Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas in Mysteries

Judith at Reader in the Wilderness is collecting posts about Christmas books and stories and films, for adults or children. I had been planning to read Christmas books in December, but now December is almost over and I haven't had as much time to spend on that as I had planned.

My first Christmas book for this December was Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie, from 1938. I posted a review on that book here.

Next up was I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley. This is part of the Flavia de Luce series and my review is here. From the description at Fantastic Fiction:
It's Christmastime, and the precocious Flavia de Luce - an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for crime-solving - is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces' decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis Wyvern.


Other books that I may read this year... or next year:
A Season for Murder by Ann Granger, the second book in the Mitchell and Markby series. I have read the first one... years ago.

From the Publisher's Weekly review:
The impact of modern life on English villages is vividly captured in Granger's second murder mystery. British consular officer Meredith Mitchell rents isolated Rose Cottage in Pook's Common when she is posted back to England.
Meredith works with local CID Chief Inspector Alan Markby to investigate a crime. Note that the cover of this book also has a skull. No, I did not buy it just for the skull cover, it was just a bonus.

Mr. Ive's Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos. I learned of this book at Moira's Clothes in Books blog. See her post on that book.

From the description at Goodreads:
Hijuelos' novel tells the story of Mr. Ives, who was adopted from a foundling's home as a child. When we first meet him in the 1950s, Mr. Ives is very much a product of his time. He has a successful career in advertising, a wife and two children, and believes he is on his way to pursuing the typical American dream. But the dream is shattered when his son Robert, who is studying for the priesthood, is killed violently at Christmas.

The Holiday Murders by Robert Gott
I had this one on order and it has finally arrived.

From the summary at Amazon:
On Christmas Eve, 1943, the newly formed but undermanned Homicide Dvision of the Melbourne police force is called to investigate the vicious double murder of a father and son. When Military Intelligence becomes involved, Homicide’s Inspector Titus Lambert must unravel the personal from the political.

Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod, first in the Professor Peter Shandy series.
From the description at Fantastic Fiction:
Professor Peter Shandy discovers more than mistletoe hanging in his living room when he returns home from vacation to find the campus librarian dead.
I read that one years ago, and enjoyed it immensely. I would love to reread it this year or next.

Two mysteries in Jane Haddam's Gregor Demarkian series are set at Christmas. I enjoyed both.
  • Not a Creature was Stirring is the first book in the series. There is a good review at Murder by Type.
  • A Stillness in Bethlehem is the seventh book in the series. Description from
In a small New England town, a Christmas controversy is grounds to kill

Bethlehem, Vermont, is a sleepy little town, distinguished from the neighboring hamlets by its Christmas pageant. The holiday spectacular dates back generations; as the village’s only tourist attraction, it brings in much of the money that keeps Bethlehem afloat. The festivities are held on publicly owned land, which might be a slight violation of the separation of church and state, but no one has ever complained until Tish Verek comes to town.
Another book I would like to read someday is Red Christmas by Patrick Ruell (aka Reginald Hill). There is a review at In Reference to Murder.

There are so many more mysteries set at Christmas... some that I have and have forgotten. There is a list of about 200 mysteries set at Christmas here at Goodreads.


Judith said...

Thank you for the mention. How I loved this post--and so many titles I've never heard of! I'm very fond of the all the book covers and the many links. I'll provide a link to this asap!
Merry Christmas,

Bill Selnes said...

Thanks for a fine post on Christmas mysteries. It is an excellent resource.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Puzzle Doctor said...

Have a very merry Christmas, Tracy, and thanks for some ideas for next December!

col2910 said...

I haven't read anything seasonal myself - apart from one short story at the end of November. Thanks for the reminder on the Hijuelos book. I'll keep a mental note of it!
Have a great one!

Clothes In Books said...

Great roundup Tracy, I like to read seasonal books at Christmas, and you've given me some new ideas- and thanks also for the shoutout. AS you would guess from my entry, I love Mr Ives Christmas, even though it is not the most cheerful or merry book. I am doing a Christmas day entry on it.
Hope you and yours have a great Christmas Tracy.

Anonymous said...

Tracy - Oh, this is a great summing-up. Thanks. And I really hope you'll like The Holiday Murders. I found it an intense, but very well-written book.

TracyK said...

My pleasure, Judith. Thank you for keeping me in the Christmas spirit and focused on getting some of my Christmas mysteries read during the season.

TracyK said...

Merry Christmas to you too, Bill. It was fun listing some Christmas mysteries.

TracyK said...

Merry Christmas to you to, Puzzle Doctor. I hope you give some of these a try.

TracyK said...

Col - Only one more day to Christmas and then we will indulge in some holiday movies. (Actually we already watched one that we classify as Christmassy: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.)

Hope you have a great Christmas too.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Moira. I could have gone on and on... had time allowed. I realized belatedly that Mr. Ives Christmas is not really a mystery, so I should have used a different title for the post. Oh well.

Hope you and your family have a merry Christmas and a relaxed Christmas.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Margot. I will definitely be getting to The Holiday Murders before the end of the year and it is a perfect fit because it goes up to New Year's Day.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Thanks for all of these TracyK as I haven't got any of them in fact! Hope you have a great Christmas.

TracyK said...

I am enjoying the holiday break (since my husband and I both work for educational institutions and they shut down for a few days). Best wishes for your holidays also.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, I think mystery is one genre that can be classified into and read under many different categories, as you have pointed out in the challenges you participated. Besides, Christmas is the one season that pervades most literary and cultural resources from books to films and everything in between.

TracyK said...

Very true, Prashant. I was thinking there must be science fiction and fantasy books that are set at Christmas too, but I don't know of any off the top of my head.

Sarah said...

I didn't read anything with a Christmas theme this year, I'm afraid. This post (and Judith's) is the nearest I got to it. Thanks!

TracyK said...

Sarah, I made a special effort this year. Most of our celebrating of Christmas is in the movie area. (And most Christmas mysteries are not that jolly.)