Dr. Randy Overbeck is a bestselling author of the award-winning Haunted Shores Mysteries, each a cold case murder mystery wrapped in ghost story served with a side romance and set in a beautiful resort location. He is also the author and voice of a new podcast, “Great Stories about Great Storytellers,” which reveals the unusual backstories of famous authors, directors and poets. In addition, he shares his multi-media presentations with audiences around the country. Learn more about all at his website.

Christmas Ghost Stories

When readers pick up a Christmas story today, even a Christmas mystery, they will likely encounter brilliant Christmas lights, a decorated Christmas tree, or even a Santa Claus—in addition to a murder victim and a detective, of course. In fact, listening to the incessant stream of cheerful, holiday songs, readers might think it was always so. Not true. Not so long ago, during the late 1800s and early 1900s, children and adults were told stories of a different kind of “spirit.” In England—the same country that gave us such holiday traditions as Christmas cards and mistletoe—children and adults gathered around a fireplace on a wintry Christmas Eve and were frightened into the Christmas “spirit” via a few creepy ghost stories.


The most famous of these eerie Christmas tales is, of course, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with its four specters to scare straight Ebenezer Scrooge. But Dickens is hardly alone. Henry James’s most famous work, The Turn of the Screw, which also takes place on Christmas Eve, is the tale of a governess who encounters the ghostly figures of a man and a woman. 


In the same British holiday convention, A.M. Burrage’s eerie short story “Smee” is about a group of young people messing around on Christmas Eve who decide to play a game of hide and seek in a spooky house in which a young girl died years before. What could go wrong?


The list goes on and on.


This tradition of sharing ghost stories on Christmas eve is thought to emanate from the pre-Christian celebration of the Winter Solstice, a time when light dies and the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest…and many of these threads continue even into our time. For years, the BBC hosted “Ghost Stories for Christmas,” spooking late night audiences into the ‘70s. Even the recent hit series, Downton Abbey—which portrayed life in England in the first half of the twentieth century--featured a Christmas episode where family members are gathered around a Ouija board, trying to access a spirit.


My new title, Scarlet at Crystal River, (watch the video here) continues this fine tradition of spooky Christmas ghost stories. This year, why not continue a centuries-old tradition and grab an alluring Christmas ghost mystery to read by the burning yule log this holiday?


Merry Christmas to all and to all a good fright! 


Scarlet at Crystal River

A Haunted Shores Mystery, Book 3


During the Christmas holidays, Darrell and Erin travel to Florida for their honeymoon, but, once there, the ghosts of two murdered children interrupt their romantic excursions. The newlyweds are driven to find out what really happened to the two kids, even when they are shot at, driven off the road and nearly killed. 


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