We’re just about at the end of April, so it’s time to discuss our favorite Cozies that we’ve read this month!
If you read a Cozy mystery this month and want to recommend it to the rest of us, be sure to post it here! For this month, I read the first entry of Monica Ferris’s Needlecraft Mystery Series. For the reasons I want to recommend it, be sure to check out the blog entry!
So, what have you been reading that you can recommend in April? Please be sure to tell us why you liked these Cozies so much. I know we’re all always on the lookout for more particularly good Cozy Mystery authors! (If you have a lot of Cozies you think are great, please post the ones you like the most at the top of the list.)
As always, please do not tell us about the Cozy Mysteries you did not like.
What really good Cozy Mystery did you read during April 2020 that you want the rest of us to know about, and why did you enjoy it?
Donna Andrews: Meg Langslow Mystery Series
Winnie Archer (aka Melissa Bourbon & Misa Ramirez): Bread Shop Mystery Series
Stephanie Barron (aka Francine Mathews): Jane Austen Mystery Series
Lilian Jackson Braun: The Cat Who…. Mystery Series
Julia Buckley: Writer’s Apprentice Mystery Series
Lynn Cahoon: Farm-to-Fork Mystery Series
Laurie Cass (aka Laura Alden): Bookmobile Mystery Series
Vivien Chien: Noodle Shop Mystery Series
Sheila Connolly (aka Sarah Atwell):
Elizabeth Daly: Henry Gamadge Mystery Series
J.C. Eaton: Sophie Kimball Mystery Series
Monica Ferris (aka Mary Monica Pulver & half of the duo who wrote as Margaret Frazer): Needlecraft Mystery Series
Amanda Flower (aka Isabella Alan): Amish Candy Shop Mystery Series
Eva Gates (aka Vicki Delany): Lighthouse Library Mystery Series
Carolyn Hart: Death on Demand Mystery Series
Lee Hollis: Hailey Powell Mystery Series
Tina Kashian: Kebab Kitchen Mystery Series
Diana Killian: Mantra for Murder Mystery Series
Libby Klein: Poppy McAllister Mystery Series
Elizabeth Logan: Alaskan Diner Mystery Series (first entry Mousse and Murder)
Alexis Morgan: Abbey Mcree Mystery Series (first entry Death by Committee)
Patricia Moyes: Henry Tibbett Mystery Series
Maddie Day (aka Edith Maxwell & Tace Baker): Christmas Cocoa Murder (short story available in Christmas Cocoa Murder anthology)
Holly Quinn: Handcrafted Mystery Series (first entry A Crafter Knits a Clue)
Paige Shelton: Scottish Bookshop Mystery Series AND Alaska Wild Mystery Series
Julia Spencer-Fleming: Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Adirondack Mystery Series
Sharon St. George: Aimee Machado Mystery Series (first entry Due for Discard)
Denise Swanson: Chef-to-Go Mystery Series
Victoria Thompson: Gaslight Mystery Series
Ashley Weaver: Amory Ames Mystery Series
Marty Wingate: First Edition Library Mystery Series
I will list the authors and series that have been recommended, but I urge you to read the comments below so you can see the reasons other Cozy Mystery readers thought these were their best reads of the month.
♦To access more Cozy Mystery Books Recommendations, click on this link♦
P.S. I usually don’t comment on your recommendations since they speak for themselves.
Kath Baer says
I started a new-to-me series this past month with A Dark and Stormy Murder (A Writer’s Apprentice Mystery #1) by Julia Buckley. I really enjoyed it, quirky characters, and while it doesn’t leave you with a cliff hanger, it does leave you wondering what happens with some side stories so you want to grab the next book right away. Really loved it.
My mother also is reading it with me and she has already zoomed through all 5 books in the series lol I finished book 1 and will get to book 2 shortly.
I can’t imagine there are many that haven’t heard of this series. I finished the lastest book by Victoria Thompson, Murder on Trinity Place (Gaslight Mystery #22). This is one of my favorite series and I hate having to wait a year between books. But they are so worth it to me.
Cheryl Paulk says
Victoria Thompson released Murder on Pleasant Avenue a couple of days ago.
April Recommendations – 2020
A Crafter Knits A Clue, A Crafter Finds a Killer — Holly Quinn
This is a ‘new to me’ author. It looks like this series is her first foray into the cozy world. On the title page the copyright is to ‘Sherry Rummler’. It appears Rummler has published two other books (one in 2013, and the other in 2016).
I’m really enjoying this series which I recently picked up. It is set in rural Wisconsin (Heartsford). The lead character/protagonist is Sammy Kane. She moved back to her hometown when her close childhood friend (Kate) died suddenly. Although deceased, ‘Kate’ is prominent in these stories. Sammy takes over the management of a craft community center left vacant by Kate’s death.
In each of these books, there is a murder, of course. And, Sammy is determined to solve them.
Sammy’s sister, Ellie and her cousin, Heidi, have re-formed their childhood ‘detective’ group called S.H.E.’s, as they try to solve a murder (more prominent in the first book than in the second). Another main character (Liam Nash) is the hunky detective who recently moved to this community.
This author writes with wit and intelligence, and I love the interactions of the characters. Sammy is an ‘impulsive’ character, yet smart. Quinn has developed this character with a lot of depth/introspection, same with the detective Nash.
These two books are VERY enjoyable, quick reads. The mysteries are well written, and the side stories are entertaining. In the second book I was able to figure out ‘whodunit’ about 2/3 the way through the story. YET, because of the quick pace and great character connections I couldn’t wait to read the next page, and the page after that, etc., etc.
Thin Ice – Sheila Connolly
When I first read about this book it didn’t interest me. I have read three series by this author and have always found them enjoyable. Someone put this on their recommendation list (on this blog) a month or two ago. SO I decided to give it a try.
This is a very different type of writing style for this author. I must warn you, it does contain foul language. Is it necessary? Probably not. I imagine she uses it to show the coarseness of a particular character. I’ve read 30+ books by this author and don’t remember (??) there ever being inappropriate language in any of them That’s why I found this to be such a departure.
It took me awhile to get into it, but I stayed with it. Beth Rivers is a famous author, running from a traumatic event in her life. She moves to this remote Alaska community as an escape. There is SO MUCH complexity to this character.
This story is intense and full of suspense. So much so, I’m not sure I’d categorize it as a ‘cozy’. A murder occurs and Beth uses her research skills to help the local police chief solve it. The ending isn’t necessarily a surprise, but the wide diversity of characters keeps the reader guessing.
This story shows the multiplicity and talent of this author. She normally writes on the ‘lighter’ side. For some reason I thought this was a stand-alone book. BUT, the ending makes it clear there is more to come. I’m not sure it’s for everyone, but it is ‘unusual’, if not quite unique.
Death by Jack-o Lantern – Alexis Morgan
I KNOW this is April, and NOT October, but I didn’t want to ‘wait’ until fall to read this story.
Abby McCree recently moved to this small community in Washington because she inherited her aunt’s home. She’s involved in many community committees and events, but hasn’t found career direction yet. She’s fiercely independent and obviously intelligent. She rents a small cabin on her property to a former vet, Tripp.
An atrocious farmer who’s a constant complainer (quite ornery) is found dead (by Abby) in a corn maze s on his farm. There are plenty of suspects, but detectives want to talk with an elusive homeless veteran with PTSD living in the woods. Tripp has had many contacts with this person, but won’t reveal to detectives how to find him. Thus, Tripp ends up in jail. Zeke, Abby’s dog is also a ‘featured character’.
There are so many different roads this story travels to retain the interest of the reader. The characters are varied and unique, making this an entertaining series. The ending is somewhat a surprise………you really don’t see this coming until close to the end of the story.
Leave No Scone Unturned – Denise Swanson
It’s been awhile since I’ve read a Swanson book. In this series, Dani Sloan is an entrepreneur with a ‘chef-to-go’ catering business in an Illinois college community. Her base is an inherited mansion which houses three college students, all helping with the business.
One of the students is helping a homeless man by giving him leftover food to bring back to others in the homeless camp. When Dani and the college security officer look for this man, they find him dead in his tent.
Many in this college community are in an uproar over this homeless situation. There are many twists and turns to this story. It’s plot is well laid out. Yes, one can ‘guess’ the correct culprit, but not until close to the end of the book.
I’ve read Swanson’s Scumble River series and the Dime Store series. In all three series (including this one), the lead character looks the same (per the author’s descriptions). In my mind they could be triplets!
Swanson brings Frannie and Justin (from Scumble River series) as journalists into this series. Imagine my surprise when Dani is asked to cater a dinner in a home about an hour away. The owner of the home? SIMON – the undertaker and coroner from Scumble River. Why he didn’t tell Dani that she looked just like his old girlfriend Skye is beyond me!! In fact, Swanson seems to have changed Simon’s character (not as nice) from his character (who is REALLY nice) in the Scumble River series. It’s a small thing, but if you follow Swanson, you do notice!
Bottom line………..this author seems to like certain characters and is bringing them into this series. In the dime store series she also has a character named Frannie, but if I remember right (and, I may not) it isn’t the same character. Just another young character with the same name.
Susy S says
MJ, are you sure this ‘Thin Ice’ is by Sheila Connolly? The title character and plot line sound like a recent ‘Thin Ice’ by Paige Shelton.
Thin Ice was written by Paige Shelton. I believe it was a departure from Paige Shelton’s cozy books. I enjoyed it and plan on reading the next book.
Susy S says
She talked about it at an event and stated that it is NOT a cozy. Can’t remember just when she said that, but probably last summer.
She lives in the Phoenix area, so she does frequent signings at The poisoned Pen, a local indie bookstore.
OOPS! I RARELY make mistakes (HA!)
It IS written by Paige Shelton. My bad! However, my statement still holds that I’ve read almost 20 (not 30!) books by this author and don’t remember any inappropriate language. AND (in my humble opinion), Shelton is a talented and gifted author who generally writes on the ‘lighter’ side. At least in the books I’ve read.
In all honesty, for some dumb reason, I often get these two authors mixed up. Go figure.
Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron, Being the First Jane Austen Mystery. This is the most charming description ever I have read of murder,
“It is but a moment’s leap to say that Marguerite is convinced Frederick was dispatched by his wife’s hand, in concert with Payne’s—and her anonymous letters are written from the purest of motives.”
Two of my favorites, Jane Austen, and a good cozy? I’m there.
Happy reading everyone.
Thank you! Thank you, not just for this, but for all of your hard work across this site. I love coming here as my one stop to discover what’s afoot in the mystery world. Your reviews/recommendations are delightful. And your lists (Hallmark movies, chronological order of series) are extremely helpful and utilized. Just wanted to share this note to say thanks and keep up the fantastic work!
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Dan, you’re very welcome!
I’m loving Eva Gates’ Lighthouse Library mystery: Reading Up a Storm, 2nd in the series. Characters are well developed, ambiance of the storm is superb. Lots of twists in the plot. Totally engaging.
I read the first one and really enjoyed it! hope you enjoy the second as well.
The third one is coming out soon.
Susy S says
I have loved this series since it started and have all the books.
You must mean a paperback is coming. My inventory shows a total of six with the last three in hardcover released last October.
‘Death Overdue’ is scheduled to come out in October.
Sally Fortney says
I read Death with A Dark Red Rose by Julia Buckley. Loved all the couples and the details about the novels that the sleuth writes with Camilla. The novels remind me of Mary Stewart’s books.
I continue with Elizabeth Daly. Gamadge is called to investigate “curious occurrence” in stately houses of New York in the early 40s. Her settings are described as the equivalent of country houses in the classic British mysteries. The importance of the old houses to family members has been an important motive in several of her books, including “Nothing Can Rescue me” where Gamadage is asked to solve mysterious writings in a book that the house owner is writing. Could it be a result of seance? In “Arrows Pointing nowhere” Gamadge gets a plea to investigate via paper balls being thrown out to be collected by the mail man. The unexpected perpetrators are exposed and, as in Christie style Gamadge explained the how and the why.
Patricia Moyes’ “Black Widower” and “The Coconut Killings” both take place with Caribbean islands as a background, with the desire of independence from British rule and personal knowledge of Henry Tibbett being called to help. Most of the activity of “Black Widower” takes place in Washington D.C. with a trip to the island is being added later. The history of description of Georgetown is an important part.
Pat Richardson says
I have just re-read the Bread Shop Mysteries by Winnie Archer because she has a new one coming out in July. Thoroughly enjoyed the series and love the fact I have trouble guessing the villain. She also writes under the names Melissa Bourbon and Melissa Bourbon Ramirez with a great series under both names.
Thanks for the recommendation – I love Melissa Bourbon and didn’t know she wrote under another name, so will check out the Winnie Archer books
Kathie Deviny says
The Aimee Machado series by Sharon St. George. A deft combination of forensic investigation and romance set at a California hospital.
I’ve been binge reading a perinneal favorite, Lilian Jackson Braun’s iconic The Cat Who series. I’d read a few of the books, completely out of order, over the years as I ran across them, and am having such fun immersing myself in Quill’s world! KoKo and Yum Yum are adorable, the mysteries aren’t TOO easy to figure out, and the characters are fun. I especially like the fact that they aren’t too perfect, OR too flawed!
I’ve been reading a lot since this pandemic has started.
–Egg Drop Dead
This is my favorite cozy series. I like different setting than most cozies.
–Death of a Kitchen Diva
–Death of a Country Fried Redneck
–Death of a Coupon Clipper
–Death of a Chocoholic
–Death of a Christmas Caterer
–Death of a Cupcake Queen
I bought them when they were on sale, and dove right in the first book. I really like the series and intend on finishing the series.
–On the Lamb
I like this series and she changed the setting little in this book. For fans of her will know what I am talking about. I do not want to spoil anything.
–Dial Om for Murder
I started this series when I saw it on the ebook list on the library I am a member of…. I really liked the first two books. I will finish up this series but I guess there will not be any more of them though.
–Theater Nights are Murder
I enjoy this series a lot as well. The aunt in this series is a hoot.
–The Bodies in the Library
New series and I enjoyed the first one. Set in England and is more of a Christie novel than a lot of the other newer series.
Cassandra Chan says
This April I fell in love with Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver. It’s the first in her Amory Ames series, which is set in early 1930s England. Amory and her dashing husband Miles belong to an elite social set and are very wealthy. Their relationship ups and downs is the background for the mystery.
Amory tells the story in the first person, and she is such a fun character. It reminded me a bit of Flavia de Luce in Alan Bradley’s books–I would say if you like that series you will like this one. And vice versa!
This book takes place at a posh seaside hotel near Brighton where a group of friends are meeting. One of them, of course, ends up dead. There are clues aplenty, but I didn’t guess the murderer although I was pretty sure who it *wasn’t.*
Anyway, I highly recommend this book. I couldn’t put it down!
I haven’t read this yet but do have it, thanks for the heads up! Hmm, is that a clue? why is wasn’t in asterisk? 🙂
I enjoyed getting back in touch with Clare and Russ in the 9th installment of Julia Spencer Fleming’s series – “Hid from Our Eyes.” It’s been six years since a new one came out, and this was an involving story about three similar murders spaced out over 30-plus years. Russ had been a person of interest in the second crime which occurred just as he had come home from Vietnam. There were no visible and, in the case of earlier deaths, no detectable causes for the deaths of young women whose bodies are found along quiet country roads. There are some other subplots, too, involving various characters: Clare and Russ have a new, fussy baby; a good officer’s ex’s lawsuit may impact her career; a local vote to eliminate the local police department has officers on tenterhooks. Some of these are unresolved, leading one to hope for the next installment sooner.
Cuppa Cozy says
I don’t usually binge read series but I have been going through the Meg Langslow Mysteries by Donna Andrews one after another. The books are very funny without sacrificing the elements of the mysteries. They are hitting the right note as we struggle through the pandemic. Meg Langslow and boyfriend/husband Michael are an oasis of sanity in Meg’s crazy family and busy community. Meg is forever being called upon to use her superior organizing skills for some family or city event and she always manages to save the day when chaos and murder errupt. I’m not sure how author Donna Andrews manages to work all the animal connections in, but she does a great job of it. Love their shennanigans.
Susy S says
I binge read those books last fall. I love how Meg is an island of reason in a sea of crazy. Since her family makes mine seem really calm, I just loved these books. I also noticed that the do seem to get a little less crazy as time passes in the books.
Can’t wait for the next one to come out.
Me too! Donna Andrews is a brilliant writer who knows how to write for everyone’s benefit and the best medicine to while away this time. Absolutely a fav. Happy reading Cuppa!
Janice G says
I enjoyed reading Gone with the Whisker by Laurie Cass. Two people are murdered (of course Eddie the bookmobile cat finds them) and Minnie realizes that they had been on the bookmobile at the same time. While investigating, Minnie is also trying to cope with sharing her small houseboat with her teenage niece who is visiting for the summer – a bigger challenge than she expected.
I also liked Deep Fried Revenge by Lynn Cahoon. The restaurant staff is competing in a cooking competition at the local fair when several other restaurant owners are poisoned. This book also has a storyline about a teenager that the group is trying to help, not realizing the danger they might face.
Carolyn Hart – Death on Demand Series. I read about a book a day, so I have a huge collection of cozies and this is one of my favorite series. When I get a new book in a series, I start at the beginning and read them all again before reading the newest one. There are over 20 books in this series, and i have read them a lot! But they never get old, or predictable. the characters are nicely complex, the plots are engaging, and I want to live on the Island! One thing that is different about this series that I really appreciate is the main characters knowledge of mystery books. I have promised myself that next time I read the series, I will do so with a pad and pencil and write down all the authors she talks about. I feel a bit chagrined that I don’t have the education in mysteries that obviously Carolyn Hart does. Many that are mentioned I have read – but many more I have never read and now I want to. There is an ongoing debate with the main characters on who are the best mystery writers, and I have learned so much from reading these books. The monthly picture puzzle at the Death on Demand book store is quite a challenge and I am always pleased when I can guess one. Other book stores across the United States (that really exist) are occasionally mentioned and make it on my list of places to visit. I am so grateful to this wonderful author who has put so much of herself into these books, and created a wonderful place for us to escape to. If you are looking for a series that is great for teens to seniors, this is a great one.
I have only read the first one so far, but looking forward to the rest of the series by reading your comments! good to hear from someone who has read through already. what a great idea to include the books and shops! And yes, I want to live on the island too or at least visit! Happy reading Robin!
Bookish Hooker says
I read Mousse and Murder by Elizabeth Logan in April. It’s a new series and this first book comes out this next week on May 5th. It’s set in Alaska, which is a new cozy mystery setting for me. The main character owns an old fashioned diner, so overall the settings were fantastic. There were little tidbits of info about Alaskan living that made the book very interesting. The characters and the mystery plot were both very well done.
Susy S says
I read several of the Amish Candy Shop series by Amanda Flower. I really like that the main character truly grows in character, though she still has many foibles.
I also read the last two books in the Sophie Kendall series by J. C. Eaton. These books are set in and near Sun City West, AZ and have a cast of amusing/annoying senior citizens that show up in each book. I also like that Sophie (Phee) is not a young woman, nor a senior citizen herself, but a woman in her middle years.
I also read the last two books Paige Shelton’s Scottish Bookstore series. These are fun books, that often include some aspect of the unexplained, about which Delaney always says she ‘doesn’t not believe’ as she has had a few unexplainable events prove true.
I read several others I enjoyed by Darci Hannah, Lorraine Bartlett, Kate Collins, VIrginia Lowell Bethany Blake and Joelle Charbonneau and I am currently reading Murder in the Storybook Cottage by Ellery Adams. Being retires and in social isolation is letting me make a lot of progress on reducing my TBR books.
I just read “Christmas Cocoa and a Corpse” by Maddie Day. It is in the “Christmas Cocoa Murder” Anthology. The plot was a no-brainer, but the writing was good. Robbie Jordan, owner of Pans-N-Pancakes restaurant, gets involve in a murder investigation to clear her father who is suspected.
What I liked the most from this story was the way Maddie Day was able to portray the hustle and hurry of a busy restaurant in a way that the reader could feel that they were actually there. I could almost smell the food and feel the tension of the scurrying waitress and frazzled cook (OK, I’m not a writer, that is the best I could describe it). Oh yes, she has delicious recipes at the end.
I will read more of her books and have entered her book list into my book list program.