Check out this post for some great murder and mayhem reading suggestions if you are not one for warm and fuzzy holiday reads!
“H” is for Homicide By Sue Grafton
As a part of Grafton’s Alphabet series Kinsey Millhone is at it again, but this time she has taken on a false identity to uncover insurance fraud for the California Fidelity insurance company. Everything changes when one of Kinsey’s close friends is murdered and she is taken in for questioning. She is arrested with Bibianna Diaz who is connected to the gang suspected of killing Kinsey’s friend. Things spiral downward quickly as more and more information gets out and people are getting hurt and even killed. Will Kinsey be able to keep Bibianna Diaz alive and keep things sane in her own life? You’ll just have to read the mystery to find out.
Hour of the Hunter by J.A. Jance
Diana Ladd is trying to piece her life back together 6 years after her husband took his own life to escape the trial for the death of a young Papago Indian girl. The other suspected killer in the case, a once professor, Carlisle, is convicted of the murder and sentenced to serve jail time after Diana and the dead girl’s grandmother, Rita Antone, push for Carlisle’s conviction for the murder. Now 6 years later Carlisle is being released from prison and he has a hunger for killing. Diana and her son’s lives are all at stake as they try to stay hidden from Carlisle as the police search for him. Can Diana stay alive long enough for the authorities to catch him?
The General’s Daughter by Nelson Demille
Captain Ann Campbell is the daughter of General Joe Campbell. She is found dead on the firing range at Fort Hadley and Paul Brenner is brought in to investigate her murder. As a member of the Army’s elite undercover detective unit, Brenner finds out that the general’s daughter isn’t as innocent as first believed when he finds out how many people she had been seeing on the base. The honor code has kept all the different types of relations she was having a secret up until now and Brenner has to put everything together to find out just who killed Ann Campbell and why.
Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly
Ranee Ballard was just returning from working the night shift as a police officer when she returns to her office and finds a man rummaging through her old files. The man identifies himself as Harry Bosch, a retired detective. There was a cold case that he could not get out of his head and he had to search into the matter. Ballard kicks him out of her office and later researches the case files that Bosch was looking at. He was looking at the murder of a 15 year old runaway named Daisy Clayton. Ballard also find outs that what sparked Bosch’s interests in the murder is that he has taken in the girl’s father who is a recovering addict. Ballard teams up with Bosch on the case and they end up within the area of the Varrio San Fer 13 gang, the most dangerous gang in California. Are they able to survive the gang and find Daisy’s murderer?
Voodoo River By Robert Crais
Elvis Cole is hired by a hollywood starlet and her agent to find out who her birth parents really are. When Cole arrives in Louisiana and starts investigating he quickly finds out that this in not a simple case. Blackmail, murder, and love is the mess that he has to put together and find out the facts of what really happened and why. After putting all the pieces together it’s time for Cole and the blackmailed victims to go after their blackmailer. Things get even deeper though as Cole finds out that it’s more than just blackmailing they are facing. He calls in his partner to help him when they find out that they are dealing with forces that shouldn’t be dealt with.
Long Road to Mercy By David Baldacci
13 years ago Atlee was spared by a kidnapper when he chose between taking her or her twin sister Mercy. After he chose Mercy, Atlee never saw her again. Daniel James Tor was convicted of other murders but Atlee believes that he was also the one who took Mercy. Atlee is now an adult working for the FBI in Arizona keeping watch over the Grand Canyon. She has a need to help find those that are missing as she's living with survivor's guilt. A mule is found stabbed multiple times at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the rider is missing. Atlee will have to put all of her skills to the test for this case and will perhaps have to face the demon of her past.
Killer Pancake by Diane Mott Davidson
Goldy is running her own catering business with her assistant Julian who is dating Claire Satterfield a sales associate with the Mignon Cosmetics Company. Mignon asks Goldy to cater an event for them with one of the most difficult menus that she has ever had. Everything that she is to prepare has to be low calorie.
Things are going great until Claire Satterfield gets hit and killed by a car before the event starts. Goldy thinks that it is just an accident but the police think that there are other motives. Goldy and her detective husband then go on the search for Claire's killer, finding out along the way that the corporate cosmetic world is a cutthroat industry.
This book also has recipe’s that are a part of the story and are also included for you to give them a try.
To Die But Once By Jacqueline Winspear
This book is set in the 1940s with European advance during World War II. Maisie Dobbs investigates as to why a local pub owner’s son, Joe Coombes, has not checked in with them in a while. He is working on a government contract as an apprentice to a painting and decorating company but he was acting strange and complaining of headaches before they lost contact with him. She finds out during her investigation that a very well known London family is involved in organized crime and may be involved in the disappearance of Joe. Maisie is also dealing with her own problems as she is taking in an orphaned child and the person she loves makes a life changing choice for the both of them.
Death of a Village by M.C. Beaton
As a part of the Hamish MacBeth series, Hamish returns to visit the fishing town of Stoyre, Scotland. The residents are acting a little strange. He heads to the pub where everyone should be to only find it empty but he then finds everyone at the church. He can tell things are not right just by the feelings in the air, and he knows that everyone is scared. A well known cottage was leveled by an explosion and Hamish thinks that it was foul play and so he starts looking in the matter. He enlists the help of a journalist to help him investigate the situation when his good old friend unexpectedly dies. It is not all just coincidence and if he isn't careful Hamish may lose the loved ones around him.
Christmas Cake Murder By Joanne Fluke
It’s a very merry murder Christmas story with Hannah Swensen’s dreams of opening up her own bakery in Lake Eden. She’s asked to recreate a Christmas Ball from days of old in honor of Essie Granger; a woman who lives in Lake Eden but now resides in an assisted living. Hannah asks Essie for notes about how to make the Christmas Ball and is given permission to look at all of her notes. Hannah soon finds that Essie has written a very exceptional crime novel, but Hannah but Hannah starts to think maybe it isn't all just fiction as things in her life start to match the story line of Essie’s unpublished book. Is Essie’s book just a story, or is it something that is real that went unreported all these years?
As librarians at the Portneuf Library, we love the holidays (just check out our awesome holiday events and decorations if you don’t believe us!) but we know it can begin to feel like you’re reading the same Christmas book over and over every year. That’s why this year Crystal and I have teamed up to give you our picks for books that have a fresh take on holiday themes and that just might leave you feeling a little jollier.
Children and Teen Picks:
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
This warm holiday read is Tomie dePaola’s retelling of the classic Mexican folktale; the flower of the Holy Night. dePaola’s familiar style illuminates this beautiful holiday story which makes for a great opportunity to learn together as a family about how another culture celebrates Christmas.
Merry Un-Christmas by Mike Reiss with illustrations by David Catrow
Basically every kid has wished that every day could be Christmas, presents, candy, and time off from school included. But through the alternate universe of Merry Un-Christmas where only one day a year isn’t Christmas, kids and adults alike can be reminded about just what makes that day so special and why we might even be a little grateful that it’s only a once a year occurrence.
The Christmas Genie by Dan Gutman with illustrations by Dan Santat
In this book, the author of the My Weird School series asks the question “What would you do if you could guarantee that you’d get your Christmas wish?” and of course holiday hoopla ensues as one elementary school class struggles to find the answer. Besides being hilarious, this book is also a good discussion starter for families to share what their wishes would be and what would happen if they suddenly came true.
Shall I Knit You a Hat?: A Christmas Yarn by Kate Klise with illustrations by M. Sarah Klise
This adorable and wintery read is a much needed reminder that while some gifts might not be as wish list worthy as others, it is truly the thought behind each present and the loved ones who give them to us who matter the most.
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
This adorable book is a cute candy cane style twist on a cliché Christmas courtship that’s like You’ve Got Mail with more sass. The back and forth scavenger hunt style of the book leads the characters (and the reader) all around New York City during the happiest and busiest time of the year. This book is a great read whether you’re not as into to Christmas like Dash (guilty as charged!) or are like Lily who is festive enough for the rest of us combined. The holiday hijinks also continue in the sequel, The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily, which takes place on Christmas the following year.
Other festively fun titles:
-The Worst Person’s Christmas by James Stevenson
-Who is Stealing the 12 Days of Christmas? by Martha Freeman
-The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements.
-Politically Correct Holiday Stories: For an Enlightened Yuletide Season by James Finn Garner
-Matchless by Gregory Maguire
-Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Yuletide Yahoos
-Ho-Ho-Humblebraggers, and Other Seasonal Scourges by Jen Mann
And for a dose of Christmas nostalgia we have a list of quick reads. Most of the books are 200 pages or less, making them perfect for the busy holiday seasons.
First off we have Skipping Christmas by John Grisham.
Luther and Nora Krank are facing their first Christmas in twenty years without their daughter. She is out of the country and Nora and Luther know Christmas just won’t be the same, so they decide to skip it. They are skipping the crowds, the corny office parties, the fruitcakes, and the presents. They have decided to go on a cruise instead. This decision soon proves to be more difficult than it sounds. The story of the Kranks is a funny and entertaining read that is quick and fun.
A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid
A Dog Named Christmas is a feel good story about a boy named Todd McCray and a special dog changing a family and a town. It all starts when Todd hears about the Adopt a Dog for Christmas Program. He convinces his parents to let him participate and after that he convinces the town to join in. The book is only 149 pages but it’s full of funny, sweet and happy feelings. It’s a great book for getting into a Christmas mood.
The Gift by Nora Roberts
The Gift is actually a set of two Christmas romances, starting with Home for Christmas. Jason is a traveling reporter heading back home after ten years, determined to win back his old flame Faith. The Second Story is All I Want for Christmas where twins Zack and Zeke have one wish for Christmas. They want a mom, and when they meet their new music teacher Miss. Davis They are convinced she is sent for them. Now they just have to convince her and their dad. Both stories are cute reads with fun holiday themes and show it’s never too late for second chances.
Christmas Out West is a collection of western Christmas stories
Christmas out West is a great collection of western Christmas stories, with both classic and contemporary. There are 16 short stories to choose from, making it great for a quick short story here and there, or an afternoon or two of reading them all.
Secret Santa by Robert Miller
It’s Christmas and Rebecca Chandler is in no mood. She has been dumped by her boyfriend and her work as a reporter has her covering seasonal fluff she has no interest in. When she is sent to the small town of Hamden to cover a story on a mysterious secret santa who shows up every Christmas Eve to give a generous gift to someone less fortunate, Rebecca decides not to write a fluffy, holiday piece, she is going to do an investigative piece on the identity on the secret santa. The story is a quick easy read that has the feel of a Hallmark movie. It’s great for mixing a little Christmas spirit into the pressure of the holiday.
Looking for some inspiration on what to read next? Who better to ask then the people who work around books for a living!? Each month we will post a "staff picks" blog post written by one of our staff members. These posts will vary in genre, theme, age appropriateness, etc. If you have any requests on a genre or age category you would like to see, submit a comment here and we will get it on the list!