Thursday, December 16, 2010

Benjamin Franklin and a Case of Christmas Murder, by Robert Lee Hall

Book 46 on 50 Book Challenge
Book 3 on The Holiday Reading Challenge

I don't remember what whim made me pick up Benjamin Franklin and a Case of Christmas Murder, but it looks to have been from the Little City Book Sale last June. 

It is a charming, rather Holmesian novel that has Dr. Franklin in London over Christmas in 1757, and this seems to be the second in a series of mysteries.  He is there to talk with the Penns about their damnable taxes, and he also solves mysteries.  His sidekick/narrator is a twelve year old boy that is a servant of sorts and also his unacknowledged son.  Got that?

The premise is that Franklin and the boy, Nick, are at a party on Christmas night when the host very publicly falls dead.  Franklin suspects murder and puts himself on the case.

This book does a better job than the Poirot novel of using the Christmas season to set and enhance the mystery.  I find that odd since I understood historically, we didn't start to get really crazy about Christmas until the 1800s.  Oh, and that lead to the moment when I wanted to smack Franklin:

He and Nick go into a toy store.  Nick has never been in a toy store and thinks it is the best thing he has ever seen.  Franklin buys toys for the murder victim's children, speak to the clerk in the store and then they leave.


There is a shady brother and mistaken identity and a wife that is clearly hiding something - the usual.  But the boy narrator is observant and clever and brave and has just enough wide-eyed wonder to make it charming. 

I could read more of these.

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