My university has a ten day to two week holiday between Christmas and New Year’s which gives us all a chance to unwind from the previous semester and ‘gird up our loins’ for the next. Although it is lovely to have time to relax, I find that I get a bit restless and anxious between the two holidays to get back to tasks I know are piling up—not to mention all the emails—and to hear about how we all spent the holidays. Everyone has at least one lurid anecdote to delight us all.
If you choose to see the New Year in with amateur sleuths Lord Peter Wimsey, Christine Bennett or professional Edward X. Delaney, count on a body turning up for the holiday. Whether our investigators’ services are requested or they just happen to be in the neighborhood where a body is discovered, each is relentless in pursuit of the truth in his or own fashion. As he tells Harriet Vane when they meet in prison, Lord Peter simply enjoys “investigating things.”
“Fathers are important,” Jesse Stone tells a rebellious teenager in Robert B. Parker’s Night Passage. Love him or hate him, whether he is too present in your life or too absent, whether he’s a good father or a nightmare, and even if he is all of the above--we recognize the father as an inescapable archetype whose influence reverberates throughout our lives, proving to be infinitely fertile ground for writers to plunder. Lee Harris’s The Father’s Day Murder makes surprising use of the holiday as the major theme at the heart of her novel. Jonathan Kellerman’s The Butcher’s Theater strongly illustrates the influence for good or ill a father wields. Leonard Holton’s Out Of The Depths reminds us that not all good fathers sire children.