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The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – October 22, 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Anyone who cares about the best mystery writing of the past century and beyond would be lucky to receive this thick volume during the holidays. . . . One of the joys of the collection is how many are delightfully funny. . . . Note that many of these stories turn on simple theft, of diamonds or candlesticks or a lottery ticket; they hark back to simpler days before the modern thriller began to provide endless serial killers and ax murderers for our edification. To read today’s talented crime writers can be a pleasure, but it’s good to be reminded that they build on the work of others whose talents remain undimmed."
   —The Washington Post
 
“[A] magnificent collection of any kind of Christmas murder that mystery fans could ever desire.”
     —The Plain Dealer, Grade: A+

“Pure malicious deliciousness.”
     —The Christian Science Monitor

“My favorite mystery peddler has put together his best collection ever. . . . If you love mysteries, and enjoy the holidays (or even if you don't), you'll love The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries.”
     —Nina Sankovitch, Huffington Post
 
“Less noisy but just as entertaining as ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. . . . Includes many of the best Yuletide whodunits of the past 100 years.”
     —Richmond Times-Dispatch
 
“[Penzler] knows this turf.”
     —Fort Worth Star-Telegram

A feast of 59 (loosely) Christmas-themed stories for mystery and crime-fiction lovers.”
     —The Seattle Times

“None of these arresting holiday tales turns out at all the way you might expect. . . . [The book] could last a diligent reader all the way to Easter.”
     —The Virginian-Pilot

“A future classic. . . . Penzler, the prime minister of crime fiction, delivers the goods once again with . . . a collection of holiday whodunits that’ll have you eyeing the department-store Santa with suspicion.”
     —Book Page
 
“More femmes fatales, double crossing and deceit than you can shake a peppermint candy cane at. . . . Entertaining and interesting. It should rightfully become a perennial gift, no matter the occasion.”
     —PopMatters

“Penzler mines the rich vein of American and British Christmas stories from the 19th to the 21st centuries for this impressive collection of 59 short stories featuring authors still in their prime as well as others mostly forgotten by today's readers. . . . A representative and entertaining selection of yuletide stories that mystery fans might like to see on Christmas morn.”
    —Publishers Weekly
 
“There’s something for everyone. . . . Mystery readers will not be able to resist.”
     —Library Journal

About the Author

Otto Penzler is the editor of eleven other Vintage Crime/Black Lizard anthologies, including The Big Book of Pulps, The Big Book of Black Mask Stories, and, most recently, The Big Book of Ghost Stories. He lives in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (October 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345802985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345802989
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.3 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #300,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of this marvelous anthology. I got mine free, but it doesn't matter, because I plan to buy a couple more copies to give as gifts. It's that good.

The stories are organized according to category in a format and layout that is congenial all by itself. There are ten sections, starting with "A Traditional Christmas", with the first entry being one by Agatha Christie; it is a story that has aged well, and I don't remember having read it even though I thought I'd read everything by that writer. There are a few more, and range from just a few pages, double columns on each page, to 25 or 30 pp. Then we move on to "A Funny Little Christmas". The first there is a story by the late great Donald Westlake, and I gobbled it up and then felt bad that I hadn't saved that story for last, because I adore his work and he's gone and can't write anything more. But I perked up when I noted that yet another section, "A Modern Little Christmas", has an unread (by me) story by Ed McBain. There are many others. The final section, "A Classic Little Christmas", bookends the anthology neatly by finishing with Dame Agatha. All told there must be about sixty stories, maybe more.

The anthology, edited by the brilliant and acclaimed Otto Penzler, is billed as having a number of rare or never-published short stories, and I think it's a true claim. There are many mystery writers I've read and enjoyed here, and others I had never even heard of, but found immensely entertaining. I haven't skipped any yet, but even if I find something I don't care to read, the book is worth owning. I know that already. It is also billed as an anthology to warm the heart of any grinch, and indeed, there has been at least one story with a satisfyingly creepy ending.
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By Carole on November 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
What a treat! If you like a little holiday reading that's not so glycemic this is your sugarplum antidote. So many stories by wonderful authors, some very well known like Agatha Christie, O. Henry, and Mary Higgins Clark and some not so well known. At almost seven hundred pages this book is sure to amuse for at least a few years to come. I am loving it! So happy to have received this copy from Good Reads First reads.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the best Christmas mystery anthology I have ever purchased. Its two story book ends are both Agatha Christie classics for Christmas that I did not even realize were in existence. This is the kind of fun book readers can pick up, open to any new story, and escape to mystery paradise.
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Format: Paperback
This is a welcome addition to Penzler's Black Lizard line of "Big Books". Like the others, this is a bargain considering the quality and quantity on hand here. Penzler has made some great selections, and the sheer volume allows a wide variety of styles from a ton of authors. I have had a great time revisiting some stories from familiar characters like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot while getting to explore some rarer works.

Most holiday-themed products are packed away along with the decorations after the new year begins, but the I expect to revisit this collection outside the holiday season. All in all, this is a treat that should be opened well before Christmas!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is amazing!!!! I am a fast reader, and this book has already given me days and days of reading, and I am only half way done. Incredibly good value for the money. I found many old favourites and also some new writers that I want to look into after seeing their work in this book. There are mysteries of every type, from hard-boiled to a nice cozy. The Ellery Queen MM publications are top notch. A perfect book to read while sitting by the fire and sipping (non-poisoned) hot chocolate.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a fabulous collection of short stories, connected by Christmas (at least a mention) and mystery. They run the gamut from profound to silly, from the deft cozy to the chilling. The stories are sectioned so the reader can choose specific types (traditional, funny, Sherlockian, pulpy, uncanny, sorry, surprising, modern, puzzling and classic). I read it straight through, enjoying the variety. Many of the greats are represented here (Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ellery Queen, Robert Louis Stevenson, O. Henry, Rex Stout, and so forth) as are many less well known writers. Many of these stories are extremely hard to find anywhere else. Each story is preceded by a short blurb on the author, interesting and often surprising. This is a volume I intend to dip into each year... even the busiest at yuletide should be able to find a few minutes for a short story here and there. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like all the Otto Penzler/Black Lizard collections, this one is BIG--a great assortment of detective stories associated with Christmas. The collection ranges from the classic (Conan Doyle, Mary Roberts Rinehart, even Thomas Hardy), to the Golden Age (Agatha Christie--with both Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple represented--and Ellery Queen, as well as others), to the modern age. It is nicely divided into topical categories, so if you are looking for Sherlock Holmes by Doyle or pastiche Holmes stories, or if you are looking for something more comic, or more uncanny, you can easily spot the stories that suit.
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