Saturday, December 10, 2011

Homicide for the Holidays

Charlie Harris from the Cat in the Stacks series by Miranda James talks about the holidays

There's finally a chill in the air here in Athena, Mississippi, and it's a welcome change. I sure hope it stays cool for the holidays, because having to run the air conditioner on Christmas Day is not pleasant. After all, this isn't Australia, where it's midsummer during the holidays!

The nip in the air has encouraged me to start making my holiday plans -- finally. I hate to admit it, but I'm a procrastinator about some things. Ever since my wife died, Christmas hasn't been quite the same. The holidays bring back so many memories of family members no longer with me in body, though I know they are hovering somewhere nearby in spirit. I have plenty to be thankful for, however. My son Sean and my daughter Laura will both be here. Sean certainly will, since he quit his job and moved to Mississippi to live with me! Laura will be flying in from Hollywood, and of course my constant companion, Diesel, will be right in the middle of everything.

My first Christmas with Diesel was definitely an experience to be remembered. He was only a few months old when the holidays came around, but like many Maine Coon kittens he looked more like a yearling, frankly. The tree became a source of endless fascination for him. He loved batting at the shiny ornaments, and he also got a kick out of hiding under the tree occasionally. There was of course no tinsel on the tree -- don't forget that it's dangerous to have if you have cats or dogs (or toddlers!) in the house.

I kept expecting to find the tree in shambles on the floor, but despite his absorbing interest in it, Diesel didn't pull it over. He's one smart kitty, thank goodness, and I did give him a little talking to the first time I saw him batting at ornaments. He gazed at me so solemnly as I talked, and I'd almost swear he nodded when I was finished. All I know is, after that, though he still liked to play around the tree, he didn't knock any ornaments off or try to chew on anything.

With that worry settled after the first year, I never gave it another thought -- instead I concentrated on the usual things. Presents, food, holiday cards, and the like. I also pulled out a few favorite books to reread. There's something special about rereading a favorite book during the holidays, like spending time with a beloved friend. As a voracious reader of mysteries, I don't think it strange to read murder stories during Christmas either. My all-time favorite Christmas mystery is Charlotte MacLeod's hilarious Rest You Merry, a true classic of comic crime.

My wish for everyone is to have a safe and happy holiday season, spent with those who mean the most to you. Read a good book, watch some old movies, and enjoy being with your loved ones. I think Diesel and I are going to go watch "Christmas in Connecticut" right now.


  1. I went through a Charlotte Macleod phase, but have never read REST YOU MERRY. It's past time for another Charlotte Macleod phase! Thank you, Charlie!

  2. Have fun at Christmas and I'm waiting to watch Holiday Inn whenever it airs.

  3. What a fun post! Good luck with holiday preparations! I am way behind on my own :-)

  4. I loved REST YOU MERRY -- time to re-read. Thanks for the reminder. And, I'm waiting for the annual showing of White Christmas. I've seen it every year since I was a kid...and also The Nutcracker. Don't care who performs it, I love it.

  5. I need to get a new copy of Rest You Merry - also my favourite Christmas murder mystery. Not only is my copy read-to-death, but someone didn't return it... Santa? Maybe I'll go write The Case of the Purloined Novel.

  6. Rest You Merry is unfortunately out of print, but there are used copies kicking around. So glad others share my fondness for this classic.

  7. Rest You Merry is one of my all time favorites, and I think it is kinda the birth mother of Grisham's Skipping Christmas!! Maybe it gave him the idea? Only without the murder!! LOL. Every book is better with a murder in it.