Add a Little Mystery to Christmas

Mystery books at Christmas should be fun and clever – a little salty with the sweet – and not too gory.  I’m reading David Morrell’s The Spy Who Came for Christmas – a quick read set in Santa Fe on Christmas Eve, with the Russian mafia in hot pursuit of Agent Paul Kagan.

Other paperback mysteries with the Christmas theme –

  • All Through the Night by Mary Higgins Clark
  • I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
  • Hercule Poirit’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
  • Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
  •  The Christmas Night Murder by Lee Harris
  • A Holly Jolly Murder by Joan Hess


Try them for a quick diversion from shopping and baking, or as a gift to your favorite crime-solving addict.

Mystery Books with Recipes: Crunch Time and Devil’s Food Cake Murder

The next best thing to reading a recipe book may be reading a mystery with recipes.

Diane Mott Davidson dishes up funny culinary adventures with her heroine, Goldy, the Colorado caterer; the titles always have a double meaning, reflecting food and the mystery.  From the first book, Catering to Nobody, to her latest, Crunch Time,  Goldy is the I Love Lucy of sleuths, and cooks up some tasty dishes along the way.

As she wrote more books, Davidson moved the recipes from the context of the story to an appendix at the back – so I could stop dog-earing my favorites.  I still make Red and White cookies from Cereal Murders. 

Now I’ve discovered another source for recipes – mostly desserts.  Joanne Fluke’s heroine is Hannah Swenson, the owner of the Cookie Jar bakery.  Although I haven’t read other Hannah Swenson mysteries, their titles follow the tasty title formula  –  Blueberry Muffin Murder, Carrot Cake Murder – not as creative as Davidson’s.  The first hundred pages of Fluke’s latest book, Devil’s Food Cake Murder, read like a Prairie Home Companion, as the relatives meander through their days and usually get a box of pastry from Hannah.  Fluke sometime uses four or five pages for her recipes, but they are still easy, sometimes with packaged ingredients; I had to stop reading to try the Carrot Oatmeal Muffins.

The dead body does finally appear, but who would kill a minister who likes chocolate cake?  Of course, Hannah finds the killer after a few red herrings and with her grandmother’s help.

Many of the recipes for both authors are online, and Fluke will soon be publishing hers in a cookbook, but I like to read what the characters are eating, and then replicate – without the bloody trail.