Crossed Skis, an Alpine Mystery by Carol Carnac

Crossed Skis is yet another lost gem from the British Library of Crime Classics.  It’s actually two separate and engaging mysteries, both are incredibly well done and melded together to create an utterly engaging tale.

It’s 1951 London and the book opens with a group of 16 skiers, 8 men and 8 women, Austria-bound on New Year’s day for a holiday getaway.  Readers are provided with the background of how this trip came about, why it got off to a rough start, and a bio on each of the ski party members.  All these details are actual clues to solving two intricate mysteries.

The book, shortly thereafter, takes us to a horrific fire in a local rooming house run by a Mrs. Stein and –her “ne’er-do-well” son.  At first, the fire looks like an unfortunate accident, but Chief Inspector Rivers of Scotland Yard smells a rat.  Rivers is a sly devil.  He’s astute and cunning.  You’ll delight in his thorough interrogations and his “hands on” detecting skills.  He’s like the dog hanging on the postal carrier’s pant leg – he’s “not” letting go!

Normally when two tales in one book bounce back and forth, I quickly lose interest.  However, this book is so well-done, the two mysteries actually complement one another. 

It’s obvious that the author, Carol Carnac, was an avid skier.  And based on this book, I’m guessing she was quite an expert when it came to the slopes.  The trip from London to Austria was intriguing in itself.  I enjoyed riding along with them.  It took them days by train, bus, car, etc., battling weather issues along the way – but more importantly, you got to know each of the characters.

Their destination is a hotel in Lech, an Austrian village set in a wide Alpine valley.  The lodge is packed with Europeans from Italy, Germany and England.  It’s the absolute perfect setting for a ski party mystery.

Ms. Carnac created the scenes in Austria with unrivaled authenticity.  The mountains, the snow, the snow storm, the quaint villages – were all so beautifully and powerfully portrayed that you may consider adding Austria to your bucket list.

One mystery involves a ghastly murder, the other involves the 16 skiers – and at least one of them is, most likely, a professional thief.  Figuring out who is the chameleon in the group, as well as being a real villain, will be a challenge for any reader.

Fans of snowy winter days, skiing or solid mysteries, will definitely revel in this book.  Ms. Carnac has captured the essence of these elements perfectly.  You can smell the fresh air of the mountains and the scent of approaching snow.

“Crossed skis” is a synonym for “disaster” – quite the perfect title for this book and it’s also the perfect book to kick off 2021!  I’m enjoying these British mysteries from the past and salute Poison Pen Press for bringing them back!

Love a good mystery?  Keep checking in with Wonder Women Sixty for more book reviews on British mysteries, as well as other mysteries, cozies and thrillers in 2021.

 

A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

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