Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop

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.

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in mystery, reading, Review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop

  1. Bill Crider says:

    I reviewed this one for the latest Mystery Scene, and I agree. A very entertaining anthology, indeed.

  2. Jeff Meyerson says:

    OK, reserved a copy at the library. I’ve been reading short story collections like crazy lately, many non mystery. I do recommend Loren Estleman’s 600 page Amos Walker: The Complete Story Collection if you are looking for a mystery.

  3. Evan Lewis says:

    Welcome back to the Joy of Reading.

  4. I have this book on order. Hopefully, it will make it here by Christmas. Jeff is right about the AMOS WALKER collection. Excellent! Glad you’re finding time to read again. I find reading reduces my blood pressure (unless I’m reading research papers).

  5. My favorite of the Christmas literary traditions is the old one in England where M. R. James and that bunch got together to write Christmas horror stories. SOme pretty good pieces came out of that.

  6. Todd Mason says:

    I think I would’ve needed to investigate this one just for the contributors alone…good to know they weren’t slacking.

  7. Richard says:

    Thanks to one and all for the comments. After not being able to get any enthusiasm for reading – it was over a mont since I completed the previous book! – I spotted this one at the library and my golly it worked. Now I’m debating what to pick up next.

    Todd – the last few stories seemed to be the weakest.

  8. Sounds good to me. Will be looking into it.

  9. Patti Abbott says:

    I have this–not sure why and will have to dive in based on your analysis.

  10. Todd Mason says:

    Well, Clark has never been That good.

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