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All I Want for Christmas Is a Little Suspense: 5 Heart-Pounding Holiday Thrillers

by  | November 20

The holidays are a time for love, faith, and…suspense? These authors seem to think so. From thievery to murder and everything in between, the holiday thrillers below prove that even with homemade cookies in the oven and hot chocolate in your mug, there’s plenty going on beneath the surface.

White Elephant

White Elephant

by Trish Harnetiaux

The normal White Elephant gift exchange rules don’t apply at the holiday party for the real estate firm owned by Henry Calhoun and his wife, Claudine. Each Christmas sparks a contest among the already competitive staff to see who can buy the most coveted gift. Everyone is puzzled when a strange gift shows up in the mix: an antique cowboy statue that is not very pretty or expensive-looking. The gift makes sense only to Henry and Claudine. That’s because the statue is the weapon Henry used to commit a murder years ago, a murder that helped start his company and a murder that Claudine helped cover up. She swore that no one would ever be able to find the statue or trace it to their crime. So which of their employees did? And why did they place it in the White Elephant? What could possibly be their endgame?

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Deck the Halls

Deck the Halls

by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark

Three days before Christmas, Regan Reilly (the dynamic young sleuth featured in the novels of Carol Higgins Clark) accidentally meets Alvirah Meehan (Mary Higgins Clark's famous lottery winner and amateur detective) at a New Jersey dentist's office. That's where it all begins. While Regan's mother is in the hospital with a broken leg, her husband, Luke, and his chauffeur, Rosita, are kidnapped and held for a million-dollar ransom. Together, Regan and Alvirah track the case as the inept yet dangerous kidnappers make their demands known. Meanwhile, Luke and Rosita are held captive on a houseboat on the Hudson River and a fierce winter storm is gathering force.

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The Christmas Thief

The Christmas Thief

by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark

Alvirah Meehan, lottery winner turned amateur sleuth, teams up with private investigator Regan Reilly to solve another Christmas mystery. This year, the tree chosen to be Rockefeller Center's famous Christmas tree is hiding a flask chock-full of priceless diamonds that Packy Noonan, a scam artist just released from prison, had hidden there over twelve years ago. Packy breaks his parole to reclaim his loot with a bumbling crew. What Packy does not know is that Alvirah and Regan are on a weekend trip with Alvirah's friend Opal, a lottery winner who lost all her winnings in Packy's scam. On Monday morning when they're supposed to head home, they learn that the tree is missing, Packy Noonan may be in the vicinity, and Opal has disappeared. Will they find Opal and Packy before it’s too late?

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Santa 365

Santa 365

by Spencer Quinn

This year, jolly old St. Nick knows Bernie has been sleeping on preparations for a special Christmas celebration with his son Charlie. Enter Plumpy Napoleon, fresh from a short stint in prison, to save Bernie from the naughty list. Plumpy calls his latest business plan “Santa 365.” For a small fee (that only gets bigger), he’ll fill your life with holiday cheer, including elves, a festive party, gifts, and even a Christmas tree delivered right to your front door. Bernie signs on for the full yuletide experience. But after the blowout holiday bash, Bernie and Chet the dog discover one of Santa’s helpers helped himself to more than Christmas candy. The intrepid duo sets out to find the sticky-fingered perp and reclaim the stolen goods. Add in a surprise visit from Bernie’s mom, two elderly sisters seeking their own brand of justice, and an elf with a stocking full of secrets, and you have a Christmas mystery that only Chet and Bernie could possibly unwrap.

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Tamarack County

Tamarack County

by William Kent Krueger

During a blizzard one bitter winter night, just days before Christmas, the car belonging to the wife of a retired local judge is discovered abandoned on a rural county road in Tamarack County. After days of fruitless searching, there is little hope that she’ll be found alive, if she’s found at all. Cork O’Connor, the ex-sheriff of Tamarack County, notices small things about the woman’s disappearance that disturb him. After a friend’s beloved pet dog is brutally killed and his own son is nearly killed, Cork understands that someone is spinning a deadly web in Tamarack County. At its center is a murder more than twenty years old, for which an innocent man may have been convicted. Cork remembers the case only too well—he was the deputy in charge of the investigation that sent the man to prison. With the darkest days of the year at hand, the storms of winter continue to isolate Tamarack County. Cork has only hours to stop the vengeful force before his family and friends pay the ultimate price for the sins of others.

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