Mistletoe and Mayhem: Christmas Crime Time

Mysterious

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’ve 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 on occasion. Lea Wait’s Shadows on a Maine Christmas is a favorite.

I have listed below a partial list of Christmas themed mysteries I’ve read in past years.  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

Wreck the Halls – Sarah Graves

 

 

A Christmas Carol – Five Favorites

 

charles_dickens_1858When asked to donate to help the poor for the holidays the greediest, grumpiest Grinch of all time, Ebenezer Scrooge, replies “Are there no prisons? Are there no union workhouses?”

One of the greatest characters in Charles Dicken’s brilliant library of creations  is Ebenezer Scrooge. He’s the epitome of meanness, a tower of cold unmoving steel,  dismissing Christmas with the wave of a hand and his own personal mantra, “Bah Humbug!” It’s a phrase that has become part of our everyday  language.

It was Dicken’s ability as a writer to take a wretched old geezer, full of nastiness and miserliness, and convincingly have him find redemption.

This time of the year I always try to watch at least one film version of A Christmas Carol. This year, it was the 1938 film with Reginald Owen as Scrooge. I didn’t think Owen made for a great Ebenezer, but the film is entertaining and certainly worth watching.

With all that said, below is a list of my the top five A Christmas Carol movies.

5) Scrooge (1970) with Albert Finney if for no other reason that than for the show stopping, Thank You, Very Much number.

scrooge

4) Scrooged (1988)  with Bill Murray. Enough said!

scrooged-1988

3) Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) just because Scrooge McDuck rules!

mcduck1

2) A Christmas Carol  (1984) George C. Scott’s gruff voice and demeanor are pure perfection.scott-christmas-carol-1984-george-scott-5601) A Christmas Carol (1951) Nobody does it better than Alastair Sim. The film itself is a holiday masterpiece.

ebenezer-scrooge

Please feel free to share your own favorite.