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Christmas Cozy Mystery Books & Christmas Thrillers

While many of us adore Christmas rom-coms and wait all year for Hallmark Christmas movie season, we know just as many readers prefer mystery novels year round. From humorous cozy mysteries to more intense thrillers, this list has something for anyone looking for a Christmas mystery book!

Hercule Poirot's Christmas book cover in a black and gold christmas scene

Christmas Cozy Mysteries

The Twelve Books of Christmas book cover

Book Summary

Brooklyn, a book restoration specialist, and her husband Derek, a security expert, are having a Christmas abroad when they get a frantic call from a friend. Claire is in Scotland and has gotten engaged. She wants Brooklyn & Derek to fly in for a quick wedding AND to investigate the mysterious disappearance of twelve rare books from the castle library.

When they arrive at the castle, the case of the missing books is just the beginning. Another guest is poisoned, and then another is killed with an arrow. They must now race to find the missing books AND the killer.

The Book Girls Say…

For another winter cozy mystery set in Scotland, try Murder at the Highland Castle, which is set in 1935.

The Worst Noel book cover

Book Summary

Lilly is a single mom to two teenagers, a jewelry shop owner, and the local Chamber of Commerce president. She is as busy as ever this Christmas and definitely didn’t have time to find a dead body on the floor of her store.

On top of that, she has to deal with her deadbeat ex-husband and the declining mental health of her mother. When a second dead body appears, Lilly is now the prime suspect and hopes the local police can figure out what is really happening ASAP for any hope of a merry Christmas.

The Book Girls Say…

This Christmas cozy kicks off a series of seven books featuring different holidays. All seven are available with KU. The Worse Noel also includes three recipes!

Kindle Unlimited as of: 12/04/2023
Murder on Mistletoe Lane book cover

Book Summary

Stella is about to spend her first Christmas season as the “Lady” of Morrington Hall. As an expat who married an aristocrat, she’s eager to embrace all the yuletide traditions in the English countryside. She’s thrown herself into starting a horse farm charity for the holidays. Initially, she doesn’t notice items disappearing from her bedroom. But then her housekeeper, Mrs. Nelson, is found dead in the cold on Mistletoe Lane.

Stella wonders if someone else on her staff knows the killer, but then another person dies at a Boxing Day race. Stella and her husband, Lyndy, must figure out what happens to save the estate’s reputation and keep themselves alive until the new year.

Blackmail & Bibingka book cover

Book Summary

If you enjoyed Arsenic and Adobo, we think you’ll love this follow-up set in the Christmas season. In this book, Lila is trying to make a profit at her new coffee shop, The Brew-ha Cafe. She’s also starting a romance with her friend, Jae, so things should be good.

But her cousin Ronnie, who left Shady Pines fifteen years ago, is back. While Tita Rosie is happy the prodigal son has returned to buy a local winery, Lila knows better. Before long, Ronnie is accused of murder, and Lila has to figure out how to prove the jerk’s innocence because surely he wouldn’t go that far.

Murder at an Irish Christmas book cover

The Book Girls Say…

There are currently 9 books in the Irish Village Mystery series, all available with KU.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 12/05/2023
The Wootton Windmill Mysteries book cover

Book Summary

Ellie is trying to juggle jobs and a sick daughter, and her wish is to make it to New Year without any more problems. But then her mother-in-law moves in.

Things get even worse when her estranged friend, Andrea, collapses and it becomes clear she was murdered. Along with her daughter and mother-in-law, Ellie follows the clues to solve the mystery. This unlikely trio of Blix women must find the killer, even if that really annoys her detective inspector ex-husband.

The Book Girls Say…

There are currently 4 books in the Wooten Windmill series included with Kindle Unlimited! The publisher has stated that these are light, uplifting reads with no bad language, sex or violence on the page.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 12/05/2023
Christmas Tree Farm mystery series covers

Book Summary

This series is set on a Christmas Tree farm in Mistletoe, Maine. Cat lovers will enjoy the feline character, Cindy Lou Who. In the first book, Twelve Slays of Christmas, the local grinch and president of the Mistletoe Historical Society, Margaret Fenwick, is bludgeoned and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly’s family tree farm.

Holly’s father, Bud, is the main suspect, and it doesn’t help that he and the reindeer keeper were seen arguing with Margaret just before her death. But Holly knows her father and is determined to exonerate him.

The Book Girls Say…

Every title in this four-book cozy mystery series is set at Christmas. With publication years ranging from 2017-2023, we wanted to list the full series so you’d have several options to check availability at the library.

1. Twelve Slays of Christmas
2. Twas the Knife Before Christmas
3. Slashing Through the Snow
4. Stalking Around the Christmas Tree

Classic Christmas Mystery

Hercule Poirot's Christmas book cover

Book Summary

On Christmas Eve, four estranged brothers have been called home by their widowed father. But, the reunion goes awry when there is a crash and scream after dinner. The family rushes upstairs to find their father dead with a slash in his throat.

Everyone seems to have an alibi, along with their own reasons for disliking the man. Hercule Poirot arrives to investigate, but the family is resistant to his help.

The Book Girls Say…

This classic murder mystery is the 20th book in Agatha Christie’s beloved investigator series, but you can read it as a stand-alone holiday novel.

Christmas Thrillers and Suspense Novels

Family Game book cover

Book Summary

Looking for a very non-traditional Christmas read? Try this Christmas mystery thriller! Edward Holbeck was born into a highly eccentric, old-money family in the 1%. He left them behind to escape their control and forge his own path. His wife, Harry, is a novelist on the brink of stardom, and their life is good.

However, the family’s eyes and ears are everywhere. They’re not okay with Edward’s separation from the family because he’s still set to be the sole heir to the fortunes.

When the head of the family, Robert, slips a shocking taped confession to Harry, their world begins to spin. As she searches for the truth, she finds herself involved in the Holbeck’s savage Christmas tradition, even though she knows losing the game can be deadly.

The Book Girls Say…

This book begins on the Christmas-decorated streets of Manhattan, but also jumps back a month to the family’s elaborate Thanksgiving celebration, making it a great pick for a book club in November or December.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Best Psychological Thriller Books

Christmas Presents book cover

Book Summary

This dark thriller takes place in the five days leading up to Christmas. Despite her tragic childhood, Madeline now owns the thriving bookstore, The Next Chapter Bookshop. Harley wanted to be novelist, but is now a true crime podcaster. When he arrives in Madeline’s bookshop, he tries to dig into a past she has been trying to forget. Madeline was the only survivor of Evan Handy, who was convicted of murdering her best friend and is still the prime suspect in other disappearances.

However, since Evan Handy went to jail, there have been other disappearances, including one recently. As Christmas approaches, Harley hopes to get to the bottom of the case.

The Book Girls Say…

This thriller is novella-length at 260 pages, so it’s perfect if you need a faster read this busy season!

Book Summary

When Rose cuts through Harbor Park after her midnight mass choir practice, she’s assaulted and left for dead. However, when the police find her several hours later, she’s alive. At the hospital, she learns she is pregnant, and nine months later, she names her daughter Mary.

She raises her daughter in a small Connecticut town and tries to get back to her old self. However, her attacker has never been caught. He only strikes twice a year, once on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas Day. But when he learns Rose now has a daughter, he changes his plan…

The Book Girls Say…

Reviewers say this book has some gruesome scenes but also helps readers understand the lasting effect a single crime can have on a victim.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 12/04/2023
The Night Before Christmas book cover

Book Summary

On Christmas Eve in North West England, four men who had gone on a walk are missing. Finding them before nightfall is essential because they’re unlikely to survive the brutal cold after dark.

After several hours, the first man is found. But, it’s clear he’s been murdered. With a snowstorm approaching, DI Walker must catch the killer before the trail is buried forever.

The Book Girls Say…

Reviewers say you can easily pick up this suspenseful book without reading the others in the series, and you won’t be lost.

The Kingdom of Sweets book cover

Book Summary

Drosselmeyer, the godfather of sisters Clara and Natasha, cursed them to be light and dark. Charming Clara, the favorite, grows into a life of beauty and ease, while Natasha is relegated to her sister’s shadow, ignored and unloved.

On Christmas Eve, Natasha has the opportunity for revenge when Drosselmeyer attends her family’s Christmas gala. He comes with the Nutcracker, which offers entry into the Kingdom of Sweets.

Natasha follows Clara into this magical land and finds the Sugar Plum Fairy, who offers her own wondrous gifts . . . and chilling bargains.

The Book Girls Say…

This is not your standard thriller. Instead, it’s a Fantasy retelling of The Nutcracker. But it’s a great twist on the category and perfect if you like dark and creepy and don’t mind some fantasy elements in your reads.

Homecoming cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

90% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

On Christmas Eve sixty years ago, a delivery man made a gruesome discovery that forever changed the small town of Tambilla. In the present day, Jess is a journalist in London when she gets a call to return home to Australia to help with her grandmother, Nora. Nora was more like a mother to Jess, after Jess’s mother, Polly, left her with Nora and moved to Brisbane when Jess was only 10.

Nora fell in her attic while searching for something, and now she is mumbling about an event in her past in a way that is difficult to understand. As Jess tries to piece things together, she learns that Nora was agitated and restless even before the fall. She knows something is going on, and is determined to figure it out. She searches the house for clues and finds a true crime book about the Turner Family Tragedy of Christmas Eve.

But what does this cold case have to do with her family?

The Book Girls Say…

Homecoming is on the longer side at 547 pages. Some readers feel like the first 400 pages could have been shorter, but most agree that you won’t be able to put this book down in the last 100 pages.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books Set in Australia and New Zealand

Join the Christmas Books Mini Reading Challenge

Our free four-prompt mini-reading challenge is perfect for anyone who enjoys reading seasonally. Each prompt comes with a list of recommended books for you to choose from, making it a fun and easy way to enhance your Christmas reading.

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Angela & Melissa

The Book Girls are best friends who jointly read over 200 books per year. We started Book Girls' Guide in 2019 to help others de-stress and find joy through the power of a great book. We do in-depth research on thousands of novels and non-fiction titles each year to provide curated book lists covering a variety of genres.

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Tuesday 5th of December 2023

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