As little leisure time as I've had lately, there is still plenty of material in the generous collection of short stories, Shhhh... Murder! and the November / December issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. I enjoyed four stories during my recent reading. Both the anthology and the magazine would make great gifts for the mystery readers in your life.
Mistress of the Mickey Finn by Elaine Viets
Viets writes one of my favorite cozy mystery series, Dead End Jobs. I was happy to see a story in AHMM starring Helen and Phil. The setting, weather, and culture are solidly south Florida. An obnoxiously wealthy man hires the private investigators to track down his belongings, stolen after a beautiful woman slipped drugs into his drink. Helen and Phil enlist their chain-smoking elderly landlady Margery to trap the woman. What should be a simple case of course becomes dangerous, because this is Helen, and she always manages to get herself into perilous situations.
Vet's Day by R. T. Lawton
Yarnell is minding his own business eating crab legs in a dive diner when his partner in crime Beaumont shows up. Lawton's humorous Holiday Burglars short story series follows these two characters who might be better off getting straight jobs. Their criminal activities rarely meet with success, but the reader enjoys many laughs watching them try. In this story, the holiday is Veteran's Day. Beaumont tells Yarnell about his stint in the Army, and a favor he owes to his Sergeant. Yarnell reluctantly agrees, and soon regrets his involvement springing a dog destined for euthanasia because Sarge can't pay the veterinarian bill. So Vet's Day has a double meaning. This is a very visual story, with lots of action, and plenty of laugh out loud moments. Previously published Holiday Burglar stories are available in a collection.
The Shhhh... Murder! cozy mystery anthology offers enough good reading to keep you happily tucked into an easy chair during the holidays. Set in libraries, or involving librarians, there is great variety in this collection.
Gotcha Covered by Kate Fellowes
An author holds her debut book signing in a small library. When a librarian's valuable collectible book cover goes missing, she uses her mystery-writer skills to solve the theft. This is a fun locked room mystery, and has all the elements cozy readers enjoy.
Map to Oblivion by K. M. Rockwood
A librarian will do anything to protect the books under her care. If you are annoyed by people who stare at their cell phone screens instead of watching where they're going, you will particularly enjoy this story.
There never seems to be enough time to read good stories. I hope you sneak a little time to yourself during this busy season, to curl up with a good book, magazine, or anthology. Happy holidays!
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