Santa has eclectic tastes in literature, but confesses to a soft spot for stories about Christmas, especially the ones about himself. Well, who wouldn’t?
Reading Death on a Winter Stroll, the new holiday mystery by Francine Mathews, seventh in a series, would be perfect for S. Claus. In December, Nantucket Island’s popular restaurants and shops are brightly lit and open for business, pine and potpourri scent the air, Santa arrives in a Coast Guard cutter, and residents and tourists alike join in the three-day Christmas Stroll.
Stroll Season is about to start, and this year, two sets of visitors warrant special attention. First, the US Secretary of State, her husband, and his twenty-three-year-old son. The second, much larger group comprises cast and crew of a new streaming television series. Hollywood stars, fawning diplomatic assistants, old friends and new loves—in short, a delicious cast of characters.
You’re very aware of the ocean here, grey and enticing, wind and white caps. At times, it’s as easy to get around by boat as by car. (Santa does.) So, how did a murderer find his way to the cottage of a reclusive woman photographer, and why did he kill her? When a second murder occurs, this one among the Hollywood contingent, the two deaths appear completely unconnected. But are they? Take heart, police chief Meredith Folger is on the job.
The story moves along briskly with plenty of local color and numerous plot twists. It just goes to show that people who spend their lives looking at the world through the lens of a camera—not just the dead woman, but the film people as well—sometimes miss things just out of frame. A fun, quick read, perfect for stuffing Christmas stockings! Order right here with my Amazon affiliate link.
A British Library Crime Classic, The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay, was first published in 1936 and has all the comfy hallmarks of a traditional English country-house mystery—rural setting, large cast of slightly uneasy family members, unwelcome holiday visitors, and the dead body of the wealthy patriarch, Sir Osmond Melbury. It’s complicated, and, sorry, Santa, you appear to have committed the deed. Or at least someone dressed like you may have. Motives galore. It’s up to Chief Constable Halstock to figure out where everyone was at the time of the murder and why some of them are lying. Order here with my Amazon affiliate link.
Santa also encourages you to read (and give!) one of his favorite books of 2022, Architect of Courage. “It’s perfect for people who like mysteries and thrillers,” he says, “and on those long winter nights up at the North Pole, we need good, solid entertainment!” Amazon affiliate link here.