20 New Holiday-Themed Mysteries & Thrillers That’ll Have You Ready for Christmas

For those already full of Christmas spirit (and if you’re not already, you will be after browsing this list of books!) and looking for something to read, we’ve got you covered!

From action thrillers to murder mysteries to cozies, here are twenty holiday-themed books that’ll keep you glued to your reading chair this Christmas.  Check out the list below, then make sure to leave a comment or tag us in a social media post and let us know which book(s) you’re most excited to get your hands on.

Happy Reading!


Hercule Poirot’s Silent Night by Sophie Hannah

The world’s greatest detective, Hercule Poirot—legendary star of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile—puts his little grey cells to work solving a baffling Christmas mystery.

It’s December 19, 1931. Hercule Poirot and Inspector Edward Catchpool are looking forward to a much-needed, restful Christmas holiday, when they are called upon to investigate the murder of a man in a Norfolk hospital ward. Cynthia Catchpool, Edward’s mother, insists that Poirot stay with her in a crumbling mansion by the coast, so that they can all be together for the festive period while he solves the case.

As Poirot digs into the mystery, he discovers that the murdered man was a retired post office master, and by all accounts very well-liked. The local constabulary’s investigation failed to uncover how someone could have entered a hospital room and killed him under the noses of the staff. Cynthia’s friend Arnold is soon to be admitted to that same hospital, and his wife is convinced he will be the killer’s next victim, though she refuses to explain why.

With no obvious motive or suspect, Poirot has less than a week to solve the crime and prevent more murders, if he is to escape from this nightmare scenario and get home in time for Christmas. Meanwhile, someone else—someone utterly ruthless—also has ideas about what ought to happen to Hercule Poirot . . .



Redd Christmas by Ryan Steck

From The Real Book Spy Ryan Steck comes an exciting novella that goes back in time to show how Matthew Redd becomes the hardened, battle-tested operator that readers meet in FIELDS OF FIRE

I remember that promise to J. B. like it was yesterday . . .

After losing his mom at age ten, Matthew Redd found a new home in Montana with J. B. Thompson—a man who knew the value of hard work and simple living. J. B. didn’t have much reason to celebrate Christmas before becoming Redd’s dad but threw himself into building traditions, including a tree, a few practical gifts, and the essential holiday movies: A Christmas Story and Die Hard.

Eight years later, Redd realizes this is the last Christmas he’ll spend at the ranch with his dad before heading off to join the Marines. He impulsively promises J. B. that even if they can’t be together on Christmas Eve, he’ll call every year without fail.

It’s a promise Redd keeps until the year his squadron is called in to assist when a nearby Special Forces team comes under enemy fire. The Marines’ mission is to secure the scene and evacuate the wounded, but soon after their arrival, they realize the initial attack was only the first wave. Before long, Redd and his team are outmanned and outgunned. With the clock ticking down, he begins to wonder if this is the year he’ll have to break his promise . . . or if he’ll make it out alive.


Last Christmas by Maria Frankland

The doorbell cuts through the sound of the howling wind outside. Snowflakes from the freezing December air whirl into the house as I open the front door to the police. The look on their faces says everything. My husband is dead. Did one of my family kill him?

Only a few hours ago we were all celebrating by the fire, Christmas lights twinkling on the tree. Now my husband is gone forever. I’ll never get the chance to say I’m sorry our last words were so angry. And as I sob into my mother’s arms I have to face the terrible truth. We’re not the loving family we seem.

My younger sister has always been difficult. Why won’t she look me in the eye?

My brothers-in-law never liked my husband. Would they have taken it that far?

And my older sister’s drinking is out of control. But can she really not remember anything from last night?

As devastating accusations are thrown my world falls apart in front of my eyes. Because everyone in my family – everyone I trusted – has been hiding secrets. Are we also hiding a killer? And how far will I have to go, to discover the truth about what happened to my husband?

Perfect for fans of Daniel Hurst, Mark Edwards and K.L. Slater, this is an utterly absorbing psychological thriller with the most unexpected of twists.


The Christmas Appeal by Janie Hallett

This immersive holiday caper from the “modern Agatha Christie” (The Sunday Times, London) follows the hilarious Fairway Players theater group as they put on a Christmas play—and solve a murder that threatens their production.

The Christmas season has arrived in Lower Lockwood, and the Fairway Players are busy rehearsing their festive holiday production of Jack and the Beanstalk to raise money for a new church roof. But despite the season, goodwill is distinctly lacking among the amateur theater enthusiasts with petty rivalries, a possibly asbestos-filled beanstalk, and some perennially absent players behind the scenes.

Of course, there’s also the matter of the dead body onstage. Who could possibly have had the victim on their naughty list? Join lawyers Femi and Charlotte as they investigate Christmas letters, examine emails, and pore over police transcripts to identify both the victim and killer before the curtain closes on their holiday production—for good.


Murder on the Chrtimas Express

“Strong prose and a bevy of plausible suspects keep things intriguing. Readers willing to embrace this Christmas story’s jagged edges are in for a ripping mystery.”― Publishers Weekly

All aboard, but beware! Passengers who sleep on this train may never wake up.

In the early hours of Christmas Eve, the sleeper train from London to the Highlands derails, along with the festive plans of its travelers. With the train buried in snow in the middle of nowhere, the passengers have only each other, and not all of them will reach their holiday celebrations.

As a killer tries to pick passengers off one by one, former Met Detective Roz Parker can’t resist one last investigation, but murder in a locked room is a formidable puzzle for even the most seasoned investigator. As accusations begin to fly, the group of travelers fractures and unexpected alliances form. Can Roz find the culprit before anyone else is lost.


Murder Under the Mistletoe by Sherry Lynn

In a fresh new Maine-set holiday cozy, landscaper Kinsley Clark must root out a killer before she becomes the prime suspect.

Landscape artist and owner of SeaScapes, Kinsley Clark has been re-hired to decorate the town of Harborside for the upcoming holiday season and boat parade. Using the local elements found in Maine, Kinsley creates kissing balls—the town’s official mistletoe—to hang downtown and along the wharf. Kinsley is also responsible for Harborside’s official “lobster-stacked” Christmas tree, located beside the local marina, where the annual Harborside Boat Parade & Fireworks Display takes place.

When local alderman Chris Chesterfield—dressed up as the Grinch, right down to the green face paint—falls off the pier and into the icy Atlanticthe night of the annual kickoff event, the town is in shock. But all eyes turn to Kinsley and her beautiful decorations when it becomes evident that Chris didn’t fall after all—and that he was looking to replace SeaScapes with a different decorating team. Kinsley, along with bestie, Becca, and Pete, the owner of the Blue Lobstah, must unearth the truth before Kinsley takes the fall.


The Pantomine Murders by Fiona Veitch Smith

Someone is killing fairy godmothers in Cinderella… Can Miss Clara Vale crack the case before the clock strikes twelve?

1929, December: Snow is falling, and Miss Clara Vale is wrapped up against the cold as she braves the icy streets of Newcastle in her latest investigation.

When a young actress from the touring pantomime of Cinderella arrives at her door, Clara isn’t sure what to make of her request. Sybil Langford, the legendary fairy godmother in their production, has mysteriously vanished. Could Clara help track her down?

But a few days into Clara’s search, Sybil’s body is pulled from an icy river, and Clara finds herself in the middle of yet another murder mystery.

With scheming stepsisters waiting in the wings, handsome princes who aren’t all they seem, and clues as elusive as glass slippers, Clara will need every one of her scientific skills to catch the killer…

And when Sybil’s replacement meets her own tragic end, Clara is in a race against time before the murderer sends a third cast member to their unhappily ever after…

The perfect Golden Age mystery to curl up with by the fire. Fans of Agatha Christie, Helena Dixon and Verity Bright will be gripped by this historical crime novel from the very first page.


The Night Before Christmas by Alex Pine

This Christmas, the hunters become the hunted…

When four trail hunters go missing in the fells of Cumbria on Christmas Eve, the race is on to find them before nightfall – when the temperature plummets.

After hours of searching, the first body is found… Not frozen in the snow, but brutally murdered and bearing a warning: the real hunt has begun.

As a snowstorm descends, three lives hang in the balance. But can the killer be caught before the trail goes cold?

From the master of Christmas crime comes a thriller that will chill you to the bone this Winter, perfect for fans of James Patterson, Clare Mackintosh and anyone who prefers their mince pies with a side of murder.


The Twelve Books of Christmas by Kate Carlisle

The first ever Christmas mystery in the beloved New York Times bestselling Bibliophile Mystery series!

San Francisco book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright and her hunky security-expert husband, Derek Stone, face a locked-room murder mystery during the holidays in Scotland.

In the middle of a wonderful Christmas holiday in Dharma, Brooklyn and Derek receive a frantic phone call from their dear friend Claire in Loch Ness, Scotland. The laird of the castle, Cameron MacKinnon, has just proposed to her! They plan to be married on New Year’s Day, and they want Derek and Brooklyn to be their witnesses. And while they’re visiting, Claire hopes that Brooklyn will be able to solve a little mystery that’s occurred in the castle library—twelve very rare, very important books have gone missing.

Once in Scotland, Brooklyn starts working on the mystery of the missing books but is soon distracted by all of the thumping and bumping noises she’s been hearing in the middle of the night. You’d think the Ghost of Christmas Past had taken up residence. But when one of the guests is poisoned and another is killed by an arrow through the heart, Brooklyn and Derek know this is not the work of any ghost. Now they must race to find a killer and a book thief before another murder occurs and their friends’ bright and happy future turns dark and deadly.


The Twelve Suspects of Christmas by Ana T. Drew

Grannies, gangsters, murders—and a rollicking journey across France!

It’s January 4, 1961, and Marseilles housemaid Annie Malian is in love. It’s also the day her fiancé René takes his life under peculiar circumstances.

Many decades later, an old Christmas postcard addressed to Annie arrives, and all her doubts come flooding back.
At 84, there’s no time to waste!
Annie enlists the help of Rose Tassy, an eccentric retired teacher and amateur sleuth.
Thus begins an unforgettable journey from Provence to a quaint village in Picardie and then on to the sparkling Riviera, with a detour through wintry Paris.

Amid yuletide festivities, Annie and Rose navigate perilous terrain. Their list of suspects quickly grows. Was it Rene’s older brother? Maybe the ex-gangster turned chicken farmer? The powerful Monegasque tycoon?
Stumped, Rose begins to question her detective mettle when a new death compounds the plot…

This Christmas, will Annie receive the overdue truth as a gift?

Shortlisted for the Harper Collins Poche – Le Parisien 2024 Prize, “The Twelve Suspects of Christmas” will keep you guessing, laughing and turning pages!


Christmas Presents by Lisa Unger

A SheReads, Criminal Element, CrimeReads, and Zibby Mag “Most Anticipated” Thriller

Instead of presents this Christmas, a true crime podcaster is opening up a cold case…

Madeline Martin has built a life for herself as the young owner of a thriving business, The Next Chapter Bookshop, despite her tragic childhood and now needing to care for her infirm father. When Harley Granger, a failed novelist turned true crime podcaster, drifts into her shop in the days before Christmas, he seems intent on digging up events that Madeline would much rather forget. She’s the only surviving victim of Evan Handy, the man who was convicted of murdering her best friend Steph, and is suspected in the disappearance of two sisters, also good friends of Madeline’s, who have been missing for nearly a decade. It’s an investigation that has obsessed her father Sheriff James Martin right up until his stroke took his faculties.

Harley Granger has a gift for seeing things that others miss. He wasn’t much of a novelist, but his work as a true crime author and podcaster has earned him fame and wealth―and some serious criticism for his various unethical practices. Still, visiting Little Valley to be closer to his dying father has caused him to look into a case that many people think is closed―and some want reopened. And he has a lot of questions about the night Stephanie Cramer was killed, Ainsley and Sam Wallace disappeared, and Madeline Martin was left for dead, bleeding out on a riverbank.

Since Evan Handy went to jail, three other young women have gone missing, most recently a young college dropout named Lolly. Five young women missing in the same area in a decade. Are they connected? Was Evan Handy innocent after all? Or was there some else there that night? Someone who is still satisfying his dark appetites?

As Christmas approaches and a blizzard bears down, Madeline and her childhood friend Badger return to a past they both hoped was dead―to find the missing Lolly and to answer questions that have haunted them both, discovering that the truth is more terrible and much closer to home than they think.

Coupling a picturesque, cozy setting with a deeply unsettling suspenseful plot, Christmas Presents is a chilling seasonal novella that can be enjoyed all year long.


The Christmas Guest by Peter Swanson

New York Times bestselling author Peter Swanson pens a spectacularly spine-chilling novella in which an American art student in London is invited to join a classmate for the holidays at Starvewood Hall, her family’s Cotswold manor house. But behind the holly and pine boughs, secrets are about to unravel, revealing this seemingly charming English village’s grim history.

Ashley Smith, an American art student in London for her junior year, was planning on spending Christmas alone, but a last-minute invitation from fellow student Emma Chapman brings her to Starvewood Hall, country residence of the Chapman family. The Cotswold manor house, festooned in pine boughs and crammed with guests for Christmas week, is a dream come true for Ashley. She is mesmerized by the cozy, firelit house, the large family, and the charming village of Clevemoor, but also by Adam Chapman, Emma’s aloof and handsome brother.

But Adam is being investigated by the local police over the recent brutal slaying of a girl from the village, and there is a mysterious stranger who haunts the woodland path between Starvewood Hall and the local pub. Ashley begins to wonder what kind of story she is actually inhabiting. Is she in a grand romance? A gothic tale? Or has she wandered into something far more sinister and terrifying than she’d ever imagined?

Over thirty years later the events of that horrific week are revisited, along with a diary from that time. What began in a small English village in 1989 reaches its ghostly conclusion in modern-day New York, many Christmas seasons later.


A Christmas Vanishing by Anne Perry

Charlotte Pitt’s clever grandmother investigates the sudden disappearance of her dear friend in this chilling holiday whodunit by New York Times bestselling author Anne Perry.

Mariah Ellison, Charlotte Pitt’s grandmother, accepts her longtime friend Sadie’s gracious invitation to spend Christmas with her and her husband, Barton, in their picturesque village. But upon arrival, Mariah discovers that Sadie has vanished without a trace, and Barton rudely rescinds the invitation. Once Mariah finds another acquaintance to stay with during the holiday season, she begins investigating Sadie’s disappearance.

Mariah’s uncanny knack for solving mysteries serves her well during her search, which is driven by gossip as icy as the December weather. Did Sadie run off with another man? Was she kidnapped? Has someone harmed her? Frustratingly, Mariah’s questions reveal more about the villagers themselves than about her friend’s whereabouts. Yet in the process of getting to know Sadie’s neighbors, Mariah finds a kind of redemption, as she rediscovers her kinder side, and her ability to love. 

It is up to Mariah to master her own feelings, drown out the noise, and get to the bottom of what occurred, all before Christmas day. With the holiday rapidly approaching, will she succeed in bringing Sadie home in time for them to celebrate it together—or is that too much to hope for?


Twice on Christmas by McGarvey Black


After choir practice for midnight mass, college sophomore Rose Grandon takes a short-cut through Harbor Park. Grabbed from behind, she is violently assaulted, beaten and left for dead.

The last thing she hears is someone singing Silent Night.

Several hours later, the police find Rose lying in a ditch. Badly beaten — but alive.

As she recovers in hospital, Rose is told she’s pregnant. She has a terrible choice to make. She decides to keep the baby.

Nine months later, she gives birth to a beautiful baby girl. She names her Mary.

Rose lives quietly in her small Connecticut hometown raising her daughter — the one good thing to come out of her horrible ordeal. She begins to get her old self back.

But her evil attacker has never been caught. He strikes twice a year. Once on Christmas Eve, once on Christmas Day.

And until he’s behind bars, Rose and her baby can never be safe.

But now he’s found out he has a daughter. And that changes everything . . .


Twas the Bite Before Christmas by David Rosenfelt

In National Bestseller David Rosenfelt’s Twas the Bite Before Christmas, all through the Carpenter house, five dogs are stirring, and not even Andy can get out of working this latest case at his door.

Reluctant lawyer Andy Carpenter is at the Tara Foundation’s annual Christmas party. The dog rescue organization has always been his true calling, and this is one holiday tradition he can get behind because every dog that’s come through the rescue―and their families―are invited to celebrate.

This year’s party is no exception. But before the stockings can be hung by the chimney with care, homicide detectives ruin the evening. Derek Moore, one of the foundation’s best foster volunteers, is arrested for murder.

Andy discovers Derek―whose real name is Bobby―is in the witness protection program after giving evidence against his former gang. The police believe Bobby murdered a member. But Bobby swears to Andy he didn’t do this. He’s built a new life, a new business, has two new dogs after being a double foster-failure.

There isn’t much Andy likes about this case, but he likes Bobby. If he’s innocent, Andy wants to help. Before Andy can settle down for his long winter’s nap, he has a client’s name to clear, a murderer to catch, and two new dogs to look after: a golden and a Dalmatian. Andy’s golden retriever, Tara, will have to adjust to not being the only golden at the house while Andy gets to the bottom of this one . . .


Let it Crow, Let it Crow, Let it Crow by Donna Andrews

‘Tis the season for sleuthing in Donna Andrews’ cheery new addition to the New York Times bestselling Meg Langslow series.

Meg has been roped into participating in a weaponsmithing competition, a Forged in Fire wannabe organized by a blacksmith friend. Meg originally turned down an invitation to participate, but the night before the filming starts, someone attacks Faulk, her blacksmithing mentor, breaking his arm and eliminating him from the contest before it begins. Meg agrees to step in as his replacement to keep the project from failing. She’s not thrilled that the filming will take place during December – Christmas is already a crazy time for her. Since the competition is taking place on Ragnarshjem, the picturesque estate that her friend Ragnar, the retired heavy metal drummer, is turning into a Goth castle, Meg won’t have to spend Christmas alone and gets to bring Michael and her twin sons with her.

So Meg joins the cast, to the dismay of several old-school blacksmiths who think women have no place in the profession anyway. And if the show’s producers were hoping for drama, they’re in luck. The blacksmithing world is a small one, and some of the contestants arrived already laden with grudges and feuds.

It’s a high-stakes, cutthroat competition between people who wield large hammers and make swords and have forges full of fire at their disposal. What could possibly go wrong?


Baking Spirits Bright by Sarah Fox

In a cute new culinary cozy from USA Today bestselling author Sarah Fox, budding chocolatier Becca Ransom must solve a murder before she meets a sticky end.

Winter has arrived in Larch Haven, Vermont, bringing with it holiday cheer, lots of snow, and freezing temperatures. Becca Ransom is squeezing in time to skate on the frozen canals and drink hot chocolate by a roaring fire while also whipping up new creations for her family’s chocolate shop and experimenting with holiday flavors like eggnog, gingerbread, and peppermint. At the same time, Becca is preparing for the Baking Spirits Bright holiday baking competition, a popular annual event. She’s planning to enter an edible model of Larch Haven, with a mountain backdrop made of cake, gingerbread cottages, and chocolate gondolas on sugar-glass canals.

Professional bakers and a local food blogger are also participating in the event and they aren’t about to go down without a fight. The competition quickly heats to a boiling point, with flaring tempers and mysterious happenings. When one of the entrants is found dead, stabbed with Becca’s chocolate chipper, Becca tries to salvage the season by finding the killer. But the heat is on, and Becca is in danger of getting burned.


Murder on the Cornish Cliffs by Verity Bright

A festive invitation from an old family friend, the promise of gingerbread at the village inn, snowy walks on the Cornish coast with Gladstone the bulldog… But wait, is that a body on the beach?

Winter, 1923. It’s nearly Christmas and Lady Eleanor Swift has received a rather strange letter from an old friend of her uncle. Mr Godfrey Cunliffe has asked her to stay in Cornwall for the holidays – but only because he believes his gardener is trying to poison him! With not a moment to waste Eleanor hurries down to his picturesque manor house with her butler Clifford and handsome beau Detective Hugh Seldon. But they arrive too late to stop the crime…

Lying dead at the bottom of the steep cliffs, however, is not Mr Cunliffe, but the gardener himself. And his plans for restoring the gardens to their former glory are missing. Jerome St Clair has gone from suspect to victim. This certainly puts a twist in the tinsel!

As snow begins to fall, Eleanor quizzes the family. Mr Cunliffe’s alibi is as fragile as the glass baubles hanging from his towering Christmas tree. Eleanor quickly realises everyone from the handyman to the housekeeper is keeping secrets, and she’s convinced that Mr Cunliffe is still scared for his life.

When Gladstone the bulldog pulls a charred corner of the missing garden plans from a fireplace festooned with a gold-ribboned garland, Eleanor thinks the clue she needs is hiding out in the grounds. But when someone tries to run her over with the huge lawnmower, she knows she must wrap up the mystery fast before her Christmas is cancelled for good…

Murder on the Cornish Cliffs is a fun, twisty and absolutely gripping historical English cozy mystery, perfect for fans of T.E. Kinsey, Catherine Coles and Agatha Christie.


I’ll Be Alone for Christmas by Meyer Matthews

I’ll Be Alone For Christmas is a suspenseful novella filled with terror, a dash of gore, and packed with Christmas spirit.

Romee’s winter break was planned out months ahead. A week at a cabin in the woods sounded romantic, and maybe it was just what her boyfriend of two years needed to pop the question.

Instead, he proposed they break up, a week before they were destined to wake up Christmas morning, happier than ever. Heartbroken but undaunted, Romee embarks on a solitary journey to the remote cabin, yearning for peace and closure in the tranquil snowscape. Six nights of isolation, wine, and TV shows seemed like the perfect remedy for a breakup.

Yet, from the moment she arrives, an ominous presence clings to her. The house is old, creaking and shifting, as if harboring another occupant. Bizarre occurrences escalate as each day passes, blurring the line between reality and a nightmare, making her question everything. She is alone, right?

When Romee decides it’s time to leave the vacation rental early, it’s already too late. Snowed in and unable to escape, she has to survive the frigid conditions and limited resources… And the possibility that someone sees her when she’s sleeping and knows when she’s awake.


New Year at Mistletoe Lodge by Amy Rafferty

Heather Jessop, the free-spirited wildlife veterinary explorer, is back at Mistletoe Lodge for the holiday season…..

What her family doesn’t know is the real reason Heather is home.

She has been forced to take sick leave for three months while she heals. There’s no better place to heal than with family during the festive season at Mistletoe Lodge in Frisco, Colorado.

Two years ago, a fight with her cousins kept her away, and it is time to patch things up. Heather knew things were bad at the lodge but she hadn’t realized just how bad until she meets the lodge’s new investor, the hot and way too charming, Giles Holland.

While she secretly recovers from her injuries she finds herself falling in love with him in the winter wonderland of Mistletoe Lodge.

Giles Holland is looking for a new challenge.

When his good friend Avery Hawthorn offered him a chance to invest in a lodge in Colorado it piqued his interest. Giles has been after Avery for years to head up a new business venture to help save the smaller corporations from being swallowed by the larger ones.

Thrilled at the prospect of his friend finally considering his offer and eager to check out his new investment Giles heads for Frisco where he finds his greatest challenge of all that turns his world upside down—

Winning the heart of a beautiful woman with dazzling eyes,

The talented, Heather who he knows is the love of his life.

NEW YEAR AT MISTLETOE LODGE is Book Two of the Feel Good Holiday Romance duet. Heather and Giles’ story begins in Book One, CHRISTMAS AT MISTLETOE LODGE.




Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. His second novel, LETHAL RANGE, comes out on August 8th. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. And to take part in free, exclusive BOOK CLUBS each month, join The Real Book Spy on Discord.


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