The best overlooked classic Christmas whodunits

Benedict Brown Author Of The Snows of Weston Moor: A 1920s Christmas Mystery
By Benedict Brown

Who am I?

Having grown up in a family of crime-fiction readers, I published my first murder mystery in 2019 and have created two bestselling series. My 1920s-set “Lord Edgington Investigates…” books have been a big hit for me, and I’ve just published my third Christmas book overall. But that’s not the only reason I’m qualified to recommend Christmassy whodunits. I am obsessed with Christmas and, with a little help from my four-year-old daughter, spend far too much time decorating every December. Let’s just say that my Christmas Lego village is already out of control, and someone really needs to stop me from buying any more before it takes over our house.


I wrote...

The Snows of Weston Moor: A 1920s Christmas Mystery

By Benedict Brown,

Book cover of The Snows of Weston Moor: A 1920s Christmas Mystery

What is my book about?

A grand party in a snowbound mansion, a dead body beside the Christmas tree, and a master detective on the hunt for a killer. Lord Edgington and his loyal grandson are heading for Christmas in the countryside when a blizzard forces them to seek shelter in a snowbound manor house. With a Christmas party in full swing, an intruder crashes the celebrations and soon turns up dead. Can the famous detectives uncover the man's identity and pick the killer from a cast of secretive suspects before more bodies fall?

A warm, witty, and perfectly cosy 1920s whodunit with a mismatched detective duo, an adorable canine sidekick, and a twisting Agatha-Christie-style plot that will keep you guessing to the final page.

The books I picked & why

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Mystery in White

By J. Jefferson Farjeon,

Book cover of Mystery in White

Why this book?

I can’t think of a more evocative start to a murder mystery than a steam train stuck in the snow on Christmas Eve. With no hope of getting to their destination, a group of unlikely allies gangs together to find shelter for the night.

Led by the mysterious Mr. Maltby of the Royal Physical Society, they survive a torturous trek through waist-high drifts and hole up in a stately home with the fires blazing but no one on the premises. There are bodies about the house, clues to be deciphered, and an ancient crime to uncover. I was overjoyed to discover this whodunit from 1937 that is full of quirky characters, unexpected twists, and more snow than any other Christmas mystery I’ve read.

Mystery in White

By J. Jefferson Farjeon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mystery in White as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The horror on the train, great though it may turn out to be, will not compare with the horror that exists here, in this house.' On Christmas Eve, heavy snowfall brings a train to a halt near the village of Hemmersby. Several passengers take shelter in a deserted country house, where the fire has been lit and the table laid for tea - but no one is at home. Trapped together for Christmas, the passengers are seeking to unravel the secrets of the empty house when a murderer strikes in their midst.


Murder for Christmas

By Francis Duncan,

Book cover of Murder for Christmas

Why this book?

An eccentric philanthropist calls a group of friends and acquaintances together for Christmas in his ancient mansion. It isn’t long before someone dressed as Father Christmas turns up dead beneath the Christmas tree. Among the crowd of mismatched suspects is Mordecai Tremaine, one-time tobacconist, fan of romantic fiction, and occasional crime-solver. Tremaine is an unusual sleuth with a touch of Sherlock Holmes’s eccentricity but an optimistic spirit that guides him through the case. There’s a truly clever twist in the finale and, of course, plenty of snow! This is another book that feels very much neglected and deserves rediscovery.

Murder for Christmas

By Francis Duncan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder for Christmas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book in a classic Golden Age mystery series perfect for fans of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot

When Mordecai Tremaine arrives at the country retreat of one Benedict Grame on Christmas Eve, he discovers that the revelries are in full swing in the sleepy village of Sherbroome—but so too are tensions amongst the assortment of guests.

When midnight strikes, the partygoers discover that presents aren't the only things nestled under the tree...there's a dead body too. A dead body that bears a striking resemblance to Father Christmas. With the snow falling and suspicions flying, it's up to Mordecai to…


Another Little Christmas Murder

By Lorna Nicholl Morgan,

Book cover of Another Little Christmas Murder

Why this book?

This one is actually a bit of a cheat as it’s not really set at Christmas, although it is suitably snowy. In fact, it was originally published as “Another Little Murder” but has been renamed by canny publishers. I’ve included it anyway because it is such a fun book and, with its isolated, country-house setting, it certainly feels cosy enough for this time of year.

Published in 1947, it features an exceptionally likable detective called Dilys Hughes. She’s a witty, quirky, and determined protagonist who finds herself at the wonderfully named manor of Wintry Wold, just in time to investigate the death of its elderly owner. With its light touch and plenty of banter, it’s far closer to modern “cozy” whodunits than gritty, hard-boiled fiction. A really fun read to devour before Christmas arrives.

Another Little Christmas Murder

By Lorna Nicholl Morgan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Another Little Christmas Murder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A classic country house mystery republished for the first time in nearly seventy years. Perfect for fans of Murder at the Old Vicarage and Partners in Crime. When Dilys Hughes finds herself snowbound in the middle of a bleak and lonely stretch of Yorkshire, she has no option but to accept help from passing motorist Inigo Brown, who is on his way to visit his uncle. Arriving at his uncle's remote country house, Wintry Wold, the couple encounters a less than warm welcome from Inigo's new young aunt, Theresa. Why is she reluctant to let Inigo see his uncle, and…


Murder in the Snow

By Gladys Mitchell,

Book cover of Murder in the Snow

Why this book?

As much as I love mysteries that are all done and dusted in a weekend, I also enjoy the longer, slower type of whodunit where the plot unfolds over weeks and even months. Murder in the Snow kicks off at Christmastime with a murdered thug, a missing housekeeper, and a possible ghost, but psychoanalyst and amateur detective Mrs. Bradley sticks around to solve the crime.

Bradley is often compared to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and appeared in sixty-six novels over half a century. In contrast to Agatha Christie’s famous heroine, Mrs. Bradley is a rather witchy and sarcastic character, but I enjoyed the way she works with her nephew and his wife in this book to solve the mystery of a series of disreputable characters’ involvement in a puzzling crime.

Murder in the Snow

By Gladys Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder in the Snow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This classic crime treat is the perfect Christmas gift for fans of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Ngaio Marsh.

First published in 1950 as Groaning Spinney.

'A delight... An amateur sleuth to rival Miss Marple' Guardian

Mrs Bradley, sharp-eyed detective and celebrated psychiatrist, has decided to spend Christmas with her nephew at his beautiful house in the Cotswolds.

It isn't long before a mystery unfolds. There are strange events occurring in the nearby wood and local villagers are receiving anonymous threatening letters. Then the snow begins to fall - and a body is discovered.

Mrs Bradley is on the…


Crime at Christmas

By C. H. B. Kitchin,

Book cover of Crime at Christmas

Why this book?

Another unexpected amateur sleuth is the young stockbroker Malcolm Warren who is invited to a wealthy client’s house for the holiday when an apparent accident is followed by a definite murder. A twisting mystery, secrets galore for our sleuth to uncover, and any number of potential killers help create an atmospheric and pacy puzzle.

Published in 1934, this book is interesting for its complex interplay between the different classes and echelons within the grand house. There is a perfect array of characters from the uber-wealthy patriarch and his spoilt daughter to his patronised employees and servants. Perhaps best of all though, Warren is the kind of gutsy hero that was so common in films and books of the thirties, and he keeps the plot ticking along with plenty of wit and charm.

Crime at Christmas

By C. H. B. Kitchin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crime at Christmas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'There we were, all gathered together for a Christmas party, and plunged suddenly into gloom.'

It's Christmas at Hampstead's Beresford Lodge. A group of relatives and intimate friends gather to celebrate the festive season, but their party is rudely interrupted by a violent death. It isn't long before a second body is discovered. Can the murderer be one of those in the great house? The stockbroker sleuth Malcolm Warren investigates, in this brilliantly witty mystery.

'Kitchin's knowledge of the crevices of human nature lifts his crime fiction out of the category of puzzledom and into the realm of the detective…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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