My favorite Cozy Mystery of February is Susanna Calkins’ The Masque of a Murderer, the third in her absolutely terrific historical, British Cozy Mystery series. I am an absolute fan of Susanna Calkins‘ Lucy Campion Mystery Series.
The Lucy Campion series follows Lucy, a young woman who starts out as a chambermaid for a local magistrate in 17th century London. Fortunately for Lucy, her employer is a kind man who has taught her to read which opens other employment opportunities for her.
Rather than write why I enjoy Susanna Calkins’ mysteries so much, I’m going to refer you to three of my earlier posts. In May of 2013 I wrote Susanna Calkins, Author of A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate : My Newest Favorite Author and I recommended both of the first books in her series on two previous recommendation entries as well. (Cozy Mystery Books Recommendations – May 2013 and Mystery Book Recommendations – January 2015)
Oh, and there are lots of other Cozy Mystery readers who also think Susanna Calkins is a wonderful mystery author. She has been nominated for a Bruce Alexander Memorial Mystery award, a Lovey Best Historical novel, a Mary Higgins Clark award, and also an Agatha Award for Best Historical mystery.
How about you? Would you please tell us about the really good Cozy Mysteries you read during February, and please tell us why you liked them so much. These should be the Cozies you thought were even better than the other Cozies you read. The rest of us would love reading your recommendations/comments. I know I get lots of new-to-me Cozy Mystery authors based on your comments. (Please list the Cozies you liked the most at the very top of your list.)
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 February 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 (Mary Jane Maffini & daughter Victoria Maffini): Book Collectors Mystery Series
Cathy Ace: WISE Enquiry Agency Mystery Series
Ellery Adams: Books by the Bay Mystery Series
Ellery Adams: Book Retreat Mystery Series
Donna Andrews: Meg Langslow Mystery Series
Donald Bain (w/ Renée Paley-Bain & Jessica Fletcher): Murder She Wrote Mystery Series (Two Cozy readers recommended this series this month.)
M.C. Beaton (aka Marion Chesney): Hamish Macbeth Mystery Series
Emily Brightwell: Mrs. Jeffries Mystery Series
Leslie Budewitz: Seattle Spice Shop Mystery Series
Susanna Calkins: Lucy Campion Mystery Series
Kate Carlisle: Fixer-Upper Mystery Series (Two Cozy readers recommended this series this month.)
Amanda Carmack: Elizabethan Mystery Series
Sarah Caudwell: Hilary Tamar Mystery Series
Maia Chance: Discreet Retrieval Agency Mystery Series
Laura Childs: Scrapbooking Mystery Series
Mindy Starns Clark: Million Dollar Mystery Series
Kate Collins: Flower Shop Mystery Series
Sheila Connolly (aka Sarah Atwell): County Cork Mystery Series
E.J. Copperman (aka Jeffrey Cohen): Haunted Guesthouse Mystery Series (Two Cozy readers recommended this series this month.)
Leighann Dobbs: Mooseamuck Island Mystery Series
Elizabeth J. Duncan: Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery Series (Two Cozy readers recommended this series this month.)
Elizabeth Edmondson: A Man of Some Repute
Jean Flowers (aka Camille Minichino, Margaret Grace, & Ada Madison): Postmistress Mystery Series (Two Cozy readers recommended this series this month.)
Joanne Fluke: Hannah Swensen Mystery Series
Christopher Fowler: Bryant & May (Peculiar Crimes) Mystery Series (reportedly not Cozy)
Dick Francis: Stand Alones (not cozy)
Parnell Hall: Puzzle Lady Mystery Series
David Handler: Berger & Mitry Mystery Series
Charlaine Harris: Aurora Teagarden Mystery Series
B.B. Haywood: Candy Holliday Mystery Series
Julie Hyzy: White House Chef Mystery Series
Mary Lou Kirwin: Librarian Mystery Series
Joyce and Jim Lavene (aka J. J. Cook & Ellie Grant): Christmas Tree Valley Mystery Series
Catherine Lloyd: Kurland St. Mary Mystery Series
Dixie Lyle: Whiskey, Tango, and Foxtrot Mystery Series
Jenn McKinlay (aka Josie Belle & Lucy Lawrence): Hat Shop Mystery Series
Leslie Meier: Lucy Stone Mystery Series
Shirley Rousseau Murphy & Pat J.J. Murphy: Lee Fontana Mystery Series
Ann B. Ross: Miss Julia Mystery Series
Maggie Sefton: Knitting Mystery Series
Dorothy Simpson: Luke Thanet Mystery Series
Fran Stewart: ScotShop Mystery Series
Victoria Thompson: Gaslight Mystery Series
Elaine Viets: Dead-End Job Mystery Series
Lea Wait: Mainely Needlepoint 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.
Where to start…I will start with the first in a new series. It was Death Takes Priority, a Postmistress mystery, by Jean Flowers. Like the premise, it is a different line of work then most copies. People are interesting and it kept me guessing. Only thing missing is a pet for the postmistress.
Caught up with Ellery Adams and her Books by the Bay mysteries, Lea Wait and her Mainely Needlepoint Mystery. Also read Cast on, Kill off by Maggie Sefton and Throw in the Trowel by Kate Collins, I believe they are both in the middle of the series. Seems I did a lot of reading.
I am rereading one of my favorite cozy series, The Lucy Stone Mysteries. I decided to reread a few favorite series and started with this one because I love Tinker Cove, Maine and Lucy, the amateur sleuth. When I first started reading this series 25 years ago, I always had to wait at least a year in between books. Now I can binge read and enjoy the books even more, while discovering new things I missed in the first reading.
Tippy Toe Murder by Leslie Meier (2nd in the series) is darker than her other books because of the violence and serious issues addressed. However, it is still enjoyable. There are 2 story lines: a missing elderly woman and an older man killed in his own store. Lucy gets involved in both because of a ballet recital and a camcorder. I had forgotten the solution to this mystery book and it kept me intrigued to the very end.
I think Lucy Stone Mysteries would be a great movie series on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel. I wonder who could be cast as Lucy?
Danna - cozy mystery list says
KG, love your idea. Thank you, I’m going to use it for a blog entry!
Paula Catherine says
I just finished Julie Hyzy’s FOREIGN ECLAIRS. It was terrific and had a unexpected ending. I would highly recommend it.
Because of a recommendation from this blog I have started reading Gail Oust’ Bunco Babe series, very funny.
Not to give anything away, but did ‘Foreign Eclairs’ really ‘end’? Or, are there continuing aspects to the main story line?
My daughter read this book and said it was good, but was disappointed (and frustrated) that it’s set up to continue into the next book.
Although, I love to read Hyzy’s books, I decided to wait until next year’s release and read the two books back to back.
Many cozy authors continue character stories (especially romance ones) into successive books. BUT, I like the main story to be Done!, Finished!, The End!, when I read the final chapter.
Linda MH says
I read on Ms. Hyzy’s blog (Dec. ’15) that Foreign Eclairs is the last book she will write in this series. She has had some major issues with the company that owns the rights to this series–not Berkley Prime Crime, they wanted the series to continue. If you are interested, go to her website to read what she has to say.
THANKS So MUCH for suggesting I read J. Hyzy’s blog. It gave me great insight.
I’m just an ordinary reader who happens to love cozies. I had NO idea of what goes into producing a book. I assumed an author (especially one as popular as Hyzy) had the copyright to their stories. Wrong! Some do, some don’t.
I encourage everyone to go to Hyzy’s webpage and read her blog entry as to why she’s no longer writing the White House series. It’s an EYE OPENER to the process. I figured an author wrote a book, found a publisher, received payment, and the rest was history. Simple, huh? Nope. It’s really sad when an author puts so many creative juices into their projects and then feels it’s necessary to let go.
Actually, since Hyzy doesn’t own the copyright, the company that does could easily employ another author to continue the series (as was done with the Lila Dare Southern Beauty Shop series). It will be interesting to see if it happens with this series.
The other question is, does Hyzy retain the rights to her name on this series? In the case of some other switched author projects, the original name on the series stayed the same even though the author changed.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
MJ, I’m sorry, I thought you already knew this. Margaret StashEmpress wrote this comment on Dec. 16 of last year:
“Unfortunately one of my “must read first” authors, Julie Hyzy, posted today on her blog why her White House Chef series is coming to an end. The reason why is very sad and disturbing to fans. http://juliehyzy.blogspot.com/2015/12/all-good-things.html“
Linda MH says
You’re very welcome. I’m sorry to see this series end, and I agree, Ms. Hyzy’s blog is a definite eye opener. After reading your comments below, I think I will leave this last book on my TBR shelf for a while longer. If you aren’t satisfied with the ending, I doubt I will be very happy with it–since we seem to read and enjoy the same books. I have to wonder if the company that owns the rights to this series will hire someone else to write future stories.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
MJ, when I read your comment, I wondered how it couldn’t have ended. If it doesn’t end, I’m guessing the publishing company that owns the rights insisted on the book leaving it open for another author to take over the writing duties. But then I wondered how that fit in with Julie Hyzy saying she thought we would all be happy with this last book. It’s really sad when things work out this way for authors. I wonder if the use of pseudonyms is something publishers prefer when they own the rights to the characters/sereis. Just wonderin’…
GREAT discussion (however, off the ‘blog’ topic)…….
Although it’s on my bookshelf, I haven’t yet read this book. However because of this discussion, I decided to read the final few pages (my daughter had inadvertently ‘spilled’ the ending anyway).
I really don’t want to reveal any spoiler alerts, but personally, I would not be satisfied/happy (no way, no how) that this was ‘The End’.
As part of the story’s main plot line, it leaves the reader ‘wanting to know’ what happens next. If I didn’t know what I now know, I would be anxiously awaiting (and expecting) the next installment. It’s not what you’d call a ‘cliff hanger’, but it definitely is NOT wrapped up in a pretty bow with everyone ‘living happily ever after’.
There is an aspect to this that I can remotely understand why Ms. Hyzy ended it this way, but it would be convoluted. As others read this book, it would be VERY interesting to see what their take is on this ending. Would they expect another book (as a continuation) like me, or do they feel this was a good ‘final ending’?
I guess I missed Margaret’s comments about this item in Dec. So I didn’t know it was the final book until I read Linda’s remarks this morning. So-o-o sad about it.
As readers, we probably don’t know or understand many of the ‘headaches’ authors go through to get a book into our hands. Perhaps we should join together to have a “National Authors Appreciation Day!!! 🙂
Danna - cozy mystery list says
MJ, cliff hangers… I’m not crazy about them!
Ditto on your “National Authors Appreciation Day!!!“
Paula Catherine says
MJ: I had not read the comments about Julie Hyzy’s blog until I finished the novel. I was not aware of the financial aspects of publishing either. I really enjoyed the WHC series and will look forward to continuing to enjoy her other novels. But: Ollie was a “plucky” , complex and fun character to get to know.
Margaret StashEmpress says
I have Foreign Eclairs waiting for me on hold at the library. I hope to get out tomorrow to pick it up! I’ve really been looking forward to this one. Alas Julie Hyzy wrote on her blog why this would be the last of the series (through no fault of her own)!
February Recommendations — 2016
Copy Cap Murder – Jenn McKinlay
I haven’t read all her books, but of the series I’ve read this is my favorite. McKinlay is the consummate story teller. It’s hard for me to explain her style. In this book everything is weaved together for an integrated story line. The words all flow well together. There aren’t pieces – just a whole. And, there isn’t any mundane detail that isn’t actually relative to the storyline. Sometimes I think authors do this just to fill up the requisite pages or # of words, thus bogging down the story.
The protagonist (Scarlett Parker) and her cousin (Vivian Temont) own a millinery store in London, catering to a posh clientele. They attend a bonfire party sponsored by a London accounting firm. One of the employees (obnoxious, inebriated) tries to attack Scarlett. She manages to fight him off. He is later found murdered.
Scarlett’s and Vivian’s business manager is accused. He also appears to be the future romantic interest for Scarlett. There is much witty banter/dialogue between them, good for several chuckles.
The characters are so well developed with a lot of complexity. There are twists and turns that the reader will no way, no how figure out. What an ending! McKinklay writes with much humor, which makes this a delightful read.
Death Takes Priority — Jean Flowers
Flowers is a pseudonym for Minichino and, of course, Minichino never disappoints! This author writes with such intellect that all her books are enjoyable, often times a cut above many others.
I really liked the originality of the setting – a post office, set in a small MA community. Who would’ve thunk!! It’s astute to have something fresh other than a craft shop, diner, bookstore, library, etc.
Cassie Miller is the lead character, intelligent and savvy. She accepts a position of postmaster in her former hometown after a break-up (ho-hum — normal cozy formula!) with her ex. in Boston. A former high school boyfriend (from long, long ago) is murdered.
The characters are multi-faceted, some even a little offbeat. I especially like the police chief (Sunni Smargon) character. She and Cassie are becoming fast friends. The possible romantic interest also has an alias……….just to complicate the story!
It’s a fast-paced story that is intriguing and somewhat intricate. Good read, good mystery (as we have come to expect from this author)!
Christmas Fir Murder Joyce and Jim Lavene
This is a must read for all of you Lavene fans. Is it the best book I’ve read this month? Perhaps not. Is it the best book the Lavenes have written? Nope. However, it is dedicated to Joyce Lavene. From what I can ascertain from the acknowledgements, it was finished with the help of their son Chris (listed as a contributing writer) and daughters (Jeni and Emily). I believe it is self-published.
I found this to be a very ‘poignant’ story. It’s set at Christmas time in a small TN community, Christmas Tree Valley, just down the mountain from Sweet Briar (where the Sweet Briar Fire Brigade series is set). In this initial book there is a crossover of several characters, even a surprise reveal of Stella’s ghost friend (former fire chief).
Bonnie Tuttle is a federal wildlife agent returning to her home community because her mother is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She has accepted a position in the wildlife service because its current officer is retiring. He is found murdered.
Bonnie is a fiercely independent woman with a special gift relating to wildlife animals. She saves the life of a wolf pup, who refuses to leave her. Bonnie’s family owns a Christmas tree farm, which she will also manage. Matthew also owns a nearby Christmas tree farm. I believe he is the designated candidate for ‘romantic interest’. He helps Bonnie with the wildlife agency, as he did with her predecessor.
This is a fairly short story (233 pages). It’ really a quick read, very difficult to put down. I read it in a day or so. Because the characters are so sharp and enduring, it has the potential of a good series. But somehow, I wonder if that will happen. Even if it doesn’t turn into a series, it’s worth reading because it can stand alone. It’s an enjoyable, heartfelt story (even in February!), especially for the Lavene fans.
Guilty as Cinnamon — Leslie Budewitz
I’ve read a couple of intelligent books this month, this being one of them. The writing is smart and sharp. Pepper Reece is the protagonist and owns a Seattle spice shop. She is a complicated character with so much depth. The murder victim is a new chef who is opening up a restaurant. She was a client and acquaintance of Pepper’s.
This story takes a very windy and twisted road to a solution. In fact, the ending is difficult to figure out in advance. Kudos to Budewitz for supplying the reader with a list of the characters in the beginning of the book. It certainly helps to keep everyone straight – especially since this is only the second book of the series. As always, this author does a lot of descriptive scenic writing.
Comment: I’m in the middle of another book I might recommend. If I finish it by tomorrow, I’ll add another entry to this blog.
Just started Death of a Nurse by M.C. Beaton, the latest in the Hamish Macbeth series. This is my all time favorite cozy series. It just doesn’t get better than this for me.
Margaret StashEmpress says
This title is also waiting for me on hold at the library — I REALLY hope I get out to pick it up tomorrow!!!!
I am finishing up Victoria Thompson’s series “Gaslight Mysteries,” which feature a midwife and a policeman in turn-of-the-century New York City. I have truly enjoyed this series, mainly because I am fascinated with books set in different historical periods especially those which feature a strong, intelligent heroine. There are maybe a few nits I might pick with Ms. Thompson’s writing, but none which would make me not pre-order her next book. The details of life in NYC at that time, from several different social points of view (from Teddy Roosevelt to the poor immigrants of the day) really make me want more and more.
I just started ” A Penny For Your Thoughts” by Mindy Starns Clark. I am really enjoying it. The story moves along well, interesting characters and seems like it will be a great series.
emily brightwell- just love the mrs.jeffries and inspector series. just love being back in the kitchen with the friends and staff. keep on writing emily.
the book i’m reading now is “miss julia lays down the law.” there are 16 books in the series and this is the last one so far. i read all this month. it is about an older women who’s husband dies and his THURSDAY night girlfriend with his 9 year son comes calling. they move in and the fun starts. read in order. she starts out up tight and mellows with each book. a yery good series
i love the miss julia stories also but listen to them on audiobooks, they are a hoot !!
Margaret StashEmpress says
I love the Miss Julia series – and its wonderful and heartwarming to see how the characters — and definition of family — change across the series. Wonderful books! (And some darn right funny plotting too!)
I thoroughly enjoyed “Crowned and Moldering” by Kate Carlisle. It kept my interest throughout even though I am not a fixer-upper. The protagonist is an independent young woman who has taken over her father’s business. A northern California lighthouse renovation is interesting and the characters are likable.
Another good read was “Untimely Death” by Elizabeth Duncan. This is a first in the new series of Shakespeare in the Catskills. The mystery will keep you guessing until the end. Gives you a good feel of being a part of a theatre production in the heart of the atmospheric Catskills in New York. I look forward to more in this new series.
Mrs. Jeffries murder mysteries are my favorite. Emily Brightwell does an excellent job of making the characters literally come alive! Perfect combination of wit, humor, suspense and well written thought out plot to hold your interest. I hardly recommend the series.
Margaret StashEmpress says
Having been sick in bed pretty much all month — with one or two or more varieties of flu — or “flu-like” viruses — going around town (and around my house!!!) — so you’d think I’d have got a ton of reading done — but for most of two weeks of the time I didn’t even feel well enough to read — or watch a movie —- how sick is that???
But I did get some good ones in:
First of all — For the category of best old favorite series — the winner is……………………………
Donna Andrews for her Meg Langslow series!!!!!
Since your recent post about the series, I had to check out Murder with Peacocks (thank you public library ebooks and thank you kindle!) — I first read this book eons ago and became an immediate fan of the series — love the wild & wacky characters & the zany situations — So I started rereading it — and except for the obvious beginning (where she is awakened to someone on the phone saying Peacocks!) — I was shocked to discover that I couldn’t remember the story at all! She’s matron of honor for 3 weddings — her brother Rob to Samantha (who???) — her mother to — WHO?????? — and her best friend — who???? OK — that shocked me right there — (and except for the obvious part about Michael) — I couldn’t remember a thing about the plot!!!! (well — and the peacocks of course LOL).
So then I read the next in the series — Murder with Puffins — and again — I totally couldn’t remember a THING about the plot!
So now have the 3rd book awaiting on my kindle — I guess I’ll just work my way through the series until I start to remember them!
Now — for best NEW (to me) series —- and the award goes to:
Amanda Carmack for her Elizabethan Mystery series!
So far this month have read the first 3 in the series:
Murder at Hatfield House
Murder at Westminster Abbey
Murder In The Queen’s Garden
(I also have purchased the next, a novella, and have it waiting for me on my kindle & have the next novel of the series waiting for me at the public library awaiting pickup — alas my library didn’t have this series available as ebooks)
This is the best new (to me) series I’ve read in a long time — the sleuth is a 19yo girl (which was considered a mature woman already in those days), Kate Haywood, musician to young Queen Elizabeth — the first — back in the 1500’s…. but of course not only a musician but confidante of the young queen and solver of murders and various mysteries that threaten the security of her beloved Queen and country. I love that Kate is a strong and independent woman, and I love the historical setting — and what I have to add is that I like something that perhaps some people wouldn’t like — that the characters speak in English that I can understand! Now I understand this is not historically accurate — which I imagine some purists would be turned off by that — but when I’m in the grip of a good mystery story — I don’t want to be distracted by not understanding the character’s speech! (ie. if they spoke like Shakespearean characters — and the first books take place prior to Shakespeare’s first works — I couldn’t make heads or tails of what they were saying).
Totally in love with this series — very gripping, very exciting plots — not the kind where you see the murderer coming a mile off!
Also very very good books I read this month:
Victoria Abbot — The Marsh Madness (Book Collector series)
Jordan Bingham and her delightful assortment of felonious relatives and crazy acquaintances are back! This time they’ve been set up to take the fall for a murder rap — nothing is what it seems – and its personal. The reveal took me TOTALLY by surprise!!!!!
Parnell Hall — Presumed Puzzled (Puzzle Lady series) — One of my most favorite of the humorous cozy series! One of the things I both love and hate about Hall (at the same time!) is that he tosses surprises that you never see coming — on the one hand I find myself saying, “but that’s not fair — an author can’t DO that!” — at the same time saying, “DANG, he’s good!!!!!” LOL!
Catherine Lloyd — Death Comes to Kurland Hall (Kurland St. Mary series) — newest installment of this historical mystery series set in Regency England. As previously mentioned, I love the sleuth, Lucy Harrington, a strong and independent woman living in a time when women were supposed to be neither. Far from being cowed by the men in her life, she steps up to the bat & shows them her mettle, time & time again.
Maia Chance — Come Hell or Highball (Discreet Retrieval Agency series) — This is another new-to-me series — I saw it mentioned on the list & had to try it —- another historical/humorous series — with great flapper fashions.
Elizabeth J. Duncan — Untimely Death (Shakespeare in the Catskills series) — New series by the author of the Penny Brannigan series. This one features as sleuth Charlotte Fairfax, formerly the costume mistress of the Royal Shakespeare Company, now in charge of costumes for a Catskill resort’s theater company. As with the Penny Brannigan series, the characters just draw you in — even if you have nothing in common with them, you just feel like they’re your oldest and dearest friends and you want to know all about their lives and adventures. Well plotted — couldn’t put it down (didn’t see it coming either!).
Donald Bain — The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher (Murder She Wrote series) — Everyone loves Jessica Fletcher and her Murder She Wrote series — this one has ghosts… nuff said… 😉
Cathy Ace — The Case of the Missing Morris Dancer (WISE Enquiry Agency series). Second in the series. Even better than the first. When I read the first one, I kept feeling that Althea (Dowager Duchess) was a modern day Violet Crawley (Dame Maggie Smith).
Well when reading the second one, I have to say every scene with Althea and Mavis — I kept hearing Violet and Isobel (Penelope Wilton) — Honestly if this series is ever made into a movie — you MUST have those two actresses playing those characters! (Yes, loved the book!!!!!)
Kate Carlisle — The Lies That Bind (Bibliophile series)
Kate Carlisle — One Book In The Grave (Bibliophile series)
Brooklyn Wainwright is by profession a bookbinder who restores valuable rare books — and coincidentally a self-professed “body magnet” — who is forever stumbling over corpses somehow related to said rare books — and solving their murders. Working my way through this series, not necessarily in order, but in whatever order I can get my hands on them (the first one still evades me — public library alternately says its “on order” and “not available for download” — they can’t even decide if the copy they *don’t* have is print or ebook… now THAT is a mystery for a bibliophile to solve!)
I read and loved A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmundson. (I believe it can be classified as cozy.) The setting was great, a medieval castle in England. I loved the characters and how the mystery played out. A highly enjoyable read.
I have Masque of a Murderer by Susanna Calkins, but didn’t read the preceding books in the series. Can I read it as a stand alone and still enjoy it as much?
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Laurie, I’d read it in order to get the entire feeling of where Lucy comes from, but I’m guessing it would be a good Stand Alone as well.
Sadly, Elizabeth Edmonson passed away in January.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Patty, thank you so much for telling us this very sad news.
I truly gasped at this news. I did not know. Thank you for informing us. I feel very sad to hear that.
Patti S says
I found a really enjoyable series called A Scot Shop Series. The first book is A Wee Murder in My Shop and the second book is A Wee Dose of Death. Both of these books were good. The character owns a shop that sells Scottish merchandise and in the first book she is in Scotland on a buying trip. She buys a very old shawl and brings back to the states not only the shawl but a very old ghost. Fun reading.
I always enjoy the Recommendations post because there is usually at least one author/series I haven’t yet tried. This month it was Dixie Lyle (Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot Mysteries) and Fran Stewart (A ScotShop Series), both of which I am now looking forward to sampling.
Thank you, ladies!
Wedding Cake Murder — Joanne Fluke
Normally If I’m reading a book at the end of the month, I’d wait until the next month to recommend it. HOWEVER, since we discussed this ‘upcoming’ book last year (spring? summer?), I thought I’d comment on it now. Since this book was released just a week ago, there’s probably several of you who haven’t read it yet, so I don’t want give any spoiler alerts. Because of our previous discussions I wanted to read it right away.
First, this is a very character driven series. I think it’s popular because we love reading about the characters each year from book to book. The Swensens are a loving family with enduring friends and a few dysfunctional aspects thrown in for fun. There’s always plenty of humor in their situations and dialogue. Some of the mystery story lines are good, some not so much.
In my humble opinion, the murder is secondary to the main story line in this book In fact, it doesn’t even take place until half way through the story. Hannah, with the help of her sister Michelle, enters into a dessert competition. The first one is in NY, the next few are set in her MN hometown. Since it takes so long for the ‘murder to occur’, I won’t mention the victim. I found this story interesting because of the wedding aspect, not because of the murder. I didn’t even peek at the last few pages, which took a lot of control!
Since it’s called the Wedding Cake Murder, last year we hypothesized whether Hannah (protagonist) would actually marry newcomer Ross. Over the previous 18 books. her long time boyfriends (Norman and Mike) have become endearing to the readers. I have to admit I was TOTALLY wrong (a rare occasion!) in my hypothesis.
In a few weeks, after Fluke fans have read this book, it would be interesting if Danna reposted those comments. I know my reaction. It could be enlightening to see what others thought of how this situation (boyfriend(s), wedding) played out. Were readers pleased? Displeased? Or, didn’t they really care one way or another?
AND, isn’t it somewhat surprising how we get vested in these ‘fictional characters’!! It’s my escape from all the ‘craziness/weirdness’ that goes on around us in this ‘real’ world.
Jennifer K says
I’m so glad someone already recommended Maia Chance’s Discrete Retrieval Agency series. I’m also a huge fan of those old P.G. Wodehouse comedies, and Maia Chance has done an amazing job of mixing that same screwball comedy flavor into the cozy mystery genre. She has great characters and a lively, fast-paced writing style. I LOVE these books. Great reads!
MSW – Gin & Daggers by Donald Bain/Jessica Fletcher: LOVE this series! While reading, “Jessica’s voice” comes through loud and clear. I will be slowly making my way through the rest of this series.
A Zen for Murder by Leighann Dobbs: I really enjoyed this cozy mystery, as it satisfied every element of coziness for me. This is the first book in this series and had been sitting on my TBR list for a bit. I enjoyed that this story is told from two different points of view from the main characters, male and female.
Murder in the Paperback Parlor by Ellery Adams: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Pure coziness, with multiple book references made throughout. This story takes place near Valentine’s Day. I loved the first book and this book did not disappoint. Ellery Adams is one of my favorite authors!
I read a handful of cozies this month, all good reads I highly recommend.
“Town in a Cinnamon Toast” by B.B. Haywood (Candy Holliday Mysteries). This is one of my top favorite series. The town’s historian, Julius Seabury, is murdered a week before Georg and Maggie’s wedding. Julius’ murder is related to the ongoing feud between members of two of the town’s founding families. Candy Holliday investigates Julius’ murder with some help from Georg. They learn more old secrets about the founding families and how these secrets continue to effect present day events.
“Chance of a Ghost” by E.J. Copperman (Haunted Guesthouse Mysteries). Alison Kerby, Guesthouse owner, and reluctant P.I. winds up on another case involving solving the murder of a ghost. This time the ghost is one of her mother’s neighbors who died six months earlier, a semi-retired theater employee and aspiring actor who was good at making enemies.
“To Die Fur” by Dixie Lyle (Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot Mysteries)
Foxtrot Lancaster’s employer ZZ winds up as the temporary caretaker of an extremely rare white liger. ZZ invites a handful of prospective new owners, including the representatives of a zoo in Asia and wildlife refuge in Africa to plead their cases in person regarding whom she should turn the animal over to, to insure he’s in the best care. But the liger is poisoned and dies. This has serious implications for the rainbow bridge gateway which lies in the pet cemetery on ZZ’s property. So not only does Foxtrot have to find the killer, but she must deal with the otherworldly implications of the big cat’s sudden death.
“Death Swatch” by Laura Childs (Scrapbooking Mysteries) It’s Mardi Gras time in New Orleans. Carmela Bertrand and her best friend Ava are invited to a party at their friend Jekyll Hardy’s spacious French Quarter apartment. But when one of the other guests, Archie Baudier, is murdered Carmela and Ava wind up doing some sleuthing on their own. Archie was a parade float designer, old coin collector and was Jekyll’s next door neighbor and friend. Archie was working on floats for the upcoming Mardi Gras parades. Carmella and Ava take a lot of risks and wind up in assorted odd places trying to figure out who the killer is.
“The Cat, the Devil, the Last Escape” by Shirley Rousseau Murphy and Pat J.J. Murphy (sequel to The Cat, the Devil, and Lee Fontana”)
Lee Fontana winds up back in prison. At first he is moved to a prison hospital in Missouri until the complications from his emphysema can be brought back under control. Then he is transferred to the federal prison in Atlanta where he meets and befriends Morgan Blake and learns of Morgan’s history. Morgan is an honest family man who was set up for a deadly bank robbery he didn’t commit by his former childhood friend Brad Fallon, who turned out to be a violent scheming sociopath. Lee meets Morgan’s family and discovers his connection to Morgan’s daughter Sammie, who dreams of events from the near future. So Lee hatches a plan whereby he and Morgan will escape from prison and confront Fallon to force him to confess to them and tell them where he hid the stolen bank money and the gun he used to kill the bank guard. It’s a daring plan if they can pull it off without getting killed in the process. Fortunately Misto the ghost cat continues to watch over Lee and the Blake family and helps protect them.
I read a number of books that I really liked this month but will only mention two series that are very different from each other. I just finished The Lavender Lane Lothatio by David Handler, the most recent book in the Berger and Mitry mysteries. The story was interesting and I like that the roles of the characters are the reverse of most cozies. The state trooper in the series is a female and her movie critic boyfriend is the one who butts in on her cases. The location is a small Connecticut town with lots of eccentric characters. The murder victim in this story is the town building inspector who has angered a number of people but also has managed to keep secret that fact that he is involved with many different women.
The other book that I would recommend is A Turn for the Bad by Sheila Connolly, the latest in the County Cork mystery series. What I like best about this series is how much personal growth the main character has shown since arriving in Ireland. She had no friends or family in Boston and had a difficult time accepting the warmth and friendship that was offered when she came to visit her late grandmother’s home town. In each book she becomes more and more a part of the community willing to go out of her way to help the people of her town. This latest story involves a farmer who goes missing while walking on the beach with his young son – did he just take off or is he the victim of smugglers who use the coves in the area to hide their criminal behavior?
Just wanted to say thanks for all your posts. It’s helping me to choose books for my 50 State Reading Challenge this year.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Ann, I don’t know where you find the time to read? 😉
Sheila in CT says
I started the Haunted Guesthouse series by E J Cooperman. Really enjoying the series; especially the interaction of Alison (the new PI thanks to Paul) and her daughter Melissa’s interaction with the two main ghosts Paul and Maxie. All the characters (human and ghost) blend so well with each other.
Merrilee B says
It looks like I accidentally missed and put my recommendations and comments about whom I have read recently under the wrong blog subject. So to repeat, in case my other comments are missed because they were put in the wrong blog (by me), some of the recent favorite authors of mine that I have read are (these are ones that I haven’t seen mentioned, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t miss THOSE comments)…Christopher Fowler [Bryant and May], Dick Francis [now taken over by his son Felix], Alan Bradley, and Sarah Caudwell.
I found a new author this month, Patti Benning. She writes the Delicious Deli mysteries which appear to be new. There are five of them so far. Her first books are a little superficial but as she gets into the mysteries, they become more and more interesting. The characters are interesting, the situations are interesting and the small town venue is perfect for a cozy. I look forward to more of them. They are set in Michigan but the feel is a little different from JoAnn Carl’s Chocolate mysteries which are also set in about the same spot. I’d definitely recommend these.
I was looking for Martin Edwards on your list of authors but couldn’t find him. I just read his nonfiction book “The Golden Age of Murder: The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story” which is fascinating. He is the current president of the Detection Club and has written three series of mysteries that maybe should be on your lists?
Danna - cozy mystery list says
My favorite new series is Elaine Viets’ Dead-End Job series. I love the quirky characters, the plots are fascinating, and the premise is quite original. The books are also very, very funny without being silly or ridiculous. Just finished “Murder Unleased” , the 5th book, and laughed out loud more than once, but the hurricane scenes were not funny – I’ve survived 4 hurricanes myself !! Love the series so much !!
I also highly recommend Charlaine Harris’ Aurora Teagarden series and Dorothy Simpson’s Luke Thanet series.
I’m in total agreement with all the commentators regarding ” Plantation Shudders” . Wonderful new series !!
I meant commenters, not commentators. Lol!!