cover image December Dread: 
A Murder-by-Month Mystery

December Dread: A Murder-by-Month Mystery

Jess Lourey. Midnight Ink (, $14.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-7387-3188-9

The innocuous Christmas candy cane assumes monstrous connotations when it becomes the calling card of a serial killer in Lourey’s wryly comic eighth Murder-by-Month mystery (after November Hunt). Librarian Mira James discovers to her dismay that not only is she temporarily unemployed but also she fits the profile—same age, weight, and hair color—of the victims the killer is now targeting in small Minnesota towns. Afraid she’s being stalked, Mira continues to pursue her PI license and self-defense classes, and teams with an unlikely ally, feisty 80-year-old Mrs. Berns, whose salty wisecracks and poor judgment keep the story humming. Despite amateurish bungling and annoying the FBI in major ways, determined Mira is able to gather invaluable leads from her local connections that go back to grade school. Lourey, who keeps her secrets well, delivers a breathtaking finale. Agent: Victoria Skurnick, Levine Greenberg Literary. (Oct.)