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The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – October 22, 2013
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“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.”
“[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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“There’s something for everyone. . . . Mystery readers will not be able to resist.”
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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A Traditional Little Christmas (9 stories)
A Funny Little Christmas (6)
A Sherlockian Little Christmas (5)
A Pulpy Little Christmas (3)
An Uncanny Little Christmas (6)
A Scary Little Christmas (6)
A Surprising Little Christmas (3)
A Modern Little Christmas (5)
A Puzzling Little Christmas (6)
A Classic Little Christmas (10)
The authors include many names you've probably already heard of if you love mysteries. Mary Roberts Rinehart is represented in the Traditional section. Known now as a romance-mystery writer, her novel "The Man in the Lower Ten" (1909) was the first mystery to appear on the bestseller list in America.
Learn something new, such as in "A Wreath for Marley" (Uncanny), where you'll learn the correct pronunciation of gangster John Dillinger's last name. Check out Gillian Linscott's "A Scandal in Winter" (Sherlockian) for the perfect last line. And Peter Lovesy's O'Henry ending in "The Haunted Crescent" (Uncanny).
This is short story collection that's 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5. Not every story is a total hit for me, but there's a lot of good reading. Recomended! I also enjoyed Penzler's collection, The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original).
It is a good book, but the mix of stories is uneven. There were none that I did not like at all. Some were particularly interesting. Overall, it's a high 3.5 to 4 star book. It's especially good to read during its season. There is a mix of classic old stories from early in the 20th century and a few modern stories. The old ones are better.
Detectives include Sherlock Holmes, Brother Cadfael, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Ellery Queen, Rumpole of the Bailey, Inspector Morse, Inspector Ghote, A.J. Raffles, Nero Wolfe and many other greats.
It's editor, Otto Penzler, proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan, is well-known and respected for the numerous anthologies he has edited and published. The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries can only add to that reputation. Spanning a century and more, the sixty stories that comprise this collection explore nearly every facet of murder and mayhem one might see perpetrated at Christmastime. Classic tales, obscure gems, modern masterpieces--there are stories here to satisfy every preference. Beginning and ending with Agatha Christie, a partial list of the authors includes: Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sara Paretsky, Peter Lovesey, Ellis Peters, O. Henry, Ellery Queen, Isaac Asimov, and many more. If you like mysteries and you like Christmas, you should like this book.
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I highly recommend it.