“The Santa Klaus Murder” by Mavis Doriel Hay BOOK REVIEW

The Santa Klaus Murder

Year of Publication: 2015

Publisher: The British Library

ISBN: 9780712356305

Genre: Mystery

Strong Point: As in any “whodunit”, the amusement of knowing before the author tells me who the killer was.

Weak Point: The list of characters is too long. I had to refer a lot of times to the List of Characters from the beginning of the book.  

Books on Tour Rating: Books on Tour LogoBooks on Tour Logo(3/5)

Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.39/5)

Read book blurb here


Christmas time!! It is supposed to be a merry time, where everyone must be happy, must gather around a big table full of tasty food and must have enchanting conversations with the family.

However, for the Melbury family, Christmas is not that merry of a time. In fact, it is horrible. Because they are forced to spend time with one another. And they are really not feeling it. 

In fact, the Christmas of 1935 (when the action takes place) will be their worst ever. That Christmas will end up the tradition of gathering together. 

But what could possibly have happened? All the members of the Melbury family, some friends, and the staff working at the country house gathered there to celebrate Christmas. However, Sir Osmond, the crotchety patriarch of the family, mostly hated by his family, is found dead in his study. Well, not dead but killed.

Police is immediately called and Col. Halstock is in charge of the murder investigation.


Through the book, we learn about the different members of the family as well as some friends and a part of the staff which are there the day of the murder.

Except for the five first chapters (which are told by different members of the family as a kind of written testimony), the rest of the book mostly reflects the perspective of Col. Halstock and his investigations to solve the mystery. 

The addition of these first testimonial chapters adds a nice touch. We have to take into consideration that these narrations come from highly unreliable narrators. However, they offer a solid contrast to the “seemingly professional” point of view of Col. Halstock. Additionally, through them we learn some gossip about different members of the family, which is always a joy! 

Thanks to Col. Halstock’s investigations, we discover the difficult relationships that most of Sir Osmond’s sons and daughters had with him.

Furthermore, we come to know about Sir Osmond’s background, his parents, his early days and how he became rich. 

Additionally, there is a list with all the characters which take part in the story. In my case, I had to refer to it quite a lot of times, as the characters are many.. Until I learnt all the names, I was getting a little bit confused.  


An important part of “The Santa Klaus Murder” deals with Sir Osmond’s will, because it is the key to the solving of the mystery. He has been thinking about doing some changes to his will and everyone seems to feel quite anxious about it. Although they swear they “love” Sir Osmond, money is money.

Almost virtually everyone attending the party had a reason for having killed Sir Osmond, which makes the plot quite interesting. He was not a loving, caring father but quite the opposite. He was very strict, severe and manipulative. He liked to control and interfere in the lives of all his relatives.

It was, however, a delight to read about British habits from the beginning of the 20th century, especially around Christmas time, which are so very different from the ones at my home country. The scenery, including the country house, serves to reinforce the nice atmosphere and adds charm to the book.


The reason for the three stars is because I was disappointed with who the killer was. The motivation for the murder seemed quite weak and doesn’t have a leg to stand on. It seems a bit cobbled together.

I did not guess who the killer was. And this surprised me as I am normally quite good at guessing it. The author played me completely but this fact just reinforces my idea that the ending was far from perfect. I did not have that “aha” moment when all the pieces fit together…And when we finally found who the killer was, the justifications were quite flimsy. 

Furthermore, the depiction of the police force and the way of conducting the investigation is far from satisfactory. I suppose this is the way it was handled back then but it is simply unbelievable, sloppy and amazingly slow.

In addition to this, the Colonel leaves an “amateur”, Kenneth Stour, to conduct part of the inquiries!! Excuse me?? It is hard to believe, even for the 1930s…

Similarly, I don’t understand why the author decides to put the witnesses’ written statements at the beginning of the book. Wouldn’t it have been better to show them to the reader once we understand what they truly are and once the whole situation and the murder has been introduced to the reader?

In conclusion, it was an entertaining reading but the story had certainly too many holes.