Frosted storefront windows twinkle with the glow of holiday bulbs and Main Street is lined with trees. A festive wreath on the Nantucket Atheneum’s front door welcomes locals and tourists alike, providing a quiet refuge in the colder months. Once more, the island is dressed for the season. Our library shelves get a dose of holiday spirit, too. This year’s collection of new releases are full of sentiment, mystery, and charm.
Local author Elin Hildebrand is bidding farewell to the Quinn family in “Winter Solstice,” the final installment in her Winter Street series. As the holidays are apt to do, this finale brings her favorite characters home. Hildebrand is known for her summer beach novels so a winter theme was a big change for the author. “The Christmas books give a whole new aspect to life on Nantucket,” she says, adding that the island is one of the most “charming” places in the country to spend the holidays. While bittersweet, Hildebrand’s final chapter will be the perfect ending for devotees of this stormy saga.
Steven Axelrod has turned a local tradition on its head in “Nantucket Red Tickets,” the fourth in his Henry Kennis mystery series. Kennis, the Nantucket Police Chief, has his hands full this year with a gruesome cold-case murder, Tuckernuck drug ring, and a looming plot to rig the annual Red Ticket drawing on Christmas Eve. Things are no better at home as his girlfriend is having a holiday meltdown and the kids are in trouble at school. Will Christmas be the key to solving all of the chief’s problems and one of the island’s darkest mysteries? This book is a great option for armchair detectives looking for a grittier seasonal read.
“The Noel Diary,” by bestselling author Richard Paul Evans, is a novel about family and forgiveness. The story follows Jacob, a writer, as he travels home to inherit his estranged mother’s estate. Their relationship was complicated by mental illness and misunderstandings. Will sorting through old boxes, and memories, bring Jacob peace? Evans’ newest book proves the power of compassion during the holidays. The author took a break from seasonal writing after his first novel, “The Christmas Box,” sold a record number of copies in 1995. Evans feels reenergized about returning to his writing roots, noting, “I’ve now reclaimed the season.”
Anne Perry captures the spirit in her fifteenth holiday novella “A Christmas Return.” The Victorian mystery begins with a cryptic present that arrives at the doorstep of Mariah Ellison. The gift beckons Mariah to Surrey where she attempts to reconcile an old friendship and repair a broken family that has been divided by a long-unsolved murder. The novelette uniquely blends all the thrills of a classic mystery with the redemptive qualities of the holiday season. “The possibilities are endless,” Perry muses, “because there is always another Christmas, and something else to discover and something else say, another story.”