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Christmas Crime

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shutterstock_116777524Christmas is the season of love and good cheer.  Surely no one would commit a crime, much less MURDER, during this time…or would they?

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Short Stories/Anthologies

Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop.

Collects more than 15 specially commissioned suspense and mystery stories, all set during Christmastime, with some of the action taking place at the editor’s real-life Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, with stories contributed by Marry Higgins Clark, Lawrence Block, Anne Perry, Ed McBain, Donald L. Westlake and many more.

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Mistletoe Mysteries.

The Queen of the Whimsical Whodunit presents a collection of mystery stories centered around a Yuletide theme, written by some of the best practitioners of the cozy mystery working today.

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Murder for Christmas.

Presenting twenty six tales of seasonal malice, this mystery anthology features the works of Agatha Christie, Woody Allen, Ellery Queen, Rex Stout, Dorothy L. Sayers, Damon, Runyon, O. Henry, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, and many other authors. 

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Novels

Susan Wittig Albert. Mistletoe Man.

Former big-city lawyer China Bayles worked hard to make her herb shop, Thyme and Seasons, a success. Now business is booming at her newest venture, Thyme for Tea – but China is too distracted to revel in her latest entrepreneurial triumph. When she’s not trying to spend more time with her new husband and stepson, she’s worrying about Ruby, who just hasn’t been herself lately. To further complicate matters, China has to round up a supply of mistletoe, the season’s most popular herb. It seems an easy enough task – until her chief supplier turns up dead…

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Nancy Atherton. Aunt Dimity’s Christmas.

Lori Shepherd can hardly wait for Christmas this year. Now that the lean times are over, the cottage Aunt Dimity willed her is more beautiful than ever, her nine-month-old twins, Will and Rob, are thriving, and she and husband Bill have never been happier. Determined to make this Christmas the best ever, Lori embarks on a round of shopping, holly-cutting, angel-cookie making, and more. The only thing she wishes for that she can’t plan in advance is … snow. So when she looks out the window to discover that fat flakes have started to drift down and cover the flagstone path, Lori feels her holiday wishes are all about to come true. But the next day, beneath the lilac bushes now covered by freshly fallen snow, Lori makes a disturbing discovery: the body of a mysterious stranger – a tramp – barely alive. Lori puts her plans on hold and teams up with Julian Bright – a devilishly attractive Roman Catholic priest – to search out the stranger’s identity. 

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Donald Bain.   Little Yuletide Murder.

Jessica Fletcher is planning to spend a cozy Christmas in Cabot Cove. But when Rory Brent is found shot to death on his farm, there will be no peace on earth until his killer is found. Snooping into the small town’s past for a motive, Jessica is determined to deliver the killer before Christmas. The trouble is, the next sound she hears this silent night may be a scream…her own?

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M.C. Beaton.  A Highland Christmas.

In the dark, wintry highlands of Lochdubh, Scotland, the spirit of Old St. Nick is about as welcome as a flat tire on a deserted road. The Calvinist element in Lochdubh has always resisted what they view as the secular trimmings of the holiday, so for most of the townspeople, there’s no pudding, carols, banquets, gifts, or even whisky for Christmas. Nor is crime taking a holiday, as Hamish soon finds himself looking for a missing cat belonging to a lonely spinster. Confrontational and curt, the unfriendly woman insists her pet was stolen. Looking into her eyes behind her heavily bolted door, Hamish can see her true problem – she lives in great fear…but what is she afraid of? Then some thieves make off with a Christmas tree and lights in nearby Cnothan and Hamish must investigate. As if that isn’t enough on his holiday plate, Hamish’s romance of the new schoolteacher is going fine, until she mentions a perfect little girl whose family abhors Christmas…and whose behavior has recently become very imperfect. Now it’s up to Hamish to make things right. He has to protect an unhappy girl, unlock the secrets of a frightened old woman, and retrieve some stolen holiday goods.

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C.C. Benison. Twelve Drummers Drumming.

Thornford Regis has never been lovelier: larks on the wing, lilacs in bloom, and the May Fayre in full swing. But inside the empty village hall, the huge Japanese o-daiko drum featured in the festivities has been viciously sliced open– and curled up inside is a bludgeoned body. Father Tom Christmas, still haunted by the tragedy that has left him a widower and his nine-year-old daughter motherless, soon realizes that this idyllic village is not the refuge he’d hoped for… and that Sybella’s killer must be one of his parishioners.

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Jill Churchill.  A Farewell to Yarns.

Life is hectic enough for suburban single mom Jane Jeffrey this Christmas season–what with her having to survive cutthroat church bazaar politics and finish knitting the afghan from Hell at the same time. The last thing the harried homemaker needs is an unwelcome visit from old acquaintance Phyllis Wagner and her ill-mannered brat of a teenage son. And the Wagner picture becomes even more complicated when a dead body is woven into the design. Solving a murder, however, is a lot more interesting than knitting, so Jane’s determined to sew the whole thing up. But with a plethora of suspects and the appearance of a second corpse, this deadly tapestry is getting quite complex indeed. And Jane has to be very careful not to get strangled herself by the twisted threads shes attempting to unravel.

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Mary Higgins Clark. The Christmas Thief.

Alvirah Meehan, teams up with private investigator Regan Reilly to solve another Christmas mystery. This time they get in the middle of a case involving a beautiful eighty-foot blue spruce that has been chosen to spend the holidays as Rockefeller Center’s famous Christmas tree, and the flask chock-full of priceless diamonds that were attached to a branch by a scam artist.

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Cleo Coyle. Holiday Grind.

The holidays bring more than eggnog lattes and gingerbread biscotti to the Village Blend. When manager and head barista Clare Cosi finds a red-suited body in the snow, she adds solving Santa’s slaying to her coffeehouse menu. Clare’s grown very fond of Alfred Glockner, the part-time comic and genuinely jolly charity Santa who’s been using her coffeehouse as a place to warm his mittens. When she finds him gunned down in a nearby alley, a few subtle clues convince her that Alfred’s death was something more than the tragic result of a random mugging, despite the conclusions of the police. With Clare’s boyfriend, NY PD detective Mike Quinn, distracted by a cold case of his own, and ex-husband, Matt, “investigating” this year’s holiday lingerie catalogs, Clare charges ahead solo and discovers this Santa had a list that he was checking twice – and the folks on it were not very nice. Then someone tries to ice Clare, and she really gets steamed. Between baking delicious Christmas goodies and fending off the attentions of a persistent professional elf, Clare sets out to solve St. Nick’s murder. But she’d better watch out, because if she fails to stop this stone-cold killer, she may just get the biggest chill of her life.

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Janet Evanovich. Visions of Sugar Plums.

It’s four days before Christmas and things are not looking merry for fugitive apprehension agent 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 light anywhere to be seen in her apartment. And there’s a strange man in her kitchen. Sure, this has happened to Stephanie Plum before. Strangers, weirdos, felons, creeps, and lunatics are always finding their way to her front door. But this guy is different. This guy is mysterious, sexy – and he has his own agenda. His name is Diesel and he is a man on a mission. Diesel is unlike anyone Stephanie has ever met before in her life. The question is, What does he want with her? Can he help her find a little old toy maker who has skipped out on his bail right before Christmas? Can he survive the Plum family holiday dinner? Can he get Stephanie a tree that doesn’t look like it was grown next to a nuclear power plant? These questions and more are keeping Stephanie awake at night. Not to mention the fact that she needs to find a bunch of nasty elves, her sister Valerie has a Christmas “surprise” for the Plums, her niece Mary Alice doesn’t believe in Santa anymore, and Grandma Mazur has a new stud muffin. So bring out the plastic reindeer, strap on your jingle bells, and get ready to celebrate the holidays – Jersey style. 

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Joanne Fluke. Plum Pudding Murder.

When Larry Jaeger, the owner of the Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot, is murdered, bakery owner Hannah Swensen, during the busiest time of the year, must sift through a wealth of suspects before a murderous Scrooge strikes again.

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Chris Grabenstein. Hell for the Holidays.

FBI agent Christopher Miller is up against a group of domestic terrorists who are copying Al Qaeda’s tactics: operating in cells, following a twisted fundamentalist doctrine, targeting “public amusements.” A White Supremacist group has smuggled in a stinger missile and recruited an army marksman – a nightmare vision of a new and more talented Timothy McVeigh. When Miller starts sounding alarm bells about this group and its plans, no one listens because the FBI’s focus has shifted to foreign terrorists, and his home, Jersey City, has the second largest population of Arabs/Muslims in America. “Saint Chris” comes up against the same sort of bureaucratic resistance encountered by the FBI agents who, pre-9/11, wrote unheeded memos about Arab terrorists flying airplanes into buildings. The Brotherhood has chosen Thanksgiving as the time to strike, since they feel the holiday commemorates God’s giving America to his chosen people: the white man. Meanwhile, on the home front, Miller has to cope with his daughter’s post-traumatic stress as the anniversary of her Christmas nightmare draws near, and he is torn between taking care of her and saving thousands of innocent lives! 

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Joan Hess. A Holly Jolly Murder.

When Malthea Hendlerson, the self-proclaimed Arch Druid of the Sacred Grove of Keltria, wanders into the Book Depot, Claire Malloy assumes the elderly woman is a harmless eccentric. Then Malthea invites her to attend a winter solstice celebration at the Sacred Grove. Claire is actually looking forward to a traditional bonfire in a fir grove. What she gets, however, is murder.

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Fred Hunter. Ransom for a Holiday.

Two years ago, Nathan Bartlett, co-owner of the guest house where Jeremy Ransom and Emily Charters are staying, was murdered. The murderer was never found and the guest house stayed closed until now. The arrival ofRansom and Charters sets into motion a terrible string of events that may lead again to murder.

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Jane Langton. The Shortest Day.

It’s Christmas in Cambridge – time for the annual Christmas Revels, held each year at Harvard’s Memorial Hall – a festival of dance and drama that harks back to ancient midwinter rituals and incantations to drive away the fearful gloom of winter. Like whistling to keep up one’s spirits, it’s a tradition to send out the old year of darkness and revive the light. But this year, amid the stomp and jingle of Morris dancers, gallant Saint George isn’t the only one who gets slain.

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Charlotte MacLeod. Rest You Merry.Book Jacket

Professor Peter Shandy returns from his Christmas holiday to find the corpse of a faculty wife on his living-room floor and an entangling mystery connected with the town’s elaborate Christmas festivities.

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Valerie Malmont. Death, Snow and Mistletoe.

It was Christmas in Lickin Creek, and all through the town something was stirring..The borough council was quarreling about the color of the Christmas lights. A social worker wouldn’t let a living baby be part of the town’s living crèche. And some ladies were stretching the limits of their leotards in a pageant called the Nutcracker. All in all, former New Yorker Tori Miracle was basking in the quaint glow of her adopted Pennsylvania town, when suddenly the season went sour. A boy was missing. A thirty-year-old mystery resurfaced. And now two people have been murdered. With her boyfriend–the town police chief–out of town, Tori must help his befuddled replacement. And what she finds out, or should be finding out, is making Tori the next target–of someone only in the mood for murder….

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Margaret Maron. Corpus Christmas.

A relic of Manhattan’s Gilded Age, the Erich Bruel House on Gramercy Park contained three floors of glorious art–and one Christmas corpse. Now it’s up to Lieutenant Sigrid Harald to wrap up this homicide before the killer strikes again.

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Ngaio Marsh. Tied Up in Tinsel.

Holed up at Hilary Bill-Tasman’s manor estate for Christmas, Troy Alleyn is to paint the man’s portrait and, while she’s there, view the Druid Christmas pageant. Along with a pack of eccentric guests, Troy enjoys the festivities– until one of the pageant’s players mysteriously disappears into the snowy night. Did the hired help– each a paroled murderer from the nearby prison– have a deadly hand in this Christmas conundrum? Inspector Roderick Alleyn arrives to join his wife in finding the lost man– and unraveling the glaring truth from the glittering tinsel.

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Leslie Meier.  Christmas Cookie Murder.

Lucy Stone finds a new mystery to solve when Christmas in Tinker’s Cove turns deadly during the annual Cookie Exchange after Tucker Whitney, recently accused of stealing Lee Cummings’ cookie recipe, is found murdered.

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G.A. McKevett. Cooked Goose.

Determined to rid the world of a rapist who dons a Santa suit to attack women at a local shopping mall, food connoisseur and P.I. Savannah Reid is delighted to find that one of her self-defense pupils–Markie Bloss–fought off the attacker, and is hired to be Markie’s bodyguard to find a killer amidst the holiday mayhem.

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Anne Perry. A Christmas Guest.

For Grandmama Ellison, Christmas is no reason to celebrate. And when her daughter and son-in-law plan a Christmas vacation to Paris sans hers truly, the cantankerous Grandmama is forced to stay elsewhere – and travels to the chilly, windswept Romney Marshes to spend the holiday with Charlotte Pitt’s parents, Caroline and Joshua Fielding. Grandmama is immediately miserable. For starters, Christmas with the Fieldings is nothing like the cultured life to which she’s accustomed, and the Romney Marshes are unbearably provincial. When Joshua’s cousin Maude Barrington arrives, Grandmama is at her wit’s end. Although Maude is well traveled and friendly, Grandmama thinks she’s improper and strange. But when Maude is found lifeless in bed, Grandmama senses foul play and takes it upon herself to assume the role of amateur detective – uncovering not only the truth about Maude Barrington but some startling truths about herself as well. 

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Ann Ripley. The Christmas Garden Affair.

When Bunny Bainfield, the sexy host of “Bunny in the Garden,” is murdered at the First Lady’s exclusive Christmas conference on native plants, Louise Eldrige, star of her own PBS garden show, must weed through a wealth of suspects to catch a killer. 

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Barbara Smith. Mistletoe From Purple Sage.

Jolie Wyatt has promised to attend an anniversary party for her former employer, and she is dreading it. It seems possible that she will survive the night-that is, until an employee turns up dead in the company bathroom during the party, and Jolie, once again in the wrong place at the wrong time, gets wrapped up in another case.

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Charles Todd. A Bitter Truth.

A battlefield nurse during World War I, Bess Crawford, returning to London for a well-earned Christmas leave, finds her holiday fraught with mystery and murder when she agrees to help a bruised and battered woman return to her small village in Sussex.

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Charlene Weir. A Cold Christmas.

Caley James has three children, no money, a derelict house, an irresponsible ex-husband, and the flu. Not only that, but it’s Christmas. When the furnace dies during Hampstead, Kansas’, longest cold spell ever, she thinks things can’t get any worse, but then her youngest child finds the repairman’s body in the basement. The case falls to Chief of Police Susan Wren, whose officers are dropping like flies with the omnipresent flu. As Susan investigates, she learns that the victim, Tim Holiday, had only been in town for three months and no one knows much about him. It is clear from the damage to the victim’s face that the killer wanted him unrecognizable, but then Susan discovers that Holiday himself wanted to keep his identity a secret. Just who was Tim Holiday and why was he killed in Caley’s basement? The story rises to a dramatic climax after Caley’s oldest son, Zach, stumbles across his father giving a package to another man and becomes determined to uncover the truth. 

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