Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Have Yourself a Murderous Little Christmas

Sandra Parshall

Eggnog and tinsel? Sure, they’re nice, but mystery lovers still need their murder and mayhem fix even in the season of good cheer, and if Christmas itself is part of the story, all the better. Every year a few authors tackle the tricky combination of homicide and holiday, and the Christmas mysteries this time around take readers from a modern New York City coffeehouse to a quaint pre-World War I inn, from Victorian London to medieval England. Here are four that fans of holiday-themed mysteries will want to look for – and if you leave a comment today, you’ll have a chance to win a free copy of one of them.


Mrs. Jeffries and the Yuletide Weddings is the
twenty-sixth entry in Emily Brightwell’s popular series about a matronly housekeeper in Victorian England who happens to be the secret behind her boss’s awe-inspiring success as a Scotland Yard detective. When a middle-aged spinster is killed in what looks like a random attack, the Miss Marple of Victorian mysteries helps Inspector Witherspoon plow through the intrigue and lies, unearth long-buried secrets, get through the distraction of two Christmas weddings, and solve the crime.

Christmas is often deadly at the Pennyfoot Hotel in the years before WWI. In Decked with Folly, Kate Kingsbury’s fifth Christmas mystery in her long-running series, Cecily Sinclair Baxter is preparing her inn for a festive season when the body of a former Pennyfoot employee turns up in the duck pond. A body in the duck pond is bad news at any time of year, and it can certainly put a damper on holiday celebrations. Cecily sets out to clear the victim’s ex-wife, a Pennyfoot maid, and restore order in time for a properly cheerful Christmas.


Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle also revolves around a seemingly random act of violence that turns out to be premeditated murder. Clare Cosi, owner of the Village Blend coffeehouse in New York, finds a volunteer Santa dead in the snow and refuses to go along with the police verdict of a mugging that went too far. When she starts probing Santa’s personal life, she puts herself in danger. Coyle (actually a husband and wife writing team) includes an expanded recipe section that will be a boon to anyone who desperately needs to gain 10 pounds fast.

For those who want a more serious mystery, Maureen Ash offers Murder for Christ’s Mass, fourth in her gracefully written Templar Knights series. The time is Christmas of 1201. Templar Bascot de Marins, who escaped after eight years of imprisonment by the Saracens in the Holy Land, is visiting Lincoln when an employee of the local mint is found murdered in a stone quarry. Because the sheriff is busy entertaining noble guests, Bascot is enlisted to investigate the crime, with help from his assistant and ward, a 13-year-old boy named Gianni whom he rescued from the brink of starvation. Ash uses the authentic settings of Lincoln castle and the surrounding town and populates them with characters based on real historical figures. She is exceptionally deft at weaving together historical details to recreate an era without hitting the reader over the head with the full weight of her research.

Tell me which of these holiday mysteries appeals to you, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a free copy. If you don’t win – well, you know the location of your nearest bookstore, I trust! Books make wonderful holiday gifts, for friends, family, and yourself.

26 comments:

Margaret said...

Love Christmas mysteries and also love the Cleo Coyle coffeehouse series. So, please enter my name in the contest. Thanks.
Margaret Franson

kathy d. said...

Holiday Grind would be my choice.

However, wanted to comment on the hilarity of the comment about recipes for those who want to gain ten pounds fast.

That is so true about the holiday season. I'm already dieting in contemplation of meals at a friend's apartment; she is a gourmet cook and also makes addictive kahlua/walnut fudge every year.

Pat Turnbull said...

There are so many books to read that I don't normally focus on holiday mysteries. I do like all these authors though, so count me in! If I have to choose just one, let's make it Kate Kingsburyl.

I tend to like the cozy to not quite cozy mystery, but also am fond of stories with a strong sense of place. Coyle does a great job of that, and I'm not even a NYC fan! Also Kate Kingsbury's Pennyfoot series gives a really good view of the early 20th century.

Chris V. said...

Great covers, they all look good! I generally don't look for holiday mysteries either, but I want to check these out for sure so on the list they go. Hmm an early birthday gift!

NRNMG said...

I celebrate my birthday in December as well as Christmas. One of these books would be a great gift to myself. The covers all look really good.

Janel said...

I love Christmas themed mysteries and I've found that the culinary themed ones are really great. I love Cleo's series and Holiday Grind looks like it has some extra-yummy recipes!

Kelly said...

Hi,
Holiday Grind would be my first choice. All of them look interesting though. Thanks for the opportunity.
Merry Christmas,
Kelly

sarrcbum said...

Every year I dust off a few older Christmas mysteries and hunt for a couple new ones and enjoy reading about other people's holiday bedlam. Sure beats paying too close attention to my own!!

Yetta said...

Thanks for giving us this opportunity.
They all sound nifty.

Peg said...

What fun! I love Christmas mysteries. They all look like great fun, too!

Felissa said...

I haven't read the Mrs. Jeffries books, and would love to start. Please enter my name in the contest.

Felissa L.

Kerry said...

I love reading Christmas mysteries at the holidays - great giveaway.

Carol K.C. said...

I'd love to try Murder at Christ's Mass. Please enter me in the drawing. Love the blog, by the way. It's always so entertaining.

cheapsunglasses said...

Love the Mrs. Jeffries series. I'm lagging behind with my reading, and a Christmas mystery would be a nice jump start.

lhampton6@triad.rr.com said...

All the mysteries sound great, but I'll opt for Holiday Grind.
Thanks for the chance to win a good Christmas mystery.

Lynette Hampton

Lynette Hampton said...

All the books sound great, but I'll take Holiday Grind. Thanks for the chance to win a Christmas mystery.

Lynette

BBibel said...

Latkes anyone? How about a Hanukkah mystery? Liz Zevlin's Death Will Help You Leave Him sounds like fun. I reviewed Death Will Get You Sober for Booklist and had a good time writing the review.

Sean said...

All these books sound like fun. But my choice is for Holiday Grind. Apparently, it's a series but I've never read one before.

Carol M said...

All of these books sound good. My first choice would be Murder for Christ’s Mass. Holiday Grind is my second pick even though I really javascript:void(0);don't need to gain ten pounds! lol

Susan said...

Will the holiday mysteries make me gain weight? Or is it a mystery why the pounds add on during the holidays? Reading, wrapping, and eating--my planned activities for the holiday season.

pennyt said...

I always try to read at least one Christmas mystery each year and I'm a big fan of all of Kate Kingsbury's books. Please enter my name in the contest.
pennyt@hotmail.com

shirley said...

They all sound great, but would enjoy trying Murder at Christ's Mass to learn more about that time period, or the Coyle's book as who doesn't need to gain 10 lbs. fast!

Judy said...

So many decisions! I like the Kate Kingsbury mysteries and have read all her WW2 series. I'm working my way through the Pennyfoot series. I also love historical mysteries, so Maureen Ash's series interests me, too. I have the Alehouse Murders on my tbr pile and plan to get to it soon. I wonder if there are any Chanukah mysteries around?
Judy in CA
aka Judith Klerman Smith

Linda R said...

All of these holiday mysteries sound exciting to me, but I'd be thrilled to win Cleo Coyle's HOLIDAY GRIND (I read MURDER MOST FROTHY and enjoyed it so much!) These days I am loving cozies. Please enter me in the contest. Linda R (dinhjb@mindspring.com)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for having another great drawing just in time for the holidays. I would like Decked with Folly.

Helen Kiker
hdkiker@comcast.net

Anonymous said...

I love mysteries around Christmas. Please enter my name in the contest. All of the titles sound good. Never tried Kate Kingsbury but I've heard good things about her. Would be interesting to go back to the early 20th century!
Sandi Lewis