It’s the time of the season where I like to indulge myself in a little holiday criminal activity… on the written page only of course. Over the past few years I read one or two mysteries set during the Christmas season. This year’s top choice is Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop.
As a way to give back to his customers for their support and loyalty, The owner of The Mysterious Bookshop, Otto Penzler, commissioned an original short story from a top notch crime writer each year that he would give away to his devoted customers. Penzler gave the authors three rules; first the story had to be a mystery, second it had to be set during the Christmas season, and finally The Mysterious Bookshop had to be included in some way. Over the years, writers have included Lawrence Block, Anne Perry, Mary Higgins Clark, Ed McBain, Donald E. Westlake, and Meagan Abbott among others. In all, 17 stories were written.
In 2010, Penzler published the complete collection of short fiction under the title Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop. Recently, I purchased a copy and am ready to sit down by the fireplace with a hot chocolate and dive in. Okay, I live in Florida and I don’t have a fireplace! It will be more like turning on the air conditioning and a cold drink, but a fireplace and hot chocolate sounds more cozy and seasonal.
There are plenty of Christmas crime tales to keep you busy for many seasons to come, especially if you read cozy’s. I rarely do, but admittedly I have indulged Lea Wait’s Shadows on a Maine Christmas is a favorite.
I have listed below a partial list Christmas themed mysteries I’ve read in past years, and I am always looking for suggestions for the future.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (aka A Murder for Christmas & A Holiday for Murder) – Agatha Christie
The Spy Who Came for Christmas – David Morrell
A Christmas Tragedy (short story) – Agatha Christie
Silent Night (Spenser) Robert B. Parker and Helen Brann
The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries – Otto Penzler (editor)
Visions of Sugar Plums – Janet Evanovich
Deck the Halls – Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark
Merry Christmas, Alex Cross – James Patterson
Shadows on a Maine Christmas – Lea Wait
Sanity Clause – Steve Brewer
King’s Christmas (short story) – Richard Neer