‘Tis the Season: Christmas Crime and Mystery Reads

Looking for a mystery to settle down with in front of the fire this holiday season? Here are some Christmas-themed crime stories or mysteries from recent years, featuring eccentric and secretive characters/suspects, dead bodies in unexpected places, and amateur sleuths, that are well written and cleverly plotted, and are sure to make for entertaining winter reading.

(Descriptions are taken from the publishers)

Best In Snow by David Rosenfelt

Christmas has come early to the town of Paterson, New Jersey, in the form of a snowstorm that dumps two feet of snow on the ground. Lawyer Andy Carpenter likes snow – white Christmas and all that – but it can cause problems for the walks he takes his dogs on every day. When Andy’s golden retriever, Tara, goes to play in the snow and instead discovers a body, Andy ends up on the phone with the local newspaper editor. The murder victim is Mayor Alex Oliva, who had an infamous relationship with the newspaper. Last year a young reporter published an expose, and Oliva had him fired for libel. Now, the young reporter – and prime suspect – is in need of a lawyer. Andy agrees to take the case, though it’s not looking good this holiday season. 

Christmas Card Murder by Leslie Meier

A collection of three holiday-themed novellas includes Meier’s “Christmas Card Murder,” in which the discovery of an old Christmas card with a nasty message finds Lucy Stone investigating a decades-old murder.

A Christmas Candy Killing by Christina Romeril

Identical twin sisters Alex and Hannah are the owners of Murder and Mayhem, a mystery bookshop that sells their famous poison-themed Killer Chocolates. But now, there’s a real killer in their midst. Shortly before Christmas, their septuagenarian neighbor, Jane, confides to Alex that a murderer from a true-crime show has taken up residence in the village. Unfortunately, she’s also shared her suspicions with town gossip Netta. The next morning, Alex shows up at Jane’s house to watch the show, but instead she discovers Jane’s body, with a box of Killer Chocolates nearby. The sheriff quickly zeroes in on two suspects: Alex, a beneficiary in Jane’s will, and Zack, a handyman who was seen leaving the crime scene. But Alex maintains her innocence and sets out to draft a list of other potential suspects–townsfolk who’d recently been seen arguing with Jane. When Alex gets hold of Jane’s journal, she begins to understand the truth. But a bearer of ill tidings is arriving early this year–and Alex just might not make it to Christmas.

Christmas Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke

While Hannah speeds through a lengthy holiday checklist, drama in town grows like Santa’s waistline on Christmas Eve. Her sister Andrea wants to stave off the blues by helping out at The Cookie Jar, Michele’s love life is becoming complicated, Lisa needs Hannah’s advice, and Delores has a Christmas secret she’s not willing to share. But nothing dampens the holiday mood more than the chilling mystery surrounding the man found near death in an abandoned storefront two doors down from Hannah’s bakery.

A Christmas Deliverance : A Novel by Anne Perry

A courageous doctor and his apprentice fight to save London’s poor–and discover that the hearts of men can be colder than a winter chill–in this gripping holiday mystery. Scuff has come a long way from his time as a penniless orphan scraping together a living on the banks of the Thames. Now he’s studying medicine at a free clinic run by Dr. Crowe. Lately Crowe has grown distracted after witnessing an altercation between a former patient of his named Ellie-a woman he not only treated but grew to love-and her controlling fianc√©. It seems someone is forcing Ellie to marry the man, and as Crowe’s emotions come flooding back, he sets out to uncover the troubling connection between Ellie, her father, and her betrothed.

The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict

The annual Christmas Game is afoot at Endgame House, the Armitages’ grand family home. This year’s prize is to die for–deeds to the house itself–but Lily Armitage has no intention of returning. She hasn’t been back to Endgame since her mother died twenty-one years ago, and she has no intention of claiming the house that haunts her dreams. Until, that is, she receives a letter from her aunt promising that the game’s riddles will give her the keys not only to Endgame but to its darkest secrets, including the identity of her mother’s murderer. 

Christmas Scarf Murder by Carlene O’Connor, Maddie Day, Peggy Ehrhart

They’re the coziest of wintertime accessories … unless, of course, they become accessories to murder! This is a holly jolly Christmas collection of seasonal stories, as their beloved series sleuths each solve cases revolving around handknit Christmas scarves.

A Dark And Snowy Night by Sally Goldenbaum

It’s holiday season in the picturesque, coastal town of Sea Harbor, Massachusetts.  But in this latest Seaside Knitters Society mystery, the knitting club sleuths will have to take a break from crafting cozy Christmas gifts to investigate a murder at the Mayor’s holiday party.

Dashing Through The Snowbirds : A Meg Langslow Mystery by Donna Andrews

Christmas in Caerphilly is wonderful! Unless you’re a Canadian whose inconsiderate boss is forcing you to spend the holiday there, far from family and friends, with only a slim chance of a white Christmas. Meg already has her hands full, trying to make the season festive for the dozen programmers who are staying with her and Michael while working on a rush project with her brother’s software company. When the inconsiderate boss is found murdered, there are too many suspects. Can Meg crack the case in time to keep the Yuletide bright?

God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen by Rhys Bowen

Georgie is excited for her first Christmas as a married woman in her lovely new home. She suggests to her dashing husband, Darcy, that they have a little house party, but when Darcy receives a letter from his aunt Ermintrude, there is an abrupt change in plans and they find themselves invited to spend Christmas with the Queen. It soon becomes clear that the Queen expects Georgie to do a bit of spying. There have been a couple of strange accidents at the estate, including two deaths…

Murder In The Cathedral by Cora Harrison

 1920s. Cork, Ireland. The Reverend Mother’s Christmas Day festivities are shattered when the protestant bishop of Cork arrives at the convent with terrible news: one of the Reverend Mother’s pupils, the troublesome seven-year-old Edna O’Sullivan, has been found murdered in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral. Furthermore, the cathedral’s archdeacon, Dr Hearn, is also dead after succumbing to a suspected heart attack in the middle of a service. When it is revealed that both Edna and the archdeacon were poisoned, the Reverend Mother is drawn into another puzzling mystery.

The 19th Christmas by James Patterson

As the holidays approach, Detective Lindsay Boxer and her friends are celebrating the fact that crime is down. Soon, a criminal known as only “Loman” shows up in the headlines.

Twisted Tea Christmas by Laura Childs

Tea maven Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier, Drayton Conneley, are catering a Victorian Christmas party at a swanky mansion in downtown Charleston for Drucilla Heyward, one of the wealthiest women in town. As the champagne flows and the tea steeps, Drucilla is so pleased with the reception by her partygoers that she reveals her secret plan to Theodosia. The Grande Dame has brought the cream of Charleston society together to reveal that she is planning to give her wealth away to various charitable organizations. However, before she can make the announcement, Theodosia finds her crumpled unconscious in the hallway. It looks like the excitement has gotten to the elderly woman–except that there is a syringe sticking out of her neck.

What Child Is This? : A Sherlock Holmes Christmas Adventure by Bonnie Macbird

It’s the season of peace and goodwill, but a Victorian Christmas is no holiday for the world’s most popular detective.   It’s Christmastime in London, and Sherlock Holmes takes on two cases. The angelic three-year-old child of a wealthy couple is the target of a vicious kidnapper, and a country aristocrat worries that his handsome, favorite son has mysteriously vanished from his London pied √† terre. Holmes and Watson, aided by the colorful Heffie O’Malley, slip slide in the ice to ensure a merry Christmas is had by nearly everybody.

Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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