Looking for a holiday themed book club pick? The Sisters in Crime have you covered, from humorous to historical, from coziest cozy to stone cold thriller. Our nine suggestions include a few novellas, because time for reading can be in short supply at this time of the year. These stories are set during Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s, because murder doesn’t take a holiday. So, put your feet up in front of the fire, wrap yourself in a warm wooly throw, top that hot cocoa with too much whipped cream, and enjoy one of these holiday treats.
How the Finch Stole Christmas!
by Donna Andrews
Meg Langslow's actor husband is directing a benefit production of Dickens's A Christmas Carol, with a large cast including their sons Jamie and Josh as Tiny Tim and young Scrooge, and Meg helping as assistant director. The show must go on, even if the famous—though slightly over-the-hill—actor who's come to town to play Scrooge has brought a sleigh-load of baggage and enemies with him. And why is Caerphilly suddenly overrun with a surplus of beautiful caged finches? In addition to Andrews’ trademark humor, the book deals with animal welfare issues—interesting fodder for book club discussion.
The Ghost of Christmas Past
by Rhys Bowen
Semi-retired private detective Molly Murphy Sullivan is suffering from depression after a miscarriage in San Francisco during the earthquake of 1906. When her family is invited to Christmas at a mansion on the Hudson, she thinks it will be a perfect chance to escape her sorrow. Although it has all the trappings of a luxurious holiday celebration, Molly soon feels that something is wrong and learns that the host couple's only child wandered out into the snow on Christmas Eve ten years ago and was never found. As she looks deeper into this mystery, she realizes that members of the household know more than they are willing to share. Christmas warmth and cheer with a tinge of suspense make this a compelling read.
by Cleo Coyle
Greenwich Village coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi has grown very fond of Alfred Glockner, the part-time comic and genuinely jolly charity Santa who's been using her Village Blend as a place to warm his mittens. When she finds Alfred dead in a nearby alley, a few subtle clues convince her that his death was something more than the tragic result of a random mugging.
Java loving book clubs will also enjoy a bonus section of delicious holiday recipes as well as a glossary of coffeehouse terms, instructions on making espressos and lattes without an expensive machine, and tips for creating tasty coffeehouse syrups at home.
The Queene’s Christmas: A Queen Elizabeth I Mystery
by Karen Harper
‘Tis the season for royal watchers with Harry planning to tie the knot! Not only is The Queene’s Christmas a glimpse into the traditions of Christmas past—many of which we still use today - it’s also a rollicking murder mystery, with Queen Elizabeth and her band of Privy Plot counselors acting as detectives. The book is also a character study of one of the most dynamic female rulers of all time. History, mystery, and biography combine into a rich, sweet Christmas treat.
by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross
With the fireplace crackling, the tree twinkling, and the carols humming, few things in life are as picture perfect as Christmas in Maine—until murder dampens the holiday spirit. It must be something in the eggnog . . . Eggnog Murder offers three holiday novellas from cozy mystery authors Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis and Barbara Ross.
The Body in the Sleigh
by Katherine Hall Page
“The Christmas Eve sky was filled with stars when Mary Bethany found a baby in her barn.” Mary keeps goats at her small farm on Sanpere Island in Maine's Penobscot Bay where Faith Fairchild and family are spending the Christmas season at their cottage. Mary has also found a puzzling note and a serious bankroll tucked in with the babe. She turns to Faith for help locating the mother. Before Mary’s Christmas Day call, Faith finds a young girl's body, the result of a tragic overdose, tucked among the mannequins in the historical society’s antique sleigh holiday display. The two stories mesh—much to Faith’s peril. Author Page says this is her favorite book. It is also dedicated to librarians and includes an Ode to Libraries in an Author’s Note at the end.
Menace at the Christmas Market: A Christmas Novella
by Sara Rossett
In USA Today bestselling author Rossett’s title, Jane Austen fan Kate goes to the local Regency-themed Christmas market in search of gifts, but while she’s there a new acquaintance meets with foul play. Kate is drawn into the investigation and soon realizes she must discover who wants to make sure she doesn’t ring in the New Year. A good choice for book clubs that enjoy Jane Austen-inspired books with a contemporary setting.
by Rabbi Ilene Schneider
Rabbi Aviva Cohen is a 50-something, twice-divorced rabbi living a rather uneventful life in South Jersey. True, she has a family that is rather unconventional. And her first ex-husband is moving to her town. But her life takes a truly interesting – and sinister – turn when she agrees to officiate at the funeral of an unpopular land developer. She doesn’t expect to be told by two different people that he had been murdered. Nor does she expect that the funeral would result in a suicide. Her search for the story behind the suicide (or was it murder?) puts her life in jeopardy.
Stone Cold Dead
by James Ziskin
December 21, 1960, the shortest day of the year: Fifteen-year-old Darleen Hicks slips away from her school bus as it idles in the junior-high parking lot. Moments later the bus rumbles away without her, and she is never seen again.
New Year’s Eve, 1960: The small upstate town of New Holland, New York, is in the grip of a severe cold snap, when reporter Ellie Stone receives a late-night caller—Irene Metzger, the grieving mother of Darleen Hicks. She tells Ellie that the local police won’t help her, that they believe Darleen has run off with some older boy and will return when she is ready. Irene has read Ellie’s stories on an earlier murder case and believes Ellie is her last hope.
Ellie Stone is on a chilling journey to a place of uncertainty, loss, teenage passion, and vulnerability—where Ellie’s questions are unwanted and her life is in danger.
Native New Englander Shari Randall is the author of the Lobster Shack mystery series coming from St. Martin's Press in 2018. She loves being the Sister in Crime's Library Liaison because the role combines two of her favorite things: writing and libraries.