Short story collections are always difficult to review without giving away too much, but hopefully these brief descriptions will suffice to indicate the content of these vintage stories in a discreet fashion!
Dr Lascelles accepts Percy Ringan's invitation to spend Christmas at Ringshaw Grange, country seat of the family. It is said to possess a haunted room wherein THE GHOST'S TOUCH warns of incipient death. Naturally a guest insists on sleeping in that very room. By Fergus Hume.
Alphonse Riebiera is a blackmailer who has victimised many women who foolishly wrote him passionate letters. He is also one of two men shot dead in THE CHOPHAM AFFAIR, while the other is a man successfully defended against a murder charge by brilliant lawyer Archibald Lenton. How could these dual deaths have come about? By Edgar Wallace.
Albert Campion is a guest at a house party at Pharoah's Court with the unofficial task of keeping an eye on a diamond necklace owned by a rather vulgar house guest. Thefts take place in THE CASE OF THE MAN WITH THE SACK, but it's not just personal adornments that disappear. By Margery Allingham.
CHRISTMAS EVE is an unusual contribution in a form of a Sherlock Holmes playlette in which the great detective solves the loss of Lady Barton's pearls and kind-hearted Dr Watson does a good deed on the titular night. By Sydney Castle Roberts.
Chief Inspector Bill Cromwell accompanies his junior officer Johnny Lister to a house party at Cloon Castle. Arriving during a storm, they briefly see a figure that on investigation left no tracks in the snow. A guest sees a body that disappears, leading to an investigation of a DEATH IN DECEMBER. By Victor Gunn.
Ludovic Travers is staying with Chief Constable Robert Valence for Christmas and is surprised to see recently released swindler John Brewse is living locally. But not for long, since Brewse is the victim of a MURDER AT CHRISTMAS. There are multiple suspects, given some of his victims live in the area. By Christopher Bush.
An older woman attempting to enter a house via a window on the roof falls to her death OFF THE TILES. Since there's a parapet in front of the window it seems impossible it could be an accident, so Inspector James Quy is inclined to think it was suicide. But was it? By Ianthe Jerrold.
Martin Edwards notes in his introduction that MR CORK'S SECRET formed part of a Christmas competition in which a magazine invited readers to guess the secret. Two cash prizes were awarded and the winning entries appear at the end of this collection.
Insurance wallah Montague Cork is dissatisfied with a policy issued by his company covering a famous collection of jewelry known as Alouette's Worms, recently purchased by Anton de Raun for his bride, film star Fanny Fairfield. An unknown man is murdered at the hotel where the de Rauns booked the bridal suite, the jewels are gone, and the newly married couple are nowhere to be found. By Macdonald Hastings.
Francis Quarles attends THE SANTA CLAUS CLUB dinner to keep an eye on Lord Acrise, who's been receiving threatening letters. The latest informed Lord Acrise he would not survive the club's annual dinner, at which rich men dressed as Santa participate in a raffle for a expensive prize, the proceeds of raffle ticket sales going to a Christmas charity. Despite Quarles' vigilance the predicted death takes place. By Julian Symons.
Suffering from incipient flu and with snow lying DEEP AND CRISP AND EVEN, Detective Sergeant Petrella joins a carol-singing party organised by a minister friend. Petrella feels uneasy about a man at one house even though he treats the carollers kindly. Subsequently consulting the Notified Away List Petrella learns the householder is away so what is the stranger up to? By Michael Gilbert.
Detective-Inspector Brooks investigates a burglary resulting in the death of an elderly lady. The thieves had overlooked the most valuable items, which disappear afterwards as the result of a kind deed but return to the family via a roundabout route while THE CAROL SINGERS provide an important lead to the burglars. By Josephine Bell.