Holiday Reading: Christmas At The Mysterious Bookshop

Edited by Otto Penzler

Publisher: Vanguard Press, 2010

My Rating: A

Every year since 1993, Otto Penzler, owner of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, has commissioned an original short story from some of the finest mystery writers in America. Mr. Penzler required the stories be set during the Christmas season, include a mystery, and some of the action has to take place in the bookstore.

Once written, the stories were then printed, 1000 copies, and given as gifts to customers and friends of the bookstore. As you can imagine, the stories became very popular and some were even sold at high prices on ebay.

Now Mr. Penzler has collected all seventeen of those stories together in one volume called Christmas At The Mysterious Bookshop:’Tis the Season To Be Deadly: Stories of Mistletoe and Mayhem. Some of the stories are serious, some humorous, but all contain detection of some sort.

I’ve been reading one story at a time over the past three weeks. By the time I finished the last one I was thoroughly entertained. After the first few I began to anticipate how the bookstore and the owner would be included in each story. Of course, the writers were very creative in the way they included the bookstore and I liked how many of the writers poked fun at Otto Penzler. It was obvious that some of the writers have a great friendship with him.

Most mystery buffs will recognize the authors: Ed McBain, Donald Westlake, Andrew Klavan, Anne Perry, Mary Higgins Clark. As is usually the case with an anthology there were a few that were my favorites:

  • Edward Hoch: The Theft of the Rusty Bookmark – A simple story that I solved before the character did, but I liked the way the author designed the story with subtle clues about the characters.
  • Lawrence Block: As Dark As Christmas Gets – This story was so clever. The author used a couple of his regular series characters – Chip Harrison and Leo Haig – to help solve a mystery. They helped Otto Penzler find a prized manuscript by Cornell Woolrich that went missing during a party.
  • Ed McBain: I Saw Mommy Killing Santa Claus – You have to love this one just because it’s Ed McBain and a very catchy title
  • Anne Perry: My Object All Sublime – Her suspenseful description of the bookshop alone had this reader on edge. Beautiful writing.
  • Mary Higgins Clark: What’s In a Name? I really liked the characters of the young woman and her grandmother in this story. I didn’t want it to end.

These are not stories of heavy crime or gore, but at the same time I wouldn’t call them all cozy. Some were humorous, some tongue-in-cheek, a couple were silly and others suspenseful. All were tales of pure detection.

If you are a mystery buff, or know one, this is a fun anthology at any time of the year. One of the values of a good anthology for the reader is the chance to discover authors you’d like to read again. There are several names in this book that I will put on my Author Wish List.

I was lucky enough to snag Christmas At The Mysterious Bookshop at my local library. It’s also available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)

This is Book #6 for The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge.

This entry was posted in 100+ Book Challenge, A Book, Christmas Spirit Challenge, Library Challenge. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Holiday Reading: Christmas At The Mysterious Bookshop

  1. kaye says:

    This sounds like a fun book and reading a story a day seems like a very good idea. Glad you enjoyed it so much. Your A rating really caught my eye. Have a wonderful weeek, Margot and happy reading.

  2. This looks fun even though I usually don’t go for short stories. I love the idea that they were sponsored by a bookstore!

  3. Tami says:

    This was one of my favorite holiday-themed books this year. Glad you enjoyed it as well. It’s fun to get a glimpse of some writiers I really wasn’t familiar with.

  4. This sounds perfect for this time of year when it’s hard to concentrate on a long book!

  5. I always forget about anthologies until I hear someone talk about one and then I remember how much I enjoy them. I’m going to have to check this out. It sounds like the perfect way to keep reading over the busy holiday.

  6. stacybuckeye says:

    I’ve never heard of this before – how cool. Looks like a great Christmas short story collection.

  7. Staci says:

    I totally love the whole concept of this book and think it would be pure fun to read!! Thanks for the great review 😀

  8. Otto Penzler says:

    I’m thrilled that you liked the book. May I say that–yes, it is available at amazon, but it’s also available at The Mysterious Bookshop! Otto

  9. Beth F says:

    Fun and perfect for the season! Sounds like a great collection.

  10. wakela says:

    This sounds like a great read. I hadn’t heard of this bookstore or about these stories before. But now my interested is definitely piqued.

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