Mince Pies, Apocalypse & 9 Christmas Mysteries

Not everyone celebrates Christmas, and even those who do are not necessarily consider this their favourite time of the year. For me personally, it has its ups and downs.

What I like about Christmas?

It’s a holiday, so I don’t have to work. Of course it wasn’t the case when I worked in a cafe. I still remember taking a taxi at 6 a.m. ten years ago, because public transport was still closed, but there were already people queuing outside our shop, just gearing up for a fight over discounted shit in the department store. But ever since I started working in my office, this is chill time!

It’s pretty! All those fairy lights outside on the trees and buildings just make the city look so magical.

A lot of reading time. Since now I don’t have to work during the holidays, and between Christmas and New Years Eve there’s considerably less work to do, I get to read way more than I normally would in a week.

What I don’t like about Christmas?

Mince pies. Just nope.

Christmas pudding. Yuck!

Turkey. Turkey everywhere! I don’t cook it at home, but wherever I go, it’s always part of the Christmas menu, and it’s always a dry ass piece of meat that comes with soggy vegetables. Why, oh why?

People fighting over shit in the grocery store. It feels almost post apocalyptic. Chill out, peeps, ain’t nobody’s gonna starve to death! At least not over here, so just calm down.

How about you guys? Do you celebrate Christmas?

Circling back to reading, I’ve never been the sort of bookworm who reads Christmas books this time of the year. Or basically, ever. Apart from Poirot’s Christmas and The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding I can’t think of any other I’ve ever read.

So now, I had a look around to see what’s out there for crime and mystery fans  who fancy something seasonal.

Shall we?

Silent Night by Mary Higgins Clark

When her husband is diagnosed with leukemia, Catherine Dornan and their two young sons accompany him to New York, during the Christmas season, for a life-saving operation. Hoping to divert them from worry about their father, Catherine takes the boys to see some of the city’s Christmas Eve sights. When they stop to listen to a street musician, Brian, the younger boy, sees a woman find his mother’s wallet, which also holds a precious family memento he believes will save his father’s life. Unable to get his mother’s attention, Brian follows the woman into the city’s subways — beginning a journey that will threaten his life and change that of his mother and of the woman as well.
Written with warmth, yet set against a background of menace and thrilling suspense, “Silent Night” sings with the spirit of the season, celebrating the mysteries of faith renewed and faith rewarded that we honor every holiday season.


Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen

Out Christmas shopping one December afternoon, Jessica Gould meets the charming Dominic Lacey and impulsively agrees to go home with him for a drink. What follows is a Twelve Days of Christmas from hell as Lacey holds Jessica captive, forcing her to wear his missing wife’s gowns and eat lavish holiday meals. Each day he gifts her with one item from his twisted past—his dead sister’s favorite toy, disturbing family photos, a box of teeth. As the days pass and the “gifts” become darker and darker, Jessica realizes that Lacey has a plan for her, and he never intends to let her go.
But Jessica has a secret of her own … a secret that may just mean she has a chance to make it out alive.


Dashing Through the Snow by Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark

In the picturesque village of Branscombe, New Hampshire, the townsfolk are all pitching in to prepare for the first (and many hope annual) Festival of Joy. The night before the festival begins, a group of employees at the local market learn that they have won $160 million in the lottery. One of their co-workers, Duncan, decided at the last minute, on the advice of a pair of crooks masquerading as financial advisers, not to play. Then he goes missing. A second winning lottery ticket was purchased in the next town, but the winner hasn’t come forward. Could Duncan have secretly bought it?
The Clarks’ endearing heroes – Alvirah Meehan, the amateur sleuth, and private investigator Regan Reilly – have arrived in Branscombe for the festival. They are just the people to find out what is amiss. As they dig beneath the surface, they find that life in Branscombe is not as tranquil as it appears. So much for an old-fashioned weekend in the country.


The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

Rose was lit by the sun, her beautiful face giving nothing away. Even back then, she was a mystery that I wanted to solve.
The lead homicide investigator in a rural town, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is deeply unnerved when a high school classmate is found strangled, her body floating in a lake. And not just any classmate, but Rosalind Ryan, whose beauty and inscrutability exerted a magnetic pull on Smithson High School, first during Rosalind’s student years and then again when she returned to teach drama.
As much as Rosalind’s life was a mystery to Gemma when they were students together, her death presents even more of a puzzle. What made Rosalind quit her teaching job in Sydney and return to her hometown? Why did she live in a small, run-down apartment when her father was one of the town’s richest men? And despite her many admirers, did anyone in the town truly know her?
Rosalind’s enigmas frustrate and obsess Gemma, who has her own dangerous secrets—an affair with her colleague and past tragedies that may not stay in the past.


The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie’s seasonal Poirot and Marple short story collection.

First came a sinister warning to Poirot not to eat any plum pudding… then the discovery of a corpse in a chest… next, an overheard quarrel that led to murder… the strange case of the dead man who altered his eating habits… and the puzzle of the victim who dreamt his own suicide.

What links these five baffling cases? The little grey cells of Monsieur Hercule Poirot!


He Sees You When You’re Sleeping by Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark

Sterling Brooks has been cooling his heels in the Celestial Waiting Room for forty-six years, waiting for admission to heaven. Finally, just days before Christmas, he’s summoned before the Heavenly Council and found unworthy; throughout his life he had been hopelessly self-absorbed. To redeem himself, he is given the chance to go back to Earth and find someone to help.

At New York’s Rockefeller Center skating rink, Sterling encounters Marissa, a heartbroken seven-year-old whose father and grandmother have been forced into the Witness Protection Program; they had overheard two gangsters hatch a sinister plot to collect money from a debtor. Able to travel through time and space, Sterling devises a master plan to reunite little Marissa with her family in time for Christmas. Along the way, he discovers within himself what it takes to earn his wings.


The Deaths of December by Susi Holliday

It looks like a regular advent calendar.

Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors…and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one.

The police hope it’s a prank. Because if it isn’t, a murderer has just surfaced – someone who’s been killing for twenty years.

But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station?

As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them…

It’s shaping up to be a deadly little Christmas.


Whiteout by Ken Follett

A lab technician bleeding from the eyes. Twelve missing samples of a deadly virus. Toni Gallo, the security director of a Scottish medical research firm, knows she has problems, but she has no idea of the nightmare to come.

As a Christmas Eve blizzard whips out of the north, several people, Toni among them, converge on a remote family house. All have something to gain or lose from the drug developed to fight the virus. As the storm worsens, the emotional sparks – jealousies, distrust, sexual attraction, rivalries – crackle; desperate secrets are revealed; hidden traitors and unexpected heroes emerge. FIlled with startling twists at every turn, Whiteout rockets Follett into a class by himself.


Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

In Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, the holidays are anything but merry when a family reunion is marred by murder–and the notoriously fastidious investigator is quickly on the case.

The wealthy Simeon Lee has demanded that all four of his sons–one faithful, one prodigal, one impecunious, one sensitive–and their wives return home for Christmas.

But a heartwarming family holiday is not exactly what he has in mind. He bedevils each of his sons with barbed insults and finally announces that he is cutting off their allowances and changing his will. Poirot is called in the aftermath of Simeon Lee’s announcement.


If you fancy something more classy, hop over to Umut’s blog and check out her Christmas book recommendations.

Can’t make up your mind? Book Beach Bunny has an eclectic selection of seasonal books.

Whether you are celebrating Christmas or not, I wish you guys a great time! Happy reading!

 

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26 comments

  1. I celebrate Christmas my own way – which is without the religious significance, no special food (unless my mum sends me some – but the delivery guy did not bring it this year) – but I do get a Christmas tree, I listen to naughty Christmas songs (Santa Baby…), and I enjoy my time off from work with lots of TV and books!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, that sounds lovely 🙂
      Pretty much the same here (without the mum sending food part, haha)
      I don’t see the point of stuffing myself with food i can eat any day, and get sick just to “celebrate” 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I laughed out loud when I read ‘classy’! 🙂 Thanks a lot Norrie. My list is staying ‘unread’ although I had the best of intentions, I haven’t felt like reading Christmas books this year, very strange. Oh well, next year perhaps. I loved your list, I didn’t know Ken Follett had this, I’m adding it to my wish list. I don’t like Mince pie or Christmas Pudding, and I agree on the Yuck definitely. But, clearly you haven’t eaten Turkey in Rados residence 🙂 Next year, don’t forget to book your seat. My hubbie’s secret Turkey recipe gives the juiciest, softest turkey, you’ll ever eat. just sayin’ Merry Christmas!! x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, juicy turkey? Yeah, never came across that variety before. Hats off to your hubby for his magical cooking skills 🙂

      I must admit, i haven’t actually managed to read any of the xmassy books yet. I have Deaths of December on my kindle… who knows, maybe tomorrow 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like Christmas to be as low-key as possible. We used to do a lot of traveling, but not so much anymore. I’ve not had a mince pie, and I’m kind of scared of what’s in one. 😂 Norrie, what are they fighting over in the grocery stores? Is it because the stores close for the holidays? Loved all your festive thriller books recs- perfect! Merry Christmas, Norrie!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, low-key sounds lovely! I’m with ya 😀

      The stores will be closed on 25th. That’s it. So really don’t understand the levels of panic.
      Even on 25th we have a lot of these small convenience stores that are still gonna be open. They are operated by people who don’t celebrate xmas, so for them it’s just a good day for business, really 😀

      Merry (low-key) Christmas!

      Like

  4. Merry Christmas Norrie! I celebrate Christmas, but its exhausting. I not only have two kids who expect a certain level of Christmas, but a mom who loves to celebrate. But it’s me who does all the work. Frankly, I’m looking forward to December 26th🤣

    Liked by 1 person

  5. OMG! You do make me laugh. There were always mince pies and christmas cake in my mother’s house because, she made them herself, and they were to go to war over! Believe me when I tell you the arguments that ensued on who would get the last pie, or the last slice of cake, which, btw, was always my mum! But never EVER was there turkey in our house. And still isn’t now I cook for me and mine. It was always roast leg of Lamb for Christmas day! Oh yeah, I can still smell it. *sigh*

    And buying grocery for this week is a joke. People load their trollies up with several loaves of bread, so that I want to shout at them, the shop is only closed for ONE DAY!

    And when I was in the military, I always volunteered for duty … why? Because of the food. Based commanders always made sure we got the best of the best food on a Christmas Day work shift, cooked in the officer’s mess no less! Ha! Ha! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, lamb!! Yumm. Sounds good!
      I was thinking about trying to make mince pie and maybe just leave out half the sugar. I think that way i might like it. But then of course i always find something more important to do than baking 😀

      Was laughing my ass off about the same thing. Shop closed for 1 day = the world is ending. Plus, all the convenience stores will remain open and we have one on every corner in my area.

      What a strategy! Love it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think it was the only time we ever ate Lamb as my mother loved it, but it costs the earth. So Christmas it was. Of course, my mother was feeding 10 people, so it always had to be a BIG piece of lamb.

        Oh, I hear you about baking. I don’t mind cooking as I like to eat (ha! ha!) but baking time eats into my reading time (pun intended). And it’s always about the strategy when it comes a good free meal, right? 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Now I have to read Hercule Poirot’s Christmas! Hadn’t heard of that one 🙂
    I love Christmas but as I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed by the time it actually comes around I am more than ready for it to be over and onto the New Year. Have a happy one!
    (And thanks for the link!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, same here. I don’t do anything special for christmas to be fair. Nowadays i’m not living near my family so i don’t have to go and visit anyone in the crappy weather, so that’s a bonus too 😀

      Like

  7. I don’t personally celebrate Christmas too, but the perfect image of it that I have in my head makes it seem like such a wonderful time of the year! But damn… that turkey dish you describe sure doesn’t sound yummy…

    Love that there are some Christie books in this list! Thanks for sharing, Norrie! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Happy holidays Norrie ❤ I work in a cafe myself and do have three days off for Christmas but I will work on New Year's day and eve :"( I totally wish for a full-time office job!!! Those Agatha Christie books look so perfect this time of the year, makes me wanna read them all!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love Christmas but I used to like the bustle a lot more haha- now I like it a little more low key. Not having to travel on slippery icy roads is nice. 🙂 Hope you had a good one. I love the sound of Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, and Whiteout sounds awesome too.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Monthly Catch Up #12 – December 2018 | Reading Under The Blankie

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