William F. Deeck

DAVID WILLIAM MEREDITH – The Christmas Card Murders. Alfred A. Knopf, hardcover, 1951. No paperback edition.

   Four men living close together in Stelton, New Jersey, receive Christmas cards with Happy New Year struck out and an added message reading, “You will die before the old year ends.” A practical joke by a child in the neighborhood, Douglas Martin concludes. And then one of the four men is stabbed to death on Christmas Eve.

   Murder and attempted murder follow as Martin, a reporter who is recovering from polio, investigates in an effort to keep himself and others alive.

   Quite a Christmasy novel, with not only murder after a carol singing but chapter titles taken from Clement Clark Moore’s “A Visit From St. Nicholas.” Martin is a well-drawn character, as are his family and neighbors, with all their strengths and weaknesses. My only complaint would be that the author unnecessarily repeats the major clue, and that repetition immediately put me on to the murderer. Highly recommended.

— Reprinted from MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL, Vol. 7, No. 3, Fall 1991, “Holiday Murders.”

Bio-Bibliographical Notes:  David William Meredith was the pen name of Earl Schenck Miers (1910-1972). This as his only mystery novel, under either name. According to Wikipedia, Miers was “an American historian. He wrote over 100 published books, mostly about the history of the American Civil War. Some of them were intended for children, including three historic novels in the We Were There series.”