Monday, November 26, 2018

Time for Christmas and Holiday Shorts!

by Paula Gail Benson

On the day before Thanksgiving, Dru’s Book Musings featured Sleigh Bells and Sleuthing, an anthology of 16 cozy mystery novellas to celebrate the season. Here’s a link to Dru’s post. One hundred percent of the proceeds from sales of the anthology will benefit Good Fortune Farm Refuge, a non-profit ranch located in Semmes, Alabama, which rehabilitates abused and abandoned animals and finds homes for rescued animals.

Dru’s post reminded me that this is the time for reading seasonal shorts, so here are a few anthologies you might wish to consider:

Murder Under the Christmas Tree: Ten Classic Crime Stories for the Festive Season, edited by Cecily Gayford, has stories by Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L. Sayers, Edmund Crispin, G.K. Chesteron, Ngaio Marsh, Carter Dickson, Margery Allingham, and Ellis Peters.

Otto Penzler’s The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries contains 60 stories divided into categories like traditional, funny, Sherlockian, pulpy, uncanny, scary, surprising, modern, puzzling, and classic. It features authors like Mary Higgins Clark, Sara Paretsky, Max Allan Collins, Edward D. Hoch, John D. McDonald, and O. Henry.

Mistletoe Mysteries, Tales of Yuletide Murder were compiled by Charlotte McLeod. It contains 16 stories by McLeod, Mary Higgins Clark, Sharon McCrumb, Marcia Muller, Bill Pronzini, Peter Lovesey, and others.

Last year, I discovered and was completely charmed by The Usual Santas. It includes stories by Helene Tursten, Mick Herron, Martin Limón, Timothy Hallinan, Teresa Dovalpage, Mette Ivie Harrison, Colin Cotterill, Ed Lin, Stuart Neville, Tod Goldberg, Henry Chang, James R. Benn, Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis, Sujata Massey, Gary Corby, Cara Black, Stephanie Barron and a Foreword and story by Peter Lovesey.

In 2013, my December post for Writers Who Kill was the final installment of a series about writing short stories and compared the story structures of three excellent holiday short stories:

B.K. Stevens’ “Little Dumber Boy” (individually published under the Fingerprints imprint by Untreed Reads, December, 2010) (available on Amazon).

Barb Goffman’s “Christmas Surprise” in the collection Don’t Get Mad, Get Even: 15 Tales of Revenge and More (Wildside Press April, 2013).

Earl Staggs’ “Caught on Christmas Eve” in the collection Short Stories of Earl Staggs: 16 Tales of Mystery from Hard Boiled to Humor (Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 2011).

At the end of the post, I listed the following holiday anthologies:

Lori Avocato, Dana Cameron, Mary Daheim, Cait London, Suzanne Macpherson, Kerrelyn Sparks, Sugarplums and Scandal (HarperCollins Publishers 2010).

Carols and Crimes, Gifts and Grifters (Wolfmont Press 2009) (Authors Tony Burton, Austin S. Camacho, Thomas H. Cook, Herschel Cozine, Gail Farrelly, Margaret Fenton, Chris Grabenstein, Sue Ann Jaffarian, Frank Zafiro, and others).

John M. Floyd, editor, The Gift of Murder (Wolfmont Press 2009) (Authors Austin S. Camacho, Hershel Cozine, Bill Crider, Kris Neri, Randy Rawls, Carolyn J. Rose, Elizabeth Zelvin). 

Steve Hockensmith, Naughty: Nine Tales of Christmas Crime (an e-book collection of stories that previously appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine or Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine).

Stuart MacBride, 12 Days of Winter: Crime at Christmas (HarperCollins Publishers 2011).

Margaret Maron, Five Christmas Gifts (Maron & Company; Ebook edition December, 2012).

John Mortimer, A Rumpole Christmas (Penguin Books, 2009).

May all your holiday reading be merry, bright, and only a little murderous!


  1. Such a great list of stories and anthologies here! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I ditto Art. I bought the Soho Santas book last year. I hope to actually get to it this year.

  3. Thanks so much, Art and Barb, two fabulous short story writers--please add their books to your list for Christmas and personal gift giving! Hope you are both looking forward to wonderful holidays!

  4. Thanks for putting this together! A great resource for the holidays :-D

    1. Thanks, J.M.! I've just preordered your The Christmas Spirit: a paranormal holiday adventure. Can't wait to read it!