The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories Edited by Martin Edwards (British Library Classics £8.99)

THIS collection is presented to us like a luxury selection box, to dip into and enjoy when you have a quiet moment to yourself. The bite-size stories are skilful examples of quite a precise art.

To reel you in and spin a mysterious tale with a satisfying ending in a few short pages takes mastery. The stories offered are from an interesting selection of authors.

John Bingham (writing in 1954) tells a tale set on a dark and stormy night with a mystery caller. John Bud uses a snowy train journey at Christmas in the eponymous Christmas Card Crime.

These stories have playful puzzles which are simply a delight. Ronald Knox teases with a locked room mystery and Selwyn Jepson has the age-old motives of love and money at the heart of his story.

Edwards also includes a short biography of the authors which I found fascinating and made me want to go and search out more by them.

In the book’s forward, he reminds us of the popularity of the short mystery story in times gone by. All these stories appeared in magazines originally, ranging from Baroness Orczy in 1909 to Julian Symons in 1965. This is an ideal book to curl up with on Christmas night. Enjoy.

Phillipa Morris