Christmas Crime 2019

1. The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas - Syd Moore
One world £6.99

"'Death Becomes Her' was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association Short Story Daggers. Nothing says Christmas more than a good old fashioned ghost story on a dark winter's night, so sit back and enjoy a little pinch of Yuletide mayhem. These extraordinary tales, one for each day of Christmas, explore the odd, the peculiar and the downright chilling, from a Strange encounter with an Icelandic Shaman, to a psychic policewoman, lively winged beasts and warnings from the recently departed.

Here Moore collects her stories from her e-book 'The Strange Casebook' from 2018 and are re-issued here with new stories. There is nothing better than a spooky tale in the winter months, especially from Moore's Essex Witch Museum Mysteries series which has hints of the macabre and has already recruited a legion of fans. Or being a Witch museum should that be a coven of fans? Enjoy!"

2. Mistletoe - Alison Littlewood
Jo Fletcher £14.99

"Following the tragic deaths of her husband and son, Leah is looking for a new life. Determined to bury her grief in hard work and desperate to escape Christmas and the reminders of what she has lost, she rushes through the purchase of a run-down Yorkshire farmhouse, arriving just as the snow shrouds her new home.

It might look like the loveliest Christmas card, but it's soon clear it's not just the house that needs renovation: the land is in bad heart, too. As Leah sets to work, she begins to see visions of the farm's former occupants - and of the dark secrets that lie at the heart of Maitland Farm.

'Mistletoe' is another Gothic tale from Littlewood. She writes perfectly a stark landscape that is full of menace."

3. James Lovegrove - Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon
Titan £12.99

"It is 1890, and in the days before Christmas Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson are visited at Baker Street by a new client. Eve Allerthorpe - eldest daughter of a grand but somewhat eccentric Yorkshire-based dynasty - is greatly distressed, as she believes she is being haunted by a demonic Christmas spirit.

Her late mother told her terrifying tales of the sinister Black Thurrick, and Eve is sure that she has seen the creature from her bedroom window. What is more, she has begun to receive mysterious parcels of birch twigs, the Black Thurrick's calling card...

Sinister apparitions and menacing parcels make this an addictive tale. Lovegrove doesn't try to emulate Conan Doyle, but the macabre air could have been thought of by the great writer himself. Lovegrove does the writer and Holmes justice with this labyrinthine story... and there is a spooky castle deep in the barren countryside mixed with local folklore. What isn't there to love?! "

4. Crime Fiction: A reader's Guide - Barry Forshaw
Oldcastle £12.99

"Forshaw brings to the fore all his knowledge of the crime genre to highlight a ton of authors, past and present. The big names such as Rendell, Christie et al. get their own special spotlight, but there are masses of names here well-known as well as some forgotten to the mists of time. This is one of those books that is perfect for dipping in and out of and finding new authors as well as discovering old loved ones. Whether you are, or know a seasoned fan of crime fiction or a new traveller in the crime landscape, this will make a lovely present in their stocking. I'd buy it for the cover alone! "

5. Bryant and May: England's Finest - Christopher Fowler
Doubleday £16.99

"Arthur Bryant remembers these lost cases as if they were yesterday. Unfortunately, he doesn’t remember yesterday, so the newly revealed facts could come as a surprise to everyone, including his exasperated partner John May.

Here, then, is the truth about the Covent Garden opera diva and the seventh reindeer, the body that falls from the Tate Gallery, the ordinary London street corner where strange accidents keep occurring, the consul’s son discovered buried in the unit’s basement, the corpse pulled from a swamp of Chinese dinners, a Hallowe’en crime in the Post Office Tower, and the impossible death that’s the fault of a forgotten London legend. All of the unit’s oddest characters are here, plus the detectives’ long-suffering sergeant Janice Longbright gets to reveal her own forgotten mystery. As always, every story sparkles with Fowler's wit and love of London, sprinkled with the dark and macabre. A box of delights for the festive season!"

6. Murder At Christmas - Ed. by Cecily Gayford
Profile £8.99

"This is the fourth Christmas anthology from this editor and publisher. For some years the anthology went out of fashion, so it is nice to see this series championing the short story. These are perfect for anyone who doesn't get the time to read a book over the festive season. These shorts are a sure way of getting a quick crime fiction hit!

Whereas previous books have included contemporary with classics, this new collection come from the classic pens of Allingham, Sayers and Blake as well as Ellis Peters and a Rumpole from John Mortimer. Others include Ethel Lina White, Julian Symons and Michael Innes. As with all collections, they are like a box of crackers. Some have a Big Bang and some simply fizzle! Even if you have read some of them before (as I have), they are still enjoyable as it is a bit like having old friends round for Christmas drinks! Although I'd make sure to pour your own drink if you are acquainted with so many with such devious minds!"

7. Death Comes At Christmas - Gladys Mitchell
Vintage £8.99

"Don't get too excited as this is not a long-lost book of Mitchell's. This was originally published as 'Dead Men's Morris' back in 1936. However, having set the record straight, it is always lovely to see the great Gladys (as described by Philip Larkin) back in print.

Mrs Bradley (she hadn't been made a Dame yet) has decided to spend Christmas with her nephew on his pig farm in Oxfordshire. Soon there is a suspicious death, followed soon after by another... and there is a ghost as well which Mrs Bradley is keeping an eye out. As with many Mitchell books, Mrs Bradley doesn't get her murderer with a few hours, but has to wait until Whitsun when the Morris dancers are out in force.

As with all her books, this is wonderfully bonkers. Mitchell did not have the precision of Christie, but her books are wonderful adventure tales for adults. Always entertaining and endearing."

8. Ghostly Stories - Celia Fremlin
Faber £3.5

"For many years I have sung the praises of this writer who was out of print for many years. Thankfully, Faber have seen to that, bringing back her entire catalogue for us all to enjoy again. I have lost count the amount of people I have given 'The Hours Before Dawn' only for them to come back completely entranced by Fremlin's prose and then read her other books. Although I love her novels, I find myself going back time and again to her short story collections as Fremlin really could say so much in so few pages. To me, each one is a tiny gem, showing an author who had her finger on the pulse of the social mores of the day.

Fremlin did not just write suspenseful fiction, she also turned her hand to the macabre which again, she had a wonderful ear for the supernatural. Her story, 'Don't Tell Cissie' has been in numerous ghost anthologies. Here, Faber Stories don't include Cissie, but highlight two stories, 'The Hated House' and 'The New House'. If you have never read Fremlin, then this is a great little introduction. These two shorts are like a Fremlin amuse-bouche to tingle the senses. A wonderful little book (only 41 pages) that any reader will love to find in their stocking on Christmas morning. "

9. The Christmas Egg - Mary Kelly
British Library £8.99

"London. 22nd December. Chief Inspector Brett Nightingale and Sergeant Beddoes have been called to a gloomy flat off Islington High Street. An elderly woman lies dead on the bed, and her trunk has been looted. The woman is Princess Olga Karukhin - an emigrant of Civil War Russia - and her trunk is missing its glittering treasure...

The British Library alongside Martin Edwards have made a niche for themselves with this fabulous series. The British Library Crime Classics has seen many forgotten authors from yesteryear brought to a new audience. 'Mystery in White' by J. Jefferson Farjeon was a massive seller Christmas 2014, and I am sure they will repeat the same with this new title. Kelly is credited as the P.D. James of her time before prematurely disappearing from the crime fiction scene. Previously published in 1958, any lover of a classic crime novel will be pleased as Christmas punch if they find this under the Christmas tree! "

10. 19th Christmas - James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Century £20

"James Patterson alongside his co-writers is a writing machine and garnered an army of fans worldwide. I am not a fan of every series, but I have always loved the Women's Murder Club. Whatever you think of Patterson's books, they are always so readable. The short, sharp chapters are filmic, running like a movie in your mind. Lindsay Boxer takes centre stage for this latest addition to the series.

Sergeant Lindsay Boxer is looking forward to spending time with her family over the holidays. But when she receives a tip-off that the biggest heist ever to hit San Francisco is being planned for Christmas Day, everything changes. The architect of the ambitious attack unleashes chaos across the city, laying traps and false alarms to distract Lindsay and the SFPD from his ultimate goal. As time runs out, will Lindsay be able to save the people of San Francisco from a Christmas they'd never forget?"