The holidays are a joyful time but it’s easy to get overwhelmed by a never ending to-do list. Give yourself the gift of a few hours of escape, accompanied by a cup of hot cocoa and one of these entertaining holiday mysteries from the authors of Sisters in Crime.
The Darling Dahlias and the Poinsettia Puzzle
by Susan Wittig Albert
It’s Christmas, 1934, and the citizens of Darling, Alabama, are unwrapping a big package of Christmas puzzles. Charlie Dickens faces two of the biggest puzzles of his career as an investigative reporter, and one of them involves his wife. Lizzy must enlist the Dahlias to protect her, while she herself is confronted by a romantic puzzle. And Sheriff Norris is forced to reopen a mystery that the town thought was solved and follow a string of clues that lead to a deadly situation at the nearby prison farm.
Once again, bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert take us to a place where real people have courage, respect for their neighbors, and the dream of doing their best, even when they’re not sure what that is. They remind us that Christmas is a celebration of friendship, community, and what’s right with the world. There’s nothing puzzling about that.
A Midwinter's Tail
by Bethany Blake
When pet sitter Daphne Templeton finds pet-store chain founder Celeste French under Sylvan Creek's town Christmas tree, stabbed with a distinctive pair of professional-grade pet shears, suspicion lands squarely on Daphne's best friend, groomer Moxie Bloom. After all, Celeste stole Moxie's boyfriend back in high school. But a mischievous little dog in a "bah-hum pug" sweater helps to lead the way to other suspects, including local merchants who aren't happy about Celeste's plan to build a flagship mega-pet store that would destroy local businesses.
Along with immersing readers in Hallmark-style holiday quaintness, the book offers lots of avenues for discussion, as it touches upon coping with a veteran's PTSD, trouble-making pets, old grudges and "progress" at the expense of charm in a small town.
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 calls on Faith Fairchild, whose family is in Sanpere Island, Maine, for the holidays, to help find the baby’s mother. In the course of her search, Faith discovers the body of a young woman, an apparent drug overdose—not the mother, but the two events are intertwined, just like death and life and ultimately evil and redemptive goodness.
Although the book is seasonal with fun holiday details, it's "a gripping whodunit and a classic tale of hope" (Harlan Coben) with much to discuss.
Frost on the Bloom
by Sally Handley
In this second book in the Holly and Ivy mystery series, one of Holly Donnelly’s former students, Becky Powell, asks the look-alike sisters for help when they all spend Christmas at Skyview Manor, and Becky becomes the prime suspect in the attempted murder of her manipulative grandmother, Lyla Powell. Once again the plucky sisters are reluctantly drawn into a murder investigation, convinced that Mrs. Powell’s duplicitous friends and greedy Powell family members have framed Becky for the crime. Holly’s involvement becomes a source of contention between her and Detective Nick Manelli, threatening their budding romance. Can their relationship continue to sizzle as the investigation heats up and the sister sleuths try to catch a cold-blooded killer?
by Susan J. Kroupa
Laugh out loud with Doodle, the obedience-impaired labradoodle who has won the hearts of dog lovers of all ages. When Doodle attracts the attention of a popular video-blogger, whose subsequent “feature” jeopardizes the boss’s business, he and Molly have their hands—well, in Doodle's case, his paws—full finding out just who's been naughty and who's been nice. The book examines several issues worth discussion beyond the literal, dog’s view of events, including the responsibilities and over-reaches of social media, the devastating effects of a racist act, and the complicated, sometimes painful negotiations of a split couple who want to give their daughter a good Christmas.
by Ellen Byerrum
Sweatergate, a deadly assault with a giant candy cane, and a chance encounter with a homeless child in a stolen shepherd’s robe send Lacey Smithsonian on an unlikely Christmas quest in Grave Apparel, the fifth book in Ellen Byerrum’s Crime of Fashion Mysteries. Set in Washington, D.C., Grave Apparel is a heartwarming Christmas tale that is both humorous and substantive. It develops Christmas themes and offers a peek into the lives of two little girls on the brink of homelessness after their mother disappears, and the lengths one fashion reporter will go to ensure a Merry Christmas for everyone, including an elusive little shepherd.
Wreath Between The Lines
by Daryl Wood Gerber
The Agatha Award–winning author of Pressing the Issue returns to the Cookbook Nook, where Jenna Hart is busy decking the halls and ducking a killer . . . The holidays are Jenna's favorite time of year, but just as she’s decorating the Cookbook Nook for all the festive events, her imperious older sister makes a surprise visit, anxious that her husband has been more naughty than nice. To make matters worse, her father’s good friend Jake shows up on her doorstep with a frantic report that his friend has been murdered—trussed with Christmas lights and impaled with a tree star. When Jake himself is poisoned and nearly dies, Jenna knows she’ll have to do whatever it takes to corner the culprit before it’s lights out for Jake.
This is a tasty culinary cozy mystery which features a lot of holiday fun. Lights, candles, action!
A Cajun Christmas Killing
by Ellen Byron
In Pelican, Louisiana, Christmastime is a season of giant bonfires on the levee, zydeco carols, and pots of gumbo. Except, this year, the Grinch has come to stay at the family-run Crozat Plantation B&B. When he floods travel websites with vicious reviews, Maggie Crozat thinks she’s identified him as rival businessman Donald Baxter. That is, until he’s found stabbed to death at Maggie’s workplace, and Maggie and her loved ones become top suspects. Maggie must help catch a killer or it will be the opposite of a Joyeux Noel for the Crozat family.
Murder With All the Trimmings
by Shawn Reilly Simmons
It’s Christmas in the Big Apple and Penelope Sutherland is home for the holidays! She’s looking forward to spending quality time with her loved ones. She’s also catering her first documentary, a history of the Vitrine Theater and the Big Apple Dancers, who put on the world-famous Christmas Extravaganza. Penelope’s best friend, Arlena, is the director and granddaughter of one of the show’s famous Snow Queens. But not everyone is in the holiday spirit. When one of the dancers mysteriously disappears then turns up dead right before opening night, it looks like Christmas might be cancelled. The police are at a loss to uncover who has it out for the theater company, so it’s up to Penelope to cook up a plan to uncover the killer before her or she can strike again.
Tied Up with Strings
by Madeline McEwen
When curmudgeonly private detective Betty Grape visits a young friend, who is housesitting in a remote village in England for Christmas vacation, something seems out of place. Her friend, Catia, is visibly nervous. Is she worried about the young men in the decrepit caravan in the back garden next door? Or is Catia involved in the disappearance of the homeowner’s invalid wife? As an American, Betty discovers the locals are full of friendly gossip but reluctant to share solid facts. Though they are determined to keep Betty from butting in on their territory, she blunders through the social morass and their broad Dorset accents to investigate the disappearance. Can she unravel the tight knots of this mystery?
Shari Randall is the Library Liaison for Sisters in Crime. She loves the role because it combines two of her favorite things: writing and libraries. The latest in her popular Lobster Shack Mystery series is Against the Claw.