MysteryNet’s guide to crime with a seasonal twist
Mystery novels with a Christmas theme
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 trees.
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 sleigh bells. Christmas mystery stories, with their twists and hidden clues, are as much fun to unwrap as Christmas gifts.
A sparkling collection of Yuletide crime from P.D. James, Margaret Yorke, Peter Lovesey, H.R.F. Keating, Liza Cody, Catherine Aird, David Williams, Robert Barnard, Susan Moody, Simon Brett, Mike Seabrook, Nicole Swengley and editor Heald. “The range of atmospheres is impressive, from David Williams’s straight-faced clerical whodunit; to Robert Barnard’s waspish theatrical anecdote; to Susan Moody’s chilling hunt among a doomed family’s skeletons; to Simon Brett’s archly inventive tale of publishing fraud…”–Kirkus Reviews
When her husband is diagnosed with leukemia, Catherine Dornan and their two young sons accompany him to New York, during the Christmas season, for a life-saving operation. Hoping to divert them from worry about their father, Catherine takes the boys to see some of the city’s Christmas Eve sights. Then seven-year-old Brian sees his mother’s wallet being lifted. Desperate to retrieve the St. Christopher medal tucked inside — which he believes to be protecting his father — Brian follows the thief into the subway, and into the most dangerous adventure of his young life. This suspenseful holiday tale is told with all the warmth and empathy that has made Mary Higgins Clark one of America’s most beloved writers. “Lots of intensity and suspense…” — Booklist
A Cat Marsala Mystery — A hundred-acre expanse of pine and spruce greets investigative reporter Cat Marsala when she arrives in Michigan for a human-interest feature on the harvesting of Christmas trees. But her holiday report soon turns into an expose of murder. “D’Amato’s fine writing, clever plot twists, and quick wit, her nicely understated but telling comments on the vagaries of human nature, and most of all, her appealing heroine make this book a perfect holiday read.” — Booklist “Her books ring true.” — The Wall Street Journal
A Homer Kelly Mystery — The eleventh adventure starring sleuthing Harvard professor Homer Kelly is a Christmas brew spiced with medieval revelry and romantic rivalry, set on the darkest day of the year. The annual Christmas Revels, where ancient midwinter rituals and incantations mingle with the stomp and jingle of Morris dancers, turns out to be the perfect setting for murder. This book includes the author’s charming line drawings. “As always, Langton offers a charming story that’s as cozy as a warm fire and a hot cup of tea on a cold day.” — Booklist “Jane Langton’s books… are literate, beautifully crafted, and graced with her own attractive drawings.” — Robin Winks, The Boston Globe
Fifteen top mystery writers channel their homicidal holiday urges into a sparkling Yuletide collection. The festivities includes stories by Mary Higgins Clark, Isaac Asimov, Peter Lovesey, Aaron Elkins, Bill Pronzini, Marcia Muller, John Lutz, Howard Engel, Henry Slesar, Eric Wright, Edward D. Hoch, Sharyn McCrumb, Susan Dunlap, Dorothy Salisbury Davis, and Charlotte MacLeod herself. The perfect holiday gift for a friend or relative with a taste for cozy crime. “A great collection.” — The St. Louis Post-Dispatch “A perfect array of Christmas mayhem and murder… great fare for mystery fans.” — Booklist
A Christine Bennett Mystery — Fifth in the Edgar-nominated series that mystery fans are reading religiously — starring Christine Bennett, ex-nun and expert sleuth. A cheerful Christmas party at St. Stephen’s Convent is spoiled when the guest of honor, Father Hudson McCormick, fails to arrive. Worried Sister Joseph asks Christine Bennet, a former St. Stephen’ s nun, to investigate. Now every signpost points Christine into the past — to a troubled young woman who committed suicide and a once-prominent family that has vanished as mysteriously as Father McCormick himself…
Her Majesty the Queen investigates a Boxing Day murder, with the help of housemaid Jane Bee.
Arly Hanks and her merry band of misfits in Maggody, Arkansas.
Featuring Sister Mary Helen, a spry elderly nun with the habit of solving murders.
Father Hudson McCormick, seven years away from St. Stephen’s Convent, fails to arrive on Christmas Night.
Over-eating is rampant at Christmas. The Fountain of YouthWorkout Studio advertises a “new” you for the New Year.
A festive feast of murder and mayhem from today’s top masters of mystery–delightfully sinister tales from Elizabeth Peters, Robert Barnard, Reginald Hill, and Charlotte MacLeod.
A collection of classic mysteries with a Christmas theme.
— A Josie Pigeon Mystery “A nice writing style and considerable wit.” — Chicago Tribune Building contractor Josie Pigeon and her all-woman construction crew have a big project to wrap up before the holidays–and they’re hard at work when carpenter Caroline Albrecht keels over, fatally poisoned. Suddenly an icy wind of suspicion chills the cheer of this quiet island resort town, and Josie realizes that one of her employees must be Caroline’s murderer. Is it Caroline’s old friend Layne? Sandy, who scarcely knew her? …or good-time local girl Betty? It will take Josie’s razor-sharp eye and smart sleuthing to single out the suspect and keep Christmas from turning into a real killer of a season.
A Claire Malloy Mystery — A few days before Christmas, bookseller Claire Malloy determines that she has heard one too many comments about being set in her ways. So she accepts an invitation from an eccentric customer to a New Age celebration of the winter solstice. An early morning adventure with Malthea, Arch Druid of the Sacred Grove of Keltria, should have been enough to prove that Claire has not yet settled into middle-aged complacency. But the morning’s activities provide more than she bargained for once one of Malthea’s followers turns up dead. Holly Jolly Murder is Joan Hess’s 12th mystery featuring Book Depot proprietor and attractive widow Malloy as an inadvertent sleuth. “Witty narrator Claire Malloy will bring many a chuckle . . . an appealing heroine.” — The Armchair Detective
A Richard Jury Mystery — A white Christmas couldn’t make Newcastle any less dreary for Scotland Yard’s Superintendent Richard Jury — until he met a beautiful woman in a snow-covered graveyard. Sensual, warm, and a bit mysterious, she could have put some life into his sagging holiday spirit. But the next time Jury saw her, she was cold — and dead. Melrose Plant, Jury’s aristocratic sidekick wasn’t faring much better. Snow bound at a stately mansion with a group of artists, critics, and idle-but-titled rich, he, too, encountered a lovely lady . . . or rather, stumbled over her corpse. What linked these two Yuletide murders was a remote country pub called the Jerusalem Inn where snooker, a Nativity scene, and an old secret would uncover a killer — or yet another death. “Crime with style.” — Vogue “[Grimes] gets our immediate attention…. She holds it, however, with something more than mere suspense.” — The New Yorker
On the night before Christmas, cruel, tyrannical, filthy rich Simeon Lee is found in his locked bedroom with his throat cut. Now Hercule Poirot must put his deductive powers to the test to solve one of his most chilling cases — and to prevent a clever killer from spilling more blood. This classic mystery contains the famous “calendar clue,” often cited as an example of Christie’s technical mastery of the the mystery story. Previously titled A Holiday for Murder and Murder for Christmas. “Highly superior..the reader has that satisfying sense that all the clues have been fairly and squarely placed in front of him — even if he has somehow been induced to look out of the window at the crucial moment of placing.” — Robert Barnard, A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie