Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What's New in Christmas-Themed Mysteries for 2012

Our beloved retail establishments have already begun putting out their Christmas goodies, so please don't hurt me for putting mine out on the shelf. I know I'm not the only one who enjoys reading a Christmas-themed mystery or two each holiday season, and since I am an enabler, it's my duty to let you know about some of the new mysteries that will be available this year. You  need a little time to see which ones catch your eye so you can get your hands on them, right? (Well... that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!)

Here are my picks from this season's list of brand-new holiday-themed mysteries. I've grouped them by release dates and included the information you'll need to find them at all your favorite book spots. (Synopses courtesy of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.)

Ho, ho, ho-- a'reading I will go!

=== Available Now ===

Title: Naughty: Nine Tales of Christmas Crime
Short Stories
ISBN: 9781477421857
Publisher: CreateSpace
Paperback, 210 pages

Synopsis: "In this collection of hilarious short stories, you'll see what the thieves, killers, psychos and scumbags are up to come the holidays...and it's not caroling door to door. Well, not unless they're casing the neighborhood for a break-in, as a rag-tag gang does in the title story. You'll also meet a mall elf menaced by a very, very bad Santa (in "I Killed Santa Claus"), a London police inspector hunting for the man who murdered Ebenezer Scrooge (in "Humbug"), a trucker out to save his shipment of Cabbage Patch Dolls from bumbling hijackers (in "Special Delivery") and many more characters you'll never forget.

Originally published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, these nine tales from award-winning short story master Steve Hockensmith (Holmes on the Range, Dreadfully Ever After) are sure to have you ho-ho-hoing from the first page to the last."

Title: The Christmas Carol Murders 
Series: #1 in the Dickens Junction series set in Oregon
ISBN: 9780985323608  
Publisher: Harrison Thurman Books
Paperback, 276 pages  

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "It's the holiday season in Dickens Junction, Oregon. Local bookstore owner Simon Alastair is getting ready for the community's annual celebration of Charles Dickens's well-known story. But when a mysterious stranger shows up in the Junction and is murdered hours later, Simon begins to suspect that his little community has been targeted for destruction by a shadowy organization. With the support of Zach, a dashing young magazine reporter, Simon decides to investigate the crime himself. When a second murder follows, Simon must confront the worst questions of all: which of his friends and business associates is a ruthless murderer? And why is everyone suddenly reading Ayn Rand?

The Christmas Carol Murders is the first of an exciting new cozy mystery series combining the atmosphere of a classic Agatha Christie puzzle, the deft touch of Charlotte MacLeod, a hint of Oscar Wilde's humor, and the literary spirit of the great Charles Dickens."

Title: Elvis and the Blue Christmas Corpse
Author: Peggy Webb
Series: #5 in the Southern Cousins series set in Mississippi  
ISBN: 9780758241436 
Publisher: Kensington
Hardcover, 262 pages

Synopsis: "Someone's ringing slay bells and Callie, her bodacious Cousin Lovie, and the basset hound who believes he's the King reincarnated must go on the hunt for a killer who's anything but jolly. 

It may be Christmas in Tupelo, but there's precious little peace in the valley for the Valentine gang. Callie Valentine Jones' not-quite-ex Jack is trussed up like a holiday turkey, recovering from a shattered leg. Cousin Lovie's on the rebound, looking for love in all the wrong stockings. And Elvis the basset hound is out for revenge on the Lhasa Apso who's been singing "Merry Christmas, Baby" to his sweet French poodle behind his tail.

Everyone finally gets into the spirit when Uncle Charlie is pressed into service as Santa at a weekend charity event in the mall. But Yuletide cheer turns to Yuletide fear after a killer tries to zap Charlie back to the North Pole marked "Return to Sender"--and sends Rudolph to the big reindeer pen in the sky.

Determined to find out who's decking the mall with Christmas corpses, Elvis and the Valentines fill up their sleigh with suspects. Could it be the cookie lady who puts more than sugar into her Christmas goodies? The deranged vet who vows to barbecue Santa? Or the former beauty queen who's been stalking Charlie in her spare time? Can the Valentine gang unmask this devil in disguise in time to turn their "Blue Christmas" all Christmas-y and white?"

Title: Mistletoe, Merriment, and Murder
Author: Sara Rosett
Series: #7 in the Mom Zone series
ISBN: 9780758269218
Publisher: Kensington
Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages

Synopsis: "Super organizer Ellie Avery could really use some Christmas cheer when Gabrielle Matheson, a grinchy professional rival, sets up shop in the same small Georgia town. But before the halls are even halfway decked with holly, someone uses Ellie's terrifically tasteless white elephant swap gift as ...a murder weapon! Ellie's now a suspect. Besides playing Mrs. Santa for her Air Force pilot husband and their two kids, shielding her eyes from the garishly over-decorated house down the street, and helping a client who's a hardcore hoarder, Ellie also has to solve this ho-ho-homicide ...and find a killer who wishes her a very deadly Christmas."

Title: December Dread
Author: Jess Lourey
Series: #8 in the Murder-by-Month series set in Minnesota
ISBN: 9780738731889
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Paperback, 288 pages

Synopsis: "With Christmas just over a week away, ’tis the season for grinning sales elves on TV, maddeningly jolly Muzak, and a guilty Nut Goodie addiction. But for Mira James and other Battle Lake-area women, the holidays are marred by something far worse—a serial killer leaving candy canes as his calling card. His target? Thirty-something brunettes who look just like Mira. When a woman from her high school graduating class becomes his latest victim, Mira plows through a case of online dating turned deadly with Mrs. Berns at her side. Will she earn her detective stripes . . . or end up deader than the Ghost of Christmas Past?"

Title: The Snow White Christmas Cookie
Author: David Handler
Series: #9 in the Berger and Mitry series set in Connecticut
ISBN: 9781250004543
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Hardcover, 272 pages

Synopsis: "The newest adventure featuring the mismatched romantic crime-fighting duo of New York City film critic Mitch Berger and Connecticut State Resident Trooper Desiree Mitry presents Des with her first taste of Christmas in the historic New England village of Dorset.

And what a taste it is. Three blizzards have blanketed the village in forty inches of snow. Bryce Peck, Mitch’s blue-blooded neighbor out on Big Sister Island, has just been found dead of a drug overdose. Young Kylie Champlain has slammed her car head-on into an office building after she’s caught trying to shoplift a pair of Ugg boots. And a grinch has taken to stealing the mail from Hank Merrill’s postal route, which happens to be the main route through the historic district.

Stealing the U.S. mail is a serious federal crime, but Des soon discovers that she’s onto something much bigger: a black-market prescription drug gang with ties to organized crime. And now a fourth blizzard is on its way. And so is another murder.  And, somehow, the man in her life has managed to land himself smack dab in the middle of the whole mess. Not to mention that he’s in way over his head with Josie Cantro, the beautiful and treacherous life-coach who just may be responsible for it all. If Des doesn’t act fast, this will truly be a Christmas to remember---but for all of the wrong reasons."

=== October 26 ===

Title: The Gingerbread Bump-off
Series: #6 in the Fresh-Baked series set in Texas
ISBN: 9780451234834 
Publisher: NAL Trade
Paperback, 304 pages

Synopsis: "Not only will Phyllis Newsom's house be featured in the annual Christmas Jingle Bell Tour of Homes, she also has a Christmas Eve bridal shower and a New Year's Eve wedding to bake goodies for. But like her tasty treats, she rises to the occasion.

Before the tour gets under way, Phyllis makes a gruesome discovery on her porch: someone has tried to kill her friend. As Santa's naughty list gets longer, Phyllis tries to catch a half-baked killer."

=== October 30 ===

Title: A Christmas Garland
Author: Anne Perry  
Series: #10 in the Christmas mysteries 
ISBN:  9780345530745
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hardcover, 208 pages

Synopsis: "'An annual treat,' declared The Wall Street Journal of Anne Perry’s Victorian-era holiday mysteries. Now she continues this magnificent tradition with A Christmas Garland, a yuletide tale set in exotic India. This time the mistress of mystery tells the story of a terrible crime that sets the stage for another: accusing an innocent man of murder.

The year is 1857, soon after the violent Siege of Cawnpore, with India in the midst of rebellion. In the British garrison, a guard is killed and an Indian prisoner escapes, which leads to yet more British deaths. Cries for revenge are overwhelming. Despite no witnesses and no evidence against him, a luckless British medical orderly named John Tallis is arrested as an accomplice simply because he was the only soldier unaccounted for when these baffling crimes were committed.

Though chosen to defend Tallis, young Lieutenant Victor Narraway is not encouraged to try very hard. Narraway’s superiors merely want a show trial. But inspired by a soldier’s widow and her children, and by his own stubborn faith in justice, Narraway searches for the truth. In an alien world haunted by memories of massacre, he is the accused man’s only hope.

The trial of John Tallis equals the white-knuckle best of Anne Perry’s breathtaking courtroom dramas. And thanks to a simple Christmas garland and some brilliant detective work, Narraway perseveres against appalling odds, learning how to find hope within himself—and turn the darkest hour into one full of joy and light."

Title: Eleven Pipers Piping
Author: C.C. Benison
Series: #2 in the Father Tom Christmas series set in England
ISBN: 9780385344463 
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Hardcover, 496 pages

Synopsis: "Father Tom Christmas, the recently widowed vicar adjusting to life in the English village of Thornford Regis, would do almost anything to avoid attending the annual Robert Burns Supper at the local hotel. But as chaplain to a traditional Scottish pipe band, Father Tom must deliver the grace—and contend with wailing bagpipes, whiskey-laced parishioners reciting poetry, and the culinary abomination that is haggis.

As snow falls to unprecedented depths, the revelers carry on—briefly interrupted by an enigmatic stranger seeking shelter. Then Will Moir, proprietor of the hotel and a dedicated piper, inexplicably goes missing—only to be found later in the hotel’s dark tower, alone and dead from what appears to be a heart attack.

Father Tom’s own heart sinks when he learns the actual cause of Will’s demise. When word gets out, the flurry of innocent speculation descends into outlandish gossip. And, for all its tranquil charm, Thornford Regis has plenty to gossip about—illicit trysts, muted violence, private sorrows, and old, unresolved tragedies. The question is: Who would benefit most from the piper’s death? Suspicion swirls around many, including Will’s beautiful widow, their shadowy son, Will’s obnoxious brother-in-law, and even the mysterious party crasher, who knows more than she lets on about the grudges she left behind—but never forgot."

=== November 6 ===

Title: The Twelve Clues of Christmas
Author: Rhys Bowen
Series: #6 in the Royal Spyness series
ISBN:  9780425252789
Publisher: Berkley Hardcover
Hardcover, 320 pages

Synopsis: "She may be thirty-fifth in line for the throne, but Lady Georgiana Rannoch cannot wait to ring in the new year—before a Christmas killer wrings another neck…

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—well, actually, my true love, Darcy O’Mara, is spending a feliz navidad tramping around South America. Meanwhile, Mummy is holed up in a tiny village called Tiddleton-under-Lovey with that droll Noel Coward! And I’m snowed in at Castle Rannoch with my bumbling brother, Binky, and sourpuss sister-in-law, Fig.

So it’s a miracle when I contrive to land a position as hostess to a posh holiday party in Tiddleton. The village is like something out of A Christmas Carol! But no sooner have I arrived than a neighborhood nuisance, a fellow named Freddie falls out of a tree, dead…. Dickensian, indeed.

Freddie’s merely a stocking stuffer. On my second day in town, another so-called accident turns up another mincemeat pie—and yet another on my third. The village is buzzing that a recent prison break could have something to do with it… that, or a long-standing witch’s curse. I’m not so sure. But after Darcy shows up beneath the mistletoe, anything could be possible in this wicked wonderland."

Title: The Clue Is in the Pudding
Series: #20 in the Pennyfoot Royal Hotel series set in England
ISBN: 9780425253274
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Paperback, 304 pages

Synopsis: "The kitchen staff of the Pennyfoot Hotel is toiling away to prepare the finest meal for the guests on Christmas. And the plum pudding may very well be to die for…

Cecily Sinclair Baxter could use a Christmas miracle. Mrs. Chubb, the Pennyfoot’s housekeeper, must travel up north for a family emergency, and Cecily needs a temporary replacement. The agency doesn’t have much to offer on short notice during this busy time of year. But they have someone—Beatrice Tucker—who turns out to be more of a curse. She fights with just about everyone, including Archibald Armitage.

Star of the London stage, Armitage is staying at the Pennyfoot this holiday season. His presence turns out to be a blessing after he rescues the stable manager’s dog from drowning in the icy duck pond. But not everyone in Badgers End is a fan of the actor…

When Armitage drops dead after Beatrice serves him some plum pudding, everyone assumes the huffy housekeeper is the culprit. But as Cecily begins to investigate, the list of suspects grows, and solving this case may not be as easy as pie…or pudding."

Title: Mrs. Jeffries and the Mistletoe Mix-Up
Series: #29 in the Mrs. Jeffries series set in England
ISBN: 9780425251706  
Publisher: Berkley
Mass Market Paperback, 272 pages

Synopsis: "Moments after a high tea is interrupted by a fire in the servants’ hall, art collector Daniel McCourt is found sprawled on the floor of his study under a bundle of mistletoe, his throat slit by the bloody sword lying next to his body. Could the killer be a disgruntled lover, sending a message by murdering McCourt under the mistletoe? Could it be one of his fellow collectors, pointedly using one of McCourt’s own acquisitions to kill him?
Inspector Witherspoon is determined to solve the case—preferably before Christmas Eve—but of course he will need some assistance from the always sharp-witted Mrs. Jeffries, who has her own theories on why McCourt had to die by the sword…"
That's my list! How about you? Did any of these titles catch your eye? Which ones?


  1. I can't believe it's already time to start thinking about Christmas books!

  2. Cathy - What?! Huh? Is it that time already? Yikes! I like Rhys Bowen's Evan Evans series, so that one caught my eye. So did the Emily Brightwell; the Mrs. Jeffries series is a solid one too.

    1. That time sneaks up on us all, doesn't it? :-)

  3. I just ordered christmas books for the library. Two of your picks were on my list! Thanks!

  4. I like them all....especially the murder ones. :) :)

    THANKS for the list.

    Silver's Reviews

  5. Thanks for this listing. I kind of enjoy reading Christmas mystery stories in the Christmas season. I'm sure I'll try at least a couple of these.

  6. I love Christmas mysteries! I'm going for Rhys Bowen and The Christmas Carol mystery. I read the Mrs. Jeffries mystery last year so it must be 2011 book.

    1. I had to doublecheck. You're right. It was released in hardcover last year, and new out in paperback this year.

      I have to admit that I really like the sound of the new Rhys Bowen....

  7. I'm a die hard "don't talk about Christmas until after Thanksgiving" person...but there are two books on this list I'm pretty sure I need ;) The Christmas Carol Murders and The Snow White Christmas Cookie...I just won't purchase them until Nov. 23 ;)

    1. I won't tell anyone you know about them! ;-)

  8. I've read 3 or 4 of the Anne Perry Christmas books and loved every one. I didn't realise she was still doing them.

    I love the cover on The Snow White Christmas Cookie and it's a series I like the sound of so will look into that one in a moment.

    1. It's a good series, Cath. I've enjoyed every book I've read... just haven't made it this far yet!


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