Here we are at the end of the month! I can barely believe that we’re going to be wrapping 2015 up in just a few days! As I mentioned in the Christmas Cozy Mystery Recommendations – 2015, I read quite a few Christmas Cozies this month, and I enjoyed every one of them.
Would you please tell us about the really good Cozy Mysteries you read during December, and please tell us why you liked them so much. (They don’t have to be Christmas Cozies!) These should be the Cozies you thought were better than the other Cozies you read this month. This is a great way for the rest of us to sort of put those authors on our Cozy Mystery radar. (If we don’t already know about them!) Please list the ones you liked the most at the very top of the list, that way we’ll know those are the ones you liked the most.
As usual, please do not tell us about the Cozy Mysteries you did not like.
What really good Cozy Mystery book did you read during December 2015 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:
Isabella Alan (aka Amanda Flower): Amish Quilt Shop Mystery Series
Lucy Arlington (aka Susan Furlong): Novel Idea Mystery Series
Terri L. Austin: Rose Strickland Mystery Series (Diners, Dives & Dead Ends is book #1)
Josie Belle (aka Jenn McKinlay & Lucy Lawrence): Good Buy Girls Mystery Series
Rhys Bowen: Molly Murphy Mystery Series
Laura Bradford (aka Elizabeth Lynn Casey): Amish Mystery Series
Ali Brandon (aka Diane A.S. Stuckart): Black Cat Bookshop Mystery Series
Duffy Brown: Consignment Shop Mystery Series
JoAnna Carl (aka Eve K. Sandstrom): Chocoholic Mystery Series
Laurie Cass (aka Laura Alden): Bookmobile CatMystery Series
Bailey Cates (aka Cricket McRae & Bailey Cattrell): Magical Bakery Mystery Series
Jane K. Cleland: Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery Series
Blaize & John Clement: Dixie Hemingway Mystery Series
Sheila Connolly (aka Sarah Atwell): Orchard Mystery Series
J.J. Cook (aka Joyce and Jim Lavene & Ellie Grant): Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mystery Series
Isis Crawford (aka Barbara Block): Mysteries with Recipes Mystery Series
Jeanne M. Dams: Dorothy Martin Mystery Series
Vicki Delany (aka Eva Gates): Year-Round Christmas Mystery Series
Hannah Dennison: Honeychurch Hall Mystery Series
Kaitlyn Dunnett (aka Kathy Lynn Emerson): Liss MacCrimmon Mystery Series
Martin Edwards (editor): Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries
Margaret Grace (aka Ada Madison, Jean Flowers, & Camille Minichino): Miniature Mystery Series
Heather Graham: Krewe of Hunters Mystery Series (Phantom Evil is book #1)
Sarah Graves: Home Repair is Homicide Mystery Series
Anne Hillerman: Leaphorn, Chee and Manuelito Mystery Series
Carolyn Hart: Bailey Ruth Ghost Mystery Series
Sadie Hartwell (aka Susannah Hardy): Tangled Web Mystery Series
Maddy Hunter: Passport to Peril Mystery Series
C.H.B Kitchin (editor): Crime at Christmas
Joyce and Jim Lavene (aka J.J. Cook & Ellie Grant): Christmas Tree Valley Mystery Series
Amanda Lee (aka Gayle Trent & Gayle Leeson): Embroidery Mystery Series
Charlotte MacLeod (aka Alisa Craig): Peter Shandy Mystery Series
Nancy Martin: Miss Ruffles Mystery Series
Jenn McKinlay (aka Josie Belle & Lucy Lawrence): Library Lover’s Mystery Series
Carol J. Perry: Witch City Mystery Series
Nancy Pickard: Jenny Cain Mystery Series
Maggie Sefton: Knitting Mystery Series
Dana Stabenow: Liam Campbell Mystery Series
Rex Stout: Nero Wolfe Mystery Series
Victoria Thompson: Gaslight Mystery Series
Charles Todd: Bess Crawford Mystery Series
Ashley Weaver: Amory Ames Mystery Series (Murder at the Brightwell is book #1)
Julie Weston: Nellie Burns and Moonshine Mystery Series (Moonshadows is book #1)
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.
I stumbled across a new author, Ashley Weaver, and her Amory Ames mysteries set in 1930’s England. They are just delightful. I couldn’t put the first one, Murder at the Brightwell, down, and immediately ordered the second, Death Wears a Mask. Stayed up all night to read that one, also. She has a third book on the way. I believe her work is well within your definition of “Cozy”
I love the Ashley Weaver mysteries! What do you think is going on with the hubby???
I found Sarah Graves and her Jake Tiptree series. How I missed these I do not know.
Heather Graham and her Krewe of Hunters series. They are thin but the attention to history is worth the read. These are books I would read when I’m taking the bus to work or waiting in the grocery line or when I just want t quick read at night.
I also just found Dana Stabenow and her stories about Liam Campbell, a state trooper, and his Alaskan adventures. The quirkiness of the town where he’s been transferred takes me back to Cicely and Northern Exposure.
I read 3 of the Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries, and enjoyed them . I liked the people and the situations . The stories were well plotted and the murderer hinted at but but not easily diserned. These are written by Isabela Alan and I recommend them as entertaining and interesting.
I’ve been re-reading some of Rex Stout’s ‘Nero Wolfe’ books. Fabulous stuff!
Love Nero Wolf.
Danna and company: (and you are always good company), I have probably enjoyed the Laura Bradford’s Amish series, Lucy Arlington’s Novel Idea series and Margaret Grace’s Miniature series the most! I do like other series and thanks to all of you, expanding my Cozy reading experiences! When I enjoy and author’s work, I read all of them!
Maggie Sefton’s knitting series with Kelly Flynn and company has always been a favorite and I love the Tea Shoppe mysteries that Laura Childs has cooked up as well as her Cacklebury egg series.
One of you ladies mentioned Emily Brightwell’s Mrs. Jeffries series which I’ve read for many years and every new addition is better than the last. Mrs. Jeffries Wins the Prize is next early in 2016 and I plan to own it! Laura Bradford has a new one coming called A Churn for the Worse so keep an eye out for that one!
Those are my favs but I just lucked on to Lucy Burdette’s Haley and that restaurant reviewer series too so I am sure I’ll enjoy future work from her facile “pen”.
Don’t know if they’re really considered cozies, but I got caught up on all of the Bess Crawford mysteries by Charles Todd. I enjoy the Ian Rutledge books as well, but being a nurse myself the Bess books are closer to my heart. That they’re set in WWI is a big bonus, too. Haven’t gotten to any other cozies as I also read books 1 – 14 of the Honor Harrington SF series.
So I’m not the only one that ‘binge reads’ my favourite / newly discovered authors! Lol!
December Recommendations – 2015
Ornaments of Death – Jane Cleland
I’ve enjoyed all the books of this series and give this one a thumbs up, also. You can definitely feel the ambiance of the holidays, as it is set in snowy NH in December with holiday activities and decor. Since an antique store is the main setting, there is always emphasis and historical explanations of antiques – some interesting, some not.
Josie Prescott has recently discovered a distant cousin from England. His daughter lives in NH and he comes to visit her and Josie (or so we think). The many, many twists to this plot keeps the reader interested. At the center of the story are two valuable antique miniatures. The ending isn’t necessarily a surprise, but the unfolding of events keeps one quickly turning the pages until the very end.
One question, though. Josie mentions she moved to this community 10 years ago. Thus she has been dating and lives with a former police chief for nine+ years. Isn’t it time they get married? Just saying……………………… (Amazing how a reader can get involved in the lives of their favorite ‘fictional’ characters!!!).
All Sales Final – Josie Belle
With a wedding planned in a few weeks, Maggie (protagonist) and Sam (detective) decide to purchase a home — a very old home, who many say is haunted. They find a skeleton of a World War II pilot in the root cellar. History of this character and his relationships unfold, as this couple try to find a solution to his murder. There are interesting characters and some amusing situations as Maggie has procrastinated plans for her wedding. This is a light and enjoyable read for this time of the year (not a ‘holiday’ read, though).
Stitching Hour — Amanda Lee
This is the ninth book in this series set in western OR. The store next to the ‘Seven Year Stitch’ (owned by protagonist Marcy) is rented to a couple who set it up as a temporary haunted house. A young, not well-liked, waitress is murdered. The characters are well developed and appealing (especially the recurring main characters). There are surprising developments as the story and background info evolves.
I didn’t get around to reading this book in October as it has a Halloween setting. I still enjoyed it, though – even in December.
Merry Christmas All. Over Christmas I read “Silent Nights” Christmas Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards and “Crime at Christmas” C.H.B Kitchin.
“Silent Nights” is another British Library Crime Classic and is a collection of golden age short stories. Some rare stories that have been lost until ‘found’ for this edition. Writers such as Conan Doyle, Sayers and Allingham feature as well as lesser known such as Lena White and H C Bailey. I highly recommend any of the British Library Crime Classics.
I also read “Crime at Christmas” a classic British country house mystery set at Christmas time. Written in 1934 story features a London based stockbroker Malcolm Warren. This character did appear in an earlier mystery novel by Kitchin “Death of my Aunt”, however it is not necessary to read this novel first. Again I recommend this book, however if you do read it be prepared for the fact that it was written in 1934 and the language and situations do seem a bit dated now.
I hope you enjoyed your Christmas reading as much as I did.
Paula Catherine says
I just finished reading “A Likely Story” by Jenn McKinlay. It is terrific, not a suprise as this series is great!
I read a number of good books this month. My favorite was Pouncing on Murder by Laurie Cass. Her books featuring Eddie the Bookmobile cat are whimsical without being silly. The newest in a really funny series, From Bad to Wurst by Maddy Hunter, made me laugh out loud at the continuing adventures of a group of Iowa senior citizens touring the world – this time in Germany for Octoberfest. I also enjoyed the first in a new series Yarned and Dangerous by Sadie Hartwell – the initial premise is the usual woman losing her job and moving back home but the characters and location are interesting.
Thanks. Put Yarned and Dangerous on hold at the library.
I have really enjoyed the Rose Strickland series by Terri L. Austin. Great quirky characters.As soon as I finished the first book, I had to buy the next to find out what happened next. I read all four too quickly, I can’t wait for the next one!
The Black Cat Bookshop mysteries by Ali Brandon were also really good. I love that Hamlet the cat helps solve the mysteries and watches out for store owner, Darla.
Margaret StashEmpress says
Well I didn’t read much at all this month, as you can see from my meager list. (Anyone who knows me knows just HOW meager is this list!!!) Pretty much all I read were my “must read first” authors (as was discussed on the blog earlier this month).
Baley Cates – Magic and Macaroons (Magical Bakery Mystery). One of my favorite “paracozy” series.
Rhys Bowen, Away in a Manger (Molly Murphy series) — Love Rhys Bowen (both series) — definitely one of my MUST READ FIRST authors.
Joanna Carl, The Chocolate Clown Corpse (Chocoholic series). Another MUST READ FIRST for me. Had actually read the book that followed it.. and wondered how I missed this one along the way! Love this one even better.
J. J. Cook — Gator Bowl (Biscuit Bowl Food Truck series) — this is a novella in the Biscuit Bowl Food truck series, but is also the “prequel” to Murder Fir Xmas (first in a new series). Introduces the main character & gives her back story.
Joyce & Jim Lavene — Murder Fir Xmas. Another great new series by Joyce & Jim Lavene. I’m wondering how many of their series will continue since Joyce has passed. (This was already written at the time of her passing).
Kaitlyn Dunnett, The Scottie Barked At Midnight (Liss MacCrimmon series) — one of my “must read first” series.
Margaret Grace– Manhattan In Miniature (Miniature Mystery series). For some reason I had this sitting on my shelf for about 3 months. I don’t know why. I don’t “do” books by season, it just happened to be sitting there & I just picked it up last week. Another delightful read.
Carolyn Hart — Ghost to the Rescue (Bailey Ruth series) — one of my MUST MUST MUST read first authors/series, did not disappoint. Love Bailey Ruth!
(PS. Sorry for the weird spacing — don’t why, but sometimes when I post comments on a blog it double spaces like this & sometimes not.)
Every year I reread Charlotte McLeod’s “Rest You Merry” and laugh my way through it. I always intend to read the rest of the Peter Shandy series but keep returning to the perfection of “Rest You Merry.”
Read them all. And the rest of her books. They are hilarious and well written.
I really enjoy anything regarding sewing, embroidery and quilting. I have read Isabella Alan, Amanda Lee, Maggie Sefton, and Lea Wait. I like the relationships of the people involved in the mysteries. I like following their involvement into the next book in the series.
I just discovered a new series to follow: Julie Weston’s Nellie Burns and Moonshine series-to-be. Check out “Moonshadows” — a young photographer makes her way to a small town in Idaho, determined to bexome an independent artist on photography. It’s set in the 1920s, so she’s a rarity in the town pf Ketchum, and she’s just come from Chicago, where she worked as a portraitist and got fired by a sexist boss who claimed her best work as his own.
Moonshine is a black Lab she finds in the course of her adventure, which includes a down and out miner; a sketchy fellow lodger at the boardinghouse; a Basque former shepherd now sheriff, and a kind landlady.
This is a book I could hardly put down; the story just flows and is very well written. It’s not full of fakey suspense or profanity (one drunken f-word from an old drunk), and the heroine is determined and likeable.
PS A very happy new year to all! Thanks to Danna for helping us discover some wonderful books.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Marja, Happy New year to you!
I really enjoyed Nancy Martin’s miss Ruffles inherits everything. Quirky characters and nice twist.
Quite enjoyed Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen by Vicki Delaney. I think it’s the first in a series.
Like Margaret StashEmpress, I also had Manhattan in Miniature sitting around and just started it. I love this series so I don’t know why it took me so long to get started. Perhaps subconsciously I was waiting for Christmas.
I only read a handful of books this month, but they were all good reads:
“The Cat Sitter’s Pajamas” by Blaize Clement (Dixie Hemingway Mysteries). This was the first book I’ve read in this series, but it won’t be the last. The story pulled me in right away and was a real page-turner. The infant granddaughter of one of Dixie’s pet sitting clients is abducted to keep the girl’s mother from testifying in court at the trial of a notorious Ponzi schemer. Dixie works with the girl’s parents and close friends to find a way to get the child back and bring the bad guys to justice.
“A Gala Event” by Sheila Connolly (Orchard Mysteries). This is one of my favorites series. The apple picking season is winding down. Meg is busy planning her and Seth’s wedding. Seth is navigating between paying plumbing jobs and bathroom renovations at home. But the two get caught up in an old crime which took place in town back in the early 90s, to determine whether or not a now 40 year-old newly released ex-con was wrongly convicted. Did he spend the bulk of his life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit? Finding out the truth proves rather complex
“Caught Dead Handed” by Carol J. Perry (Witch City Mysteries) First in a new series with likable and quirky characters. Maralee “Lee” Barrett returns to her hometown of Salem, MA from Florida after being widowed to take a reporter job with a local tv station, but winds up hosting a late-night horror movie fest with psychic call-in show instead after she finds the dead body of the show’s host, Ariel Constellation. The new gig goes off without a hitch, but Lee discovers she has psychic talents herself and sets off the find the killer of her predecessor and another woman in town who’d been murdered the same day as Ariel.
“A Catered Christmas Cookie Exchange” by Isis Crawford (Mysteries with Recipes). Sisters Libby and Bernie are at it again, solving another case with help from their former police chief dad Sean, and their boyfriends. The local Cookie Exchange club members are set to compete against each other in a cooking competition reality tv show. All the club members are retirement age. One member was killed in a car crash on the way to an important meeting for the show and the incident was written off as an accident by the police, but Bernie and Libby quickly discover it was murder and investigate. To make matters worse the woman’s niece works for Bernie and Libby and goes a bit off the deep end looking for answers by herself.
“Rock With Wings” by Anne Hillerman (Leaphorn, Chee and Manuelito Mysteries). I’m glad Tony’s daughter Anne took over this series for her late father because she’s a talented writer in her own right and these books are great reads. While Joe Leaphorn continues to recover at home from being shot in the head (which happened at the beginning of the previous book), Jim and Bernadette wind up working cases in two different locations- she’s at their home police substation at Shiprock, while Jim is working over in Arizona at Monument Valley. They wind up working very different cases, but there turns out to be a common thread between them. Even though Joe is recovering at home, he’s still able to be a valuable source of knowledge for Jim and Bernie, helps find some crucial clues, and continues to guide them along in honing their investigative techniques.
OH WOW this is exciting news! I’d no idea Tony Hillerman’s daughter had taken up the series. I will look for the new ones straightaway because I adored Hillerman’s books, and was so sorry when he passed on.
CJ D says
I just discovered the Jenny Cain series by Nancy Pickard. Read the first 2 books, and just loved them. Wonderful characters, funny, and very interesting plots.
Also started the Honeychurch Hall series by Hannah Dennison. I was laughing out loud at the nutty characters and the very funny dialogue. Kat’s mum is a hoot, and a very strong personality as well.
Sad news, though. One of my absolute favorite authors, Hazel Holt, died in November, age 87. I had just finished her eighth book, And the Only Good Lawyer, when I read about her death. Love all her Sheila Mallory books so much!!
CJ D says
Just wanted to add a note that’s not about cozy mysteries. If any of you love Downton Abbey – I’m an addict – the Countess of Carnarvon published a third book about Highclere in 2013. It’s called Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey. I just finished it, and it’s even better, in my opinion, than the first about Lady Almina, which I liked very much. The New one is about the lives of the family who lived at Highclere from 1923-1945. Has great photos as well. Very well written and absolutely fascinating !
Danna - cozy mystery list says
CJ, thanks for the Downton Abbey book information. I just looked up the books, and this is what I found:
Countess of Carnarvon: Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey
Countess of Carnarvon: Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey
Countess of Carnarvon: The Women of the Real Downton Abbey (includes both of the above – Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey & Lady Catherine, the Earl and the Real Downton Abbey)
Danna, I think there is another one called The Lost Legacy, but I’m not 100% sure. Oh, and the final season of Downton Abbey starts sometime in January. It was already shown last fall in the UK. Also, the show on PBS called Secrets of Highclere Castle is fantastic !!! Happy New Year to you and your family !!!!!!!!!
Danna - cozy mystery list says
CJ, you’re right. It’s the subheading >>> Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle.
Thanks for the Downton Abbey information, and I’m going to look for Secrets of Highclere Castle. Even though I don’t follow Downton Abbey, this documentary sounds like it will be fun.
Sorry to be so long-winded, but I just remembered two more new authors I started reading this month.
One is Jeanne M. Dams’ Dorothy Martin series, and the other is Victoria Thompson’s gas light series. The first is set in a cathedral town in England , and the other is turn-of-the-century New York city. Both are great !!!! Wonderful writers !!!
Thanks so much for all of the great recommendations!
I really like the Consignment Shop Mystery series by Duffy Brown. The author writes her books in such a interesting ( and cute ) way.
I’m currently reading #2 in this series.