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The Santa Klaus Murder
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Group reads > December 2015 - The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay

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Susan | 10029 comments Mod
"The Santa Klaus Murder"by Mavis Doriel Hay is our first group read - interested to hear all your thoughts.


Leslie | 592 comments Picked up my copy at the library today :)


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8966 comments Mod
Thanks for starting the thread, Susan! I've just started reading it and am enjoying it so far - there are a lot of characters to keep straight, so I had to read the first few pages twice, but think I've just about got them straight in my mind now!


Arpita (BagfullofBooks) (bagfullofbooks) | 39 comments I am reading it. I like the setting of the large family gathered together at Xmas. Enjoying it so far.


Susan | 10029 comments Mod
I have finished it, but promise no spoilers!


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8966 comments Mod
Here is a link to a piece by Martin Edwards about the book and the author which I found quite interesting. It does mention who the victim is, but I think that is pretty obvious from the outset:

http://doyouwriteunderyourownname.blo...


Susan | 10029 comments Mod
Martin Edwards is a fantastic supporter for Golden Age fiction, isn't he?

As we've said before on other threads, some of the things the genre is criticised for are probably things that endear it to us. I rarely work out the plots of murders, but, with this one, it seemed fairly obvious 'how' the murder took place, even if the 'who' could have been a number of suspects. There is also the involved amateur and the whole country house setting. I found it an enjoyable read.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8966 comments Mod
He is indeed! I must definitely read The Golden Age of Murder very soon.

I haven't got as far as the murder yet, but can see there is going to be a long list of suspects once it happens, so I will probably be guessing until the end. I am also enjoying the country house setting and the way that different characters recount each chapter.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8966 comments Mod
Near the start of the book, I've been intrigued to see the references to the Women's Institute as being for younger women and having 'Bolshevik' tendencies - very different from its image nowadays, as highly respectable and mainly popular with older women.

I saw an interesting documentary recently, presented by Lucy Worsley, about 100 years of the WI - she showed how when it started many of its members were former suffragettes, and they originally chose 'Jerusalem' as their anthem because it was associated with the suffragettes, too.


Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review) (knyttwytch) I just started reading this (I have a few challenge books on my Kindle so I am frantically playing catch up at the moment lol)


Arpita (BagfullofBooks) (bagfullofbooks) | 39 comments I read a little about the WI after you mentioned it Judy. Fascinating to know that it started out as a group in Ontario Canada. I don't think there is anything similar in the US though I may be wrong.


Arpita (BagfullofBooks) (bagfullofbooks) | 39 comments Is anyone else finding it a little disconcerting that each chapter is told by a different person?


message 13: by Susan (last edited Dec 01, 2015 10:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan | 10029 comments Mod
I thought having so many narrator's (and the way the author arranged it) was a clever way of getting the different points of view from some of the many suspects.

Judy, I've read a couple of books about the WI - Force to Be Reckoned with: The History of the Women's Institute Force to Be Reckoned with The History of the Women's Institute by Jane Robinson and Jambusters: The Women's Institute at War 1939-1945 Jambusters The Women's Institute at War 1939-1945 by Julie Summers were two I enjoyed most. "Jambusters," also gets my award for best title of a history book!


Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review) (knyttwytch) Arpita (BagfullofBooks) wrote: "Is anyone else finding it a little disconcerting that each chapter is told by a different person?"

It threw me with the 2nd chapter, but I am slowly getting used to it.


Roisin | 134 comments Thanks for the WI book recommendations Susan. Aim to have copy of the book by the end of this week.


message 16: by Mark Pghfan (last edited Dec 02, 2015 06:03AM) (new)

Mark Pghfan | 365 comments There turns out to be a reason for the different authors for the first several chapters.

I was quite intrigued by the very methodical layout of the book. I love the list of characters in the beginning, which I always find helpful. Also a floor plan of the house. It can be seen in the table of contents that various people are writing the beginning chapters, and I wondered at the time whether there was a chance of one of them being the killer, causing me to look for clues of that in their writing. Shades of some other mystery books where the narrator turned out to be the murderer, I thought at the time.


Colin Mitchell Just into the first three chapters. A very different world. Noted the references to the WI as my wife is the President of the local group. Unfortunately, they have difficulties recruiting younger women or any that like to take up the running of things, same for many local groups. Poor treatment of the elderly coachman.


message 18: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth | 314 comments Does Mavis Doriel Hay put any of her characters in all three of her books? I'm listening to Death on the Cherwell at the moment and I've just reached the part where one of the main characters' sister comes to stay, who seems to have been involved in Murder Underground.


message 19: by Judy (last edited Dec 02, 2015 01:00PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8966 comments Mod
Pghfan, I didn't notice the floor plan at the start of the book, which I'm reading on Kindle - I did find the plan online, though, so will put a link for anyone else in the same situation. (I do find it a bit awkward on Kindle that it is so hard to flick back - it would be nice to refer to that list of characters.)

But just a word of warning that I think the write-up on this site looks better to read after finishing the book, as there may be a bit too much of the plot revealed - not sure on this, as I didn't read it through.

I've copied and pasted the map on to my computer to follow while reading the book, and will return to read the article afterwards!

http://prettysinister.blogspot.co.uk/...


message 20: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8966 comments Mod
Ruth, I noticed that mention in 'Death on the Cherwell' too - it would be interesting to know! I haven't read 'Murder Underground' as yet, so was relieved that the identity of the killer in that one isn't mentioned.


message 21: by Judy (last edited Dec 02, 2015 01:09PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8966 comments Mod
Susan, thanks for those WI books - I've been meaning to read 'Jambusters' for ages and really must get to it soon.

Arpita, interesting to hear that it started in Canada - I believe that was discussed in the TV programme I saw, but it had slipped my mind.

Colin, sorry to hear it's hard to get younger women involved in the WI, but I'm not really surprised. As you say, unfortunately it's hard to get people to run many local groups.

Just struck me that several of the characters in another mystery I'm reading at the moment, Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet, are members of the WI and the book begins at one of their meetings - this one is set in a modern-day village and the group members are portrayed as pillars of the community, with quite a mocking tone I'd have to say. Times have certainly changed a lot between the two mysteries!


Leslie | 592 comments Judy wrote: "Thanks for starting the thread, Susan! I've just started reading it and am enjoying it so far - there are a lot of characters to keep straight, so I had to read the first few pages twice, but think..."

I also had some trouble at first figuring out who was who. After I finally got it straight, I discovered a 'cast of characters' list giving everyone's name & relationship at the beginning of the book!


Leslie | 592 comments Arpita (BagfullofBooks) wrote: "Is anyone else finding it a little disconcerting that each chapter is told by a different person?"

It seemed a bit odd to me at the beginning but it is explained a bit later on (in chapter 5 or 6 I think).


Susan | 10029 comments Mod
I think the W.I. crops up in a lot of British mysteries in one way or another - from Agatha Raisin to Golden Age mysteries - it is a good way of tying female characters together, particularly in a rural area. I urge you to get to "Jambusters," when you have time, Judy. It's such a great read.

Does anyone feel this book has a Christmassy feel? I know it is set over the holidays, but I felt this could have been set over any country house weekend equally as well- although obviously without the Santa Klaus tie in!


Colin Mitchell The dastardly deed has been done. Lots of clues and have pencilled down my choice. Past half way now.


message 26: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth | 314 comments Susan wrote: "Does anyone feel this book has a Christmassy feel? I know it is set over the holidays, but I felt this could have been set over any country house weekend equally as well- although obviously without the Santa Klaus tie in! ..."

I often find that with crime novels set at Christmas - I think it's a way for the author to have a good reason to gather family and friends together, preferably in a secluded country house with the threat of snow. But not really ever much detail about the Christmas festivities.


Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review) (knyttwytch) Ruth wrote: "I often find that with crime novels set at Christmas - I think it's a way for the author to have a good reason to gather family and friends together, preferably in a secluded country house with the threat of snow. But not really ever much detail about the Christmas festivities. "

I think the only ones I can think of that stress Christmas are The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and Tied Up In Tinsel


Leslie | 592 comments Hilary wrote: "Ruth wrote: "I often find that with crime novels set at Christmas - I think it's a way for the author to have a good reason to gather family and friends together, preferably in a secluded country h..."

Another few set at Christmas (I will leave the amount of Christmas-y feeling aside for the moment) are Envious Casca by Georgette Heyer and An English Murder by Cyril Hare.

I think that any holiday gathering that ends with murder will be lacking in some festive feeling! If the spirit of Christmas was really being felt, then it seems unlikely that such a crime would be committed.

The holiday certainly plays an important role in this case so I would disagree that it could have been set over any country house weekend equally as well"


message 29: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8966 comments Mod
I was interested to see that the children have to wait until quite late in the day for their presents - not sure I'd ever have managed that with mine!

I think more detail about the food and presents might have added to the Christmas flavour, but I suppose everyone reading at the time knew about all that - it's more interesting to us looking back now, maybe.


message 30: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8966 comments Mod
PS, I was interested to see a mention that the phrase 'Santa Klaus' was dropped during the First World War in the UK for sounding German but then returned - I wonder when the common spelling changed to Claus?


Arpita (BagfullofBooks) (bagfullofbooks) | 39 comments Yes the children seem remarkably co operative and well behaved : waiting for their presents, playing with them relatively quietly, playing along with Santa in his costume and being herded away from the crime scene when asked :)


Roisin | 134 comments Unsure Judy, but wiki says the following but I guess you already worked that out,

Klaus
For other uses, see Klaus (disambiguation).
Klaus is a German given name and surname. It originated as a short form of Nikolaus, a German form of the Greek given name Nicholas.

However, it also lists many variations for Claus. These are just the German ones:

* German: Claus, Claas, Klaas, Klaus, Klas, Nickolaus, Nicolaus, Niklaus, Nickolas, Nikolaus, Nikolo, Niklas, Nico, Niko

I suspect whichever was most popular at the time, since both were used in the past. Santa Claus was used more in comparison to Santa Klaus. Have a look at some of the pre-war uses in this wiki definition:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa...

Scroll down to the 19th century and 20th century use and Claus was popular pre-war, though I don't doubt that the war had an impact possibly in some places, like the UK.


Roisin | 134 comments Arpita - children being polite at Christmas, waiting for their presents. Ha! Very funny! Can't see the hat happening much these days.

The chapters being told from a different perspective makes it an interesting read so far. Off the top of my head, this is used in Stone Cold by Robert Swindells and The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco.


message 34: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8966 comments Mod
Thanks for the info re Claus, Roisin - very interesting.

Arpita and Roisin, I was slightly relieved to see that one of the children eventually starts being naughty - so they aren't perfect all the way through.


message 35: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth | 314 comments Roisin wrote: "Unsure Judy, but wiki says the following but I guess you already worked that out,

Klaus
For other uses, see Klaus (disambiguation).
Klaus is a German given name and surname. It originated as a sho..."


Well this group is friendly, entertaining - and educational too! It just never occurred to me before that Santa Claus was a derivation of Saint Nicholas.

That's a bit embarrassing as I love finding out about the origins of words and phrases.


Roisin | 134 comments : )) I think sometimes things that are ubiquitous, the original meaning is often losses, forgotten. Most people I suspect wouldn't know if you asked.


Leslie | 592 comments Judy wrote: "I was interested to see that the children have to wait until quite late in the day for their presents - not sure I'd ever have managed that with mine! ..."

I was surprised by that too! Even as an adult I think that might be hard to take ;)

Roisin wrote: "The chapters being told from a different perspective makes it an interesting read so far. Off the top of my head, this is used in Stone Cold by Robert Swindells and The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco. ..."

Most (if not all) of the Victorian writer Wilkie Collins' books are written in this format. His mystery novel, The Moonstone, is worth checking out if you like this style of writing.


Roisin | 134 comments Oh ok. I have not read The Moonstone. Must locate a copy. Ta!


message 39: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8966 comments Mod
I've now finished this - I enjoyed those opening chapters being told by different characters, but I feel the book falls off a bit once the detective takes over the narration later on, though I still liked it overall.


Arpita (BagfullofBooks) (bagfullofbooks) | 39 comments I also enjoyed this story. Glad I read it especially at this time of the year but was not overwhelmed with the story. I actually now think that the differential narration added to the story. It was quite cleverly done.


Susan | 10029 comments Mod
Arpita, I agree that the story generally was not overwhelming. I did enjoy it and thought it a good example of the period though. Did anyone have a favourite character or character storyline? (I won't talk about suspects yet, for those who have not yet finished).


Arpita (BagfullofBooks) (bagfullofbooks) | 39 comments Susan, I quite liked the old Aunt character of Miss Melbury. I imagine if they dramatized this mystery, Dame Maggie Smith might play her!


Arpita (BagfullofBooks) (bagfullofbooks) | 39 comments I found the map of the house very useful and kept referencing it while I read the book. I would have had a hard time without it.


Susan | 10029 comments Mod
I love maps in books, Arpita. You can really visualise what happened where.


message 45: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8966 comments Mod
Arpita and Susan, I also liked Miss Melbury - a great idea to have Maggie Smith playing her!

In general, though, the male characters seemed a bit more individual than the younger women, who sometimes seem a bit similar to one another - I liked Kenneth, the amateur detective character who wanders in and out, the elderly coachman, Ashmore, and the shell-shocked, sardonic David.


message 46: by Peter (last edited Dec 07, 2015 05:17PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Peter I confess the British Library Crime Classics seduced me with their attractive designs - but this is the second one that looks good, yet doesn't fit the book. Sir Osmond's stately pile is Georgian and he bemoans the lack of Christmas snow for his Santa surprise. But the cover on my edition shows a house that is not even British, let alone Georgian...and, of course, it's deep in snow. Ah well.

The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay

The blurb on the back also promises me "a truly classic Christmas mystery" featuring a "dead earl". But I am not giving much away by saying you will wait in vain for any earl, alive or dead, to put in an appearance.

Not that I'm desperate for a dead earl, you understand. A baronet will do at a pinch...


Jan C (woeisme) | 1376 comments My cover has a Santa seen through a window dripping blood (the window, not the Santa).

The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay


Jan C (woeisme) | 1376 comments p.s. I'm still reading. For whatever reason I have gotten off to a slow start to this one.


Susan | 10029 comments Mod
I confess I take less notice of the covers when I read on kindle but that is correct - lots of snow and yet they did complain about the lack of snow!

The Case of the Abominable Snowman by Nicholas Blake has a great snow/Christmas mystery - but I just looked up the book and the title of the US edition totally gives away the plot. I won't post it here, but I have no idea why they changed the title to such an 'obvious' one.

I just wish that UK and US titles could stay the same, but an American friend was telling me that sometimes even the endings of books are changed. We realised this recently when we both read the same book and I mentioned how sad the ending was and she replied that it wasn't at all. I think it was a war book and, in my version, the spy was captured at the end and in the version my friend read, she escaped! Does anyone else find that odd?


message 50: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 365 comments Susan: The one place I found this different ending business was in Agatha Christie's Murder in Three Acts. The American and British versions have completely different motives for the crime(s).


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