Teri Duerr

'Tis the season for holiday reading—cozy, funny, and thrilling.
Mystery Scene asked authors of the season's best new holiday-themed reads to send presents down the chimney to their own creations in this second of a two-part list.


A Christmas Odyssey
by Anne Perry
Ballantine Books, October 2010, $18.00

What would the holidays be without the much-anticipated mystery from Anne Perry? Henry Rathbone returns in this Victorian mystery, this time charged with task of finding a wayward son lost to the dark temptations of drugs and lust in London's underground, and bringing him home in time for Christmas.

The Gift
"Gifts for Rathbone, Robinson and Crow?" muses Anne Perry. For Henry Rathbone, "books on the latest scientific discoveries with philosophical speculations." For Squeaky Robinson and Dr. Crow, who both work in the slums and join Rathbone in the search for the missing young man, "a new respectable jacket, that fits him" for Robinson, and "a new bag to carry his medical equipment" for Crow.


Mistletoe and Mayhem
by Kate Kingsbury
Berkley Prime Crime, November 2010, $14.00

Cecily Sinclair Baxter's oceanside Pennyfoot Hotel is abuzz with holiday visitors, including Cecily's friend Madeline and Madeline's new baby. When the hotel's footman turns up dead and the baby disappears, Cecily and her colorful staff come together to find and deliver the lost child safely to her mother in a Christmas tale set in Edwardian England.

The Gift
"If I could give Cecily a Christmas gift," says Doreen Roberts Hight (aka Kate Kingsbury), "I'd arrange a visit from her two sons and their families, who live abroad. I can't think of anything Cecily would want more than that. She misses them dreadfully, and since there is no airmail, letters are few and far between. To see them all again would give her the best Christmas she could imagine."


You Better Knot Die
by Betty Hechtman
Berkley Prime Crime, November 2010, $24.95

Bookstore employee and crochet enthusiast Molly Pink is weaving her way into trouble once again (advice against snooping from her homicide detective beau, Barry, be damned!). This time, she's digging into the suspicious disappearance and possible suicide of her neighbor, while juggling preparations for the midnight launch of mysterious celebrity author A.J. Kowalski's Caught Under the Mistletoe (about a crocheting vampire) at her bookstore.

The Gift
"First," says Betty Hechtman, "I'd get Molly a wall unit of cubbies for her yarn so she wouldn't have to keep it in plastic grocery bags all over the floor of her craft room. I'd get her a trench coat so people would take her seriously as a sleuth. Finally, I'd get her a gift certificate for McConnell's Ice Cream of Santa Barbara so she could stock up for those nights when she has ice cream for dinner."


A Holiday Yarn
by Sally Goldenbaum
Obsidian, November 2010, $23.95

Izzy Chambers and her Seaside Knitter's group are making a go of (or rather some throws) helping Mary Pisano turn her inherited manse into a lovely B&B. But when the extended Pisano family converges on Sea Harbor for the holidays and Mary's cousin Pamela turns up dead on her B&B's back porch, the launch of Mary's new enterprise is clouded by family secrets.

The Gift
"I thought of lots of things I think Mary Pisano would like," says Sally Goldenbaum, "but here's one I think she would especially be grateful for: When Mary's uncle died, his Goldendoodle dog, Georgia, was bereft, losing weight and missing his master. So Mary took Georgia in, loved her and brought her back to good health, even when other relatives thought Georgia should be put to sleep. So...I would give Mary a beautiful dog bed for Georgia, with a soft alpaca knit cover that would ease Georgia's tired bones and encourage sweet and wonderful dreams."

To read Part One of the "Playing Claus" holiday reading list, click here.