Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mistletoe Mysteries

I must admit that I don’t get it. I like my Christmas to be as stress free as possible, both in life and in my reading materials. The only mystery I care to think about is what gifts to give and whether I can shake a present without "breaking its tail"(which is the warning my sister-in-law always tells me). I am not saying that I don’t enjoy reading mysteries because I do. I just don’t quite understand the need to bring murder and mayhem into the holiday season. But if you are the type who enjoys a good who-dun-it ...well do I have the books for you. And who knows, they may even be sitting under the tree for you come Christmas morning.

Anne Perry has published a Christmas novel a year for eons it seems. Actually the 2010 novel A Christmas Odyssey is her 8th holiday novel . Perry talks about this novel on You Tube. Perry is well know for her Victorian mysteries and this holiday tale is no different. This great but dark thriller focuses on James Wentworth’s hunt for his wayward son, Lucien. Lucien has fallen hard for "loose" woman, Sadie. Lucien has disappeared into the depths of hell, or in this case the depraved warrens of the London underground: a land of cocaine, sexual fetishes, poverty and illness. It is ten days before Christmas and Lucien is trapped while carefree Londoners go on their merry care-free way. This is not exactly my cup of tea but Perry is an excellent writer. Those who like her, like her a lot.

A Holiday Yarn: a seaside knitters mystery by Sally Goldenbaum. If I am to read a holiday mystery I prefer one that is light and excuse the term, thoughtless. In other words I want a book to entertain and not be stressful; just an evenings bit of fluff to ease the strain of the holidays. This is one such book. Mary Pisano has converted her house into a B& B just in time for the holidays. But who should be her first customers.....her own family in town to settle her grandfather’s will! If this wasn’t complicated enough, her cousin Pam is found murdered! With the help of the Seaside Knitters group all problems will become untangled.

Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop: ‘tis the season to be deadly: stories of mistletoe and mayhem for 17 masters of suspense, edited by Otto Penzier. For the past 17 years, Otto Penzler, has commissioned well-known authors to write a holiday season mystery that takes place in The Mysterious Bookshop, Penzler then gives these short mysteries to his customers. Now collected in one volume, these stories both entertain and have you on the edge of the seat . There is something for everyone. Authors included are Mary Higgins Clark, Ed McBain, Donald E. Westlake, and others.

Probable Claus, by Edgar award winner Jon L. Breen, is a screw-ball comedy of a mystery thriller, which is just my type of light Christmas mystery. Santa Claus is accused of killing his own brother! Of course it isn’t really Santa Claus but well-known Charlie Baines who is generous to a fault. He is accused of killing his Grinch like brother, Andrew. The lawyers defending him are just odd and in my opinion, get the best lines. As one review states: "Going for laughs more than poignancy, Breen adds a candy cane twist in the form of a mysterious newspaper informant known as Deep Snow".

Whatever holiday surprises come your way I hope they are good solutions to your life mysteries!

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