Christmas is over for another year, but it got me thinking about what great crime books have been written using the season as a backdrop. Here’s ten of the greats – let me know if there’s any you think should be on the list.
- Maigret’s Christmas by George Simenon
This collection of nine short stories creates a vivid picture of Christmas in Paris. The stories include detailed descriptions and unexpected twists, which help bring each one to life and make them more memorable.
- A Christmas Secret by Anne Perry
The fourth Christmas novella written by Perry, A Christmas Secret has all the mystery and intrigue that this best selling author is known for. The story is set in 1890, and is centred around a couple who are temporarily based in a small town while the husband fills in for the reverend who is on vacation. The more time they spend in the quaint town, however, the more suspicious everything seems. Clarice, the new reverend’s wife, begins a mission to uncover the truth about the town, despite the possibly dangerous consequences.
- How the Lights Get In by Louise Penny
Set during a long, cold winter, Penny’s novel is the ninth in her Inspector Gamache series. In the story the most famous woman in Canada has been killed, and this begins a conflict in the police department between good and evil.
- Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan
In this vintage murder mystery, Santa Claus is found dead under the Christmas tree. Mordecai Tremaine, an amateur detective, offers his services to the police in an attempt to solve the mystery and locate the killer.
- Merry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson
Although his main aim is to spend a quiet Christmas with his family, during the holiday Cross is required to investigate three incidents: a terrorist attack in Washington DC, a domestic hostage situation and a church disturbance.
- Dying for Christmas by Tammy Cohen
Christmas gifts sometimes come at terrible costs. In this novel, Jessica Gold is stalked and kidnapped, and her admirer tries to win her affection by showering her with strange presents through the season.
- Deck the Halls by Mary and Carol Higgins Clark
This mother/daughter collaboration includes detectives from both women’s solo stories, who come together to solve a mystery involving a kidnapping.
- Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon
Re-released in 2014, this classic mystery became a surprise bestseller. The story revolves around a group of travellers who become stuck on a train on Christmas Eve. They attempt to walk to the next station but stop at an empty house along the way, where they become stranded with a murderer.
- Crimson Snow
This short story compilation, includes work by authors such as Margery Allingham and Edgar Wallace, with most of the tales taking place around Christmas.
- Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
Known for her challenging mysteries, Agatha Christie once again thrills audiences with this Christmas crime. The story revolves around the head of a dysfunctional family being murdered during their Christmas celebrations, and Poirot is called in to pinpoint the killer.