CRRL Picks: Christmas Askew
Annotation:Each year, for the past seventeen years, Otto Penzler, owner of the legendary Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, has commissioned an original story by a leading mystery writer. The requirements were that it be a mystery/ crime/suspense story, that it be set during the Christmas season, and that at least some of the action must take place in The Mysterious Bookshop. These stories were then produced as pamphlets, 1,000 copies, and given to customers of the bookstore as a Christmas present. Now, all of these stories have been collected in one volume: Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop. Some of the tales are humorous, others suspenseful, and still others mystifying.
Annotation:With Christmas just around the corner, Thomas Pitt's sister-in-law, Emily Radley, is suddenly called from London to be with her dying aunt. Leaving her husband and two children behind, Emily makes the long journey to an all-but-forgotten town in the county of Connemara, on the western coast of Ireland. She soon discovers that a tragic legacy haunts the once close-knit community.
Annotation:"Beecher Stowe is planning a delightful village Christmas with Lady Alix when a poor little rich girl, going by at least three different names, appears. They finally discern Susan-Jane-Emma's true identity as the extremely wealthy bone her divorced parents are fighting over. Meanwhile, this precocious and well-read little miss is determined to achieve her goal: she has come to the Hamptons in search of a Martha Stewart^-style Christmas as promised by a magazine she found in her Swiss convent school. As preparations get under way, more strangeness ensues as rich old Marley's bones keep getting stolen from the local cemetery, and a P.I. disguised as a nun conducts prayer services on the frigid beach to bring back a lost fisherman." (Booklist)
Annotation:Left alone in chilly Lochdubh, Scotland, while his family spends Christmas in Florida, Constable Hamish Macbeth copes with a missing cat and the disappearance of a town's holiday tree and decorations, while searching for a way to make a little girl's Christmas dreams come true.
Annotation:"This holiday feast for lovers of mutts and mysteries features 15 new stories by popular mystery authors. Find out how a temperamental Yorkie provokes Yuletide mayhem at an English country house, a puppy forgotten in Santa's bag helps quell a coup at the North Pole, and a Portuguese water dog noses out murder at a Vermont inn!"
Annotation:The horrors of Christmas are not limited to just the credit card bills and the fruit cake. Try these spooky English tales from such talents as Arthur Conan Doyle and Rudyard Kipling.
Annotation:"In this wonderfully written adventure, Reid introduces Daniel Plainway, a good-hearted country lawyer who sets off on an odyssey that changes his life and the lives of an orphaned child, a big-hearted ballplayer, and an extraordinary woman whom he meets along the way. Filled with lighthearted comedy and touching drama and populated by a rich panoply of memorable characters, Daniel Plainway is a delightful example of magnificent, old-fashioned storytelling that will have readers of all ages enthralled, amused, and curled up in their favorite reading chairs."
Annotation:Who would want to harm Discworld's most beloved icon? Very few things are held sacred in this twisted, corrupt, heartless -- and oddly familiar -- universe, but the Hogfather is one of them. Yet here it is, Hogswatchnight, that most joyous and acquisitive of times, and the jolly old, red-suited gift-giver has vanished without a trace. And there's something shady going on involving an uncommonly psychotic member of the Assassins' Guild and certain representatives of Ankh-Morpork's rather extensive criminal element. Suddenly Discworld's entire myth system is unraveling at an alarming rate. Drastic measures must be taken, which is why Death himself is taking up the reins of the fat man's vacated sleigh . . . which, in turn, has Death's level-headed granddaughter, Susan, racing to unravel the nasty, humbuggian mess before the holiday season goes straight to hell and takes everyone along with it.
Annotation:A brilliant collection of fourteen original Holmes stories written by today's premier mystery writers. Each story features Holmes and Watson, festively solving the darkest of crimes in the brightest of seasons. Also try the sequel, More Holmes for the Holidays.
Annotation:A bus driver takes his grandson along on Saturdays as he travels a historical route around New York City. What comes out of these travels is a series of wonderful adventures that culminates on Christmas Eve, when the bus gets stuck in a snowstorm.
Annotation:"...a slyly addictive story that introduces a beguiling cross section of characters in a small Virginia village, all of whom are destined to collide in an unusual confluence of events in the days leading up to Christmas. Dr. C. R. Ash, a neonatologist and chronic bachelor, is a man in the winter of his soul, and last in the line of an old Southern family. During a snowy prelude to a much-anticipated hospital Christmas party, C.R. crosses paths with a world of local characters, living and dead: Betty, his fire-fearing secretary and her cohort; Dr. Pendleton Compton, C.R.'s lascivious best friend who mends the hearts of babies; Kirsten, a candy striper who teeters between the worlds of childhood and child rearing; a clutch of death-obsessed teenagers; and two amateur caterers striving to create a Dickensian world of magic for the overworked and bedraggled hospital staff. "In a town adrift with housing developments, strip malls, and Civil War history, this motley assemblage of characters are all impelled by their search to solve the ancient human riddles of love, loss, and desolation."
Annotation:As holiday celebrations take place in Santa Fe, Agent Paul Kagan is on the run with a baby the Russian mafia wants to destroy and turns to a mother and her young son for help during a violent night where they all must work together to keep the child safe from harm.
Annotation:"Little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a holiday miracle. No, he's not on his deathbed; no, his dog hasn't run away from home. But Josh is sure that he saw Santa take a shovel to the head, and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please, Santa, come back from the dead. But hold on! There's an angel waiting in the wings. (Wings, get it?) It's none other than the Archangel Raziel come to Earth seeking a small child with a wish that needs granting. Unfortunately, our angel's not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch, and before you can say "Kris Kringle," he's botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen."
Annotation:"This magical little sweetmeat is clearly a Christmas present from Evanovich to the legions of fans of Stephanie Plum, Trenton bounty hunter. It begins just before Christmas, when a tall, long-haired blond in boots and jeans materializes in Stephanie's kitchen. Really--the door and windows are locked. He says his name is Diesel, and he needs Stephanie's help to find someone. She's looking for someone herself, a toy maker named Sandy Claws who has skipped his court appearance. Crazed elves (really little persons with fake ears), the inevitable blown-up car, and the latest in Grandma Mazur's boyfriends form a counterpoint to Stephanie's incompetence at getting it together for the holidays, her sister Valerie's possible pregnancy by the unfortunately named Albert Kloughn, and a small, boxed gift from Morelli. Through it all, the ingratiating and very pretty Diesel appears and disappears, trying to track someone who may be close to Sandy Claws and hinting that he is not all he seems. If you don't know the characters, you'd be pretty confused, but if you do, you can surrender to the hint of fantasy and the heavenly scent of Christmas cookies from the Plum kitchen." (Booklist)
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This Christmas why not curl up in front of the fire with your hot toddy and one of these great non-traditional holiday stories? They're good for a laugh, a tingle, a thrill or a scare. These aren't your father's warm, fuzzy, "I'll be home for Christmas" sentimental reads!