Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop: ’tis the season to be deadly by Otto Penzler, Ed. © 2010, Vanguard Press 2010 hardcover mystery short story collection
Each year beginning in 1993 Penzler commissioned an original Christmas short story. The requirements were that it be a mystery/crime/suspense story, that it be set during the Christmas season, and that at least some of the action must take place in the Mysterious Bookshop. These stories were then produced as pamphlets, 1,000 copies, and given to customers of the bookstore as a Christmas present. This book collects 17 of them, through the 2009 story.
Contents: “Give Till It Hurts” by Donald E. Westlake, “Schemes And Variations” by George Baxt, “The Theft Of The Rusty Bookmark” by Edward D. Hoch, “Murder For Dummies” by Ron Goulart, “As Dark As Christmas Gets” by Lawrence Block, “The Holiday Fairy” by Jeremiah Healy, “I Saw Mommy Killing Santa Claus” by Ed Mcbain, “The Grift Of The Magi” by S. J. Rozan, “My Object All Sublime” by Anne Perry, “Christmas Spirit” by Michael Malone, “The Lesson Of The Season” by Thomas H. Cook, “Yule Be Sorry” by Lisa Michelle Atkinson, “The Long Winter’s Nap” by Rupert Holmes, “Cold Reading” by Charles Ardai, “The Killer Christian” by Andrew Klavan, “The 74th Tale” by Jonathan Santlofer, “What’s In A Name?” by Mary Higgins Clark.
I’ve read a goodly number of Christmas (or “holiday” if you insist) mystery story collections over the years, I even wrote a few columns in them on Mystery News back when. So when I say – and I do – that this is one of the best I’ve read, that opinion is informed by some reading history on my part.
Of the 17 stories here, I really liked all but three or four, which in view of the concept, is trifling. I got my copy from the library, but I’ll be buying one for my own shelves, to enjoy at this time of year in future. Now that’s a high recommendation.