|Rest You Merry (Peter Shandy Mysteries)|
Date: 01 November, 2001 — Book
This mystery has one of the greatest opening chapters I have ever read. Professor Peter Shandy, a shy, numerically-obsessed professor, has been hounded for fifteen years about the annual "Illumination", the Christmas light displays that the college neighborhood has put on. Professor Shandy has refused to put up any lights, first from the bother, but later from sheer perversity, because the other residents would not stop pestering him.
One might think of Skipping Christmas, by John Grisham, but this predates that novel by a significant margin.
At any rate, the unassuming biologist finally hears it once too often and snaps, going all-out for a display that will be bright, obnoxious... and noisy. And then he leaves on a trip.
With the power box padlocked.
A nice little story on its own (and it was, in fact, first published as a short story), it is merely the setting for what happens when the good professor comes back to find a body on his floor... and one missing marble from a jar. And soon the bewildered professor is dealing with bored housewives out for a bit on the side, obnoxious co-workers, and a need to find out why someone would kill before he becomes the next target.