Thursday, December 3, 2009

Reading For the Holidays

We continue with our Reading For the Holidays.
Here is a list a festive mysteries:

Allan, Barbara. Antiques Flee Market ($7)
A Trash N Treasures mystery

PW "At the start of Allan's lively third antiques mystery (after 2007's Antiques Maul), divorcée Brandy Borne and her eternally glamorous if somewhat annoying mother, Vivian, are busy preparing for the Christmas rush in the small Midwestern town of Serenity. Then Walter Yeager, a fellow antiques dealer, dies of cyanide poisoning soon after it becomes public knowledge that the WWII veteran owned a valuable first edition of Tarzan of the Apes, which disappears from the crime scene. Walter's 20-year-old British goth granddaughter, Chaz, becomes the top suspect due to her prison record, but Brandy and Vivian believe she's innocent. Told primarily from Brandy's viewpoint with Vivian sneaking in quips for extra pizzazz, this bubbly tongue-in-cheek cozy also includes flea market shopping tips and a recipe. Allan is the pseudonym of the husband-wife writing team of Barbara and Max Allan Collins.

Andrews, Donna. Six Geese A-Slaying ($7)
A Meg Langslow Mystery

Meg and Michael’s house is serving as the marshaling point for the annual Caerphilly holiday parade. The theme is “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” and it features twelve drummers from the school marching band, eleven bagpipers, ten leaping lords costumed in medieval finery from the college drama department, and so on. There are also assorted floats, a live nativity scene on a flatbed truck, the Three Wise Men on Caerphilly zoo camels, and Santa in a bright red horse-drawn sleigh. As organizer, Meg’s job is already hard enough. But when her nephew Eric, wide-eyed and ashen-faced, whispers, “something’s wrong with Santa,” things take a tragic turn. Turns out the local curmudgeon, whose beard and belly made him a natural for the role, has been murdered. Now it’s up to Meg and Chief Burke, who is playing one of the wise men, to tackle a two-fold mission: Solving the murder and saving Christmas…

Andrews, Mary Kay. Blue Christmas ($8)

Deck the halls with romance, intrigue, and great antiques!

It's the week before Christmas, and antiques dealer Weezie Foley is in a frenzy to garnish her shop for the Savannah historical district contest. She's ready to shoot herself with her glue gun by the time she's done, but the results are stunning. She's certainly one-upped the owners of the trendy boutique around the corner, but suddenly things start to go missing from her display, and there seems to be a mysterious midnight visitor to her shop.

Still, Weezie has high hopes—perhaps in the form of an engagement ring from her chef boyfriend, though Daniel, always moody at the holidays, seems more distant than usual. But throw in Weezie's decidedly odd family, a 1950s Christmas tree pin, and even a little help from the King himself (Elvis, that is), and maybe there will be a pocketful of miracles for Weezie this Christmas Eve.

Ash, Maureen. Murder for Christ's Mass ($8)

The town of Lincoln is covered in snow-concealing the mortal remains of a clerk who worked in the local mint. The only clue is a pristine coin stamped with the visage of King Stephen. But Templar Bascot de Marins soon discovers that the motive goes beyond money-and beyond mere murder.

Barry, Dave. The Shepherd, the Angel and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog ($14)

PW "Pulitzer Prize–winning humorist Barry (Big Trouble) spins a nostalgic tale about a boy and his dog on Christmas Eve, 1960. Junior high schooler Doug Barnes is playing a shepherd in the Christmas pageant at the bat-infested Episcopal Church. When the Barnes family dog dies on Christmas Eve, Doug and his father end up adopting a shelter dog, Walter, a charmer who manages to wreck the pageant. Accompanying Barry's snappy narrative are photos and goofy advertisements from the period. Barry is a crowd pleaser and doesn't disappoint with this tale."

Brown, Rita Mar. Santa Clawed ($8)

As Harry well knows, there’s hardly a place on earth cozier than Crozet, Virginia, at Christmastime. Snowflakes, carolers, it’s all picture-perfect until Harry and her husband, Fair, find the tree they’ve chosen grimly decorated with a corpse. The tree farm is run by the Brothers of Love, a semimonastic organization whose members live atop the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. Now, as the season grows merrier, a murderer is growing bolder. One by one, prominent men of Crozet are being crossed off Christmas shopping lists and added to the morgue. And if Harry and her four-legged helpers aren’t very good–and very careful–this Christmas will be her last.

Carl, JoAnna. The Chocolate Snowman Murders ($7)

PW "In Carl's winning eighth chocoholic mystery (after 2007's The Chocolate Jewel Case), Lee McKinney Woodyard, the business manager of TenHuis Chocolade, has agreed to serve as the treasurer for the annual Warner Pier, Mich., WinterFest. After a juror for the festival's art show cancels, Lee goes to the airport to pick up the replacement, Fletcher Mendenhall, who arrives obnoxiously drunk. When Mendenhall turns up the next morning in his motel with his head bashed in, incriminating clues point to both Lee and her husband, Joe, as suspects. While Lee has a tiresome habit of tangling words when she's nervous (I guess we're not hiring a juror to be a dipsomaniac... I mean diplomat), when confronted with a shovel-wielding snowman, the spunky, near six-foot amateur sleuth can throw 20 pounds of chocolates at her attacker with deadly accuracy. Dollops of chocolate lore add to the cozy fun"

Challinor, CS. Christmas is Murder ($14)

From Booklist a Starred Review, " The first installment in this new mystery series is a winner. The amateur detective is Rex Graves, a Scottish barrister, fond of Sudoku puzzles and Latin quotations. In an old-fashioned conceit, Challinor begins with a cast of characters, along with hints of possible motives for each. Although set firmly in the present, with numerous references to the Iraq War, his tale reads like a classic country-house mystery. Rex and the others are snowed in at the Swanmere Manor hotel in East Sussex, England. Being the last to arrive (on two tennis rackets lashed to his feet à la snowshoes), Rex immediately hears of the unexpected demise of one of the other guests. Even though they are in touch with the outside world, the authorities instruct the hotel staff to keep the body in a cool room with the windows open. By the time the police arrive days later, additional bodies have piled up and motives are rampant, but Rex has identified the murderer. At times, it seems we are playing Clue or perhaps enjoying a contemporary retelling of a classic Agatha Christie tale (And Then There Were None, or At Bertram’s Hotel) with a charming new sleuth. A must for cozy fans."

Dunnett, Kaitlyn. A Wee Christmas Homicide ($22)

from PW, "Using Tiny Teddies, highly collectible bears, to launch a Twelve Days of Christmas marketing ploy should be a totally benign means of attracting customers for the business owners of Moosetookalook, Maine, but Liss MacCrimmon's brainchild brings in a frenzy of bear hunters—and a crazed killer—in Dunnett's lively, clean-as-a-whistle third cozy to feature the co-owner of the Scottish Emporium (after 2008's Scone Cold Dead). When the supply of Tiny Teddies wanes, Liss is approached with an offer of a new batch of these impossible-to-acquire fur balls. Knowing to steer clear of anything illegally transported from Canada, Liss declines, apparently unlike Gavin Thorne, proprietor of the Toy Box. Thorne's demise soon follows an unknown assailant's shooting an overpriced bear to stuffings."

Fletcher, Jessica and Donald Bain. Murder She Wrote, Murder Never Takes a Holiday ($16)

A doubly delightful volume with two Christmas-themed mysteries from the USA Today bestselling series!

Together for the first time, these two festive mysteries featuring legendary author and sleuth Jessica Fletcher deliver twice the Christmas cheer.

In Manhattans & Murder, Jessica's new book tour brings her to New York for Christmas, where she sees notorious Cabot Cove crook Waldo Morse dressed as a sidewalk Santa-and ends up witnessing a murder. With the police slow on their feet, and the victim's wife on the run, Jessica decides to do whatever it takes to stop a killer from spoiling the season.

And in A Little Yuletide Murder, Cabot Cove local Rory Brent is found shot to death on his farm, and everyone assumes the culprit is Brent's longtime enemy, Jake Walther, the meanest man in town. But Jessica thinks otherwise, and she's determined to deliver the real killer before Christmas. The trouble is, the next sound she hears this silent night may be a scream-her own. And don't miss A Little Yuletide Murder ($7)

Fluke, Joanne. Plum Pudding Murder ($24 Signed)

The Cookie Jar's busiest time of the year also happens to be the most wonderful time...for Christmas cookies, Hannah's own special plum pudding - and romance! Holiday orders are high, and Hannah's slated to provide dessert at the Reverend Knudsen's upcoming nuptials. She's busy as can be and loving it. She also gets a kick out of 'Lunatic Larry Jaeger's Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot', a kitschy carnival taking place smack-dab in the middle of the village green. Larry thinks he's crazy like a fox with his wild business schemes, but this time, the entrepreneur may have bitten off more than he can chew. Rumour has it that Larry's in the red - an idea that takes a sinister turn when Hannah discovers the man himself dead as a doornail in his own office...It seems quite a few people would have liked to fill Larry's stocking with coal and then bash him with it - including his bitter ex-wife, his ex-partner's daughter, a woman he was wooing, and the Crazy Elf Tree lot's extremely exasperated investors...Now, with so many suspects to investigate and the twelve days of Christmas ticking away, Hannah's running out of time to nab a murderous Scrooge who doesn't want her to see the New Year. Don't miss Sugar Cookie and Candy Cane Murder ($7 each)

Graves, Sarah. Wreck the Halls ($7)

And Recommended from Library Journal, "In her hardcover debut, series sleuth Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree (Repair to Her Grave) and best friend, Ellie, try to help Faye Anne, an abused wife, after she's accused of butchering her drunkard husband. Unfortunately, their unauthorized investigating results in a stronger case against her. Nonetheless, Jake and Ellie persevere in their quest: they rev up the Eastport, ME, rumor mill and spout various crime scenarios. In spare moments, Jake weather-strips her 1823 fixer-upper. Frequent humor tempers the Down East mannerisms, plucky heroine, and more serious subject matter. Recommended. "

Hart, Carolyn. Merry Merry Ghost ($16 Signed)

From PW , "delightful... Bailey Ruth's pleasure in her earthly wardrobe, her keen observations of the other characters and her unorthodox but expert sleuthing will engage readers from start to finish."

Kingsbury, Kate. Decked With Folly ($14)

Make room for murder with all the trimmings in the latest of the Pennyfoot Hotel Christmas mystery series.

It's the holiday season and the Pennyfoot staff is brimming with anticipation. The scents of the season overflow from the kitchen and the country club's halls are decorated with festive displays thanks to Cecily's dear friend Madeline. But when one of Cecily's candlesticks disappears, she realizes someone is lacking in Christmas spirit.

Petty thievery seems the least of Cecily's problems after she learns a former employee has been found dead in her duck pond. He hasn't worked at the Pennyfoot in years, but his ex-wife is still their head maid-and now she heads the list of suspects. And when Madeline has a vision of more misfortune to come, Cecily starts feeling more jinxed than jolly. Now a killer and a thief must be taken off the guest list in order to put the merry back into Christmas.

Morrell, David. The Spy Who came for Christmas ($10)

It's Christmas Eve in Santa Fe. But among the revelers on Canyon Road, a decidedly unholy scene is taking place. A desperate man, dressed all in black, feverishly seeks refuge for himself and the squirming bundle he holds tightly against his breast. Agent Paul Kagan’s bundle is a baby who has the power to change the course of global events. His pursuers are his former colleagues—members of the Russian mafia who will stop at nothing to accomplish their mission. Now Kagan is a spy on the run—he must ensure this baby’s survival, even if it will cost him his own life.

Just a short distance away, Kagan will find an unexpected pair of allies—a mother and her young son, who huddle together after a horrible episode of domestic violence leaves them home alone, with no means of transportation.

And so, with the exquisitely honed skills of his profession and the help and good faith of a weary woman and a disillusioned boy, Kagan must take on forces that will stop at nothing. In the course of a wild and violent night, the unlikely trio learns lessons of generosity, courage, and selflessness, discovering within themselves the luminous strength of the true Christmas spirit.

Perry, Anne. A Christmas Promise ($18)

Set in the Victorian world where Anne Perry reigns supreme, A Christmas Promise culminates in a radiant finale that will remain with you long after the final page is turned.

Page, Katherine Hall. The Body in the Sleigh ($18 Signed)

PW, "In Agatha-winner Page's delightful 18th Faith Fairchild mystery (after 2008's The Body in the Gallery), Faith and her family get away to their cottage on Sanpere Island in Maine's Penobscot Bay for the Christmas season. Tranquility reigns only briefly before Faith finds a young girl's body tucked among the mannequins in a local holiday display. If this wasn't enough to keep Faith busy, she receives a Christmas Eve call from reclusive goat farmer Mary Bethany, who's discovered a babe in her manger—a newborn boy inside her barn, along with a puzzling note and a serious bankroll. When Mary determines to keep the baby safe and Faith attempts to locate the birth mother, both women end up in peril. Amid the holiday festivities, Faith wears the hats of good wife and mother while slipping into her sleuth cap at every opportunity. Her investigative work builds to an exciting conclusion. Faith's kitchen skills result in some wonderful recipes listed at the end. "

Sefton, Maggie. Fleece Navidad ($8)

A special holiday knitting mystery from the national bestselling author of Dyer Consequences—with delicious recipes and knitting patterns!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas for the knitters of Fort Connor, Colorado, who are furiously working on their holiday projects. Juliet, the town’s “little brown wren” librarian, is known for her beautiful handmade Christmas capes, and she has extra reason to be joyful this year—she’s in love. But as soon as she finds happiness, death finds her.

Suspicion falls on a newcomer to the knitting group, but Kelly Flynn and the rest of the crew aren’t convinced of this person’s guilt. It’s up to them to separate the true lion from the lambs— before someone else gets fleeced…

VanDyke, Tom. A Cowboy Christmas ($17 Signed)

"A Cowboy Christmas" An American Tale is an inspiring adventure of enduring love, strength, character and discovery, that delivers a heartfelt hug for the holidays and year-round, a perfect time to open our hearts and share the gifts of life.

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