Each year, around November, I create a reading list of Christmas books that I want to read for the coming Christmas season. I like having holiday themed books to read during the actual holiday. Last year I read five or six books for Christmas. A good amount of books in a month for me, but I planned a little bit more ahead that year, plus several of the stories were very short. This year, I had so much other stuff to read, I couldn’t match last year’s output. It’s also getting tougher to find good holiday themed books because the majority of Christmas themed mysteries are geared more towards middle aged women. They have a woman sleuth (which I don’t mind) and many times offer recipes for cookies and cakes with the story (which I do mind). I even found one Christmas mystery murder book that had an all female construction crew as the focus of the story. AN ALL FEMALE CONSTRUCTION CREW. Needless to say, this is not something I personally want to read. So I continue to Google endless variations of “Best Christmas mysteries” to come up with my holiday reading list.
So, after much searching, I was able to track down three holiday books this year that I found interesting and I offer you my reviews.
The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (A Sherlock Holmes Mystery) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – One of Doyle’s short stories featuring the titular detective. This particular mystery takes place right around Christmas day. One of Holmes’ acquaintances discovers a priceless blue gem in the crop of a Christmas goose. Holmes must first discover what the mysterious blue gem is and then detect how it came to be in the neck of the goose. This story is short, but it’s one of Doyle’s best Holmes stories. I had forgotten that I read it back in high school. The opening scene between Homes and Watson has always stuck with me; Holmes studies a discarded hat, and from this hat, he rattles off a laundry list of deductions about the hat owner. It’s pretty cool and when I think Sherlock Holmes, I think of this scene. Holmes follows his deductions backwards and with a bit of luck, discovers the mystery of the gem. Much like Agatha Christie’s A Christmas Tragedy (which I read last year), this story has a very tenuous connection to Christmas, but this story works so much better than Christie’s short story. I’ve loved Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories since high school and I’m very happy to see they are still solid reads, unlike the aforementioned Agatha Christie (whose work is less interesting now that I’m older). I highly recommend not only this story, but much of Doyle’s Holmes stories (however, beware of Sherlock Holmes stories written by other authors as the quality is highly uneven).
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