About Christmas Mysteries by Vicki Cameron
THERE IS NO ESCAPING the Christmas holiday season. It
surrounds us with advertising tinsel, fills us with fancy
cooking, smothers us in sentimental thoughts. World leaders talk
about peace while comic strip characters wrestle with Christmas
In the Western world, Christmas is a time for giving
gifts. Deck the malls with throngs of shoppers. Hark the herald
hucksters sing, let us toys to the children bring.
Mystery author P.G. Wodehouse recommends the giving of
something shiny. He says the shinier a gift is, the more it is
thought to have cost, and thus the better the giver looks in the
eyes of the receiver. Wodehouse suggests books are excellent
gifts, as their covers are always shiny.
Maybe you will be lucky enough to receive a brand new mystery
novel, or an anthology of mystery short stories this year. Maybe
some thoughtful person will wrap for you a shiny Christmas
mystery, a murder in tinsel, crime with sleighbells. Christmas
mystery stories, with their twists and hidden clues, are as much
fun to unwrap as Christmas gifts.
Why do writers chose to set murder and crime stories in this
happy holiday season?
First, there is the cast of stock characters, well known to
all -- Santa, the ghosts of other Christmases, the three Wise
Men, the shepherds, and the main players in the Nativity scene.
These characters need no introduction. They come equipped with a
backstory. They can be tinkered with, shaped into the unexpected,
given an evil underbelly. Well, maybe not the Holy Family, but
all the rest are fair game.
Especially Santa. Now here's a character begging to be given
center stage in a murder story. He's disguised, face and figure.
He carries a sack, perfect for concealing stolen goods. He's
expected to show up in strange places late at night. He is never
Second, Christmas gatherings of friends and kin are often
riddled with tensions. When a mid-sized group of people collects
under one roof because they must, ill feelings can step over to
the dark side quicker than you can say "koshed with a roasted
Some authors pay only lip service to Christmas, mentioning it
in passing while they get on with the story. Others sew Christmas
in to the story so tightly the story could not possibly take
place if it weren't Christmas.
For your enjoyment, here are gifts of Christmas short stories
written by three wise authors of today. Bill Pronzini's Nameless
Detective runs into the department store Santa's worst nightmare in "Here
Comes Santa Claus." Marcia Muller's Sharon McCone searches for a
runaway teen in "Silent Night." Ed Hoch takes you back to the
first Christmas in "The Three Travellers."
All of the classic mystery authors tried a Christmas mystery
or two. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle trotted out his famous sleuth,
Sherlock Holmes, through the cold London streets at Christmas in
"The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle." Well into her eighties,
Agatha Christie produced what her publishers called 'a Christie
for Christmas' every year, including "Murder For Christmas,"
featuring Hercule Poirot. Humorous short story writer Damon
Runyon shows Christmas at the speakeasy in "Dancing Dan's
Christmas." Four classic Christmas mysteries are brought to you
at this website.
A few choice classics have been displayed here under the
Mystery tree, to save us all from trudging through the
out-of-print book racks. Tuck into a wingback chair with a hot
cup of tea and a box of Christmas shortbread, and enjoy.