Our monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite holiday mysteries by indie authors.
The holiday mysteries cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have plenty of cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, culinary mysteries, animal mysteries, paranormal mysteries, historical mysteries, Victorian mysteries, jazz age mysteries, WWII mysteries, romantic suspense, police procedurals, crime thrillers, pulp thrillers, men’s adventure, private eyes, masked crime fighters, telepathic detectives, thieving Santas, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting bakers, crime-fighting watchmakers, crime-fighting wedding planners, crime-fighting dogs, crime-fighting frogs, magical cats, holiday body swaps, murder in circusses and aboard cruise ships, in ski resorts and cupcake shops, in small towns and the big city, missing children, missing presents, orphans in danger and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set around the holidays.
As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday mysteries is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.
As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.
And now on to the books without further ado:
A Very Mercy Christmas: A Witch Squad Holiday Special by M.Z. Andrews:
It’s Christmas time at the Paranormal Institute for Witches. Excited to go home for the holidays and be reunited with their families, Mercy, Jax, Holly, Sweets, and Alba say their goodbyes. However, when an unpredicted snowstorm ravages Aspen Falls, the girls must scramble to figure out their next move. Tempers flare as blame is placed and feelings are hurt. By the looks of it, Christmas will surely be ruined.
But when a surprise visitor arrives, the girls are forced to find out what friendship really means and decide whether or not it’s worth saving. Visited by some blasts from the past, the girls are given glimpses into each other’s pasts and find out what life would have been like if they’d never met and formed the Witch Squad on the first day of classes.
A Very Mercy Christmas is the 5th book in the Witch Squad Cozy Mystery series – there is no mystery to solve, instead sit back and enjoy a Christmas story about what went down over the Witch Squad’s first winter break and get a glimpse into the lives of each of the girls before they met.
Murder at the Mayfair Hotel by C.J. Archer:
It was the most fashionable place to stay in London, until murder made a reservation.
December 1899. After the death of her beloved grandmother, Cleopatra Fox moves into the luxury hotel owned by her estranged uncle in the hopes of putting hardship and loneliness behind her. But the poisoning of a guest on Christmas Eve throws her new life, and the hotel, into chaos.
Cleo quickly realizes no one can be trusted, not Scotland Yard and especially not the hotel’s charming assistant manager. With the New Year’s Eve ball approaching fast and the hotel’s reputation hanging by a thread, Cleo must find the killer before the ball, and the hotel itself, are ruined. But catching a murderer proves just as difficult as navigating the hotel’s hierarchy and the peculiarities of her family.
Can Cleo find the killer before the new century begins? Or will someone get away with murder?
The Season for Slaying by Hillary Avis:
All is quiet at the Pines and Needles Christmas Tree Farm. Too quiet.
It’s Christmas Eve, and Darla Cooper is merrily preparing for a family holiday when she witnesses a shocking murder in the woods.
Luckily, her son is a police detective. The problem? He doesn’t believe her—and the body is missing.
Darla must prove that a murder occurred, but she has no body, no witnesses, and no evidence except her own memory—which, to be honest, isn’t that great these days. Plus, she didn’t have her glasses on.
Join Darla as she hunts down a killer…just in time for Christmas.
The Season for Slaying is a short holiday cozy mystery story full of suspense, snowflakes, and sleighbells.
The Reluctant Witness by S.L. Beaumont:
In the weeks leading to Christmas, Liam McArvey, lead singer of The Fury, falls for enigmatic Bella, a waitress at his local café. However, little does he know that she is hiding a dangerous secret. After a photograph of the couple, taken outside a London recording studio, surfaces on the internet, Bella panics and prepares to move on.
But Liam enlists his friend, and sometimes sleuth, Stephanie Cooper, to help Bella unravel events in her past. Together, they uncover a crime within a crime, and Bella must decide where her loyalties lie.
The Reluctant Witness introduces new characters into the Carlswick world along with some old favorites and can be read as a standalone.
Fatal Festive Donuts by Cindy Bell:
Christmastime at the holiday market means mistletoe, colorful lights and…a dead body.
It is almost Christmas and Joyce and Brenda are excited to get a coveted spot at the local holiday market. Business is thriving and they are looking forward to celebrating the holidays.
But Christmas becomes the last thing on their minds when a dead body is found on ‘Donuts on the Move’. Not only is their truck shut down, but they become the prime suspects. With the evidence stacking up against them and a detective who thinks they’re guilty, they decide to take things into their own hands and find the murderer.
Joyce and Brenda’s investigations lead them straight towards danger. Will they find the killer before they land up in handcuffs or even become victims themselves?
Recipe Included: Baked Gingerbread Donuts with Ginger Glaze
A Merry Murder at St. Bernard Cabins by Cindy Bell:
A pet-loving sleuth. A perplexing murder. Will the murder be solved before the clues are buried forever?
Nikki Green is taking a break from walking and pet-sitting her loyal companions. She is going to a ski resort for the holidays for some quiet time with her family. To her delight her solo journey turns into a group excursion. However, the trip doesn’t go according to plan when Nikki lands up in the middle of a snowstorm.
Then things go from bad to worse when someone is murdered, and her brother is the prime suspect. With the roads impassable, and two inexperienced officers on the case, Nikki decides to take matters into her own hands and clear her brother’s name. She plows through a mountain of clues to reveal the truth before the snow melts and the murderer disappears forever.
It’s a slippery slope of suspects and danger as she goes hurtling towards the truth.
A Bullet for Father Christmas by Cora Buhlert:
When two men dressed up as Father Christmas rob a London jewellery store and one of them ends up dead on the floor, shot by his own accomplice, it’s certainly one of the more unusual cases for Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team. But as Helen begins to investigate, it turns out that the case is even more bizarre than she suspected.
This is a mystery novelette of 9300 words or approx. 30 print pages.
Santa’s Sticky Fingers by Cora Buhlert:
Normally, Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd doesn’t deal with petty crime and pickpockets. But when the Christmas market in Kingston upon Thames is hit by a wave of thefts, Helen and her team are called in to help out.
Harry, a homeless man who always hangs around the market, seems to be the most obvious suspect. But there is also the mysterious man in the black leather jacket some witnesses claim to have seen. Or maybe, the thief can be found much closer to home…
Can Helen and her team crack the case in time for Christmas?
This is a holiday novelette of 7800 words or approx. 26 print pages in the Helen Shepherd Mysteries series, but may be read as a standalone.
St. Nicholas of Hell’s Kitchen by Cora Buhlert:
Christmas time in 1930s New York. After escaping through the chimney of an orphanage in Hell’s Kitchen, Richard Blakemore a.k.a. the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer is mistaken for Santa Claus by one of the children and learns that the orphanage is under siege by both a gang of brutal racketeers and an unscrupulous landlord.
Richard vows to help the children and their guardians. However, it turns out that the attacks on the orphanage are only part of a much larger plot, when Richard’s quest for justice leads him into the upper echelons of Manhattan’s high society.
Soon, the Silencer finds himself face to face with one of the most powerful men in the city, while Richard and Constance struggle to save the orphanage and give the children of Hell’s Kitchen an unforgettable Christmas.
This is a novella of 30000 words or approximately 100 pages in the Silencer series, but may be read as a standalone.
A Jolly Little Murder by Beth Byers:
Violet Wakefield is determined to dive into the holiday and enjoy every occasion. She’s going to see the live nativity, listen to Handel’s Messiah, and attend the Nutcracker ballet. She’ll cover her house in all the holly and lights. In fact, Vi wants nothing more than to put up the largest Christmas tree she can locate and stuff it with gifts. ??She little expects, however, to stumble across a crime in action. When she gets pulled into the madness, her biggest concern isn’t the crime, it’s keeping Jack from committing a holiday homicide.
Silver Bells and Murder by Beth Byers:
Violet and Jack take the train to Scotland with their friends for the holidays only to arrive and realize that the village has been exposed to scarlet fever. Given the delicate babies in their family, they determine to insulate themselves at the lodge they’d taken.
Nearly desperate for some peace and holiday cheer, they intend nothing but lolling by the fire, diving into cupfuls of eggnog, and feasting.
Only, once again, they discover a body. The worst of it is that they were alone at the lodge when the crime was committed. Is it possible that one of them is the killer? Join Vi and friends as they determine their loyalties and hunt a murderer.
Merry Masquerade in Savannah by Hope Callaghan
Carlita, Mercedes, and Tony are gearing up to celebrate their first Thanksgiving at their new home in historic Savannah, Georgia. Along with the excitement of the upcoming holiday season, there’s a lingering sadness because part of their family won’t be there to celebrate.
When Carlita’s friend, Victoria “Tori” Montgomery, invites the Garlucci family to her “Merry Masquerade” party at Montgomery Hall, Carlita is thrilled to have something to take her mind off the approaching holiday.
Despite a recent theft and an assault on her butler, Tori moves forward with her party plans, a grand affair and a gathering of Savannah’s elite. The Merry Masquerade turns out to be everything it was billed to be and more, when one of Tori’s employees is found murdered inside the pool house.
Is the murder linked to the recent break-in and the butler’s attack at Montgomery Hall? Could the killer be living under Tori’s roof? Or was it a masked party guest trying to make it look like an inside job?
Join the Garlucci women as they help one of Savannah’s most prominent residents track down a killer!
Reindeers and Robberies by Hope Callaghan:
The Christmas Season is in full swing on board the cruise ship, Siren of the Seas thanks to Andy Walker, the ship’s cruise director who is all in on his new holiday theme, “The Reindeer Games.”
Millie and her co-worker, Danielle, are tasked with taking charge of the holiday theme and everything is running smoothly until one of the reindeer comes up missing. But the missing reindeer is the least of the security staff’s worries after a string of thefts are reported.
Millie jumps in with an investigation of her own that soon turns south when a stalker surfaces, determined to make her life miserable or worse yet.
Despite escalating incidents from the deranged stalker, Millie sorts the clues and discovers a possible link between the mysterious thefts and her stalker that hits close to home.
Can Millie survive the holiday season…or even more terrifying…make it out alive?
Frosted Croakies by Sam Cheever:
’Tis the season for great folly…walawalawalawalala…ribbit.
It’s Christmas time at Croakies. The tree is up. The stockings are hung. And Christmas tunes are turning the atmosphere jolly. After a tumultuous Samhain, I’ve found my chi again and I’m starting to enjoy the season of love and giving.
Yeah. You probably know how this is going to end.
When Sebille suggests I open the bookstore up to a small holiday party, I foolishly agree. How was I supposed to know that the hobgoblin would decide it would be fun to hide everybody’s stuff? Or that we’d be hit with a freak winter storm that confined everybody inside for the duration. Or that a “You’re me but who am I?” spell would be released inside the shop, switching everybody’s identities and creating general chaos and hysteria?
I could probably deal with all that if it weren’t for the fact that my friend, Lea…the one person who could possibly reverse the spell…was ensconced in SB the parrot, with no opposable thumbs for spelling.
And me? Of course, I’m sitting fat and squishy inside Mr. Slimy. Thank goodness Rustin isn’t currently in residence, or it would be really crowded in here.
Who spelled my party? What do a pair of Santa’s elves have to do with it? And why have old enemies suddenly become new friends? I apparently have a little holiday mystery to solve inside Croakies, and I have no idea how I’m going to solve it with everybody mixed up and some of us human.
Have I told you I hate this season?
Never Mess with Mistletoe by Edie Claire:
Frances Koslow was ecstatic to have her humble abode chosen as stop #3 on the Holiday House Tour. Then everyone drank the cider.
When Leigh’s parents’ house becomes a last-minute substitution on the regional garden club’s famous Holiday House Tour, Frances Koslow is thrilled. But the tour is tomorrow, there’s work to be done, and Frances’s dwindling and aging “Floribunda” chapter is in dire need of reinforcements. Worried about her mother’s blood pressure, particularly as sisterly tensions rise over Leigh’s Aunt Lydie’s upcoming Christmas Eve wedding, Leigh steps in to make sure the tour runs smoothly.
But perhaps Leigh isn’t the ideal choice for the task. Not when a fortune cookie has just portended the return of her infamous “bad karma.” Not when everyone knows the real reason the Floribundas have declined is because every remaining member is a whackadoodle. And not when someone’s idea of Christmas spirit is to add a little something extra to the sweet cider punch.
One dead Floribunda later, Leigh struggles to keep her family calm in the midst of swirling suspicions, flying accusations, and dubious warnings of biological warfare. But when someone threatens to silence her own all-too-curious daughter, mother-rage kicks in. Nobody is ruining Leigh’s family’s Merry Christmas. Not even her family.
The Christmas Key by Philippa Nefri Clark
A hot summer Christmas Day is just around the corner in the Australian seaside town of River’s End. Beachside BBQs and sumptuous dinners are on the menu.
But Martha Blake is like a dog with a bone, determined to solve the last of the cottage mysteries. She and great-niece Christie begin a secret investigation.
Meanwhile, Thomas is busy with his own clues and enlists the help of his reluctant grandson, Martin.
At Palmerston House, loving new couple Elizabeth and Angus face their greatest obstacle, throwing their happy future into doubt.
With everyone working at cross-purposes, who will find themselves in the middle, cast decades back into memories of a terrible mistake?
Is love enough this time, as the beloved residents of River’s End deal with the fallout of the old mystery? Who, or what, will bring them all together in time for Christmas?
The Christmas Key is a heartwarming novella rounding off the Christie Ryan Romantic Mystery series with the last of the secrets revealed, and delightful Christmas magic to touch the favourite residents of River’s End. Read as a standalone, or start the series with The Stationmaster’s Cottage.
Merry Buried Christmas by Lyndsey Cole:
Murder always ruins the best baked plans . . .
Annie Hunter has a lot on her plate just before Christmas, but it’s not all sugar and spice and everything nice! With an open house at her aunt’s new Blackbird Bed and Breakfast, all Annie hopes for is a drama-free day.
Of course, events never go as planned.
On top of preparing a whirlwind of food, holiday decorating, and keeping to a tight schedule, a surprise visitor is also on the menu. When that visitor turns up dead, Annie must search for the killer to keep everything from crumbling like a stale Christmas cookie.
Annie’s plan to flush out the murderer includes one tasty bribe, a pinch of needling, and a heaping tablespoon of accusation. When she is threatened, it’s time to put it all on the back burner.
But the killer has other ideas.
While the snowflakes fly, Annie finds herself caught between a cookie and a crazy person. This time, it looks like she bit off more than she can chew.
***Merry Buried Christmas is volume 12 in the Black Cat Cafe Cozy Mystery Series. Lyndsey’s books can be read and enjoyed in any order.
The Cop Who Stole Christmas by Christie Craig:
It’ll take a tall, hot Texan and a little holiday spirit to mend a broken heart and catch a Christmas killer . . .
Savanna Edwards is feeling downright Scrooge-like. Who can blame her? A truly unjolly Santa—suit, beard and all—just repossessed her car because of her ex’s shady business dealings. She’d like to murder the no-good lying cheat, but somebody already did that for her—and left him right in the middle of her kitchen, wrapped up with a bow.
Detective Mark Donaldson has a rule against getting involved with his neighbors. He can look—and he’s studied every sweet curve of Savanna from across the street—but he can’t touch. So when she lands on his doorstep in need of help, he finds himself torn between being naughty or nice, and fights every urge to unwrap her like a shiny new Christmas present.
Trouble is, even Mark can’t resist a little holiday magic . . . and there’s definitely something magical happening between him and the girl next door.
Jingle Bells and Deadly Smells by Amber Crewe:
“Each of the Sandy Bay mysteries are great! I think they just keep getting better.”
Christmas is that season…that season of pleasant surprises…delicious smells…and family and friends to share the holidays with.
This Christmas, Sandy Bay’s lovable bakery owner, Meghan Truman, gets a whole lot more than she bargained for…plus a dead body at the door of her favorite restaurant. Some people would rather sweep this murder under the carpet but something smells awfully fishy about the events surrounding it.
Will Meghan join Detective Irvin to find the murderer or will this event serve to etch unpleasant memories of this most wonderful time of the year?
John Milton hasn’t seen Elijah Warriner for three years. The last time they met, Milton’s efforts to keep the boy safe didn’t go exactly to plan. Now Elijah is a promising boxer, preparing for the bout that will take him to the big time. Milton decides that he will spend the week before Christmas in London so that he can watch the fight.
But Elijah’s burgeoning fame has brought him to the attention of old acquaintances with long memories and grudges to bear. They have noticed Elijah, too, and decide that now is the time to settle old scores.
Can Milton keep the young man and his mother safe, or will Elijah’s old running mates get to him first?
It’s Christmas in Sinful and Fortune is set to participate in all the local hoopla. A Christmas gala, caroling, and a sleigh ride are on the agenda. Murder is not. But when someone bumps off Santa, Fortune is aware a killer is lurking among the holiday cheer. But with no client and no reason to interfere with a police investigation, it looks as if Fortune, Ida Belle, and Gertie will have to sit this one out.Big and Little Hebert might be criminals, but they prefer no competition in their territory, especially someone brazen enough to kill a man at the Christmas gala. When they hire Fortune to investigate the man’s death, she gets her Christmas wish and Swamp Team 3 sets out to solve their final case of the year.
Trepalli’s Christmas by Marcelle Dubé:
It’s Christmas eve day and Constable Marco Trepalli of the Mendenhall Police Department can’t wait to be off shift. He’s planning a big surprise for his girlfriend, Amanda. Something special. Something romantic.
Then a kid doesn’t return home after sledding and Trepalli forgets all about his plans in the mad scramble to mobilize search parties and interview the kid’s friends. And as hour after hour slips by with no sign of the boy, Trepalli braces himself for what could turn into the worst Christmas ever… for him and the kid’s family.
Claus for Celebration by Laura Durham:
Wedding disasters are one thing. A missing Santa (who is presumed dead) is quite another.
This is no normal holiday season for DC’s top wedding planners. Not only is the weather too warm for their winter wonderland wedding, but their neighborhood’s singing Santa, Kris Kringle Jingle, is missing. On top of that, Annabelle’s engagement party is looming, and someone seems to be sabotaging their wedding plans. Can the Wedding Belles and their colorful crew find Santa, save the wedding, and stop the person who’s trying to make their lives a holly, jolly catastrophe?
Claus for Celebration is the 15th standalone book in the hilarious Annabelle Archer Wedding Planner Mystery series. If you like larger-than-life characters, madcap capers, and an insider’s look at glamorous society weddings, then you’ll love Laura Durham’s award-winning cozy mystery series.
Buy now to cozy up to this funny, festive holiday mystery today!
Bunch Courtney stumbles upon the body of Jonathan Frampton in a woodland clearing. Is this a case of suicide, or is it murder? Bunch is determined to discover the truth but can she persuade the dour Chief Inspector Wright to take her seriously?
In January of 1940 a small rural community on the Sussex Downs, already preparing for invasion from across the Channel, finds itself deep in the grip of a snowy landscape, with an ice-cold killer on the loose.
Spirit of the Season by Cynthia E. Hurst:
In a season of peace and goodwill, it was shocking for residents of the Cotswold town to learn a stranger had been murdered in their midst. It was even more shocking that he died on the doorstep of the town’s police inspector’s home as he was entertaining guests on Christmas Eve. It appeared Daniel Keegan’s only failing had been to fall in love with the wrong person, something that sends a chilling message to two of the inspector’s guests. Newlyweds Jacob Silver and Sarah Simm are used to criticism, but does Keegan’s death mean their own lives may be in danger?
‘Spirit of the Season’ is the eighth book in the Silver and Simm Victorian Mysteries series.
The R&P Labs staff members are planning their Christmas potluck lunch when a stranger arrives on the doorstep with an announcement that threatens to turn several lives upside down. ’Tis the season to be wary, and in this short story, the five scientific sleuths have to do some rapid research to discover whether one of them will be getting a very unusual Christmas present.
Zukie’s Gift by Cynthia E. Hurst:
All sorts of things were donated for St Augustine’s Christmas bazaar — books, second-hand clothes, cookies, murder weapons …
Zukie’s Gift is a short story and part of the Zukie Merlino Mysteries series.
Big Top Treachery by CeeCee James:
Christmas at the Circus!
What if the holly berry meant more than a cozy Christmas tradition? When Trixie, billed by the Concello circus as the world’s smallest Lady Godiva, finds a large ruby on the circus grounds, she thinks she’s one of the luckiest people on earth. Until she learns the stone’s past is stained as holly-red as the jewel itself. ??
When the police get involved, suspicion is cast not just on Trixie, but on her other friends at the circus. ??The pressure is on with Trixie getting threats from an anonymous source. When the calliope player is murdered, Trixie knows the threats she has been receiving aren’t just to scare her… she’ll be the next to die if she can’t find out the truth about the stone and unmask the murderer?
Eggnog, Extortion and Evergreens by Tonya Kappes:
Welcome to Normal, Kentucky~ where nothing is normal. A Campers and Criminal Mystery Series is another brainchild of USA Today Bestselling Author Tonya Kappes. If you love her quirky southern characters and small town charm with a mystery to solve, you’re going to love her new cozy mystery series!
Mae West is busy this Christmas season. She’s running around Normal getting the town ready for the first Winter Festival, which she hopes will become an annual event for the tourist town.
The freshly fallen snow sure does make the Daniel Boone National Park beautiful and ready for Santa’s arrival, but it also makes the curvy roads through the forest very slick. Unfortunately, Mae finds out just how slick the roads are after her car slides off the road and hits a tree, putting Mae into a deep coma.
Mae is one of the lucky patients who does wake up and happy to celebrate Christmas with family and friends.
One of the patients in the emergency room with Mae didn’t die that night of natural causes, and Hank Sharp has himself a new homicide case on his hands.
Mae starts having memories about the fire that took her family and a memory of a murder plot that she thinks happened when she was in her coma. Only, she’s having a hard time distinguishing between the two memories and the clues seem to have blurred lines. There’s one thing she does know for sure, both incidents come with clues that neither were accidents.
Once again, Mae West with the help of the Laundry Club Ladies put on their ameatur sleuth cap to help solve the mystery of the murders before the killer sends her Christmas gift she can’t return.
How Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. Lee:
Fourteen years ago, Christmas hit Walkerville with a bang. Or, rather, a big ball of fire.
When a local group home for orphaned children goes up in smoke right before the holidays, Tillie Winchester volunteers her family to take in some kids – even though her arch nemesis Margaret Little is dead-set against it. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for Tillie so she’s considering it a win.
Three boys – all of them with a little attitude – have no idea what to expect from the Winchester household. No matter what, Tillie is sure they’re about to get more than they bargained for. In short order, they’re welcomed into the family at the same time the town is on edge due to a second fire.
Tillie is determined to prove the boys are innocent while also finding them a forever home … even if she has to take on a local judge and declare all out war to do it.
So, hang your stockings by the fire and sit back for another Christmas with the Winchesters. You’ll never be the same again.
Note: This is a 28,000-word novella set in the Wicked Witches of the Midwest world. It’s set back in the past so it can be read in any order.
Cremas, Christmas Cookies and Crooks by Harper Lin:
It’s almost Christmastime in Cape Bay, and another murder has everyone in town talking. A despised new drama teacher at the local high school is killed in the school’s parking lot. The police arrest a beloved teacher, Mrs. Crowsdale, but everyone else thinks she is too nice to murder anyone. Mike, however, says they have solid evidence that proves she did it.
Sammy is particularly devastated. Mrs. Crowsdale was her favorite teacher and still her hero. Sammy begs Fran to find the real culprit. Fran isn’t so sure. Mike would be angry with her for butting in on another case. And what if more danger befalls her? After all, there are some pretty dangerous people in town…
Includes 3 special recipes!
Fur-miliar Felines by Harper Lin:
Three witches and their magical cats solve paranormal murder cases in the mystical town of Wonder Falls.
It’s Christmastime, but something strange and sinister is in the air. Treacle, Cath’s courageous black cat, can’t see what it is, but he feels a dangerous presence out there in the snow-blanketed streets.
Aunt Astrid also feels dark ripples in the dimensions. The Greenstone witches suspect this creature is somehow tied to the disappearance of two high school students. Soon, one of them turns up dead, half-eaten.
The holiday spirit is in full effect in Wonder Falls, but so is a puzzling and gruesome murder mystery.
Pilfered Promises by M. Louisa Locke:
Holiday cover edition: It is November, 1880, and the future looks promising for Annie and Nate Dawson. Nate’s law practice is taking off. Annie has made the transition from pretend clairvoyant to a successful financial consultant. And they are looking forward to spending their first Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays together.
For Robert Livingston, the owner San Francisco’s newest grand emporium, the holidays don’t look so promising. Not if he can’t figure out how to stop whoever is stealing from his department store, the Silver Strike Bazaar. However, when he hires the Dawsons to investigate, they discover that behind the doors of his “Palace of Plenty,” nothing is quite what it seems.
Pilfered Promises, a sweet cozy historical mystery, is the fifth novel in the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series featuring Annie and Nate Dawson and their friends and family in the O’Farrell Street boarding house and it comes right before the newest novella, Kathleen Catches a Killer
Kathleen Catches a Killer by M. Louisa Locke:
It’s the very end of December, 1880, and the servant Kathleen Hennessey expects to spend a quiet week taking care of the O’Farrell Street boarding house while her employers, Annie and Nate Dawson, are off spending the Christmas holidays with Nate’s family. However, when she agrees to help out one of her friends, Kathleen discovers that a simple case of a servant being dismissed without notice has turned into a complicated puzzle that she is determined to solve.
While featuring minor characters from Locke’s Victorian San Francisco mystery series, Kathleen Catches a Killer contains all the light romance, humor, and suspense of the longer works. Chronologically, this novella comes right after the events in Pilfered Promises, but it can be read as a stand-alone and an excellent introduction to this mystery series about the gas-lit world of the late 19th century.
‘Tis the Season: Two short holiday stories by Jean Louise and Michael Yaworsky:
Heartwarming stories of comfort and joy….
In Stealing Christmas, two modern-day Robin Hoods use a little fa-la-la-la-larceny to bring cheer to those who could use it most.
Tipping Point is the story of a single act of generosity that sets a series of acts into motion, touching a surprising number of people with the holiday spirit.
Murder on Holiday Lane by London Lovett:
It’s a warm and sunny Christmas season in Los Angeles. Things are slow at the Starfire Detective Agency, but Poppy is sure things will pick up after the holidays. When a pretty young starlet who works part-time as an elf at Santa’s Workshop on Holiday Lane is murdered, Poppy’s close friend, the up and coming director, Wyatt Blaze, becomes a prime suspect. Wyatt needs Poppy’s help to find the real killer. Gossip travels fast in Tinseltown and an arrest, even a false arrest, will destroy Wyatt’s career for good.
Now Poppy must start from the very beginning to find out just who had it out for the elf. Is it possible Santa himself is behind the diabolical deed?
It’s Christmastime at the Gray Whale Inn. The inn’s kitchen smells like ginger and spice, the ground is frosted with snow, and wedding bells are about to ring out for innkeeper Natalie’s favorite niece, Gwen. It’s a joyous time… until the families of the bride and groom descend on the island, bringing nasty tempers and a wicked winter storm with them. Add a baffling rash of thefts, a dash of romantic intrigue, and an unexpected power shutdown, and Natalie’s plans for a magical season are looking more like a recipe for disaster. Can Natalie find the missing gifts before the big holiday? And will the happy couple make it to the altar… or will the wedding go up in flames?
A Mind Reader’s Christmas by Al Macy:
Eric Beckman, a mind-reading private investigator, is spending Christmas in snowy Vermont with his wife and daughter. He needs a break from solving cases, but the townspeople convince him to look into the village mystery: Every holiday season, someone switches the baby Jesus with one of the other figures in the town’s Nativity scene.
With the help of his ten-year-old daughter, also a mind reader, he soon learns that some of the residents of the small town are not who–or even what–they seem to be. There’s something supernatural going on in Newburn, Vermont.
His investigation causes an escalation of strange happenings, and soon, swapped manger figures are the least of the town’s worries. If Beckman can’t adjust his view of the world–force himself to believe in things he never thought possible–the Christmas vacation could turn out to be his family’s last.
A Mind Reader’s Christmas may be read as a standalone book or as Book Four in the Eric Beckman series.
The Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona Marple:
What if Father Christmas is on the naughty list?
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Mystic Springs, but all is not still or calm with the department store Santa.
The amateur dramatics club is full of big egos and legends-in-their-own-heads, so their spats aren’t unusual. But when the theatre owner is shot dead during the Christmas play, it’s Santa who pulls the trigger.
With the arrival of an unwelcome ex, a petition to end Discrimination Against Spirits, and a second attack by St Nick, the chances of a quiet Christmas seem to be quickly disappearing.
Has Santa really gone bad? Or is there more to it?
Town medium Connie and her dead sister Sage are both avoiding their own festive conundrums. A mistletoe murder is just the distraction they need.
Frostycake Murder by Summer Prescott:
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MISSY AND CHAS!!!
Life is full of surprises in the sleepy beachside town of Calgon, Florida, and the holiday season proves to be no exception. Echo faces a new reality that could change her life forever, Missy and Chas wrestle with the pain of facing their own limitations and uncertainties, while Spencer finds himself in a sticky situation relationally.
In the midst of all of the personal turmoil, a gruesome murder is discovered, and Chas once again has to take charge and hope that he finds the ruthless killer, before tragedy strikes a bit closer to home.
Murder on a Midnight Clear by Sara Rosett:
A snowbound country mansion, a missing butler, and a Christmas case…
Olive and Jasper have never been closer—except in one area. Jasper is still reticent about his frequent disappearances from polite society. With the holidays approaching and no paying client on the books, Olive decides to shadow Jasper when he’s unexpectedly called away. Her search brings her to Holly Hill Lodge where an eclectic group has gathered to celebrate an old-fashioned English Christmas.
The guest list includes a celebrated lawn tennis champion, a fussy scientist studying snowflakes, a persuasive luggage salesman, a famous lady explorer, and the family’s eccentric aunt who has a fondness for the newfangled drinks called cocktails.
When the butler goes missing, Olive and Jasper must work together to solve the Christmas crime—as well as the secret Jasper hides.
North Pole Unlimited: Decker and Joy by Elle Rush:
Jaded P.I. Decker Harkness must track down a missing prototype if he wants a shot at a corporate security contract. Sexy cat-lady Joy McCall has her own investigation running after someone breaks into her animal shelter. When they cross paths during a triple kitten-napping, they’ll have to work together to close their cases. Will everyone make it home to celebrate a merry Christmas together?
Only Santa knows.
All I Want for Christmas is Wicked by Lotta Smith:
Trees decorated, stockings full of presents, and another case to crack!
The Rowling family is gearing up for another Merry Christmas, and Mandy has her hands full with holiday prep, but how can she get into the spirit of the season when the victim in her latest case isn’t a ghost?
Twenty years ago, during a Christmas Eve blackout, Kevin Holt, the husband of a rich heiress, lost his memory in a fall down the stairs of their mansion. Now he’s discovered evidence that someone might have been trying to kill him, and all he wants for Christmas is to find out who. Since the resident ghost of the Holt house didn’t witness the attack, Rick and Mandy will have to rely on old fashioned sleuthing (and a little help from Mandy’s paranormal pal Jackie) to find out which of the four suspects is the culprit.
Meanwhile Rick has been saddled with novice investigator Cameron Gibson (call him Ace!) the son of one of USCAB’s wealthiest clients. Ace is trying to catch the creep stalking a New York City fashion model, but despite wanting Mandy to mentor him, one ghostly encounter has him seriously spooked.
A run in with a biker ghost and dancers in danger complicate the case, but the big question on Mandy’s mind is why does little Sophie want a bear trap for Christmas? Find out in this wickedly merry holiday installment of the Paranormal in Manhattan Mystery Series.
Christmas in Nuala by Harriet Steel:
In the sixth instalment of this popular and charming series set in the 1930s amidst the rolling green hills of colonial Ceylon, the little town of Nuala is full of Christmas good cheer, until murder overshadows the festivities.
The mystery he needs to solve baffles Inspector de Silva. It’s just as well he has his wife, Jane, to support him in his race to unmask the villain and save an endangered romance.
If you love entertaining and absorbing mysteries, spiced with colourful characters and a dash of humour, don’t miss The Inspector de Silva Mysteries. Christmas in Nuala makes a great short read for the busy holiday season. Treat yourself to a copy today.
Blood and Mistletoe by E.J. Stevens:
Holidays are worse than a full moon for making people crazy. In Harborsmouth, where many of the residents are undead vampires or monstrous fae, the combination may prove deadly.
Ivy Granger, psychic private investigator, returns to the streets of Harborsmouth in this addition to the bestselling urban fantasy series.
Holidays are Hell, a point driven home when a certain demon attorney returns with information regarding a series of bloody murders. Five Harborsmouth residents have been killed and every victim has one thing in common–they are fae. Whoever is killing faeries must be stopped, but they only leave one clue behind–a piece of mistletoe floating in a pool of the victim’s blood.
The holidays just got interesting. Too bad this case may drive Ivy mad before the New Year. Heck, she’ll be lucky to survive Christmas.
Gusty Lovers and Cadavers by Anne R. Tan:
Gusty winds…and a trail of destruction.
Graduate student Raina Sun is in for a season of mayhem and murder. When she volunteered to take the new foreign exchange student shopping on the last weekend before Christmas, she ended up in a riot for the last hot toy of the season and an abandoned baby. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be a Good Samaritan.
But calling the mysterious phone number in the diaper bag leads to more questions than answers. A strange man claims to be the child’s father, and his alleged mother turns up dead. The local police are more interested in keeping the town’s good name out of international news than considering if there’s foul play. And to make matters worse, she has less than a week to find his birth parents before the FBI takes over the case.
Raina summons her sleuthing skills to protect this baby and soon discovers everyone has a few skeletons in their closets. With her pimp-cane-toting grandma, she must track down a hidden killer before she becomes the next victim. There’s no place for an amateur when it comes to murder…
Don’t miss out on Raina’s new adventure–get your copy of “Gusty Lovers and Cadavers” today!
Pineapple Gingerbread Men by Amy Vansant:
Sheriff Frank asks newly-minted private detective Charlotte to help him crack the case, but she has no idea those darn gingerbread men will start showing up everywhere. What did Santa do that made them so angry? And what’s the secret in his colorful Christmas-themed bureau?
Charlotte is forced to split her time between searching for Santa’s killer and helping Declan’s crazy ex-Stephanie stop a corrupt district attorney in exchange for a book that could help solve more crimes in the future. She never thought she’d help calculating Stephanie with anything…but as this story comes to it’s shocking ending, you’ll find it could be Stephanie who’s finally bitten off more cookie than she can chew…
Tangled Destiny by Jenny Wheeler:
A promising proposal. A life-changing secret. Will she live out a lie or follow her heart?
New York, 1847. Elanora dreams of marrying her childhood sweetheart Eustace. The proposal on her 21st birthday is everything she hoped for, until her fiancé’s father dispatches him to the West Indies. After the promise of a white Christmas with the man she loves evaporates, she stumbles upon a secret that could tear Eustace’s family apart…
After a sudden death further sends Elanora reeling, she’s as vulnerable as ever until a gifted photographer comes to her rescue. With the tragic love triangle forming before her eyes and the secret burning within her, she has an impossible Christmas choice. Will Elanora obey the powerful men who want to control her or will she trigger generations of consequences by exposing the truth?
Tangled Destiny is a prequel novella to the Of Gold & Blood historical mystery series.
Run-A-Way for Christmas by Victoria L.K. Williams:
Christmas is all about children, but usually not all the children at once.
Megan and her faithful beagle Barney meet a gang of runaway children at the beach. Soon the investigative duo learn of exploitation, injury, and murder and with the help of FBI consultant Aiden and his dog, Gypsy, begin to investigate.
Megan’s family and friends rally round and share the joy of Christmas with the children who need it most, while Megan finds that Christmas is truly a time of love.
‘Tis the Season to Be Murdered by Valerie Wolzien:
The appetizers were to die for.
Exhausted after shopping for teenagers, struggling with cappuccino machines, and eating way too many cookies, Susan Henshaw is glad she hired “The Holly and Ms. Ivy” to cater her annual New Year’s bash.
But when half the team, the blond and buffed Z Holly, chef extraordinaire and notorious ladies’ man, is found strangled in a van full of helium balloons, Susan starts hunting for a killer—and a way to save her party.
Though kept in the dark by the police, Susan crashes the holiday parties of the area Hancock, nibbling her way through epicurean delights and sordid tales of sin. Will she discover if really,’Tis the Season to Be Murdered?
Elixirs and Elves by Astoria Wright:
The elves of Mount Vale are throwing a Christmas Party, and they’ve invited everyone! While the human residents of Moss Hill are excited to attend, many of the sidhe find the invitation beneath them. It’s no secret that they dislike mingling with non-faeries, but are they so hostile toward humans that one of them would commit murder? Carissa has never gotten along with the sidhe guard, but Varick of Vale has helped her on occasion. So, when he asks for her help after suspicion falls on him, it’s up to her to prove his innocence – if, that is, he isn’t guilty after all.