Recommended Reads: 12 Murders for the Holidays
In the mood for a little murder this holiday season? Stories set around the Christmas holiday season have a tendency to be lighthearted affairs with an “all’s well that ends well” conclusion. Many cozy authors churn out at least one Christmas story, and the season certainly lends itself to the culinary mystery subgenre. Quite a few involve family gatherings that end in murder. So if you’re craving a mystery, try one of these Christmas-themed tales. Make it a holiday tradition!
The Twelve Deaths of Christmas by Marian Babson (1979) – A seemingly idyllic boarding house is harboring a killer who is slowly descending into madness. The chapters alternate between the unknown killer’s viewpoint and that of the boarding house inhabitants who slowly come to realize that the serial killer stalking London is living among them.
Mrs. Jeffries and the Merry Gentlemen by Emily Brightwell (2013) – In this Victorian era mystery, Inspector Witherspoon is once again ably assisted by his housekeeper, Mrs. Jeffries. Together, they’ll investigate the murder of a London stockbroker and his ties to three investors known as the Merry Gentlemen.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie (1939) – Alternatively known as A Holiday for Murder, this gruesome Poirot mystery features a locked room and a victim despised by his family.
A Catered Christmas by Isis Crawford (2005) – Syracuse author Barbara Block—known for her gritty Robin Light series—delved into the culinary scene with this cozy series starring sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons. Their third case involves them in a cutthroat cooking show contest during the busy holiday season.
Christmas Mourning by Andrea Frazer (2013) – DI Harry Falconer and Sergeant Carmichael are snowed in the picture-postcard village of Castle Farthing. When the local vicar finds a dead body, the two policemen will need to trudge their way through the snow and solve the crime without help from the modern world outside. Eight in the Falconer Files series.
The Bishop and the Three Kings by Andrew Greeley (1998) – Chicago priest Blackie Ryan is visiting in Cologne, Germany, when a precious relic is stolen from the famous cathedral. In his race to find the relics before a scandal can erupt, Blackie is assisted by his nephew and a young woman.
Jerusalem Inn by Martha Grimes (1984) – A working class pub may hold the key to solving the seemingly disparate murders of two lovely ladies, one of whom Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury had previously met in a snow-covered graveyard.
Not a Creature Was Stirring by Jane Haddam (1993) – In the first Gregor Demarkian Holiday Mystery series, former FBI agent Gregor is invited to the Hannaford family mansion for Christmas. He arrives in time to find his host—and reviled robber baron Hannaford—bludgeoned to death.
Mulled Murder by Kate Kingsbury (2013) – In the last of the Pennyfoot Hotel mysteries, Cecily Sinclair Baxter is in the midst of training new staff in time for the holidays when murder strikes one last time. A private investigator from London is murdered while on the trail of nefarious deeds at the Pennyfoot. The 21st book in the series; the ninth to be set around the holidays.
Tied Up in Tinsel by Ngaio Marsh (1979) – Inspector Roberick Alleyn’s wife has been commissioned to paint the portrait of a rich aristocrat who is in the process of restoring his ancestral home. When a pageant player for the Christmas festivities turns up missing, Alleyn is called in to determine whether the killer is one of the hired help—all paroled murderers—or a member of the aristocratic family.
The Body in the Sleigh by Katherine Hall Page (2009) – Faith Fairchild hoped to spend a tranquil Christmas with her family at their cottage on an island off the coast of Maine. Instead, she finds a body at a local holiday display and is presented with the mystery of a baby left in a manger.
Fleece Navidad by Maggie Sefton (2008) – The sixth entry in Sefton’s Knitting Mysteries finds Kelly Flynn and the House of Lambspun knitters upset at the death of unassuming librarian Juliet in a hit-and-run. Worse, the killer may be one of their own.
Take a moment to comment on your favorite holiday-themed mysteries and enjoy your holiday season.