We’re just about at the end of December, 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 Earlene Fowler’s Benni Harper 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 December? 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 December 2020 that you want the rest of us to know about, and why did you enjoy it?
Ellie Alexander (aka Kate Dyer-Seeley): Sloan Krause Mystery Series
Tessa Arlen: Woman of WWII Mystery Series
Marian Babson: The Twelve Deaths of Christmas
M. C. Beaton (aka Marion Chesney): Hamish Macbeth Mystery Series
Laurien Berenson: Melanie Travis Mystery Series
Emily Brightwell: Mrs. Jeffries Mystery Series
Frances Brody: Kate Shackleton Mystery Series
Leslie Budewitz: Spice Shop Mystery Series
Kate Carlisle: Fixer-Upper Mystery Series
Julie Chase (aka Jacqueline Frost, Julie Anne Lindsey, & Bree Baker): Kitty Couture Mystery Series
Vivien Chien: Noodle Shop Mystery Series
Jane K. Cleland: Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery Series
Jeanne M. Dams: Dorothy Martin Mystery Series
Kathie Deviny: Grace Church Mystery Series
Carola Dunn: Daisy Dalrymple Mystery Series
Vickie Fee: Cafe Cinema Mystery Series
Amanda Flower (aka Isabella Alan): Piper and Porter Mystery Series
Earlene Fowler: Benni Harper Mystery Series
Sally Goldenbaum: Seaside Knitters Society Mystery Series
Anna Lee Huber: Verity Kent Mystery Series
Margaret Mayhew: Village Mystery Series (first entry Old Soldiers Never Die)
Patricia Moyes: Henry Tibbett Mystery Series
Louise Penny: Chief Inspector Gamache 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.
I read all of Earlene Fowler back in the day and thoroughly enjoyed her books..When I started her series I lived close by to her and was able to correspond with her. I was so sad when she stopped writing because her series was wonderful!!!
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Joan, it’s always sad to see a favorite series end.
Annette J says
I started reading Jeanne Dams, Mrs Martin soon to be Mrs. Nesbit series again. This was first published in 1996. Still thoroughly enjoyable.
Kimberley C says
Dead-End Detective, Amanda Flower. Flower delivers again with this new series for Hallmark. Good launch for what promises to be a slightly more contemporary offering. Contemporary in this context means the introduction of 2 African American characters who will be regulars in the series and a gay male couple– unsure if they will be regulars. A standard trope is a romantic triangle (heavy sigh- not a fav). I look forward to reading the next book in the series!
While waiting for another Daisy Dalrymple Carola Dunn mystery (once you find an author and binge read then you have to wait) I have decided I really enjoy the post WW1 era books. I discovered Anna Lee Huber and read the first in her Verity Kent series, This Side of Murder. I liked the characters and it kept me guessing until the end. I’m looking forward to catching up on the other books in the series. I’d welcome recommendations on other series during this era.
I also read Louise Penny’s All The Devils are Here. As usual she hit a home run. Not the regular cast of Three Pine characters we all love but the Paris setting is interesting and we learn more of Gamache’s history. AT the moment I am reading the latest Sophie Hannah/ Poirot mystery. No one can be Christie but She does an excellent job with the characters and stories. I believe there are now 4 in her series and I think they can be read in any order but the first does give the introduction to Edward Catchpool the Scotland Yard Inspector.
Danna, again I say thank you for this great site. I’ve pointed other cozy reader friends this way. Earlene Fowler is on my list to get and read. It sounds like a great series.
Also, thank you to all the readers who contribute and make recommendations. I’ve discovered so many great series thanks to everyone suggesting favorites.
Happy New Year all. May 2021 be good to us.
Rob J says
I don’t know if you consider Emily Brightwell a cozy author but I just read her “Mrs Jeffries Delivers the Goods” and like all of her books, enjoyed it immensely. She does a wonderful job with a lightness of spirit and fun to balance the grimness of death. Her heros always get their person. (yes, sometimes a woman commits the crime)
Also, Leslie Budewicz offers a few options with recipes and winning character and plot lines. Her Pepper in Seattle spice shop series is a winner but I also enjoyed her foodie series out west as well.
She is a good author with a tongue in cheek attitude that is refreshing.
Emily Brightwell is *absolutely* a cozy author! I love her books. – I don’t have nearly enough of them, Lol! but that’s something that will rectify itself eventually.
So many books, so little time. (And money, and bookshelves…)
I enjoyed Sit Stay Slay by V.M. Burns. It is 5th in the Dog Club Mysteries. Ms. Burns has become an author that I look forward to reading. There are many regular characters and their humans so I think it best to start with the first book in the series so that you get to know their personalities.
This series is about family, friendship, second starts, and of course dogs and their training. Lilly, the main character, has 2 poodles: Aggie and Rex (named after Agatha Christie and Rex Stout). Lilly tries to solve a murder in order to absolve her good friend Dixie of being a suspect.
I read Patricia Moyes’ last book: “Twice in a Blue Moon.” The book is written by a first person account. A young woman, an orphan, is surprised to learn that an old uncle left her an old, deteriorating inn in the country. She has graduated from a top school of culinary and hotel management and decided to keep it after major improvements and is successful. But then one guest, and another die from a food poisoning and it is up to Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Henry Tibbet and his wife Emmy to figure out that someone wants to close the Inn. A rumored ghost story about the inn is solved too. Always enjoyable.
I continued with M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth books. They are short but rich in characters. I like Hamish and his friend Priscilla and the cooperation between them and the “Will they or won’t they” tension. As happens often with stories that take place in a small village, murder victims and suspects are either visitors – “Death of a Greedy Woman” or the story takes place in a remote location “Death of a Snob.” “Death of a Prankster” was extremely satisfying.
I read Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple “Gone West” which, we are told in the introduction, is British for died. Daisy is asked by a former school mate to visit her in a remote hard to reach converted farm house. The friend is an assistant and now a ghost writer to a famous Western author. The new books are better, paid better and the friend wonders whether someone in the house is keeping the author week and ill so that she will continue to ghost write with the extra money. But then the author dies. Is it a murder? Who would have a motive among the family members and guests? Interesting conclusion.
Jo Anne Yerkes says
Laurien Berenson’s Howloween Murder and Game of Dog Bones. Have read her whole Melanie Travis books.
Sally Goldenbaum’s A Holiday Yarn and started her The Wedding Shawl. I can’t knit at all but like the characters.
Sally Fortney says
I read Killer Kung Pao by Vivien Chien. She explores more shops in Asian Village, including the beauty shop where the murder happens. I wish the author included recipes because the book made me hungry. Stay safe and well.
Julie Chase-Kitty Couture Series. I read all 4 books. I love her other series she writes under different pseudonyms. I hope she keeps writing this series.
December Recommendations – 2020
Crime of a Different Stripe — Sally Goldenbaum
An enjoyable series that I always recommend to everyone. Four women are always featured as the protagonists, usually alternating the lead. Kudos to the author for including a list of characters at the beginning of the book. There are numerous people in this community to keep track of.
Sam’s former famous photography teacher is invited to teach a week’s course in this small arts community. He comes with a lot of a baggage and an undesirable past. When he is found murdered, Sam is at the top of the suspect list because of an incident that occurred when he was a student.
Goldenbaum ALWAYS writes a good mystery and this is no exception. The ending is a surprise.
There is far more introspective conversation amongst the four friends than is normal in previous books. It adds to novel type storylines (as opposed to a straight mystery).
This is a series that is best enjoyed if read from the beginning.
Premeditated Mortar — Kate Carlisle
This series is set in Northern CA. Shannon Hammer owns a construction/renovation company.
In this story she is working with a friend to renovate a portion of a former asylum for a hotel. It’ll be a year long project. There are protestors to this project, some former residents or employees. They had such dire experiences they’d like to see the facility burnt down. A murder doesn’t take place until the middle of the story. This is a complex story with many intricate elements.
Whenever recommending this author for her two series, I always mention about how adept she is in writing about interpersonal relationships. She doesn’t send the boyfriend, fiancé, husband out of town while the murder is solved by the protagonist. It is two people working together to come to a resolution without disapproval of the male partner. Carlisle is queen of writing these type interactions and could teach a course on it for authors who don’t want to attempt it.
In this series Shannon’s love interest is a famous author — not the ‘norm’ police detective, FBI agent, spy, lawyer, etc. which is usually a prerequisite for a cozy. The characters in this series are enjoyable, but not as diverse and deep as the characters in her bibliophile series.
Without a Brew — Ellie Alexander
This series is set in a small scenic Bavarian community in Washington. Although protagonist Sloan Kraus is divorcing her husband, she still has part ownership in his family’s brewery. However, she is now an assistant to the owner (Garrett) of a small craft brewery.
They’ve renovated the upper floor for B&B guests. They decided to open early because there is a popular event in town and every place is booked. One of their guests is murdered. There’s no shortage of suspects. Several plot twists and turns will keep the reader captivated until the end. In addition, there are several intriguing storylines, all developed with much complexity. A page turner, for sure.
There is one side storyline regarding Sloan’s background that has flowed through all four books so far. I wish Alexander would wrap up and resolve this story. It is frustrating to read bits and pieces to a story spread out over several books. I’ve actually stopped reading some series when I find this aspect of a ‘drag on’ story. It gets too annoying by not providing resolution quickly.
There are so many dimensions to this series that I can confidently say it most likely will appeal to all readers. The characters have quite diverse/unique personalities, and most are endearing.
I meant to add at the end of my post…………
HAPPY NEW YEAR to all, especially wonderful Danna!! 🙂
I, and I’m sure most of the others, really appreciate all that you do in putting together this website.
May 2021 bring good health, happiness, and many blessings to all of the blog participants and readers. The thoughts you share are really valued.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
MJ, Happy New Year and good health to you as well… and thank you as always for the detailed and insightful recommendations posts!
I just finished reading The Twelve Deaths Of Christmas by Marian Babson. One of my favorite Christmas reads. It finally came out on Kindle so I never have to go looking for a copy again. Wonderful story, well told and lots of fun characters.
Kathie Deviny’s latest offering is a delight. I’ve enjoyed her previous two books but with this latest offering, her writing style and character development has taken the characters and situations around Grace Church to a new level. While solving a mystery, social failings and dilemmas are addressed, but done so in away that speaks to each reader. I think Ms. Deviny has, with book, proven herself to a writer whose stories and messages will stay with us for a long while.
This is a must read.
Amy S says
I’ve been enjoying the Village series by Margaret Mayhew. There are 6 books in the series so far. I’m reading book 5 right now and have enjoyed all of them. The endings are a little different, but very cozy reading.
This month I have two that I really liked.
The first one is the latest from one of my favorite authors, Frances Brody, “Murder is in the Air”, a Kate Shackleton mystery. The series is historical fiction, taking place at a brewery in 1930 in North Yorkshire. Kate solves a mystery that appears to be an accident at first.
The second book is “Poppy Redfern and the Fatal Flyers” by Tessa Arlen. This is Tessa’s second book, also a historical fiction, centered around WWII female aviators who ferry planes around England. Poppy is a young, naïve, clever and quirky woman trying to do her part in the war effort. She is accompanied be her dog (I forget his name) and her romantic interest, an American flyer, and solves the mystery of the deaths of two female flyers. The cover artwork is by Robert Rodriguez and stands out on its own merit.
Betsy N says
Hidden Treasure: A Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery by Jane K Cleland.
This is one of my most favorite series in which I wait anxiously for each book to be published! A strong, successful female lead along with a fascinating behind the scenes look into the antiques world.
I loved your recap of the Benni Harper series! This series along with the “Cat Who… “ was my introduction to this genre and it was nice to be reminded of that!
Thank you for all your hard work with this website! Checking in here has been such a pleasure these last few years! Wishing you and yours all the best in 2021!
Janice G says
I read a number of good books this month, some mentioned previously by other readers. One new one I enjoyed was the first book in a new series, My Fair Latte by Vickie Fee. Halley Greer is surprised to learn that her Uncle Leon, long estranged from her family, has died and left her the theater that he owned in the tourist town of Utopia Springs Arkansas. With the help of her uncle’s friends and neighbors Halley reopens the theater as a retro movie house with a wine and coffee bar. A man is found dead during the intermission of the first movie – My Fair Lady – and the police see Halley as a likely suspect. The characters in this book are interesting and the setting a bit different than usual.
Lynne Whitaker says
Try Elaine Viets’ Dead End Job Series. It’s the best!
Mysterious, educational and funny!
Her Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper Series is good too.