This time of year, screens across the globe are filled with Hallmark Christmas movies, modern classics like Elf and old gems like It’s a Wonderful Life.
But readers need classics too, and there’s no shortage of great holiday-themed books that warm the hearth while getting your blood racing. Here are three that are just about guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
I for one, will be spending several hours with the legendary sleuth Hercule Poiroit!
Sometimes, you just want a classic.
Agatha Christie, the acknowledged mistress of suspense—creator of indomitable sleuth Miss Marple, meticulous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, and so many other unforgettable characters—brings her entire oeuvre of ingenious whodunits, locked room mysteries, and perplexing puzzles to Harper Paperbacks.
In Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, the holidays are anything but merry when a family reunion is marred by murder.
The notoriously fastidious investigator Poirot is quickly on the case.
Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Blue Carbuncle by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
In this classic from Doyle, Watson visits his friend Holmes at Christmas time and finds him contemplating a battered old hat.
The hat and a Christmas goose had been dropped by a man in a scuffle with some street ruffians.
Peterson takes the goose home to eat, but later returns to Holmes with a blue carbuncle his wife had found in the bird’s crop (throat).
Holmes makes some amazing deductions concerning the owner of the hat from simple observations of its condition, conclusions amply confirmed when an advertisement for the owner produces the man himself: Henry Baker.
All in all, a delightful holiday read.
Secrets of the Chimes by John Vance
Pour yourself a brandy, slide into a pair of velvet loafers and cozy up by the fire to savor this perfectly timed murder mystery that centers around one of Charles Dickens’ little-known Christmas novellas (fact: The Chimes is actually one of five Christmas novellas written by the beloved author).
Professor and Dickens researcher Jeremy Nichols takes a new job at a prestigious New England college where Jackson Lawrence, one of foremost Dickensian scholars, was mysteriously murdered six months earlier in the tower of the library.
But it’s not long before making tenure soon becomes the last thing on Nichols’ mind. The professor soon gets pulled into the unexplained events surrounding Lawrence’s untimely demise and sets out to discover what lurks in the upper reaches of the tower in the Hendley library.
What was Lawrence doing alone among the dusty tomes of the Hendley Library on the night of his death? Did the blood-stained pages of The Chimes, the Dickens novel Lawrence was clutching when he died, provide any clues?
Author John Vance, who also gave us the excellent In the Mind of the Vampire, Touched Back and other novels, has gifted Dickens fans with a treasure trove of easter eggs throughout. But never fear: You don’t have to be a die-hard Dickensian to get sucked into this compelling mystery. There is plenty of chilling lore, backstabbing, and good-old fashioned murder to scare even the ghost of Jacob Marley.