Mistletoe and Murder: A Christmas Suspense Collection contains ten novellas by different authors. Some are cozy mysteries: some are a bit darker. For some, Christmas just happens to be the time of year the story occurs and doesn’t really figure into the plot. Others depend on the Christmas setting more heavily. Most have Christian characters and undertones, some more than others.
Here’s just a brief description of the types of stories in the book:
Dead of Winter by Mary Alford: A deputy receives a mysterious text from her brother and then finds his cabin empty, his rifle missing, and blood on the door frame.
Death the Halls by Adam Blumer: A woman plans to introduce her boyfriend to the family at their cabin over Christmas. But someone has ransacked the cabin and takes the woman hostage.
Revenge Ignited by Liz Bradford: A Christmas thief is hitting houses in Knoxville. But the person who robs the home of an FBI agent on bereavement leave, taking care of her dead sister’s children, seems different from the rest.
The Marked Witness by Vicki Hinze: A security consultant hears from a woman and her daughter who had previously been placed in witness protection. They have reason to believe they’ve been discovered and are in danger.
Ghost of Christmas Past by Shaen Layle: An unstable man stalks his ex-wife and lures their deaf son away from her.
The Confession of John Doe by Loree Lough: An Amish Good Samaritan comes to the aid of a man thrown from his car and badly injured. When he returns to the hospital to visit the man, he is asked an even bigger favor: to hide the man from the criminals seeking his life.
Killing Christmas by Nancy Mehl: A long-dormant serial killer resurfaces and wants a pastor who writes a weekly column for the newspaper to write his story.
Deadly Drive by Cara Putnam: A woman’s twin brother has been shot, and she’s called to make a positive identification. When her plane arrives, she’s met in the airport by her brother’s roommate . . . only her brother didn’t have a roommate.
Dangerous Christmas by Lynn Shannon: A social worker narrowly escapes an attacker. When a policeman takes her home, her apartment has been broken into and someone has painted an ominous message on her wall. But why?
Yuletide Protector by Virginia Vaughan: A woman had told the police that her ex-boyfriend was stalking and threatening her. But he’s also a policeman, and the officers protected him instead of her. She changed her name and took precautions. But now someone with her same name is killed in a car bomb. Had that bomb been meant for her?
Most of these are stand-alone stories, but a few tie in to an author’s previous series. But enough was explained that I wasn’t left hanging.
I had only read Adam Blumer and Cara Putnam before. I’d heard of Loree Lough and Nancy Mehl. The other authors were completed new to me.
The stories were definitely suspenseful! I enjoyed some more than others. Since they were all set at Christmas, they all turned out well in the end.
In some cases, a novella doesn’t really provide enough time for two people to fall in love, especially if they were strangers beforehand. So some of the romances seemed a little rushed.
There was one spot where the theology was a little wonky, but most of the time the faith element was a clear and vital thread in the story.
Christmastime seems to lend itself to anthologies. But I’ve never read a collection of Christmas novellas with as many as ten stories. That added up to 938 pages—a little long, in my opinion, for a book that’s primarily going to be read in one month. I would have enjoyed it more if it had broken broken up into two books read on subsequent Christmases.
But I did enjoy it, for the most part. And I think anyone who likes mystery, suspense, crime drama, detective stories, and the like would love it.