A U.S. survey has come out with an interesting statistic: more murders take place during the holidays than at any other time of the year. It seems the season of “good will to all” has a caveat. Don’t the holidays bring out the best in people? Makes you look at your family members and neighbors in a whole new way.

With that scary thought in mind, it doesn’t surprise me that many murder mysteries are set during the holiday season—most notably at Christmastime. With all the redundant “Ho-Ho-Hos” and “Fa-La-Las” echoing in our brains from TV commercials and movies, it’s no wonder that we sometimes need a break from all the cheer. Having to be happy all the holiday season—especially this 2020 season— puts a tremendous amount of strain on all of us. What you need is to find some time to kick back and enjoy a good book.

So why not fill your cup with the heavily-spiked eggnog that Aunt Martha sent you as a present and settle down to read some nice, nasty holiday murder mysteries.

Let’s begin with an old but wonderful read: Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. While not technically a murder or real mystery, A Christmas Carol is still a good bet to offset the continual and sometimes mindless joy of the season. Yes, I know that it has a nice little happy ending, but it also has some excellent points in it concerning the evil and cruelty of humankind. I mean, come on—do you really want Tiny Tim to die or have the Spirit of Christmas-Yet-to-Come wield pain and suffering on the world? Of course not! But you do like reading about it.

If short stories in an anthology is your thing, try Murder under the Christmas Tree: Ten Classic Crime Stories for the Festive Season, with works by such renowned authors as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Agatha Christie. These author know how to turn a festive holiday scene into a classic murder mystery.

If bloody happenings during the holidays is a turn-off for you but you still need a good, “clean” murder mystery with holiday overtones, try one of the Christmas cozies. Christmas Carol Murder by Leslie Meier is a modern take on the Dickens novel with a character named Jake Marlowe as the scrooge-like character. Or, perhaps you’d like the lovable character of the aptly-named Father Tom Christmas holiday mystery, Ten Lords A-Leaping.

Whatever book you choose to read to relax this holiday season, make sure to take time for yourself away from all the insanity this time of year can bring. After all, what’s a holiday without a little well-written murder mystery to keep you entertained after all the festivities are done?

Happy holidays to all! And to all—well, you know how it goes…

© copyright 2020 Kristen Houghton all rights reserved


  • Kristen Houghton

    Kristen Houghton

    Thrive Global

    Kristen Houghton is the award-winning author of the popular series, A Cate Harlow Private Investigation.  She is also the author of nine novels, two non-fiction books, a collection of short stories, a book of essays, and a children’s novella. Her horror novel, Welcome to Hell, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. Houghton has covered politics, news, and lifestyle issues as a contributor to the Huffington Post. Her writing portfolio includes Criminal Element Magazine, a division of Macmillan Publishing, Today, senior fiction editor at Bella Magazine, interviews and reviews for HBO documentaries, OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network, and The Style Channel. Before becoming a full-time  author, Kristen, who holds an Ed.D. in linguistics, taught World Languages on the high school and university levels. Along with her husband, educator Alan William Hopper, she is a philanthropist for Project Literacy and Shelters With Heart, safe havens for victims of domestic abuse and their pets . mailto:  [email protected]