The Twelve Deaths of Christmas is a 1979 mystery novel by Marian Babson. To be honest, I only bought this because I was looking for Christmas-related mysteries. I'd never heard of the author, and I didn't expect much from the book. I am so pleasantly surprised. Nicely written, there are well-developed characters, a setting you can envision easily from the descriptions, and a plot that brings you right into things. I'm going to be making an effort to find more by Babson. I say "making an effort" because my local bookstore has nothing by her on the shelf. I'll be looking online to see what's in print.
from the back of the book:
A string of grisly holiday murders had London terrorized. The police knew that the homicidal maniac was probably a perfectly respectable resident of a perfectly ordinary rooming house. But only when all the guests were gathered for Christmas dinner did Detective Superintendent Knowles realize that the killer planned to carve more than turkey... and that the last death of Christmas was about to take place right before his eyes!teaser from inside:
'TIS THE SEASON TO BE DEADLY....
"It's a nightmare come true." Knowles faced his men. "A homicidal maniac stumbling on the perfect formula for murder: kill a stranger. Use whatever means comes to hand. Turn the most innocent objects into deadly weapons."
The detective shuddered. Nothing in the world was completely harmless. Everything could be turned to lethal use by a distorted mind bent on destruction.
"He's walking around, the same as anyone else. Except he's a maniac with a hair-trigger temper. No one knows what's likely to set him off. We've got to find him before he strikes again."
Kirkus Reviews says, " In Babson's skilled hands, the old which-one's-the-homicidal-maniac? chestnut flies again--for a fast-moving, one-sitting treat...". Cozy-Mystery.com has a list of recommended Christmas mysteries that includes this book.