Why Do We Read Crime at Christmas?

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The words Christmas and mystery just seem to fit together, don't they? We asked a variety of Christie fans why they read crime at Christmas time.

Mark Aldridge, author of Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World

Christmas is a busy time, as we would usually be celebrating with friends and family, and so for many of us (myself included) we may want to escape from everybody for a little while so that we can have some quiet time in which to recharge our batteries. And what better way to do that than to read crime fiction, something that offers a window into another world into which we can escape for a few hours – and perhaps reassure ourselves that our own celebrations aren’t so bad, when we realise how often such gatherings seem to end with murder…

Caroline Crampton, writer, podcaster and host of Shedunnit Show

I think we read crime at Christmas for two main reasons. Firstly, because the darkness of a good murder mystery makes for a pleasing contrast with the somewhat saccharine nature of a lot of other traditional pop culture fare: the romantic comedies, the children's stories and the heart-warming animal tales. (This is also why the writers of EastEnders so reliably give us explosions and deaths in the Christmas Day special — if you want to know what people really like deep down, look at the soaps.) And then secondly, the ordered world of a good whodunnit, in which logic always prevails and good triumphs over evil, is reassuring. For all that it's supposed to be fun, Christmas is actually a time of major disruption when we don't eat meals at regular times and chaos reigns. It's no accident that a popular tradition of centuries past was to appoint a "Lord of Misrule" for the household, often a lowly member who would be elevated to be decision maker and could rule the roost for a few days. Amidst all of that, curling up with a good Poirot and letting his order and method soothe your soul makes total sense.

James Prichard, CEO and Chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd and Christie’s great-grandson

Christmas is a time of tradition, we look forward to doing the same things year in year out. For some people, that means returning to family homes, indulging in favourite recipes or sharing old stories. Revisiting a beloved book is just the same. A chance to relax and find comfort in what you know you will enjoy, it is a real pleasure to end the year with your favourite Christie.

Alexis Bassett, Agatha Christie reader and newsletter subscriber

For me, reading crime at Christmas is a fabulous escape. During the festive season, there is nothing better than getting stuck into an atmospheric whodunnit while wrapped up in a cosy blanket in front of the fire, warm from the cold. There’s something enjoyable about losing yourself in fiction highlighting the darker side of human traits, while surrounded in a season full of goodwill and joy. 

David Brawn, Publisher of Agatha Christie

People have always read more in the winter as a result of longer evenings, and what better than a good mystery as you snuggle down to avoid the cold and darkness outside? Somehow our senses are heightened and our imaginations let loose, and the twists and turns of an Agatha Christie story become even more delicious.

Sarah Thrift, Digital Marketing Manager at Agatha Christie Ltd

I am a huge Christmas devotee, and for me, nothing beats lying down on the sofa with a cup of tea, a dog at my feet, and a copy of Hercule Poirot’s Christmas. A big advocate for watching festive films too, I have always prescribed to the idea that these celebrations should begin in earnest on 1st December, and carry right through until the end of the month. I think the time-sensitive nature of the festivities mean I approach the book with even more excitement, and I love reading about a season I’m currently experiencing, albeit, with far fewer deadly incidents...

Chris Chan, Agatha Christie expert

As the days grow shorter and colder, we can find ourselves moving towards darker themes in our reading material. Alternatively, seeing a favourite detective investigate can have a warming effect on us as winter approaches. Indeed, the mystery is the only genre that's a game for the reader, and as the holidays approach, what could be more festive than to accept a fun challenge from a talented crime author?

Sophie Hannah, author of the Poirot continuation novels

I love reading crime novels at Christmas...but, to be honest, I love it just as much at Easter and in the summer holidays. In fact, I'm naturally rather contrary, and often find that I most fancy re-reading for example Hercule Poirot's Christmas on a sun lounger on a boiling hot Portuguese beach in mid-August!

Which crime stories will you be picking up this month? Let us know via our social media channels, we're on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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