Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Santa Klaus Murder with a Sloe Gin Ricky

In Mavis Dorial Hay's 'The Santa Klaus Murder' a family has gathered for Christmas, the patriarch turns out to be an unpleasant kind of man with a family full of characters who wouldn't be at all sorry to see him six feet under, or to be able to get rather closer to his money. Then he's done to death by someone in a Santa suit. This happens quite a lot in golden age crime fiction and it puts me in mind of the Austrian legend of Krampus, it also makes me think I was right to be terrified of men dressed up as Santa when I was a child (though that had more to do with an overpowering smell of whisky and sheep - from the sheeps wool beards they wore - than any idea that they might be homicidal maniacs).

Told mostly from the point of view of the chief constable who considers the family all to willing to lie, and gives us a less than flattering view of them, this is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery that also reminded me of why I don't like large family gatherings (normally it's a very drunk uncle rather than someone getting done in that ruins the occasion* but still)

The Gin Ricky has been my drink of the summer, but I hadn't really thought about using flavoured gin in it until I saw this in Ambrose Heath's 'Good Drinks'. There's no right or wrong season for Sloe Gin, but I do tend to think of it as a wintery sort of liqueur - though as the sloes are coming ripe now it's a timely reminder to think about making some.

A Ricky is generally defined by its dryness, using Sloe Gin makes it a little sweeter so possibly more of a crowd pleaser too. It's simply a measure of Sloe Gin, the juice of half a lime, and plenty of ice in a tumbler topped up with sparkling water. A classic Ricky demands the shell of the lime too, but that makes it quite an astringent drink; you don't feel it's loss here. Good anytime, but definitely an excellent winter alternative to a gin and tonic.

*the last family Christmas thing involving too much of my family ended with one of my uncles roaming the corridors stark naked and very drunk before midnight. He's a short fat man well into his 60's who definitely looks better clothed. That was not the most annoying/disturbing thing he did that day.


  1. Well, this is definitely going on my Christmas list of reading and drinking. I too was not impressed by Santa Clauses as a child, and disgraced myself by biting an over-affectionate Santa in a Bristol toy-store. At the time I wasn't into crime (except for a bit of murder in Hansel and Gretel) but this evidently was a sign of the future...

  2. Well they (Santas) break all the rules about not talking to strangers, and you can't see their faces, and there's the terrible possibility that you won't get a present...