Saturday, December 26, 2015

Boxing Day Mysteries

December 26 is Boxing Day. I've put together a list of over 1500 mysteries that take place at Christmas, and I'm sure there are several that continue through Boxing Day, but I've only found a few mysteries that focus or start specifically on Boxing Day

One is Nicholas Blake's Thou Shell of Death (1936). Nicholas Blake is the pseudonym of Cecil Day Lewis, late British poet laureate.

Thou Shell of Death concerns Fergus O'Brien, a WWI flying ace. Fergus receives four letters predicting that he will be murdered on Boxing Day. Despite this, or maybe because of this, he plans a party and invites all the suspects (there are several people who might want to do him in) plus private detective Nigel Strangeways. O'Brien does die, and it's up to Nigel Strangeways with the help of Inspector Blount of Scotland Yard to solve the crime. This is Blount's first appearance in the series. Thou Shell of Death is an oldie but goodie, especially if you like houseparty mysteries.

There are three other novels that focus on Boxing Day. A frozen body is found on Boxing Day in Viveca Sten's In Harm's Way. Another mystery is Gilbert Adair's The Act of Roger Murgatroyd that takes place entirely on Boxing Day. This is part of his series of novels about Evadne Mount, and is clearly a play on Agatha Christie novels. In Death at Sandringham House by C.C. Benison, Her Majesty the Queen, along with her housemaid Jane Bee, investigates a Boxing Day murder.

Boxing Day is the day after Christmas, when "servants and tradesmen traditionally would receive gifts from their superiors." Today it's a national holiday in most of the British Commonwealth and former British colonies. As far as why it's called Boxing Day, there are several different theories:

A ‘Christmas Box’ in Britain is a name for a Christmas present.

Boxing Day was a day off for servants and when they received a ‘Christmas Box’ from the master. The servants would also go home to give ‘Christmas Boxes’ to their families.

A box to collect money for the poor was placed in Churches on Christmas day then opened the next day.

Great sailing ships when setting sail would have a sealed box containing money on board for good luck. If the voyage were a success the box was given to a priest, opened at Christmas and the contents given to the poor.

Are there any other Boxing Day Mysteries I've forgotten?

And, if you're not tired of cooking and baking, today is also Candy Cane Day. If you have any candy canes lying around, try one of these recipes for Chocolate Candy Cane Truffles, Brownies, Fudge, Bark, and more!


Bernie Sammon said...

Line up for murder (Queue here for murder) by Marion Babson is about the Boxing Day sales in London. Although it starts on Christmas Afternoon, it is about the sales that began on Boxing Day. I have done the line up for these sales and they are an experience I will not be repeating.
Although no murders took place, I was tempted.

Janet Rudolph said...

Thanks, Bernie, and another title to add. Did you see the article about Marian in the Times?

Bernie Sammon said...

Yes I did, it was quite a story and made me dig out her books and have a bit of a re read.
Quite I know reads for this busy time of year.