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Heinous Holidays
by Hilary Williamson (updated Dec 2011)

Tis the season to be jolly ... and read seasonal mysteries about mayhem and murder. Why do Christmas crime capers have such appeal? Maybe it's the Grinch in all of us, the desire for distance from the relentless good cheer, the continual pressure to be happy, merry, jolly ... or perhaps we need to take a reading break from time to time to recover a festive facial expression, and the holiday mystery is at hand. Whatever the reason, publishers and writers have supplied us with a good selection over the years. Here are a few to tickle your fancy ...

The Alpine Christmas by Mary Daheim
Emma Lord takes on seasonal pranksters and a murderer, with aplomb.

The Body in the Sleigh by Katherine Hall Page
Faith Fairchild finds a body in an antique sleigh decorated for Christmas.

A Canine Christmas edited by Jeffrey Marks
Fifteen mysteries, each featuring an ingratiating tail-wagging crime-solver.

Cat Coming Home by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Joe Grey, Dulcie and Kit patrol the rooftops during the holidays.

Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop edited by Otto Penzler
17 great short stories by 17 well-known mystery authors.

Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron
A young teenager dies in a car accident near Christmas.

A Christmas Odyssey by Anne Perry
Henry Rathbone seeks to extricate a prodigal son from the underworld.

The Con Artist of Catalina Island by Jennifer Colt
The McAfee twins bring law and order to Catalina Island.

Death by Dickens edited by Anne Perry
Re-imagined versions of Dickens' characters enliven 11 short stories.

Deck the Halls by Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark
Alvirah Meehan & Regan Reilly team up against inept kidnappers.

The Fat Man by Kenneth Harmon
This holiday gem is 'A Tale of North Pole Noir'.

A Highland Christmas by M. C. Beaton
Hamish Macbeth at his helpful best, tracking down a missing Christmas tree.

A Holly, Jolly Murder by Joan Hess
Claire Malloy celebrates the season with neo-Druids - and murder.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
A play sets the scene for Christmas murder at Buckshaw Manor.

Merry, Merry Ghost by Carolyn Hart
Bailey Ruth returns to earth for her next adven-mission.

Mistletoe and Mayhem by Katherine Hall Page et al
A holiday collection of romantic escapades, including a dead Santa.

Mistletoe Man by Susan Wittig Albert
China Bayles investigates when her mistletoe supplier is murdered.

Mrs. Jeffries and the Feast of St. Stephen by Emily Brightwell
Inspector Witherspoon's staff help solve a case before Christmas.

Rituals of the Season by Margaret Maron
Judge Deborah Knott solves a murder and marries the love of her life.

A Rumpole Christmas: Stories by John Mortimer
The great barrister lives on in this collection of lively holiday tales.

Sugarplum Dead by Carolyn Hart
Annie and Max Darling in another tangle of mystery and murder.

Tough Cookie by Diane Mott Davidson
Curiosity almost kills caterer Goldy Schulz just before Christmas.

Twelve Drummers Drumming by C. C. Benison
First in a new series starring Father Tom Christmas.

Voices by Arnaldur Indrišason
Erlendur Sveinsson investigates a corpse dressed in a Santa Claus suit.

So, after you finish your latest cookie exchange (using some of Goldy's recipes of course), put aside the last minute touches to your decorations, take a break for a Christmas cozy with cookies, munch along to heinous holiday havoc ... and be sure to be jolly!
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