Features

Why Do We Read Crime at Christmas?

Outset Sophie Hannah

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…

ilikeoldbooks1213 on Instagram, book blogger

Every Christmas my family watches the David Suchet adaptations of Hercule Poirot’s Christmas and 'The Theft of the Royal Ruby'. Is it macabre to envision theft and murder at the merriest time of year? Maybe. But a mystery at Christmas is a wonderfully cozy pastime! The intrigue on the page (or screen) underscores our own comparative security in our warm homes. Crime is an uncomfortable threat to such a jolly holiday, so seeing our favorite detectives right all wrongs feels extra satisfying and festive. With the mystery solved, we experience a little slice of peace on earth.

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.

jemima_reads on Instagram, book blogger

Crime, mystery, and classic whodunnits are a comfort genre for many. December is cold, dark, and if it weren’t for the holidays, a very dull month. On the run up to Christmas Day, nothing beats getting cosy with a crime novel. You have your eccentric characters, intriguing plot, and a new development around every chapter. Sometimes with all the hectic, busy build up to Christmas, you just want to escape in a mystery. It’s funny how when the season of joy is upon us, we are drawn to darker genres like crime. It’s an interesting juxtaposition. A cosy blanket, hot drink, and a Christie novel. It’s the escapism we all need around the busy Christmas season.

Outset Bookishsteph1
Image © bookishsteph1 via Instagram

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.

marsi_darcy_reads on Instagram, book blogger

Agatha Christie is synonymous with Christmas to me because my first ever book by her was The Adventure Of The Christmas Pudding (read Christmas 2019). Since then, Dame Christie's books have been a source of year-round literary delight but there's something extra special about reading them at Christmas. Curled up on the couch, under a blanket, with lights twinkling, noshing on some baking and sipping on hot cocoa (but not for breakfast, Hercule!). I make a point of re-reading The Adventure Of The Christmas Pudding each Christmas.

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!

istantanea_di_un_libro on Instagram, book blogger

I think that during Christmas, Christie fans find the perfect time to immerse themselves in her gripping novels: the holidays provide relaxing moments and offer time to enjoy the author's engaging plots. To me Christie's mysteries are always an opportunity to sharpen my wits and challenge me to solve enthralling puzzles and doing this under a blanket while sipping a cup of tea is even better! Immersing myself in stories set during the holidays adds a special touch and allows me to discover how Christie's characters spend this time of the year... Christmas charm and the art of suspense: Christiemas, a perfect marriage!

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.

Ilikeoldbook1213
Image © ilikeoldbooks1213 via Instagram

Sign up to the newsletter to receive the official Read Christie 2024 challenge