I love reading mysteries at Christmas – only mysteries in which Christmas is part of the story. I go hide in them when a Christmas respite is required.
I bought only two at Joseph-Beth this year – because they did not collect them in any one spot. They had Christmas books together, but not mysteries – though I asked several times. I even searched the shelves and found none. So, needing my fix, I went to Amazon, typed in Christmas mysteries, and had a wonderful list to choose from. And, as my Irish luck would have it, on one of the days when there were no shipping charges.
The first of these was M. C. Beaton’s A Highland Christmas – which I realized I had read before, but which is such a treat I happily read it again. A terrific Scots constable named Hamish Macbeth, who solves and resolves lots of Lochdubh’s (Black Lake – or properly, Lake Black) problems. Super fun.
Another M. C. Beaton was next – called Kissing Christmas Goodbye, starring her detective Agatha Raisin. I remember reading an Agatha Raisin once before. Not quite as much fun, because the characters are angst-ridden in true 20th century fashion. Set in the Cotswolds in Britain, it’s a very good mystery, none the less – and one I didn’t manage to solve.
With a title like Shakespeare’s Christmas, Charlaine Harris’ book was a must buy. Turns out Shakespeare is a town in Arkansas, and the protagonist is named Lily Bard. A good love story, lots of craziness, a fair amount of dark humor – and a little more violence and meanness than I care for. I had to finish it in daylight so I could be up and about doing things afterwards to wipe the images away. I can see why Charlaine is an NYTimes bestselling author, though. Good writing.
Indigo Christmas, by Jeanne M. Damms, brought me to a new author and a new protagonist. Hilda Johansson is the Swedish former maid now married to a wealthy Irishman in South Bend Indiana at the turn of the 20th century. Just the kind of historical mystery to keep me turning the pages. Lots of detail on the household and how they fit or don’t into the stereotypes of that day.
I found this year’s Mary Higgins Clark / Carol Higgins Clark mystery – Dashing Through the Snow – at J-Beth. Maybe next year I’ll manage to find the whole series. This mother and daughter really know how to make a great fun and very smart mystery each Christmas. There’s a mother (a writer) and daughter (she’s the PI) in the story as well, plus assorted friends, plus wild synchronicities that really don’t seem like that while you’re reading.
I finished my reading with another Anne Perry, one of my favorite writers for this season. This one was set in a small village in the West of Ireland and included much lore and description of one of my favorite places on this earth. And was a cracker jack mystery to boot. What could be better? Answer: almost nothing!
This was a great year for reading Christmas mysteries.