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Ironically, one of the best stocking stuffers for whodunit buffs this Christmas may be a package of 12 short stories about the very antithesis of the season's goodwill spirit. It's an original softcover anthology, "Mystery for Christmas."

John D. MacDonald, who went on to invent the Travis McGee suspense series, once contributed copiously to the pulps. His "Dead on Christmas Street," from that era, is in this collection. It features a detective tricking a murder suspect into a quick confession so the sleuth can finish his Christmas shopping on time. Another dandy is George Baxt's "I Saw Momma Killing Santa Claus." While preparing turkey dinner, its murderess shoots her dressed-as-St. Nick victim, then conceals the weapon in the cooking bird's stuffing.

Mystery for Christmas. Signet paperback, 244 pages, $4.95.

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