|Magritte's The Submissive Reader, 1928|
Envious Casca, by Georgette Heyer, is an entertaining mystery set at the English country estate of wealthy and short-tempered Nate Herriard. His younger brother Joe has talked him into hosting a Christmas house party for some relatives, their guests and Nate's business partner. The houseguests irritate each other as well as the host. To make bad feelings unanimous, the servants despise many of those present. With this distinct lack of holiday cheer it's not a shock when murder results, although the method is a puzzler.
Nicholas Blake's Thou Shell of Death is set at another home in the English countryside. This one belongs to Fergus O'Brien, a famous airman. When O'Brien receives several death threats before Christmas, he responds by inviting his enemies to spend the holiday with him to better keep an eye on them. Another of Blake's Nigel Strangeways books, The Corpse in the Snowman, is set during a Christmas house party. In this one, a parlor game involving a ghost has an unexpected result.
I hope you're enjoying the holiday season and finding time to relax with family, friends and a good book. A break from the pressure of shopping and making plans is a good thing. As a change of pace, I've been reading a good thriller not set during the holidays, Joseph Finder's Paranoia. Adam Cassidy is a low-level employee at a high-tech company. After the tech meltdown, because he "truly despises" his job, he impersonates someone else and arranges a very lavish party at company expense for a retiring loading dock worker. He's discovered and, in order to avoid prosecution for embezzlement, he agrees to take a job at a rival company and work as a mole. Things get very complicated when the change does him good and he likes his new job.