An unexpected Christmas hit has been this detective story, not available for more than 70 years.
Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story by J Jefferson Farjeon sold huge quantities outselling paperbacks Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch in Waterstones. Amazon temporarily ran out of stock due to demand.
The novel tells the story of an eclectic group of six people stuck on a train stranded by snow on Christmas Eve. Fearing that they may find themselves marooned all night, they decide to walk to the next station.
On the way, they come across an unlocked house with dinner laid, kettle boiled and a fire on, but no one seemingly at home. “Trapped together for Christmas, the passengers are seeking to unravel the secrets of the empty house when a murderer strikes in their midst.”
Published originally in 1937, Mystery in White is part of the British Library Crime Classics series that is reawakening interest pre World War 11 authors possible considered the golden age of crime writing. More than 155,000 copies in the series have been sold this year – Mystery in White accounts for 60,000 of those.
One theory is that readers enjoy genuine mysteries rather than darker, modern thrillers by writers such as John Bude, who wrote ‘The Lake District Murder’, Mavis Doriel Hay and J Jefferson Farjeon – all republished by the British Library, who have both archived the material and brought it to a wider audience.
Farjeon wrote more than 80 novels and plays. He was born in London in 1885 to a family of actors and writers and died in Hove, aged 72, in 1955. The crime writer Dorothy L Sayers said he was “unsurpassed for creepy skill in mysterious adventures”. His sister, Eleanor, was a renowned children’s author.