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Christmas Stories Showing Up on the Shelves – By Charlotte Canelli

Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin each Thursday. Read past columns here.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well, actually, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas a few months back.

Librarians receive lists and catalogs of books to be published in future months. Around July and August of each year seasonal books with holiday titles begin to appear. I don’t think it is my imagination but these lists seem to grow in length every year. This year we’ve put at least twenty-five new Christmas-related stories on the “new adult fiction” and speed-read bookshelves.

Popular fiction author, Debbie Macomber, added Christmas stories to her repertoire beginning in 1966 with her title “Can This Be Christmas?” This year Ms. Macomber’s latest addition to the holiday genre is “Call Me Mrs. Miracle.” Mrs. Miracle was introduced to us in 1996 and she returns in this story which is full of holiday match-making and plenty of merrymaking. This newest book was made into a Hallmark Channel movie which aired right after this year’s Thanksgiving.

“A Christmas Odyssey” is Anne Perry’s eighth Christmas novella. Perry has been writing detective novels since 1979. In 2003 she cleverly combined suspense with holiday happenings in “A Christmas Journey” and has written a Christmas novel each year since.

 M.C. Beaton set her favorite sleuth, Agatha Raisin, in the 2007 Christmas story, “Kissing Christmas Goodbye.” This year, with the author’s 21st Agatha book, Beaton returns Agatha to the holiday story genre in “The Busy Body.” Often bad -tempered and irritable, Agatha Raisin is not normally associated with feel-good holiday cheer. Yet, she is always endearing and Beaton is able to imbue her Agatha character with enough holiday spirit to solve the death of the one man everyone in town would have liked to have killed.

Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s sixteenth book in her Joe Grey cat series slips neatly onto our list this year. Her latest Christmas classic includes a lonely prison cat added to her regular trio of feline sleuths. The four of them solve yet another murder in “Cat Coming Home.”

“A Christmas Mourning,” is set in rural North Carolina and it is Margaret Maron’s first book in the holiday story genre. As you might guess by the title, tragedy has struck this southern county during the Christmas season and yet another murder needs to be solved in order to save the holiday from more of them.

You might want to leave the milk and cookies off the fireplace this year. At least those of gingerbread flavor. Popular writer Joanne Fluke is the author of a table full of yummy-dessert-related murders. This year she compiles three cookie-related mysteries with recipes in a tasty collection called “The Gingerbread Cookie Murder.” The two other stories in the book are “The Dangers of Gingerbread Cookies” by Laura Levine and “Gingerbread Cookies and Gunshots” by Leslie Meier.

Another collection, this one of shorter stories, is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by prolific romance writer Fern Michaels. The four stories, Comfort and Joy, The Christmas Stocking, a Bright Red Ribbon and Merry, Merry, include plenty of holiday romance and mistletoe.

Just when you might be thinking that the holiday stories are women’s territory only, I’m here to tell you that it is certainly not so. The New York Times bestselling author of “The Christmas Box” (1995), Richard Paul Evans, has written another holiday novel in “Promise Me.”

Miracles belong to the holiday season, of course, and they almost always show up in the Mississippi town of Second Creek. Mississippian and loyal Piggly Wiggly customer Rob Dalby continues those Piggy Wiggly stories in his holiday version, “A Piggly Wiggly Christmas.”

Greg Kincaid, a lawyer by profession, has returned to writing with “Christmas with Tucker.” It is another wonderful tale of man’s, or one boy’s, best friend. His first book, “A Dog Named Christmas” in 2008 was such a huge hit that it was also made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie.

If you can fit cozily between film noir and sentimentality, we have the holiday book for you. Kenneth Harmon’s debut book, “The Fat Man: A Tale of North Pole Noir,” combines hard-boiled crime fiction with the warmth of Christmas traditions.

Otto Penzler is the owner of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City and for the past 17 years he has paid leading mystery writers (including Mary Higgins Clark, Thomas Cook, Ed McBain) to create a Christmas story that includes mystery, crime or suspense. An additional catch? Some of the story must take place in his bookshop. This year he has collected all the stories into one book, “Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop.”

Painter Thomas Kinkade switches his medium from paint on canvas to ink on paper when he writes the Cape Light novels with Katherine Spencer. This year he has co-authored the seventh holiday story in the series, “On Christmas Eve.”

We’ve combined these titles and other 2010 holiday stories on our website with links right to the library catalog. Or pick up the flyer in the library. For help searching in the Minuteman catalog or for placing requests, visit the Morrill Memorial Library, call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200) or visit the Minuteman Library Catalog on our website, www.norwoodlibrary.org

Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her entire article in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

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