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Locked Room Christmas


bad santaWhile most major mystery authors have tried their hand at a Christmas mystery, very few locked room authors have taken up this challenge – generally preferring spooky Halloween images to the festivities of the Christmas season! However, there have been a few! Here is my list of five novels and thirteen locked impossible stories, along with my wish that you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! If you know of titles I have missed, please let us now at our GoodMystery Facebook page

 

Also see Twelve Golden Age Christmas Masterpieces on GoodMystery.com


Christmas Locked Room Novels


mystery whiteMystery in White (1937)
Author: J. Jefferson Farjeon
Detective: Edward Maltby

Locked Room Review
*****

Available in paperback, ebook and audible editions.

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Note: A deadly Christmas train!

A spooky crime that seems quite impossible. A snowbound train should be a safe, if slightly inconvenient, place to spend Christmas, right? Not in ‘Mystery in White’ where Death, it turns out, is a passenger on this run. As the passengers begin to feel uneasy, some make a bid for escape, only to find that the only shelter is a well provisioned house with boiling water ready on the stove, and no one home! J. Jefferson Farjeon keeps ratcheting up the tension, holding readers in his grip until the surprising conclusion.


ChristmasHercule Poirot’s Christmas (1938)
Author: Agatha Christie
Detective: Poirot

Locked Room Review 
****

Available in paperback, ebook and audible editions.

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Note: Christmas Eve murder in a locked study!

In Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, the holidays are anything but merry when a family reunion is marred by murder—and the notoriously fastidious investigator is quickly on the case. Simeon Lee invites his quarrelsome family for the holidays, only to have his throat cut in a locked room on Christmas Eve. The baffled police call on Poirot.

More on Hercule Poirot’s Christmas


mist & snowThere Came Both Mist and Snow (1940)
Author: Michael Innes
Detective: John Appleby

Best Review
****

Available in paperback, ebook and audible editions.

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Note: A new hobby for the holidays?

Stunning Belrive Priory, consisting of a mansion, park and medieval ruins, is surrounded by the noise and neon signs of its gaudy neighbours – a cotton-mill, a brewey and a main road. Nevertheless, Arthur Ferryman is pleased to return for a family Christmas, but is shocked to discover that his cousins have taken up a new pastime – pistol-shooting. Inspector Appleby arrives on the scene when one of Ferryman’s cousins is found shot dead in the study, in a mystery built on family antagonisms.


envious cascaEnvious Casca (1941)
Author: Georgette Heyer
Detective: Inspector Hemingway

Locked Room Review
****

Available in paperback, ebook and audible editions.

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Note: A murderous Christmas reunion!

Nathaniel Herriard never wanted a Christmas family reunion, but was soon killed inside his well locked study. Inspector Hemingway must unravel all the events of the murderous holiday season!


Moving ToyshopThe Moving Toyshop (1946) 
Author: Edmund Crispin
Detective: Gervase Fen

Locked Room Review
*****

Available in paperback, ebook and audible editions.

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Note: Not quite Christmas – but a toyshop counts, right?

One night, Richard Cadogan, poet and would-be bon-vivant, finds the body of an elderly woman in an Oxford toyshop, and is then hit on the head. When he comes to, he finds that the toyshop has disappeared and been replaced with a grocery store. Gervase Fen is called upon to find a solution to this quirky mystery.


Lord MisruleThe Lord of Misrule (1994) 
Author: Paul Halter
Detective: Owen Burns & Achilles Stock

Locked Room Review
*****

Available in a John Pugmire English translation – ebook and paperback

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Note: Gaslight, fog and a cloaked figure…

It is Christmas in Victorian London, with its gaslight and fog, not long after the Jack the Ripper Murders. A mysterious cloaked figure wearing a hideous, leprous mask and sleigh-bells is stalking the countryside outside the capital, committing murder wherever it goes, yet leaving no footprints. This is the first Paul Halter novel featuring amateur detective and aesthete Owen Burns, who regards the impossible crime as an art form.


Christmas Locked Room Short Stories


Knew Too MuchThe Hole in The Wall (1921)
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Detective: Horne Fisher

Collection: The Man Who Knew Too Much

Best Review

Available in paperback and ebook editions.

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Note: A free Kindle christmas story!

A cold and shallow grave? Lord Bulmer vanishes from a fancy dress Christmas party. He was last seen skating on a pond that is no more than two feet deep. Chesterton paints such a rich picture of this scene that many critics claim this is the best Chesterton mystery story!


Hangman HolidayThe Necklace of Pearls (1933)
Author: Dorothy L. Sayers
Detective: Lord Peter Wimsey

Collection: Hangman’s Holiday

Best Review

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Note: A precious necklace is missing!

Sir Septimus Shale loved christmas, which happily coincided with the birthday of his daughter, Margharita. Each year he had presented her with a perfect pearl, and this year he added the twenty-first pearl to the necklace! The country house party was busy celebrating with drawing room games, when the necklace suddenly went missing. As no one had left the area of the drawing room, the pearls could not have gone far, but were still missing after a very thorough search, leaving Lord Peter to solve the puzzle before they disappeared permanently and ruined the holiday. Not a proper locked room tale, listed by the French bibliographer Lacourbe, but not by Robert Adey – but still a great story with a classic solution to this impossible disappearance.

More on Hangman’s Holiday


Merrivale MarchBlind Man’s Hood (1940)
Author: John Dickson Carr
Detective: No Detective

Collection: Merrivale, March and Murder (1991); The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries

Best Review

Available in paperback and ebook editions.

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Note: A Christmas Eve tale!

John Dickson Carr, writing as Carter Dickson. Rodney and Muriel Hunter arrive far too late on Christmas Eve at the house of Jack Bannister in the lonely countryside of the Weald of Kent. Yet, oddly, they find the door wide open and the house completely deserted – except for a rather odd young woman who has a tale to tell the tardy visitors; a tale about something that happened in that very house sixty years earlier on another strange Christmas Eve!


Big XmasThe Dauphin’s Doll (1948)
Author: Ellery Queen
Detective: Ellery Queen

Collection: The Best of Ellery Queen; The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries

Best Review

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Note: A Christmas Eve heist!

A Christmas story filled with orphan children, and a thief that wants to steal their presents. An heiress with a famous doll collection has died, and left the proceeds of the sale to a fund to assist orphans. The dolls are not very valuable, but a huge diamond attached to one is worth a fortune! The crook gives fair notice that he will steal it on Christmas Eve in a busy department store and it is stolen from under the noses of New York’s finest. Ellery Queen must figure out who stole the diamond and save the orphan’s Christmas.  The Dauphin’s Doll (1948) is based on a 1943 radio play. 


Big XmasThe Serenade to A Killer (1957)
Author: Joseph Commings
Detective: Senator Brooks U. Banner

Collection: Big Book of Christmas Mysteries

Best Review

Available in paperback and ebook editions.

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Note: Senator Banner’s bloody Christmas!

Murder and Christmas are usually poles apart. But this Yuletide Senator Brooks U. Banner had the crazy killing at Falconridge dumped into his over-sized elastic stocking. A famous pianist is murdered inside his locked octagonal ‘Music Box’ pavilion – and only his footprints are imprinted in the snow!


Diagnosis HochThe Problem of The Christmas Steeple (1977)
Author: Edward D. Hoch
Detective: Dr Sam Hawthorne

Collection: Diagnosis Impossible

Best Review

Available in paperback and ebook editions.

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Note: Here’s the church, and here’s the steeple – where are all the people!

A minister is murdered in the steeple of his own church, a place from which no one could escape unseen – and the only other person, a gypsy, who was there swears he didn’t do it. Dr. Sam wonders about “How could you have a locked room that wasn’t even a room—that was in fact open on all four sides? And how could you have a mystery when the obvious murderer was found right there with the weapon and the body?”


impossible HochThe Problem of Santa’s Lighthouse (1983)
Author: Edward D. Hoch
Detective: Dr Sam Hawthorne

Collection: More Things Impossible

Best Review

Available in paperback and ebook editions.

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Note: Who stabbed Santa?

It’s Christmas time and Dr. Sam is headed out of town, proving that murder follows him everywhere! When Dr. Sam stops to visit Santa’s lighthouse, the last thing he expects to see, is Santa being stabbed by the ghost of the lighthouse.


Carpenter QuincannonNo Room at The Inn (1988)
Author: Bill Pronzini
Detectives: Carpenter & Quincannon

Collection: Christmas Out West; Best Western Stories of Bill Pronzini

Best Review

Available only in paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: An impossible mystery in the old west!

Quincannon would prefer to spend Christmas Eve relaxing in San Francisco, rather than hunting crooks in the high sierras, but there are bills to pay. Roland Lacourbe calls it a dry land, wild west version of ‘The Mystery of The Mary Celeste”

If you are in 1890’s San Francisco and faced with puzzles involving fraudulent rainmakers, nefarious spiritualists, coney games, a one-eyed lady gambler, a crook who vanishes from a train, or the stolen body of a Chinese Tong leader, you hire the firm of Carpenter and Quincannon. Former Pinkerton operative, Sabina Carpenter, has joined forces with former Secret Service agent, John Quincannon — in fact, Quincannon would like to join forces in other ways, but his partner continues to resist his lustful advances.


mistletoe mysteriesThe Touch of Kolyada (1989)
Author: Edward D. Hoch
Detective: Simon Ark

Collection: Mistletoe Mysteries, ed. by Charlotte MacLeod

Best Review

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Note: A deadly Miss Claus?

Kolyada is a female, Russian style, Santa Claus, hidden behind an ornate mask and a beautiful white cape, who enters houses and leaves gifts for the children. Simon Ark becomes interested when Kolyada also leaves behind the frozen body of a teacher who touched her cheek.


mystery ChristmasThe Christmas Bear 
Author: Herbert Resnicow
Detective: Miz Sophie Slowinski

Collection: Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, January 1990; Mystery for Christmas – and Other Stories, ed. by Cynthia Manson

Best Review

Available only in paperback and hardcover editions.

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Note: Maybe he climbed down?

“A toy stuffed bear is stolen from the top row of rickety shelving formed by boards laid across boxes. There is no way anyone could have climbed up to get it. It’s a warmly sweet story, and I loved it.” mysteryfile.com


Night Wolf

The Abominable Snowman (2000)
Author: Paul Halter
Detective: Irving Farrell

Collection: The Night of The Wolf

Best Review

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Note: Killer snowman!

“The victim was Fred Graves, who had apparently been murdered by a snowman! The harmless-looking thing apparently burst into life and viciously killed him with a bayonet that had been placed in the snowman’s arms.” at-scene-of-crime.blogspot


Night WolfThe Golden Ghost (2000)
Author: Paul Halter
Detective: Charles Godley

Collection: The Night of The Wolf

Best Review

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Note: Do the footprints tell the whole story?

“Charles Godley is a mean, Scrooge-like miser who gets an unexpected visitor at Christmas. It’s a poor match girl, terrified out of her wits. She is being pursued by a mysterious golden specter, a story that Godley is not particularly inclined to believe. Why? When he opened the door, he saw the girl’s footprints outside, and they were the only ones there.” at-scene-of-crime.blogspot


christmas villageA Murder in Christmas Village (2015)
Author: Alex Cowell
Detective: Maribel

Collection: Christmas Village Series

Best Reviews

Available only in ebook editions.

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Note: A new Christmas locked room cozy!

Definitely a cozy, but still a Christmas locked room. There’s been a murder at the Crestview Theater! A man has been killed inside a room that no one but the victim could have stepped foot in and behind a locked door to which none of the suspects possessed a key. Sheriff Fell believes he has the culprit, but village busybody Maribel has other ideas. Join her over a slice of homemade peach pie as she connects the dots and solves the mystery.

This short story is the first in an exciting new cozy mystery series set in quaint, Idyllic Christmas Village, where no one locks their door but ‘locked room’ mysteries and impossible murders abound. Can you follow the clues and solve the puzzle before Maribel does? 


Locked Room 101: The Masters


12 Golden Age Christmas Masterpieces GoodMystery.com


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