The Tuesday Night Bloggers are an informal group of crime fiction fans and bloggers who choose a topic each month to discuss in posts on Tuesdays.
Our theme for September is:
CHILDREN IN CRIME
Thanks to Bev, as ever, for the excellent logo. Kate at Cross-Examining Crime has kindly offered to collect the links for the various pieces.
If anyone wants to join in, just send a link to one of us or post it in the comments below.
We tend to write about traditional crime fiction, often from the Golden Age – in previous weeks I chose The Bad Seed by William March (1954) and The Third Eye by Ethel Lina White (1937). Last week I moved forward in time and wrote about a recent French thriller, After the Crash by Michel Bussi, which has lost and disputed babies as its topic.
This week I’m writing about an absence.
The Mystery of the Christmas Children
I am a fan of Christmas mysteries, and every year on the blog I feature several of them during December – writing and collecting those particular posts gives me enormous pleasure.
Finding pictures for my blogposts is also always a joy, and I like where possible to use a good seasonal picture for each of my Xmas/December posts, and am always on the lookout. (I am very pleased with the Christmas pictures I have found, and there is a Pinterest page here where you can see last year’s collection, without having to go to the bother of reading my self-important words.)
But a year or so into this venture I finally realized that something was bothering me:
Celebratory Christmas pictures tend to feature children
Christmas mysteries don’t
Once you start looking, it becomes obvious that a family gathering is a splendidly suitable setting for a murder, but children just get in the way. Are they going to be victims? Murderers? Witnesses? Apparently not. No child follows Santa to the fireplace while he picks up a poker. No lisping 4-year old says ‘I went to Mother’s bedroom but she wasn’t there’, nor yet ‘I went to Father’s bedroom and Nurse was in there with him’. There is no poison in the mince pies or the white sugar mice or the tangerines. No toy gun or water pistol from a Christmas stocking is used by a criminal.
The Golden Age authors apparently entered into a secret pact to remove children from the scene of the crime. There are multi-generational gatherings, containing every age except 0-15. There are families where it defies belief that there are no children present.
Possibly my favourite Xmas mystery of them all is Georgette Heyer’s Envious Casca (now re-purposed as A Christmas Party, by the way), and I said about that one: ‘You’d say the children were 'ruthlessly disposed of for plot purposes', but we can keep that phrase for the victims…’
Now, there is a cunning (almost-criminal) sub-plot in my mind. My fellow crime fiction fans will all be racking their brains for counter-examples, and I am hoping they will be brimming with names of Christmas mysteries. As it is September, that gives me plenty of time to read their suggestions, and produce many nice new seasonal entries for this December. Please pile in in the comments below.
Here are a few Xmas mysteries that have featured on the blog:
Envious Casca by Georgette Heyer – so wonderfully sour and funny, I have to mention it again.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas – en route to the houseparty of death.
Groaning Spinney by Gladys Mitchell
Mystery in White by J Jefferson Farjeon – 2014’s surprise reprint bestseller.
Tied up in Tinsel by Ngaio Marsh
Murder at the Old Vicarage by Jill McGown
- and there are more to be found. Try clicking on the labels below.