Any time is the perfect time to read a mystery, but there’s something about reading in winter—with a cup of tea, curled up by the fire—that is especially delicious. (And if the mystery you’re reading features bitter, snowy weather, so much the better.) If you’re looking for a good Christmas/winter mystery, I’ve compiled a list of eight terrific ones. Some are these books are cozy and some are spooky, some are old and some are new, but all provide the perfect winter-night-in-front-of-the-fire read. (All plot descriptions are from Amazon.com.)
1. Christmas in Absaroka County: Walt Longmire Christmas Stories. In these four stories, “readers glimpse a softer side of Sheriff Walt Longmire as he grapples with the death of his wife, Martha, and his sometimes turbulent but ever-loving relationship with his daughter, Cady.” Fans of Johnson’s Longmire mysteries will love this.
2. Set in the village of Three Pines, Quebec, How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny is the ninth book in the Chief Inspector Gamache mysteries—in my opinion, one of the best mystery series out there: “When Gamache receives a message from Myrna Landers that a longtime friend has failed to arrive for Christmas in the village of Three Pines, he welcomes the chance to get away from the city. Mystified by Myrna’s reluctance to reveal her friend’s name, Gamache soon discovers the missing woman was once one of the most famous people not just in North America, but in the world, and now goes unrecognized by virtually everyone except the mad, brilliant poet Ruth Zardo.”
3. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie is, of course, a classic: “It is Christmas Eve. The Lee family reunion is shattered when the tyrannical Simeon Lee is found dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed. When Hercule Poirot offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man.”
4. Aunt Dimity’s Christmas by Nancy Atherton. The Aunt Dimity mystery series is the very definition of cozy, in all the best senses of the word: “Shortly before Christmas, Lori Shepherd’s idyllic holiday plans are shattered when a derelict collapses in their snowy driveway. While the nameless man lies comatose in a local hospital, the late Dimity, who communicates from the other side by writing in a special journal, encourages Lori to pursue the man’s identity.”
5. Winter Ghosts: Classic Ghost Stories for Christmas, an ebook at a bargain price, was published in September 2014 and contains wonderfully wintry short stories by Amelia B Edwards, M.R. James, Charles Dickens, J.M. Barrie, Louisa Baldwin, and others: “Set during the Christmas period, these atmospheric Victorian and Edwardian ghost stories by masters of the genre are perfect reading for the long winter evenings!”
6. Jerusalem Inn by Martha Grimes is book 5 in the Richard Jury mystery series: “From the rough but colorful pub that provides the book’s title, to the snowboard Gothic estate nearby, the chilly English landscape has never held more atmosphere—or thwarted romance. And Jury will never have a more mysterious Christmas.”
7. Good Tidings by Terri Reid is book 2 in the Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mystery series: “Mary O’Reilly, Private Investigator, is decorating her office for the holiday season when the newly installed bell over her door jingles. She looks over to see a six year-old boy standing next to her desk. His name is Joey Marcum and he wants to hire Mary to find his baby brother.”
8. Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle is book 8 in Coyle’s cozy Coffeehouse Mystery series: “Coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi has grown very fond of Alfred Glockner, the part-time comic and genuinely jolly charity Santa who’s been using her Village Blend as a place to warm his mittens. When she finds him brutally gunned down in a nearby alley, a few subtle clues convince her that Alfred’s death was something more than the tragic result of a random mugging—the conclusion of the police.”
And if you’re looking for a ninth Christmas mystery, try my first Anna Denning mystery, The Witch Tree, set in Colorado in the four days leading up to Christmas. It’s on sale now for 99 cents at Amazon, Kobo Books, and Barnes & Noble.