By Jeannette Hartman
Crime and Christmas go together like turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy or pumpkin pie and whipped cream.
Between the frustrations of holiday travel and the tensions of family visits, a good crime novel is just the thing for diversion — or hints for a fatal resolution of your familial problems.
Each of the following will take you to a new setting with a mystery full of twists, baffling clues and interesting characters.
THE DEAD OF WINTER (2013) by Peter Kirby. Set in Montreal, Inspector Luc Vanier is sitting alone in the dark listening to Patsy Cline wail about loss and despair drinking whiskey on Christmas eve when he gets a call that the latest of five bodies of homeless individuals has been found in a Metro station. Vanier welcomes the diversion, but the murders are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how the vulnerable are used by the corrupt and powerful in the beautiful island city of Montreal.
FROST AT CHRISTMAS (1984) by R. D. Wingfield. This book introduces the irreverent, intuitive, never-take-authority-seriously Detective Inspector Jack Frost. Over four days, less than two weeks before Christmas, Frost is left to oversee the search for a missing eight-year-old, the discovery of the skeleton of man missing for 32 years, a jewelry heist and the apprehension of a man stealing electronics from a local factory. His ever-critical boss Superintendent Mullett never sees past Frost’s hatred of paperwork and administrative deadlines to appreciate how many crimes he solves.
THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST (2017) by Rhys Bowen. This is the 17th in the Molly Murphy series. Molly, her husband New York Police Capt. Daniel Sullivan, their son Liam and ward Bridie have been invited to a Hudson River mansion for the holidays. The dark and tragic atmosphere is broken by the best Christmas surprise possible: A young girl comes to the door and announces that she is Charlotte, the hosts’ daughter, missing for the past 10 years. But is she? Why has she only come back now?