September will be coming up soon, so I think it’s time for me to ask all of you about the best Cozies you’ve been reading in August. As some of you know, I highlighted two Cozy Mystery series (Katherine Hall Page’s Faith Fairchild Mystery Series and E.J. Copperman’s Haunted Guesthouse Mystery Series), both of which are great examples of popular and entertaining Cozies. Instead of repeating myself here, you can go to the Most Popular & Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on my Cozy-Mystery site for my full write-ups on each of these great Cozy series.
So, what Cozy Mysteries that you’ve read during August do you think stand out from the rest? 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 August 2016 that you want the rest of us to know about, and why did you enjoy it?
Here are the current recommended authors who some of you have read and recommended this past month:
Victoria Abbott: Book Collectors Mystery Series
Ellery Adams (aka Jennifer Stanley, J. B. Stanley, & 1/2 of Lucy Arlington): Book Retreat Mystery Series
Donna Andrews: Meg Langslow Mystery Series
Sandra Balzo: Maggy Thorsen Mystery Series
John Berendt: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Claire Booth: Sheriff Hank Worth Mystery Series (The Branson Beauty, book #1)
Rhys Bowen: Royal Spyness Mystery Series
Simon Brett: Mrs. Pargeter Mystery Series
Issy Brooke: Small Town Murder Bureau Mystery Series (The Case of the Lincoln Imp, book #1)
Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli (aka Elizabeth Lee): Little Library Mystery Series
Kate Collins: Flower Shop Mystery Series
E.J. Copperman (aka Jeffrey Cohen): Haunted Guesthouse Mystery Series
Bill Crider: Dan Rhodes Mystery Series
Waverly Curtis: Barking Detective Mystery Series
Jeanne M. Dams: Dorothy Martin Mystery Series
Leighann Dobbs: Blackmoore Sisters Mystery Series, Mystic Notch Mystery Series, Mooseamuck Island Mystery Series
Wendy Sand Eckel: Rosalie Hart Mystery Series (Murder at Barclay Meadow, book #1)
Monica Ferris (aka Mary Monica Pulver & 1/2 of Margaret Frazer): Needlecraft Mystery Series
Rosie Genova: Italian Kitchen Mystery Series
Chloe Kendrick: Food Truck Mystery Series (Murder To Go, book #1)
Catherine Lloyd: Kurland St. Mary Mystery Series
Charlotte Macleod: Grab Bag (short story collection)
Alyssa Maxwell: Gilded Newport Mystery Series
Edith Maxwell (aka Maddie Day & Tace Baker): Local Foods Mystery Series
Julie Moffett: Lexi Carmichael Mystery Series
Terrie Farley Moran: Read ‘Em and Eat Mystery Series
Carlene O’Conner: Irish Village Mystery Series
Katherine Hall Page: Faith Fairchild Mystery Series
Michael Robertson: Baker Street Letters Series (The Baker Street Letters, book #1)
Sara Rosett: Ellie Avery Mystery Series
Ann B. Ross: Miss Julia Mystery Series
Linda Wiken (aka Erika Chase): Dinner Club 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.
August Recommendations -2016
Murder in an Irish Village — Carlene O’Connor
WOW! This is a very good read. I enjoy some authors who set their mysteries in Great Britain, but as a whole, I prefer US locations. Because of this, I had this book in my TBR pile for quite awhile.
First of all, the lead character/protagonist is extremely well developed, as are several other characters. Siobhan O’Sullivan is in her early 20’s. She is strong, intelligent, and very independent. She is the legal guardian for her siblings since the death of their parents a year ago. Together they manage Naomi’s Café (family business) in an Irish village.
The brother of the man who is in jail because he was intoxicated when he ran into their (cafe owners) parent’s car, is found dead in the restaurant. He’s been blackmailing some of the town residents. Siobhan’s older brother is accused of the murder. The true culprit is a complete surprise, which I certainly didn’t see coming.
Using the word ‘complex’ doesn’t begin to describe this story. It has a lot of depth. There’s even parts of the story that are ‘tear jerkers’. O’Connor does some, but not much, descriptive scenic writing.
There are two potential romantic interests. I was shocked!, shocked!, shocked! that she chose one by the end of the story. This certainly goes against the grain of a normal ‘cozy script’, where authors drag this story line into several books.
I understand why an author uses colloquial language when setting the story in Ireland or Scotland, but sometimes I have trouble understanding it. I usually get the ‘gist’, however. I also want to warn the reader that this story is filled with euphemisms of foul language. I did not find it offensive, but be forewarned. I also felt parts were a bit earthy, but that’s open to interpretation. The reader certainly feels the warmth and affection of family and friends in this community, which makes the story particularly endearing.
At first I thought this might be a ‘stand-alone’ mystery. But the second book is scheduled to be released 2/17. I’m looking forward to it, mainly because I found the characters so interesting.
Marriage, Monster-in-Law, and Murder – Sara Rosett
Ellie is a wife, mother, owns an organizing business, and the protagonist in this series. Her sister-in-law is getting married at a plush resort on Camden Island, off the Georgia coast. She’s asked Ellie to help with the last minute details of the wedding, including keeping an eye on her two mothers-in-law who hate each other.
I want to emphasize here, that for those who really enjoy a ‘pure’ mystery story will like this one. There are NO side stories (romantic or otherwise) to this book. Sometimes Rosett highlights an ‘issue’ in stories in this series, but that is not the case here.
Other than Ellie, her husband and children, all characters are new to this story. They are diverse and often times complicated, developed with some depth. The plot also is well developed and evenly paced. The photographer is murdered and it takes Ellie down a very complex road to find the solution.
Also take note that this book can EASILY be read as a stand-alone. There isn’t any background info from previous books that is necessary to read this one. It’s a very good read and particularly difficult to put down!!!!
Read to Death – Terrie Farley Moran
On the cover of most cozies there is usually a blurb from another author. In this case it’s from Laura Childs in which she portrays the characters as ‘cheeky’. I LOVE that description for the characters in this series, so want to ‘steal’ it!!! They are, by all means, “cheeky”.
This is the third book in this series. Sassy and Bridgy are the main characters and own a café/bookstore. Zany Aunt Ophie often times helps out in their café.
Upon returning from a book group field trip, the bus driver is found dead. Since Bridgy discovered the body she is considered a suspect. There are some personality conflicts when both of their mothers arrive for a visit to help their daughters.
I realize my brief description doesn’t give much of an incentive to read this book, but it really has an intricate, well-paced plot. It is fast moving, with many humorous aspects. Quite an enjoyable read!!
Moss Hysteria – Kate Collins
This book sat around for a couple of month before I decided to read it. In fact, I thought perhaps I was tiring of the series. Ah-h-h-h, not so! This story grabs you from the beginning and hold your attention til the end.
Abby and Marco have finally moved into their new home and lo and behold the body of the development manager is found in the pond. Their 70 something next door neighbor has become the prime suspect, thus Marco and Abby decide to investigate.
Several new characters (neighbors) are introduced, yet the older characters are still prominent. Although, I must say that this story focuses on Marco and Abby on most every page. There’s two interesting side story lines, one involving Marco’s mother and another involving Abby’s employee, Rosa.
There are several viable suspects, however the guilty one isn’t a real surprise.
Murder Most Fowl — Edith Maxwell
I’ve said this again and again……………..the theme of this series (organic farming) isn’t of much interest to me. However, I don’t necessarily care about the theme, if the writing is good with great characters and a solid mystery. This book has all that. I like this author because she always writes a smart, intelligent cozy.
Cam Flaherty is the savvy protagonist. She operates her own organic farm. Her chicken farmer neighbor is murdered. From there the story takes many twists with some interesting plots, one involving an activist animal right group.
The ending is somewhat of a surprise, but the murderer is on the readers’ radar towards the end of the story.
A couple of other NEW series worth mentioning…………….
Toasting Up Trouble — Linda Wiken
Protagonist J. J. Tanner is an event planner, located in Vermont. When a caterer backs out of a 21st birthday event, J.J. turns to a well-known (unscrupulous) Italian chef for help. He is found murdered and there are a lot of suspects, including J.J. (generally a ‘requirement’ for the first in a cozy series). J. .J.’s friends, who are part of dinner group (planning their meals from a selected cookbook), provide amusing situations with plenty of interaction and, of course, help to find the ‘real’ culprit.
I doubt I’m being very creative in my explanation (even I think it sounds redundant and ho-hum). But it is a complex/intricate mystery, which I think readers will like. The story flows, but I did find it somewhat slow paced (perhaps repetitive). However, I think it’s a good start to a new series and look forward to the next book.
Most Curios Murder — Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
Because I’ve already written some lengthy reviews, I’ll be brief with this recommendation. I think this book is worth mentioning because of its creativity and originality. There is an interplay with “Alice in Wonderland’, as the title suggests. VERY unique characters and an interesting story concept makes this first book in a new series a good read.
Linda MH says
I always enjoy reading your recommendations. I want you to know I laughed out loud when I read “I was shocked!, shocked!, shocked!…” when you mentioned the romantic interests. So funny! That situation alone makes this book interesting. Thanks for giving me my laugh of the day. I’m definitely going to give this book a try.
Linda K says
I love the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery Series not only for its great characters (and their development through the series) but also for the location. I am also at the Jersey Shore and it’s more enjoyable to read a story where the setting is so familiar. And finally, the multiple ghosts that either star or cameo in this series are great fun.
This weekend I have caught up with a couple more of Simon Brett’s Mrs Pargeter novels, but also the first of a new series by Issy Brooke, author of the Small Town Mystery stories, where the heroine, Penny May, takes early retirement and moves to rural Lincolnshire, soon becoming involved in a series of murders. The new series, labelled as Small Town Murder Bureau, involves most of the characters discovered in the first six books, but one of the police officers has now turned private detective. A mysterious death at the Cathedral soon has Penny helping in his investigations.
Issy Brooke also writes a series called Lady C Investigates, where a widowed lady in Victorian England becomes involved in assorted mysteries. I have not completed one of these yet, but the author describes them as “Carry On film style with a murder bent” so I’m intrigued.
Kathleen K says
I’ve been catching up on Leighann Dobbs paranormal Blackmoore Sisters Mystery Series, her Mystic Notch Cozy Mystery Series , her Mooseamuck Island Cozy Mystery Series, and her newest paranormal series Silver Hollow. I’ve read book 4 thuogh 7 in the Blackmoore sisters, the last three in Mystic Notch, last one in Mooseamuck and am about to begin Spell Of Trouble. I also read her Something Magical ( romance) – not bad.
I also have been reading Chloe Kendrick’s food truck series, books 3 through 7 so far. I found them entertaining but if you read in order, some of the same paragraphs are used to describe earlier details.
Ellen Byron says
There are so many great series out right now, but I’m partial to Alyssa Maxwell’s Gilded Newport series. I love how each book involves a different one of Newport’s fascinating Gilded Age “cottages.”
I just read 3 books by Waverly Curtis. Pepe, the PI, (Chihuahua that talks). These are a great fun read. Every time I read this, I feel as Pepe is talking to me. Now I want to get a Pepe of my own.
Missy D says
Ellery Adams Murder In The Secret Garden is outstanding!!! I could not put it down. The setting is divine in a historic B&B, the protagonist is smart and likeable. I loved the references to ancient gardens and plants. It has a bit of a romance that is swoon worthy and the mystery is so well crafted it leaves you guessing throughout. A great addition to this well loved series.
Margaret StashEmpress says
Some very interesting reads this month (and one I actually put down after 50 pages because despite all the hype, I couldn’t get into it & thought it was just plain silly).
Michael Robertson — The Baker Street Jurors (Baker Street series) — This series is very unique in that its premise is a very unusual twist on the Sherlock Holmes canon — brothers Reggie and Nigel Heath are lawyers whose offices are in a building with the famous address of 221B Baker Street. The terms of their lease stipulate that they deal with the piles of mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes that are *still* arriving daily via the British postal system (who apparently have no mechanism for dealing with mail addressed to fictitious characters?) While most of this mail is easily answered with standard form letters, occasionally they are more complex — and lead the brothers Heath into unusual situations (usually involving crimes…). This most recent title is a bit different — it begins with a summons to jury duty… addressed to Sherlock Holmes…. coincidentally Nigel Heath is also summoned to jury duty — and gets assigned to the highest profile murder case of the century — and then then things get interesting…..
Charlotte Macleod — Grab Bag — I came across this little gem quite by accident when perusing the library’s collection online to see if they had any titles that I’d missed. This book is a collection of short stories by the queen of the humorous cozy. These stories were all originally published WAY back when (60’s & 70’s), but the true fun is that each has an introduction by the author, where she not only tells you when and where each story was published, but some interesting back-story on what inspired the story and what had gone into its making — one was funnier than the next! (I think my favorite was probably the one that gives us a glimpse of what Max Bittersohn does when not dealing with Sarah’s many relatives and their problems.)
Rhys Bowen — Crowned and Dangerous (Royal Spyness series). New title in one of my favorite series. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that there wasn’t much of the royal family in it like in previous titles. Sorry Rhys — gotta get my fix of Cousins George and Mary, David, Bertie, and the little princesses! But that aside, it was a really great read, as usual — do love Georgie!
Nancy Martin — A Little Night Murder (Blackbird Sisters series) — A very good book, Nora is finally very pregnant, about to be married, and solving a murder at the same time. What I’m sad to discover is, according to the author’s webpage, this is the end of the series — she felt that she ended it in a good place, but I really need a lot more things answered!!!! What are they naming the baby(s) (she’s only having one, but adopting another due at the same time), will they *EVER* get married??? And what ABOUT that Blackbird curse????????????????
Mignon F. Ballard — Miss Dimple and the Slightly Bewildered Angel (crossover Miss Dimple series and Augusta Goodnight series) — I like both of Ballard’s series, and I normally adore “crossovers” where characters from two different series work together, but was a little hesitant about the concept behind this crossover — in that the Augusta Goodnight series is essentially a “para-cozy” (Augusta is an angel, after all!) — and the Miss Dimple series is very definitely NOT a para-anything series — Miss Dimple is the most down to earth common sense person ever. So I was wondering how it would work out — and the answer is – surprisingly well! Good book!
Monica Ferris — Knit Your Own Murder (Needlecraft Mystery series) — while I like craft themed cozies, there are now so many, I think the subgenre is getting a bit overdone — that said — this series is one of the original — and imho the best done. I love Betsy and her Monday Bunch who craft & solve murders.
Donna Andrews — Die Like an Eagle (Meg Langslow series) — probably the best of all the “wacky” cozy series — and this newest title does not disappoint — Meg’s twin boys are now playing baseball — and of course guess who is charged with basically running the show — and solving the assorted crimes that pop up — with plenty of help from her cast of wacky relatives. I love this series!
Julie Hyzy — Grace Sees Red (Manor House series). While I really loved Hyzy’s (now defunct) White House Chef series better, I have always liked Grace and I have to say that as this series progresses the characters become more “evolved” and I’m liking it so much better. In this installment we find out what Grace’s prickly assistant Frances *really* does on her secret weekends…
Amanda Carmack — Murder at Fontainebleau (Elizabethan Mystery series) I love this series and am so sad to learn that this is one of the cancelled cozy series and this is the last title in the series. Kate is musician to Queen Elizabeth I — and her secret spy. In this installment Kate is sent to the court of France to find out what’s really going on with the newly widowed Mary, Queen of Scots.
R. J. Koreto — Death on the Sapphire (Lady Frances Ffolkes series) — This is the first in a new series — at least I HOPE it will be a continuing series, I really enjoyed it so much! Lady Frances Ffolkes is the daughter of a marquis at the turn of the 20th century — an independent young lady of means, she convinces her parents to allow her to attend university in the USA (totally unheard of for aristocratic women in those days) and then after her father’s death she chooses to live on her own (despite a warm and friendly relationship with her brother, the current marquis, and his wife who is actually her best friend) — together with her intrepid lady’s maid June Mallow, she involves herself in solving a mystery for a friend, and subsequently finds herself involved in solving a series of murders. What is particularly unique about this book is that it was written by a man — yet he does an amazing job of portraying the life of women — and their lady’s maids — at the time (why I bring this point up, is that I’ve read books by men that unfortunately had no clue how women think…)
Thank you for your kind review. The next in the series, “Death Among Rubies,” will be available Oct. 11, and I’m already working on the third, “Death at the Emerald.”
I wasn’t going to start a new series, but when I scanned the titles on my kindle, this book called my name. The Christie Curse by Victoria Abbott is the first in the Book Collector Series. It had everything I love in mysteries, a smart heroine, quirky characters (but not too quirky), books, food, recipes, and a surprise ending. Great book and I will be adding the next book in the series on my ever growing TBR list.
Jean Green’s Nobody series. Hilarious.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Blue, I’m having trouble finding this author. Are you sure about the spelling on her name?
Maybe Jeri Green?
Maybe she mean Jeri Green, Nobody’s Sorry You’re Dead: A Hadley Pell Cozy Mystery is the first book in that series….
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Liz, Judy, yes, it is likely Jeri Green – I knew Jean Green sounded close but for some reason couldn’t remember the right name either… I’m adding her to the list.
My husband actually noticed a book cover when we were gathering books up to take back to the library. He asked if this book was as good as it looked. It was the Death at the Day Lily Café by Wendy Sand Eckel. I think that this book was very good! The cover was beautiful with cup cakes and other foods on it. In the story, Rosalie Hart opened a restaurant. On the opening day of her restaurant, her friend (who has been her friend since the very beginning ) asked her to solve the mystery of her sister’s husband’s death.
The first book in the series is Murder at Barclay Meadow. It would probably be better to read this one first since most of the main characters are in the second book. In the first book , Rosalie Hart has just left her husband and inherited her grandmother’s house. She finds a body in the creek as soon as she moves in. Her husband doesn’t want her to live there. He is really surprised in the second book that she opens a successful restaurant and she is able to live on her own on a farm. Her daughter is really upset in the first book about the divorce and doesn’t like the town her mother is in because there is nothing to do there.
In the second book, she is living with her mother, working, and is dating one of the suspects in the murder. I can’t forget to mention all the wonderful recipes in both books.
Linda MH says
I thoroughly enjoyed Murder at Barclay Meadow, and I’m looking forward to reading Death at the Day Lily Cafe. Thanks for letting us know the second book is as entertaining as the first.
Julie F says
I have read both and I enjoyed Death at the Day Lily Cafe as much as the first one. The cover art of the second book caught my attention and is actually the reason I read the first book.
Last month I recommended the first book in a new series by Wendy Sand Eckel and the second in the series Death at the Day Lily Cafe certainly didn’t disappoint. The main character opens a cafe in her adopted hometown on the “wrong” side of the Chesapeake Bay and gets involved in solving a murder when asked to help by one of her new friends. This author would be a great addition to the site.
I also enjoyed To the Last Drop by Sandra Balzo, a return after several years to her coffee house series. This book wasn’t scheduled to come out until November but came out this month – although the action in the book starts up just a week after the previous book in the series. The main character, Maggie, gets drawn into looking into the murder of a new dentist in town even when her involvement threatens her relationship with the sheriff.
Another book that came out early is Smile and Be a Villain by Jeanne M. Dams. The story, set on one of the Channel Islands, had a good mystery and provided interesting information regarding the history of the islands.
Linda MH says
Hope everyone is enjoying these wonderful summer days!
My recommendations for this month:
No Strings Attached by Julie Moffett
No Strings Attached by Julie Moffett is the eighth book in the entertaining Lexi Carmichael Mystery series. As with the previous seven, Ms. Moffett has written a story that is fun and exciting. Her characters are wonderfully drawn and, with each book, we learn more about these incredibly talented individuals. In this outing, Lexi stumbles upon proof that the computer systems in certain departments of the NSA have been hacked. When the alleged hacker goes gunning for Lexi, she knows she (along with boyfriend Slash, and friends Elvis and Xavier) will have to do whatever it takes to neutralize a potential threat that could have repercussions for many years to come.
This is one of my favorite series. The books are well written and exciting—Ms. Moffett tells a good story. Each book can stand alone, but I recommend starting at the beginning so you can get to know these wonderful characters. Highly recommended!
The Branson Beauty by Claire Booth
Newly appointed county sheriff Hank Worth is not having an easy time of it. The Branson Beauty, a beloved old showboat, has run aground on the rocks. Hank knows it won’t be easy getting the passengers to safety, especially the elderly guests. However, Hank’s worries and priorities change when he discovers the body of a dead teen in a locked room on the boat. As Hank’s investigation heats up, he has to wade through lies, deceit, and the good ol’ boys’ network to track down the murderer.
The Branson Beauty is author Claire Booth’s debut novel and what an exciting debut it is! Hank is a great lead character. He has a sense of humor and is calm, insightful, and compassionate. The story takes place in the winter in the Ozarks. The author paints a very vivid picture of the cold, snowy landscape. It was 95 degrees the day I read this, yet I felt like I was there, shivering right along with Hank.
I greatly enjoyed this book. I think it is a wonderful first effort, and I’m looking forward to the next Hank Worth mystery.
Hope everyone has a great September!!
I was in Hendersonville, NC in June and I like to read local authors when I go anywhere. The Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross is hilarious. She is a wonderful writer; dry sense of humor. She teaches English literature and it shows. I then went to Savannah and picked up “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. A true story and brilliant writing as well.
I read Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews and it was the BEST Halloween mystery I have read so far (and I have read quite a few.)
I also read Moving is Murder by Sarah Rosett and loved how real the story felt. I could tell that the author really knew a lot about the things she wrote about and it came across as very authentic.
Susan MT says
I really enjoyed reading Rosie Genova’s Italian Kitchen series this summer. I had read the first book in July and quickly finished off the second and third in August. Great characters that just come alive in your head. I could almost hear their Jersey accents and smell the shore air. Will be looking for more work from this author!
For some reason I never read Bill Crider’s books and recently many authors have been talking about him and soon there will be book #23. I decided to read all of them if book1 talked to me. His book didn’t just talk to me it grabbed my heart. His Sherriff Dan Rhodes first book is TO HATE OR DIE sweet, funny, interesting and a good murder too. Can hardly wait for book23 and I’m on book 6. Oh. book 23 is Survivors Will Be Shoot
The title is Survivors Will Be Shot Again
Death Comes to the Village by Catherine Lloyd
This is an absolutely wonderful historical mystery! There are currently three books in the series and I sped through them! I’m on pins and needles anxiously awaiting the release of the fourth!
Margaret StashEmpress says
Well I did finish reading one more yesterday (Tuesday — was still August!) Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg — The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules. Don’t know if this technically counts as a series or not, there is one more book that comes after this (which I can’t seem to locate in the USA). This humorous mystery is translated from original Swedish. 79yo Martha and her 4 best friends live together in a retirement home, but when new management takes over, the quality of life goes down severely — only 3 cups coffee permitted per day, no fresh produce, only one hot meal a day, “clients” no longer allowed to use the gym & only allowed to go out for a walk once per week, etc. After watching a documentary on the Swedish prison system, Martha and her friends decide they’d be better off living in a real prison — where they would be served 3 nourishing meals a day & have access to daily exercise & so on — to that end they decide to do something seriously criminal in order to go to prison… and so follows an art heist, the likes of which would be familiar to all fans of Westlake’s Dortmunder series (what could possibly go wrong? everything!) One very funny scene involves two old ladies, a plastic doll, a dirty diaper and a baby buggy falling apart in a museum elevator…. very funny!
Ginger g says
Sorry I didn’t get much done this month. Went to school but I am planning on catching up in September. There are ten authors that I read listed and some more that I will add to buy list.