a Christmas mystery and more holiday-set reads

How about a cozy Christmas mystery
for some needed relaxation time over the holidays?
This one will suit young readers ages 10 and older
but is entertaining enough for adult readers looking for a light read as well.

I enjoyed the first of the Aggie Morton novels and was eager to sink my teeth into this second escapade in which 12-year-old Aggie and her pal, fellow detective Hector Perot, are off for a holiday visit to Aggie’s newly-married sister at the sumptuous Owl Park estate. All the treats and trimmings of an upper-crust Edwardian manor are here to dazzle us in this Christmas-time sequel:

Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: Peril at Owl Park
written by Marthe Jocelyn, illustrations by Isabelle Follath
published in 2020 by Tundra
389 pages

Besides the extended family and plentiful servants at Owl Park, Aggie and Hector encounter a traveling troupe of actors, some visitors from far-off Ceylon, a mysterious, cursed emerald, and another…gasp!…murder! Thus instead of flaming Christmas pudding and a jolly treasure hunt for their Christmas stockings, the two junior detectives spend their holiday applying all their shrewd skills to solve the abominable crime and nab the culprit.

This particular riff on Agatha Christie’s iconic murder mysteries borrows several key elements from Wilkie Collins’ classic, The Moonstone, a fact acknowledged every so subtly in one scene of this whodunit.  I was surprised to not see more of an Author’s Note crediting Collins’ original, which makes a fab read for ages 16-adult by the way.

At any rate, Aggie and Hector’s exploits will delight young murder mystery fans. It’s best to have already read the first volume, The Body Under the Piano, but not absolutely essential to enjoying this sequel.  If you like these, you’ll be pleased to know that the third of the Aggie Morton volumes came out in September of this year, The Dead Man in the Garden.

If you’ve got readers looking for other chapter-length books with Christmastime settings, here are some choices that I’ve reviewed in the past. Some of them are on the vintage-end of things so you might have to do some sleuthing yourself to find them.  Click the title to find my review.

For young readers/listeners:

A Certain Small Shepherd
Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas
The Family Under the Bridge
Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus
Heartwood Hotel: The Greatest Gift
The Lion in the Box
The Story of Holly and Ivy
A Toad for Tuesday
The True Gift
Warton’s Christmas Eve Adventure
The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits

For mid-elementary and up — check my reviews for age recommendations as they do vary a bit here:

The Children of Green Knowe
The Coat Hanger Christmas Tree
The Father Christmas Letters
Greenglass House
The High World
The Thirteen Days of Christmas
The Toymaker’s Apprentice
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
Winter Holiday


I’m signing off now until after the holidays.
Look for a post with some sparkling wintertime picture books
right after the first of the new year.
Meanwhile I hope you enjoy moments of peace, joy, and beauty
amidst all the bustle of this season.

Don’t want to miss a post? Subscribe to my blog — it’s free! — by clicking on the three little lines at the top left of the page.