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Portrait of a Murderer: A Christmas Crime Story    by Anne Meredith Amazon.com order for
Portrait of a Murderer
by Anne Meredith
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2018 (1933)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Poisoned Pen Press, in collaboration with the British Library Crime Classics, has taken on the publication of British crime novels from the Golden Age of crime writing the 1930s.

Portrait of a Murderer, written by Anne Meredith, was published in 1933; until now, it has not been readily available. In her day, Anne Meredith (pseudonym of Lucy Beatrice Malleson) was a popular author, writing both a mystery series as well as stand-alone novels.

This one takes place in the country estate of a man who is well-known for his angry, miserable personality. He invites his family to the home where he lives in isolation, to join him in celebrating Christmas a gathering that his progeny despises but feel they can't stay away. They all want to hit him up for a big fat check. What they don't realize is that the well is dry and the old man is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

What is different and compelling about this intriguing story is that the author lets us know what drives each and every one of the children of a very disgruntled person. Each individual is more-or-less psychoanalyzed so that we can understand their motives and actions. We can read of the murder scene and possibly understand why a person might, in a moment of rage, kill their father. We learn of the murderer's plan to accuse someone other than themselves of the crime.

Does the killer get away with it? Does someone else pay the price for an encounter with an unloved relative that went terribly wrong? Is there ever an excuse for homicide? Portrait of a Murderer offers wonderful insights into the human psyche with every page.

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