12 Days of Christmas Reads — Tied Up in Tinsel by Ngaio Marsh

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Welcome to a bookish celebration of the Christmas season! For 12 days in December, I’m highlighting a book a day that puts the holiday season front and center of the narrative. You’ll find romances, women’s fiction, and even a cookbook! For day 10, I’m sharing an English house party murder mystery.

Christmas time in an isolated country house and, following a flaming row in the kitchen, there’s murder inside.

When a much disliked visiting servant disappears without trace after playing Santa Claus, foul play is at once suspected – and foul play it proves to be. Only suspicion falls not on the staff but on the guests, all so unimpeachably respectable that the very thought of murder in connection with any of them seems almost heresy.

When Superintendent Roderick Alleyn returns unexpectedly from a trip to Australia, it is to find his beloved wife in the thick of an intriguing mystery…

Nothing says the holidays like a little murder. English house party murder, that is.

I grew in a household where British murder mysteries were in very heavy rotation on our TV and the shelves were backed with paperbacks. Crime shows and books are still a large part of my pop culture consumption, so it’s no surprise that I love nothing more than a good murder mystery to break up the sweetness of holiday stories.

This one has all of the things I could hope for in a classic Golden Age detective novel. A group of people who don’t necessarily all get along descend on an isolated country house that’s staffed—of course—by a bunch of reformed convicts. Then someone goes missing and the whole house is under suspicion. Conveniently, one of the house guests happens to be the wife of Superintendent Roderick Alleyn who is on the case.

Check back tomorrow for the next edition of the 12 Days of Christmas Reads. If you want to see all of the 12 Days of Christmas Reads recommendations in one place, you can check out this handy landing page or sign up for my newsletter.