Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas Can Be Murder: 10 Seasonal Mystery Titles

As we move into the yuletide season, here are ten books that feature Christmas-themed mysteries. We've selected titles old and new, ranging from bounty hunter Stephanie Plum and senior sleuth Jessica Fletcher to classic holiday outings starring the likes of Nero Wolfe, Ellery Queen, and Hercule Poirot. If you scroll down, you'll also finds links to comprehensive lists of Christmas- and holiday-related mysteries.

What are your favorite seasonal mystery and crime fiction titles? Let us know! Post your own favorites in the comments below! (You can also blog about your own suggestions and link to Suggest a Christmas Title).

01. A Rumpole Christmas: Stories
by John Mortimer (Viking)
For fans lamenting the death of mystery writer Sir John Mortimer this year, here's a welcome present: The first-ever collection of Christmas stories starring English barrister Horace Rumpole, with five stories never before published in book form. In “Rumpole and Father Christmas,” the  Old Bailey Hack encounters a familiar-looking Santa who he thinks is a thief. In “Rumpole’s Slimmed Down Christmas,” he goes to a spa when “She who must be obeyed” insists he lose a few pounds. In “Rumpole and the Christmas Break,” he protects Hilda as a shady judge flirts with her while on a holiday that turns out to be anything but relaxing. In “Rumpole of the Bailey’s Christmas Party,” Rumpole celebrates the holiday with Old Bailey colleagues and Hilda surprises him with an unexpected gift. And in “Rumpole and the Old Familiar Faces,” he uses a former client’s seedy past to aid a church in the name of Christmas spirit.

02. Murder Never Takes a Holiday (Murder She Wrote)
by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain (Signet)
Although her TV show ended years ago, amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher continues to solve murders in a series of original novels. (More than three million copies in print!) This brand-new two-in-one collection includes a nifty pair of seasonal whodunits: In Manhattans & Murder, Jessica's new book tour brings her to New York for Christmas, where she sees notorious Cabot Cove crook Waldo Morse dressed as a sidewalk Santa -- and ends up witnessing a murder. In A Little Yuletide Murder, Santa is found murdered shortly before Christmas. Actually, it's farmer Rory Brent, who's played St. Nick at Cabot Cove's annual holiday event for years. Everyone assumes the culprit is Brent's longtime enemy, Jake Walther, the meanest man in town. But Jessica thinks otherwise, and she's determined to deliver the real killer before Christmas ...

03. Between the Plums (Stephanie Plum)
by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's Press)
This brand-new 3-in-1 holiday collection includes Visions of Sugar Plums: Five days before Christmas, things are not looking merry for Stephanie Plum. She hasn’t got a tree. She hasn’t bought any presents. The malls are jam-packed with staggering shoppers. There's not a twinkle of light anywhere to be seen in her apartment ... and there’s a strange man in her kitchen. (The collection also includes Plum Lovin' and Plum Lucky.)

04. There Goes Santa Claus (Ivy Towers Mystery #4)
by Nancy Mehl (Heartsong Presents: Mysteries)
A few days before December 25, newlyweds Ivy and Amos are awakened by noises on their rooftop -- shortly before a body flies past their second-story window. A look outside reveals two legs covered in red velvet trousers and black boots sticking out of a snow bank! Ivy and Amos are even more surprised to find they belong to a dead man dressed as Santa Claus ...

05. Iced (Regan Reilly Mysteries, No. 3)
by Carol Higgins Clark (Grand Central Publishing)
It's Christmas in Aspen and P.I. Regan Reilly is vacationing with her parents and hoping to meet an unmarried man. But all thoughts of romance turn to sleuthing when million-dollar paintings start disappearing, along with an old friend of Regan's -- who happens to be an ex-con. The snow is falling, the plot is thickening, and the danger is closing in on Regan ...


06. And Four to Go (Nero Wolfe Mysteries)
by Rex Stout (Crimeline)
This collection of four stories starring Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin includes the entry "Christmas Party": Archie tells Nero he'll be announcing his engagement at a Christmas party -- but is shocked when his fiancee announces she's actually marrying their host. Things go from bad to worse when Archie's rival is soon lying on the floor dead ... (The collection also includes "Easter Parade," "Fourth of July Picnic," and "Murder Is No Joke.")

07. Calamity Town
by Ellery Queen (Mysterious Press)
In the small town of Wrightsville, Ellery Queen has rented a house under an assumed name. He's hoping for some some peace and quiet so he can write a book. At first, the town seems ideal -– the neighbors are friendly, and there's little crime to distract him from his writing -- until the tranquility is broken by a series of arsenic poisonings during the holidays ...

08. Hercule Poirot's Christmas: A Holiday Mystery
by Agatha Christie (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers)
The wealthy Simeon Lee demands all four of his sons and their wives return home for Christmas. But a heartwarming family holiday is not what he has in mind -- he announces he's cutting off their allowances and changing his will. So, when the old man is found lying in a pool of blood on Christmas Eve, the great Hercule Poirot finds no lack of suspects. But how did the murderer escape from the locked room?

09. The Thin Man
by Dashiell Hammett (Vintage)
Nick and Nora Charles -- he's an ex-private eye, she's the heiress who made him respectable -- are lounging in their suite in New York City for the Christmas holiday. When a friend asks Nick to help find a killer, and reintroduces him to one of his old cases, soon Nick and Nora their faithful schnauzer Asta are drawn into a maelstrom of suspicious gangters, trigger-happy hoodlums, and overeager coppers. It's a holiday to remember!

10. Murder for Christmas: 26 Tales of Yuletide Malice
by various, edited by Thomas Godfrey (Castle Books)
Sometimes the holidays bring out the worst in people -- as these 26 tales of "seasonal malice" demonstrate. Includes a wide selection of legendary authors, including Margery Allingham, G.K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie, Carter Dickson, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edward D. Hoch, Ellery Queen, Dorothy L. Sayers, Georges Simonen, Rex Stout, and more! With illustrations by Gahan Wilson.

More lists of Christmas crime fiction:
Crime For The Holidays (Mystery Lists By Topic)
Holiday Mystery Book Lists (Cozy Mystery List)
Have Yourself a Murderous Little Christmas (Poe's Deadly Daughters)
Christmas Mysteries: A-D (Mystery Fanfare)
Christmas Mysteries E-H (Mystery Fanfare)
Christmas Mysteries: Authors I-N (Mystery Fanfare)
Christmas Mysteries: O-R (Mystery Fanfare)
Christmas Mysteries: S-Z (Mystery Fanfare)
Some favorite Christmas mysteries from the past (1933-1998) (Katherine Hall Page)
Maggie Sefton: How to write a Holiday Mystery (Cozy Murder Mysteries)
Christmas Stories: Mystery and Murder (MysteryNet)
Holiday/Calendar Based Mysteries (Reader's Advice)
Holidays Can be Murder
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Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction

SHE'S THE SHERIFF!

A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at StudioWell.com. Watch the trailer on YouTube.