Saturday, December 4, 2010

Murder for Christmas?

by guest blogger Krista Davis

Some people might think it’s peculiar to write about a murder that takes place around the holidays. After all, it’s the hap-hap-happiest time of year. I love Christmas. The decorating, and shopping, and baking -- the whole thing. I even like stringing lights outside with fingers stiff from the cold. I look forward to feasting on roast goose with friends and family and curling up by the fireplace with hot chocolate and a good mystery.

As we grow up the joys and disappointments of the holidays no longer come from the packages under the tree. They move up to a bigger and less predictable source, the behavior of our families and friends. We look forward to the warmth and pleasures of family, but we dread dealing with the mother who drinks too much or the husband who is having an affair. Competent, respected adults shudder at the thought of the holidays with a parent so critical that they’re reduced to insecure, angry adolescents again. How does one cope with a parent who says not to come home unless the daughter has lost weight?

Earlier this year I was walking along a street in Charlottesville, Virginia with Liz Zelvin. She told me (and I hope I’m paraphrasing you correctly, Liz) that one of the first things her clients have to learn is that they can’t control other people. I think it can take a long time for us to reach the point where we understand that. We can’t make someone love us, or force them to stop drinking, or lecture them to a size two. All those things have to come from within the other person.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop us from trying. For some reason, the holidays seem to amplify our expectations of perfection. None of those problems are new. The husband’s affair, the mother’s drinking, the poor relationship between mother and daughter all existed long before the holidays, perhaps for years. Yet we still expect people to be the way we wish they were when it comes to the holidays.

Add the stress of finding this year’s must-have toy, sewing a costume for a pageant, baking cookies for the office cookie swap, attending boring parties with a spouse, cursing at tangled lights, and dealing with a turkey everyone forgot to thaw, and it’s amazing that there aren’t more yuletide murders. Of course, mystery writers love the combination of unrealistic expectations and stress!

In The Diva Cooks A Goose, domestic diva Sophie Winston has a chance to relax because her brother and sister-in-law, Lacy, are hosting the big family celebration. Lacy is a perfectionist, the type who makes lists for everything. She planned ahead and has everything under control until Christmas Eve, when the Christmas presents are stolen right out from under the tree. Poor Lacy. That’s only the beginning of holiday disasters for her family. When her newly separated father arrives with a date, more than one person is ready to commit a merry murder. While Lacy copes with parents she can’t control, Sophie is on the trail of a killer, and when she finds him, she plans to cook his goose!

I wish you and yours a warm and loving holiday season. May your celebrations be festive and may the only murders be properly confined to spellbinding mysteries.


Krista Davis writes the Domestic Diva Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series, THE DIVA RUNS OUT OF THYME, was nominated for an Agatha Award. Her most recent book, THE DIVA COOKS A GOOSE, launches on December 7th!


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I'm so looking forward to reading this book!

And I think that holidays, and the stress they can bring on, is a logical time in which to set a murder mystery. :)

Best wishes for your release, Krista!

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Thanks for bringing me into your delightful post, Krista. I hope all our readers know I'm a shrink and not just a know-it-all. ;) In fact, not trying to control other people is one of those things nobody ever does perfectly--like the holidays. :)
As for mystery writers loving the combination of unrealistic expectations and stress, amen to that. So do shrinks--it keeps us in business. ;) Liz

Krista said...

Thanks, Elizabeth! Great to see you here.

Hi Liz! Glad I paraphrased you correctly. It's such a truism, but so hard to learn.

~ Krista

Janet C said...

It's on my must buy list this month. I can't wait.

Krista said...

Thank you so much, Janet! I hope you enjoy it!

~ Krista

caryn said...

The book is preordered from amazon sho hopefully it will be here next week!
I really enjoyed the blog. As I get older, I find that alot of the hussle and bussle of the season just wears me out to think about doing. Today it is the tree issue. Of coarse we'll put it up and I'll be happy when it's deocroated and lit, but just the thought of rearranging the furniture to make room, hauling all of the boxes of decorations upstairs...well, tonight I can sip my glass of wine and enjoy the lights, but right now? I'm in denial.

Krista said...

Thanks for pre-ordering The Diva Cooks A Goose, Caryn!

I envy you because right about now, you're probably pouring that glass of wine and enjoying the lights. I've been out shoveling snow. The joys of winter! LOL!

Enjoy your tree!

~ Krista