It's the season for mystery and cynicism:
Kate's Mystery Books in Cambridge hosts its annual holiday party on Friday, Dec. 8, from 5:30-8. Local authors invited to trim the tree with skull lights and black cat ornaments include Robert Parker, Linda Barnes, Bill Tapply, Phil Craig, Peter Abrahams, Katharine Hall Page, Joe Finder, Jason Starr, Jim Fusillii, Clea Simon, and Susan Conant. Everyone's welcome. (Free parking in the lot next door.)
Promising spiked eggnog and mad-lib caroling, the literary magazines Fringe, Quick Fiction, and Redivider are celebrating dysfunctional family holidays at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10 at Grub Street, 160 Boylston St. Among the readers is Steve Almond. Having decamped for the suburbs with his wife and baby, he may have a fresh take on the holidays.