From a Raven's Shelf: Holidays 2023

From a Raven's Shelf

Holidays 2023 Edition

By Sarah Young


Merry and Happy Season to you all. It’s December and we have a long year of great reading behind us. December always brings a fair number of holiday-themed mysteries that help to drive away the winter blahs, so I thought I would devote this month’s column to a quick rundown of some great Christmas and winter-themed mysteries for you. Several of these descriptions are the ones created by the publishers as I am still diving into many of them myself, but I wanted to be sure to have a great list to inspire your reading this winter.

We are fortunate to have one last Christmas mystery from the great Anne Perry, who passed away this year. A Christmas Vanishing is the twenty-first entry into this series in which Perry has some of her iconic characters like Thomas and Charlotte Pitt or William Monk or a secondary character connected to them solving a mystery with a Christmas theme. Here is the publisher’s description of the latest entry: “Charlotte Pitt’s clever grandmother investigates the sudden disappearance of her dear friend in this chilling holiday whodunit by New York Times bestselling author Anne Perry. Mariah Ellison, Charlotte Pitt’s grandmother, accepts her longtime friend Winnie’s gracious invitation to spend Christmas with her and her husband, Barton, in their picturesque village. But upon arrival, Mariah discovers that Winnie has vanished without a trace, and Barton rudely rescinds the invitation. Once Mariah finds another acquaintance to stay with during the holiday season, she begins investigating Winnie’s disappearance.” Be sure to enjoy this final entry from the great Anne Perry.

We always get several copies of Otto Penzler’s The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries during the holiday season. Penzler has nearly single-handedly driven a revival of interest in so many wonderful twentieth-century classic mystery writers of the old school, and this book is a collection of short holiday mysteries from some of the greatest of them. “This collection touches on all aspects of the holiday season, and all types of mysteries. They are suspenseful, funny, frightening, and poignant. Included are puzzles by Mary Higgins Clark, Isaac Asimov, and Ngaio Marsh; uncanny tales in the tradition of A Christmas Carol by Peter Lovesey and Max Allan Collins; O. Henry-like stories by Stanley Ellin and Joseph Shearing, stories by pulp icons John D. MacDonald and Damon Runyon; comic gems from Donald E. Westlake and John Mortimer; and many, many more. Almost any kind of mystery you’re in the mood for—suspense, pure detection, humor, cozy, private eye, or police procedural—can be found in these pages.”

If you have a yen for a few more classic mysteries, check out Agatha Christie’s Midwinter Murders: Fireside Tales from the Queen of Mystery. This collection of short tales, some featuring our beloved Poirot and Miss Marple, features Christie’s impeccable plotting and suspense, and is perfect for those cold winter morning reads.

In the thriller genre, Lisa Unger is one of those authors you must read with the light on! She gives us Christmas Presents this season, a page-turning whodunit that you will not want to put down. What happens when a nosy podcaster is threatening to reveal the darkest, most painful secrets of your past? Madeline Martin is trying to keep her fledging bookshop business afloat and take care of her ailing father, hoping that no one knows about the darkness that haunts her. Then failed novelist Harley Granger walks into her shop, hoping to use her story to boost his true crime podcast. Unger always delivers the goods in domestic thrillers.

I think I wrote about the wonderful series by Clara McKenna featuring Stella Kendrick and Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst earlier this year with Murder at Morrington Hall. McKenna gives us another in the series—Murder on Mistletoe Lane—in which Stella, as the new Lady Lyndhurst, learns the new responsibilities and traditions that come with her position in the county during Christmas season. Following through on her charity work and Yuletide preparations becomes rather difficult when her housekeeper Mrs. Nelson is found dead . . . in Mistletoe Lane.

A wonderfully original Christmas book came out last year. The Christmas Murder Game is such a fun, smart, clever twist on the country house murder plot. “Lily never intended to go back to Endgame House. But after her favorite aunt's death, she reluctantly returns to compete with her estranged cousins in the annual Christmas game for the deed to the house. She wouldn’t be here at all, but the clues of the game hold the answer to another mystery that Lily is determined to solve: who killed her mother twenty years ago?” I loved this mystery last year. It’s on my stack for this month for sure.

Shifting to even lighter fare, Christmas is fertile ground for the cozy mystery series. Here are some delicious and delightful holiday reads:

I have always enjoyed Mary Kay Andrews and her frothy, female-empowerment novels and light mysteries. Writing as Andrews and as Kathy Hogan Trochek, she has amassed a highly successful library. She has recently been writing Christmas-themed books and this year you can enjoy Bright Lights, Big Christmas. It’s just what her fans expect: a romantic, slightly mysterious, funny, and fast, engaging read. If you want a non-holiday novel from Andrews, I never get tired of recommending Savannah Blues. It is one of my favorites.

Twisted Tea Christmas: A Tea Shop Mystery finds Laura Childs’ tea maven Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier, Drayton Conneley, hosting a Victorian tea for the holiday season, but they end up hosting a murder instead.

Check out both of Jenny Colgan’s Edinburgh bookshop Christmas mysteries: The Christmas Bookshop and its sequel Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop are funny and heart-warming with a touch of romance and a spicing of mystery.

David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter series is a perennial favorite for dog lovers and mystery readers. In 'Twas the Bite Before Christmas: An Andy Carpenter Mystery, Andy and his dogs offer their help to Derek Moore, one of the dog rescue organization’s most loyal volunteers who is arrested for murder.

From dogs to birds, we go to Donna Andrews. She often gifts us with a Christmas mystery in her Meg Langslow bird-themed series. This season you can enjoy Let It Crow! Let It Crow! Let It Crow! Can you imagine Meg entering a weapon-smithing contest, then finding herself in the middle of a blacksmithing feud while trying to maintain her hectic Christmas season schedule? Then this is the book for you.

These are just a few of the wonderful cozy mysteries that you can find around this time of year. The genre is perfect for calling up the cinnamon, chestnuts, and Christmas cheer.

Of course, I always recommend that everyone dive into A Christmas Carol during the season. Sometimes we forget how brilliant Dickens’ prose is in this beautiful classic novel. The story has become so ubiquitous in our culture that we all think we know everything there is to know. But I always enjoy opening it up again and experiencing the emotional intensity that only Dickens can achieve.

Let me conclude by also recommending a non-mystery. No one writes like Truman Capote, and A Christmas Memory packs an emotional punch from which one never fully recovers. This is a heart-wrenching tale of love and unimaginable loss, but also a poignant, beautiful tale about friendship and the joy of giving.

I hope your holiday reading keeps you warm and finds you inspired. Thank you for following along with my reading this year. I hope you have discovered new book friendships that bring you great joy.

Happy Holidays.


A Christmas Vanishing: A Novel By Anne Perry Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9780593359181
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Ballantine Books - November 7th, 2023

Charlotte Pitt’s clever grandmother investigates the sudden disappearance of her dear friend in this chilling holiday whodunit by New York Times bestselling author Anne Perry.


The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries By Otto Penzler (Editor) Cover Image
By Otto Penzler (Editor)
$26.00
This book is hard-to-find or out of print and we may not be able to get it. Email for more details.
ISBN: 9780345802989
Published: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard - October 22nd, 2013

The most complete collection of Yuletide whodunits ever assembled The Edgar Award-winning editor collects sixty of his all-time favorite holiday crime stories—from Arthur Conan Doyle and Thomas Hardy to Sara Paretsky and Ed McBain.


Midwinter Murder: Fireside Tales from the Queen of Mystery By Agatha Christie Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780063030367
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - October 20th, 2020

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!

"Reading a perfectly plotted Agatha Christie is like crunching into a perfect apple: that pure, crisp, absolute satisfaction.” —Tana French, New York Times bestselling author of the Dublin Murder Squad novels


Christmas Presents By Lisa Unger Cover Image
$23.95
ISBN: 9781613164518
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Mysterious Press - October 24th, 2023

A SheReads, Criminal Element, CrimeReads, and Zibby Mag "Most Anticipated" Thriller

Instead of presents this Christmas, a true crime podcaster is opening up a cold case…


Murder at Morrington Hall (A Stella and Lyndy Mystery #1) By Clara McKenna Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781496725554
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Kensington - May 26th, 2020

Stella Kendrick is an all-American heiress who can’t be tamed. But when the lively aspiring equine trainer tangles with British aristocracy, she meets her match—and a murderer . . .
 


Murder on Mistletoe Lane (A Stella and Lyndy Mystery #5) By Clara McKenna Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781496738202
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Kensington - October 24th, 2023

American heiress Stella Kendrick and her husband, British aristocrat Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst, prepare to celebrate their first Christmas together as newlyweds in Clara McKenna’s latest historical mystery set in England’s New Forest region at the turn of the 20th century…


The Christmas Murder Game By Alexandra Benedict Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781728263038
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Poisoned Pen Press - October 4th, 2022

"Curl up by the fire (and lock all the doors) for this Christmas cracker of a book." C.S. Green, author of Sleep Tight

Twelve clues. Twelve keys. Twelve days of Christmas. But how many will die before Twelfth Night?

Agatha Christie meets Clue in this delightful, tense manor house murder mystery.


Bright Lights, Big Christmas: A Novel By Mary Kay Andrews Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9781250285812
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: St. Martin's Press - September 26th, 2023

From Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of The Homewreckers and The Santa Suit, comes a novella celebrating love and the warm, glittering charm of the holiday season.

"Nobody does Christmas like Mary Kay Andrews." ―Debbie Macomber

"Cozy up with Santa's favorite novelist!” ―Adriana Trigiani


Savannah Blues: A Novel By Mary Kay Andrews Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780060519131
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Harper Paperbacks - December 5th, 2023

“A great heroine, steamy Savannah setting, a hunky chef, antiques galore, and an intriguing mystery. It doesn’t get any better than this.” — Susan Elizabeth Phillips


Twisted Tea Christmas (A Tea Shop Mystery #23) By Laura Childs Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780593200889
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Berkley - November 1st, 2022

An attack on the host of a fancy tea party sends Theodosia Browning looking for answers in the latest entry in the New York Times bestselling series.


The Christmas Bookshop: A Novel By Jenny Colgan Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780063141674
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Avon - November 16th, 2021

The instant New York Times bestseller!

“Sublime…Colgan infuses her latest book with humor, wit, suspense and a perfectly cast love triangle.”--USA Today


Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop: A Novel By Jenny Colgan Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780063260450
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Avon - October 10th, 2023

Your most delightful holiday read: the sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller The Christmas Bookshop, from beloved Scottish author Jenny Colgan.


'Twas the Bite Before Christmas: An Andy Carpenter Mystery (An Andy Carpenter Novel #28) By David Rosenfelt Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781250828842
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Minotaur Books - October 10th, 2023

In National Bestseller David Rosenfelt’s ‘Twas the Bite Before Christmas, all through the Carpenter house, five dogs are stirring, and not even Andy can get out of working this next case at his door.


Let It Crow! Let It Crow! Let It Crow! (Meg Langslow Mysteries #34) By Donna Andrews Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781250893963
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Minotaur Books - October 10th, 2023

'Tis the season for sleuthing in Donna Andrews' cheery new addition to the New York Times bestselling Meg Langslow series.


A Christmas Carol By Charles Dickens Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781912714704
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Chiltern Publishing - September 8th, 2020

Chiltern creates the most beautiful editions of the World's finest literature. Your favorite classic titles in a way you have never seen them before: the tactile layers, fine details and beautiful colors of these remarkable covers make these books feel extra special and look striking on any shelf. This hardcover book has a matching blank lined journal (sold separately).


A Christmas Memory By Truman Capote Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780679602378
Availability: This book is backordered. We'll happily get it for you but we're not sure how long it'll take.
Published: Modern Library - November 12th, 1996

A holiday classic from "one of the greatest writers and most fascinating society figures in American history" (Vanity Fair)!

First published in 1956, this much sought-after autobiographical recollection from Truman Capote (In Cold BloodBreakfast at Tiffany's) about his rural Alabama boyhood is a perfect gift for Capote's fans young and old.