Even More Christmas Mysteries For Holiday Reading

Dec 12, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze, Pets, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy
& Cynthia Chow

This week we have another group of Christmas mysteries for holiday reading-Candy Cane Crime: Amish Candy Shop Mystery by Amanda Flower, Gingerdead Man: A Five-Ingredient Mystery by Maya Corrigan, Murder She Wrote: Murder in Season by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land, and A Whisker of a Doubt: A Cat Café Mystery by Cate Conte. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 4 books (Candy Cane Crime will be ebook) and links to purchase them at the end of each review–you may not be able to see the Amazon links if you have ad blocker on.

Candy Cane Crime: Amish Candy Shop Mystery by Amanda Flower
Review by Sandra Murphy

In Harvest, Ohio, at Swissmen Sweets, the Amish candy shop, business is bustling. In addition to her usual duties in the store, Bailey now has her own cable television show, filmed in New York. Margot is the self-appointed visitor’s bureau for the town. It’s her intention to hold some kind of special event every weekend to bring tourists in by the busload. Her latest scheme is the candy cane exchange. She’s already conned Bailey into making batches of the sweet treats but now wants her to handle the funds, monitor the dropbox, and keep track of who gets a candy cane. Someone puts a personal note in the candy cane mailbox, along with a dollar, adding a message, the recipient’s name, and address. The candy will be delivered in time for the holiday. The problem is, the box has to be checked multiple times a day, the notes tied to a candy cane, and the money counted.

To save Bailey from Margot, Charlotte volunteers for the job. She’s still hasn’t decided if she’ll return to her Amish community or if she’ll remain in the English (non-Amish) world.

To Charlotte’s surprise, one of the notes is for her. Over several days, she receives more, all signed ‘your secret admirer.’ Despite blowing snow and bitter cold, Charlotte braves the weather to retrieve the notes every few hours—and finds something is not right where the honor system is concerned.

Will Charlotte be able to keep up with the demand, solve the problem, and discover the identity of her secret admirer before Bailey gets back from New York? Most importantly, will that discovery help her make the biggest decision of her life—Amish or English?

This twelve chapter book is a quick read. The focus on Charlotte, who is usually a side character, will give regular readers an insight into her life away from her home, facing a decision that can’t make everyone happy. Don’t worry—even with all the snow, Jethro the polka dot pig has a scene or two.

At the back of the book is Charlotte’s recipe for peppermint popcorn. With white and dark chocolate, mini pretzels, popcorn and peppermint candy canes, it’s a perfect snack for a cold holiday evening. There’s also an excerpt from Courting Can Be Killer, the Amish matchmaker spinoff series.

Gingerdead Man: A Five-Ingredient Mystery by Maya Corrigan
Review by Sandra Murphy

Val and her grandfather are taking part in a Dickens Christmas festival that involves all the townspeople. Grandad is in a bit of a snit since he always plays Santa but is replaced this year by Jake. After an evening of gift giving, shopping, and strolling through town, Santa and the other festival volunteers are ready for a snack and a comfy chair. Val is catering the little after party and is startled to see a ghost walk through the dining area and leave gift bags on the table. Inside are gingerdead men—gingerbread men with bones and a skull painted on with icing. Jake is more than happy to take a big bite of his.

It’s not long before he falls over and is taken to the hospital where he dies—he was poisoned. Jake is a newcomer to town so no one knows too much about him. Val investigates on her own mainly because once it’s known she catered the after party, cancellations keep coming in for holiday parties. She has to protect her reputation. Plus, Grandad can be considered something of a suspect himself since he made no secret of his resentment of a newcomer being chosen as Santa.

Juggling her foodie job at the local gym, keeping track of Grandad, and planning her own special Christmas with her boyfriend, has Val jumping. When Jake’s secrets start to emerge, the suspect list grows longer than Santa’s naughty list and with good reason. Will Val be able to determine who killed Santa in time to save Christmas?

This is book seven in the series, nicknamed the five ingredient mysteries. Recipes include: gingerbread of course, almond brittle cookies, no-bake chocolate cranberry nut mounds (candy), cranberry-apple crisp, chicken casserole, and spiced cider.

Murder She Wrote: Murder in Season by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
Review by Sandra Murphy

It’s Christmas in Cabot Cove, but Jessica’s hardly got time to breathe. She’s finally able to move back into her house after a devastating fire. Restoration is finished except for replacing the septic system. It had been grandfathered in, but now that the house has been redone, the system has to be replaced, too.

Digging comes to a halt when very old bones and a fairly new skeleton are found in her back yard, along with a chest full of the town’s original paperwork, including a shocking secret about the five founding fathers. Identifying the victims is the first and hardest step.

Jessica’s nephew Grady, who she raised, is bringing his wife and son to visit during the holidays. Still, murder comes first. When additional deaths are ruled murders as well, it’s time to get to the bottom of things before Santa’s arrival.

Between rehearsing for the annual Christmas play, being Mrs. Claus in the parade, interviewing the descendants of the founders, avoiding a sleazy reporter, and deciphering clues, Jessica doesn’t even have time to shop for groceries before her family shows up—a day early! Everyone has a secret so it’s up to Jessica and Mort to decide which secrets are mere scandals and which are lethal.

This is book fifty-two in the long-running, popular series. With the motive presumably set in the past, Jessica isn’t in any personal danger—this time anyway. Readers will be happy to see Harry, Jessica’s detective friend from New York, arrive in Cabot Cove for his first visit, as well as the return of Grady, his wife, and young son, Frank. Look for the next book, Murder, She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond, Jessica co-writing with Terrie Farley Moran, in May.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. A Murder of Crows, edited by Sandra Murphy (a popular title so you need her name to search), has twenty-one cozy stories. Each features the collective name of an animal and a crime. The animals range from tarantulas, koalas, wolves, bears, jellyfish, toads, cats, dogs, alpaca, goats, penguins and more. No animals were harmed. The people weren’t so lucky. Available at the usual outlets, print or ebook.

A Whisker of a Doubt: A Cat Café Mystery by Cate Conte
Review by Cynthia Chow

It is just days until Christmas, but not all of Massachusetts’s Daybreak Island embraces the spirit of the holidays. In Turtle Point’s elitist Sea Spray Lane community, residents are less than welcoming to the animal rescuers who volunteer to fill feeders for a feral cat colony. Not only do the Sea Sprayers see the kitties as vile pests that must removed, the rescuers are themselves viewed as undesirables who cause vandalism and theft. In addition to the feeding stations that are dismantled and destroyed, outdoor Christmas decorations are being stolen from yards and roofs. As the owner of JJ’s House of Purrs Cat Café, Maddie James is the cat rescue superhero who not only houses nearly a dozen fosters in her café, she leads the few dedicated volunteers willing to traipse through the snow to feed hungry strays. It’s unfortunately on one of those missions that Maddie discovers the body of Trey Barnes, the much-younger trophy husband of one of the most anti-cat residents. That Trey was bludgeoned to death with a Christmas gnome points suspicion towards the decoration thieves, but it is Daybreak Harbor’s animal control officer Katrina Denning who is suspended and removed from animal shelter duties.

The controversy of the cat feeding stations has become a heated topic among the wealthy locals, who consider the felines to be parasites that lower property values. The threats to take lethal measures against the cats understandably enrages Katrina, who isn’t shy about expressing her opinions. Knowing that her friend could never have committed murder and with the police heads wanting to quickly close the case before it jeopardizes tourism, Maddie begins delving into the secrets hidden on Sea Spray Lane. When it turns out that Katrina herself may have buried a past that she regrets and prefers to remain undiscovered, the fate of the animal rescue community may lay entirely on the results of Maddie’s investigation.

The holiday season comes alive in this fourth Cat Café mystery that makes the most of the wintery days before Christmas. Decoration battles, Christmas light thefts, and mouth-watering café creations for humans depict a perfectly entertaining and chaotic vicarious holiday setting. Maddie is feeling a bit of a scrooge herself, as possible-boyfriend Lucas Davenport went MIA ever since he departed to Boston for a dog-grooming conference and band gig. At least her feline companion JJ remains steadfastly loyal, as does the mysterious benefactor Leopard Man. The issue of how — and why — to manage a feral cat colony is compassionately and objectively examined, realistically tackling its many complications. A rogue Christmas saboteur is thrown into the mix to add motives for murder as well as providing humor, although there is nothing funny about the destruction of nurturing feeding stations. Maddie will have to let down her own guard if she is ever to embrace the warmth of the season, but rest assured that she will always have her friends, felines, and family by her side.

To enter to win a copy of all 4 books (Candy Cane Crime will be ebook), simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “even more christmas” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 19, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT MAY TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A new Christmas episode went up this week, and another one goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase any of these books from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Another great collection! Count me in!

  2. I love Christmas stories and would love to win these.

  3. Great assortment of Christmas books. Would really love to read all of them. Thanks for the chance.

  4. We all need more Christmas! Lovely contest.

  5. This would be great to win. I’ve never read a book based around Christmas. Thank you for the chance.

  6. These all sound wonderful! Thanks for the article. Merry Christmas!

  7. I really love the authors listed here. They write great cozy mysteries. Thanks for the chance to win.

  8. I’ve three of the four. Great reads. Don’t enter me.

  9. What a wonderful collection of wintery mystery reading!

  10. Nice assortment, count me in! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

  11. I can recommend Gingerdead Man highly. Look forward to reading the others as well.

    karen94066 at aol.com

  12. Oh can’t wait to read them all.

  13. Awesome books to get in the mood for Christmas!

  14. Oh my!!! Amazing group of books!!!
    Awesome giveaway!!!
    Would love to win!
    Thank you for the chance!!!

  15. I’ve read Amanda’s book but the
    others would be new to me.
    Sounds like good reads.
    thanks. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  16. What a fun giveaway! Would love to win this collection of Christmas cozies! Katherinestamps at msn dot com

  17. We have a winner!


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