country house-cut-off-from-civilisation setting which makes this a classic; th
Nov 25, 2015 rated it liked it
With thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the review copy.

These British Library crime classics are ever so slightly addictive, The Santa Klaus Murder; a cosy 1930’s mystery is of course perfect for the season, I do love a Christmas book or two at this time of year.

Although I really enjoyed the escapist aspect to this novel, I don’t really think it’s a particularly good example of the type. Certainly it is engaging and very readable, but there is a lot to the mystery that I found predictable
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sir Osmond Melbury has gathered his family at his country home for the annual Christmas celebration complete with a Santa and snap crackers to amuse the kids – both of these play an important part in the mystery. When Sir Osmond is found dead in his study, it soon becomes clear to the police that every member of the family had a motive.

The tale is told by various members of the family in the form of depositions as well as by Colonel Halstock, the man in charge of the investigation. Like most cla
Dec 09, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: christmas, mystery
While there's nothing particularly brilliant about the writing or characterization, this is a pleasant read that hits all the right tropes of the Golden Age country-house mystery: the ill-assorted family gathering for a holiday, the difficult head of the family who's About to Change His Will, and so forth. Plus the fun of having the whole mystery plot turn on a guest dressed up as Santa Claus, and other things like a tree lighting and Christmas gifts playing a part in the clues. Perfect light fl ...more
Robin Stevens
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this over Christmas, and it was perfect. So festive, so murderous, so very silly. I mean, what more do you need to know? 10+

*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. Please do not use it in any marketing material, online or in print, without asking permission from me first. Thank you!*
Alice Lippart
A classic good old fashioned mystery, set in the wonderful English countryside. Slightly disappointed with the ending, but overall, it was very enjoyable.
Dec 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I found this one to be disappointing as it was so predictable. I guessed the culprit really early on.
"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 n ...more
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Mavis Doriel Hay (1894-1979), who in early life lived in north London, was a novelist, who fleetingly lit up the golden age of British crime fiction. She attended St Hilda's, Oxford, around about the same time as Dorothy L Sayers was at Somerville.

She published only three detective novels, 'Murder Underground' (1934), 'Death on the Cherwell' (1935) and 'The Santa Klaus Murder' (1936). All three t

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“I have often found that the best way to persuade anyone to do something they suspect is to explain that they really need not do it.” 1 likes
“He studied his role at each stage of his life and assumed the appropriate air. But he never bothered to study how to be the father of this family; I suppose he thinks we ought all to act our parts as members of the family of his imagination.” 0 likes
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