Saturday, November 20, 2021

"Death Plays Santa Claus" (Repost)

"Death Plays Santa Claus."
By Johnston McCulley (1883-1958).
First appearance: Popular Detective, December 1945.
Short story (10 pages).
Online at (HERE).

If there's one kind of case O'Hara hates most, it's a twister, where there isn't an easy and straightforward solution to a murder and figuring it out could take a long, long time . . . and wouldn't you know it, the death of a wealthy benefactor on Christmas Eve turns into one, particularly when the prime suspect, Santa himself, also goes toes up . . .

Pleasing phrase: ". . . an old residential part of the city where imposing mansions sat far back from the street in groves of trees, and expressed the grandeur of an earlier era."

Comment: It looks as if, twelve years later, Rex Stout borrowed a plot element from our story for one of his own (HERE); McCulley did some borrowing, too, lifting the same element from an Agatha Christie novel from seven years prior. (Three guesses as to which book.)

Typos: "Hara asked"; "the side of to"; "I suppose hasn’t been changed" [missing a subject]; "Penny and Bob Blodger and gave gasps."

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