Let me admit from the outset that I am a sucker for holiday books—books set during the holiday season being observed. Thus, three books I read were set at Christmas in historic districts or neighborhoods.
Blue Christmas, by Mary Kay Andrews
Harper Collins, 2006
I don’t typically read chick lit, but I listened to a Mary Kay Andrews book tape once on a trip and enjoyed her characters. When I saw Blue Christmas priced inexpensively at a book sale, I bought it. Featuring antiques dealer Weezie Foley and the Savannah Historic District and written with humor, the story line features a historic district holiday decorating contest and the rivalries the contest produces. Then throw in a bit of mystery with an older woman who periodically sneaks into the antiques store and sleeps in the 1950’s era bedroom featured in the display window. The book reminds me of growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s and the large display windows in my father’s furniture store.
The Diva Cooks a Goose, by Krista Davis
Berkley Prime Crime Mystery, 2010
Purchased for fifty cents at the same book sale mentioned above, the lure of this mystery was its setting at Christmas in Alexandria, Virginia’s Old Town section. The neighborhood is thrown into turmoil when someone steals all the gifts from every house on Christmas Eve. Add in family relationship drama and finally a dead woman who is not the kind, caring person she appears to be, and the mystery takes off. However, it soon bogs down in a plot of far-fetched scenarios. A strength of the book is the large cast of characters who enter and exit from scenes frequently, and the extended family members embroiled in typical relationship dramas. At times it reminded me of a stage play or the movie, You Can’t Take It With You. This book is part of a series, but I haven’t read any of the others.
Silent Knife, by Shelly Freydont
Berkley Prime Crime Mystery, 2013
This series featuring event planner Liv Montgomery who left Manhattan to move to Celebration Bay, Maine, appealed to me because of its setting in a historic downtown district during Christmas. There are multiple events, including a tour of historic homes, planned for the town holiday celebration that draws in large numbers of tourists. Then an unsanctioned Santa Claus and a store owner are killed, putting a damper on tourism and motivating Liv and her staff to quickly solve the murders. This cozy mystery is a mildly entertaining because of the setting and some likable characters.
Does anyone have enjoyable Christmas mysteries that they would recommend for next year? I've read most of the popular mysteries that are part of series, e.g. Anne Perry Christmas novellas or cozy series, such as Leslie Meier's Lucy Stone mysteries.
I read a couple other books in the last month that aren't holiday-themed and listened to one unabridged book tape. More about them in future posts.