Top Ten Christmas Mystery Books

1. The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries - ed. by Otto Penzler
Head of Zeus £20

"Wow! When they say big, this book is blooming big! This gorgeous hardback of collected festive mysteries comes in at 733 pages - and you do get a lot for your money. The collection kicks off with Christie's 'The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding' followed by a plethora of huge names in crime fiction: past and present. Included are Colin Dexter, Peter Lovesey, Andrew Klavan and Mary Higgins Clark. The past are represented by Ngaio Marsh, G.K. Chesterton, Conan Doyle, Ellery Queen, Ed McBain. Josephine Bell, Ellis Peters and even Robert Louis Stevenson! And like the proverbial bow around the parcel, the collection ends with another Christie. This is pure crime fiction nectar for any crime fan. You would score serious points giving this as a Christmas present."

2. The Christmas Killer - Jim Gallows
Penguin £7.99

"This is Jim Gallows' crime debut and it has certainly got me excited. The chapters are short and sharp, a little like James Patterson - when he used to be great. Gallows' writing has me glued to this book and is certainly turning in to my 'find' of the season. If you are looking for a new Christmas thriller, then you will not go far wrong with this one!"

3. Redemption - Jill McGown
Bello Books £8.99

"I love McGown's LLoyd and Hill series. She was marvellous at combining a great puzzle that Christie would have envied with the developing relationship of the two main detectives throughout their thirteen books. Her early death means we have missed out on where she would have taken Lloyd and Hill, but we must rejoice we have thirteen to enjoy. This is their second outing and the one that is most like a homage to Christie herself. The US title was 'The Murder at the Old Vicarage' which is very similar to Christie's own title which debued Miss Marple and in fact McGown does Christie's book in 'Redemption'. The crime is a body found dead in the vicarage during a white Christmas. What more can you ask for? This is a perfect introduction to a brilliant author who has been out of print for too long. Hurrah for Bello Books for bringing her books back to delight readers yet again. And this title is currently at 59p for the Kindle edition. Yes! That's right, 59p! I am sure you will be gripped and like me, will soon read the whole series. Enjoy!"

4. Dying for Christmas - Tammy Cohen
Black Swan £7.99

"This is a new title just out. I haven't read it but my reviewer has and loved it. A review will soon be up on but she was so enthralled by this psychological thriller that it had to join this Christmas Top Ten!"

5. Groaning Spinney - Gladys Mitchell
Vintage £9.99

"Christmas in the Cotswolds brings with it the apparition of a country parson, a series of poison pen letters, and a woman’s body frozen in the snow. So begins the festive mystery featuring the beloved Mrs. Bradley. Using her skills of psychology and general snooping (with a few witty asides) Mrs. Bradley begins to sniff out a killer - but it will be several months before she arrives at the truth. Mitchell is not everyone's cup of tea, she is not as disciplined as Christie and her plots can get a shade O.T.T. but there is a charm about Mitchell's books that draws you in. Many of her books have become hugely collectible over the years and have become very pricey, so Vintage must be applauded for publishing the large Bradley canon and making it available to the masses. This is a spritely and enjoying mystery and great for anyone who loves a good old fashioned Classic crime."

6. Mystery in White - J. Jefferson Farjeon
British Library £7.99

"The British Library has released several paperbacks of forgotten crime thrillers in the past few years. This latest is by J. Jefferson Farjeon who was, in his day up there with Christie and Sayers but soon fell out of fashion. This tale starts on Christmas Eve on a snowbound train that has just left Euston. A small party of travellers decide to traipse across the snowy landscape to another train station in the vain hope of arriving at their different destinations. Instead, they stumble over a house in the middle of nowhere, the door unlocked, lights on, fires burning, tea ready for eating... but nobody is at home. So begins a slightly bizarre but engaging tale mingling murder, mystery and mayhem with a dash of the supernatural for good measure. A treat for any connoisseur of the classic crime novel. Great fun!"

7. Naomi's Room - Jonathan Aycliffe
Constable Robinson £7.99

"I read this book when it first came out in the early nineties and it scared the living daylights out of me! This is a brilliant creepy ghost story - something we all love at this time of year. Charles and Laura are a young couple in love. Charles sets off with their daughter, Naomi to London on Christmas Eve for a shopping trip. But Naomi disappears and days later her body is found. But is she dead. This is one of those 'bump in the night' books and I dare you to read it on your own! A great ghost story that has been re-issued by Constable."

8. The Christmas Collection - Mary and Carol Higgins Clark
Pocket Books £9.99

"For a number of years, those Higgins Clark girls had the Christmas market cornered with their Christmas mysteries that have a sense of 'Murder She Wrote' about them. These Christmas novellas can be a little saccharine sweet for some, but they are intended to be light and fluffy mysteries to entertain the reader. This Christmas trio is top and tailed by ones featuring Willy and Alvirah who win the lottery who, along with Regan Reilly, solve mysteries. My favourite is 'The Christmas Thief' and these are guaranteed to brighten up any festive reading and get you in the mood for Christmas. "

9. Breach of Promise - Roy Hart
Macmillan £0

"I found this out-of-print novel from 1991 by sheer good fortune. Zygmunt Komarowski is a pillar of the community. Having played Father Christmas to the children of the local school only the week before, he is found murdered in the snow near his caravan in the woods. It is down to Inspector Roper, just days before Christmas, to find who would have killed this harmless old man. This is a great little police procedural and made me a long time fan of Roy Hart's novels. Originally published by MacMillan I am still hopeful that it's sister publisher, Bello Books will re-issue this long forgotten series. Second hand copies are easily found online for very little money. This is one well worth investigating."

10. The Advent Killer - Alastair Gunn
Penguin £7.99

"This came out just before Christmas 2013 and is a particular favourite of mine. Gunn's debut introduces his detective, DCI Antonia Hawkins on the trail of a killer who appears to kill indiscriminately (or does he or she?). Hawkins has to find the connection to these random killings in the lead up to Christmas - a time of year that does not hold any joy for her. London in the grip of a serial killer is brought to life by an exciting plot that will keep you thrilled right up to the surprising and satisfying denouement."