We’re just about at the end of February, 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 Daryl Wood Gerber’s Cookbook Nook 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 February? 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 February 2020 that you want the rest of us to know about, and why did you enjoy it?
Ellery Adams (aka J. B. Stanley, Jennifer Stanley, & 1/2 of Lucy Arlington): Secret, Book & Scone Society Mystery Series
Nancy Atherton: Aunt Dimity Mystery Series
Cynthia Baxter: Lickety Splits Ice Cream Shoppe Mystery Series
Kate Collins: Goddess of Green St. Mystery Mystery Series
Cleo Coyle (aka Alice Kimberly): Coffeehouse Mystery Series
Vicki Delany (aka Eva Gates): Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery Series
Jana DeLeon: Miss Fortune Mystery Series
Maria DiRico (aka Ellen Byron): Catering Hall Mystery Series
J.C. Eaton: Sophie Kimball Mystery Series
Amanda Flower (aka Isabella Alan): Amish Matchmaker Mystery Series
Sarah Fox: Pancake House Mystery Series
Eric Garcia: Dinosaur Mafia Mystery Series (first entry Anonymous Rex)
Eva Gates (aka Vicki Delany): Lighthouse Library Mystery Series
Daryl Wood Gerber (aka Avery Aames): Cookbook Nook Mystery Series
Dorothy Gilman: Mrs. Pollifax Mysteries
Sally Goldenbaum: Seaside Knitters Society Mystery Series
Julia Henry: Garden Squad Mystery Series (first entry Pruning the Dead)
Tony & Anne Hillerman: Joe Leaphorn & Jim Chee Mystery Series
Jenn McKinlay (aka Josie Belle & Lucy Lawrence): Hat Shop Mystery Series
Holly Quinn: Handcrafted Mystery Series (first entry A Crafter Knits a Clue)
Clayton Rawson: Great Merlini Mystery Series (first entry Death from a Top Hat)
Sofie Ryan (aka Sofie Kelly & Darlene Ryan for Young Adult): Second Chance Cat Mystery Series
Paige Shelton: Thin Ice (Stand-Alone)
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.
One of my favorites is the London Hat Shop mysteries, Jenn McKinlay. She has several series, Cupcake Bakery Series, & the Library Lover’s mysteries. There are a couple other series under different names. They are all good.
Nurse L says
I really enjoyed Pruning the Dead, Julia Henry. It’s nice to have the “hero” be in their 60’s. I’m now reading the second book Tilling the Truth.
Just a note before this recommendations page disappears…….
At Nurse L.’s suggestion I am now reading Pruning the Dead. I read the author’s page at the end of the book only to fine out that Julia Henry and Julianne Holmes are the same person. Both names appear to be pseudonyms of J. A Hennrikus, since she has the copyright.
I read the Clock Shop series by Julianne Holmes. I would have read ‘Pruning the Dead’ sooner if I had known they were the same person. Ugh — the constant battle of ‘pseudonyms’ and how they can adversely affect an author.
Danna. perhaps you can add Julia Henry’s name to the Holmes name page on the Cozy author list. This appears to be her website:
Danna - cozy mystery list says
MJ, I’ll add her to the “to do as soon as possible” list – thanks for letting me know! Pseudonyms are sort of the bane of the list.
Jo Anne Yerkes says
Going through Eva Gates Lighthouse series.
I really liked Kelley Armstrong’s latest installment of her “City of the Lost” series – “Alone in the Wild.” It is not really a cozy but becoming more so in that the characters repeat and have their quirks. It is set somewhere in the Northwest Territories in a self-sufficient town that misfits go to in order to get away from mortal danger they have encountered in “the south.” Because they are all slightly sketchy, they sometimes present a danger to each other, but Sheriff Dalton and Detective Casey Duncan keep them in line, usually. In this 5th volume, Casey finds a baby in the forest and tries to find out who her parents are by going on a goose chase through the vast wilderness in winter. I liked this book better than some of the previous ones because it was a little more throughtful and a little less exciting (bloody).
I also read the latest installment in the “Secret, Book and Scone Society” by Ellery Adams – “The Book of Candlelight.” The engaging protagonist owns a bookshop in a small southern town which offers her an opportunity to do some bibliotherapy. I like the literary references and book suggestions she offers her customers. This particular story dealt with the death of a Native American potter. Again, Nora’s friends rally around to help.
Paula Catherine says
Thanks for your suggestion of the series by Kelley Armstrong.
I just started the first book in the series and it is very good, yes it is kind of violent but the characters are interesting and I look forward to follow along the journey.
February Recommendations – 2020
Brewed Awakening — Cleo Coyle
Beware! This is the first of two books I found ‘addictive’ this month. When looking for my next read, I usually assess my mood. Do I want to read a light cozy with some wit, or a more intense cozy. I was in the ‘mood’ for the lighter cozy, but picked up this book anyway, knowing it fell in the intense category. I thought I’d just read the first few pages and then put it down until another time. However, after just a few pages I was ‘hooked’! Had difficulty putting it down until I finished it.
In my humble opinion this is the best book by this husband/wife writing team in this 18 book series. It’s important you read the acknowledgements at the beginning of the book before you start reading it. It gives you an insight as to why they decided to write this story.
Clare was abducted and ‘knocked out’. When she awoke she was wandering around in a park. She had the wits to escape her abductors, but lost her memory of the past 15 years. She remembered her ex-husband, mother-in-law, and 13 year old daughter (now in her late 20’s), but she didn’t remember her fiancé, any of the employees at the coffee house, etc.
Of course there is the emphasis in trying to help Clare regain her memory, but also to keep her safe from her abductors.
There are SO MANY twists and turns to this story, keeping the reader riveted. As normal for this writing team, the captivating characters are well defined and the plot is well paced. Carve out a block of time to read this because it’s a real page turner.
I also wanted to mention, that one could read this book as a stand-alone. The authors describe the back story well. If you read it, most likely your interest will be piqued enough to read the whole series.
Statue of Limitations – Kate Collins
This is the other book this month that I. Just. Could. Not. Put. Down. I read it over a 24 hour period (yes, I did sleep!).
This is the first book in a new series. For those Kate Collins fans, I must make the comparisons because they are evident. The setting is in a coastal SW Michigan community, probably less than an hour north of the NW Indiana setting. Then there are the character personalities. Athena (aka Abby) is the protagonist/lead character. Case (aka Marco) is the hunky new guy in town. There’s also Athena’s obnoxious lawyer boyfriend (which she eventually ‘drops’). Offhand, I’d even say that Athena’s dad is similar to Abby’s dad. Although there are many differences in their backgrounds, common personality traits are apparent. Then there’s the business setting…………….a GARDEN CENTER (what a stretch!). Althena even has an affinity for gardening. And, that’s where the similarities end.
Althena returns to this small community with her 10 yr. old son after a divorce, and the loss of her corporate position. She has three (dynamic) sisters, thus making the story even more entertaining. Her father manages their family garden center. He hires Althena as the business manager. This family is part of a Greek community, many of whom own shops in a small area. In fact, Althena’s grandparents own a restaurant in this ‘Greek’ area. A wealthy business man plans to tear down these shops and develop it with condos, apts., and high end retail.
Case enters into the story because he’s looking for a Greek statue that was stolen from his family. Althena’s grandfather bought it at an estate sale and placed it in the Garden Center.
There are two murders. Case has been accused of one of the murders. Althena believes in his innocence and helps hide him as they investigate to find the real culprits.
My interest in this story wasn’t so much the murders, but in the storyline about the destruction of the Greek retail community. I also found the other storyline about the relationship with the ‘investigating team’ far more intriguing than the murder storyline. Of course, all the storylines are intertwined. But after you read it, you’ll get what I mean.
This author ALWAYS puts the female lead/protagonist in a harrowing position in the last few chapters. True to form, she also does so in this book.
Kudos to Collins for creating another engaging/compelling series. I literally didn’t do anything else on a beautiful February day because I couldn’t stop reading it! I’m really looking forward to the second book.
Murderous Tangle – Sally Goldenbaum
I always say this is the quintessential cozy mystery series. You feel like the characters are your friends and you are part of this MA seaside community.
In this book, Birdie’s granddaughter. Gabby, is featured. She becomes involved with an environmental group headed by Tess, a favorite teacher. Gabby sees this teacher fight with a man at an isolated spot near the ocean. The man owns a bar in town, is not well liked, and doesn’t abide by environmental business standards. This angers Tess. When this man is murdered, Tess is one of the suspects. Gabby is conflicted because she witnessed that earlier argument. The author does a great job of creating this story from a child’s viewpoint. The conflict is genuine and Goldenbaum brings it to life so the reader really feels it.
The four key characters take on investigating the crime. As always, GREAT characters, and a well-paced EXCELLENT mystery with a surprise ending. Definitely NO boredom on any of the pages in this book (or any of the books in this series). Great news from one of the characters at the end of the story!
This is the 15th book in the series, but it is divided into two sections because there is a publisher change. There’s 11 books in the first group and four in the second.
This story is an intriguing read, as are all the Seaside Knitters books. I often recommend this series to friends. ALL comment how much they like it.
There’s a Murder Afoot – Vicki Delany
The Sherlock Bookshop employees attend a convention in London. Gemma Doyle, bookstore manager, is a speaker at this convention. Gemma is originally from London where her parents now reside. At this convention she discovered an uncle she never knew she had. He’s her mother’s brother and is considered a family outcast because he stole a priceless painting from his parents. He is murdered at this convention.
Delany’s mysteries are always well written with excellent and often humorous dialogue. There are several fascinating and colorful characters (particularly Gemma’s sister) introduced into this story because of its setting change. The plot takes on many twists and numerous turns as the story progresses. Gemma’s dad is the prime suspect. He is retired from the London police force.
Delany descriptive writings of London landmarks as this bookstore team visits some of them, are quite enjoyable to read. This is a series that one should read from the beginning to get the gist of the characters’ background and interactions.
Matchmaking Can Be Murder — Amanda Flower
I’m going to be brief (because I’ve ‘expounded’ long enough!). This book is set in Harmony, OH, the same as the Candy Shop series, a somewhat unique undertaking for an author to do. However, there is a change of protagonist/lead character. Flower introduced her in the last Candy Shop book. Millie Fisher moved back to this community after a 10 year absence. She has a ‘sense’ of who will romantically be a good match, thus the title of ‘matchmaker’. She is sought out for her uncanny abilities.
Some characters are the same as the Candy Shop series, like the sheriff’s dept. Also the bishop’s wife has a prominent role in this story (as she does in the other series).
The mystery is good with appealing, yet diverse (unique) characters. Like the Candy Shop series, it is an enjoyable read! Of course, now there are two series taking place in the same community……….thus ‘doubling up’ on the murders. One does have to suspend belief!
Patti S. says
MJ, thank you so much for your monthly reviews. They are so good and I have always found books to add to my TBR pile! Thanks for sharing.
Paula Catherine says
Thin Ice by Paige Shelton
I enjoy all the series written by Paige Shelton so when Thin Ice came out I thought it would be a similar type of series. I didn’t read any spoilers, did not know the setting and / or the premise. I wanted to be surprised.
I totally enjoyed the “almost” cozy mystery.
Yes there are a few four letter words, quirky characters, no recipes, no talking cats, no cheating ex husband but it is quite suspenseful . The protagonist is Beth, a woman with an extremely complex history, not baggage, which I believe has a negative connotation.
Suffice it to say there is more than one mystery.
It is a bit confusing in the beginning but it needs to be, if that makes sense.
I really couldn’t put it down and wanted to re read it again in case I missed something. I think it was great and hope the next one in the series is coming sooner than later.
Sally Fortney says
I read A Crafter Knits a Clue by Holly Quinn. Sammy, her cousin Heidi and sister Ellie used to be S.H.E. when they were kids playing detective and take it up again after a murder in their town. I like the 3 women vibe. Of course, Sammy likes the new detective and Heidi is dating Tim who is a police officer. Ellie is married with a little boy.
Oh, it was a busy month for me! I finished the Leaphorn and Chee series, by Tony and Anne Hillerman. Now, if you have any interest in Navajo culture and spirituality, as well as a love of a good mystery, this series will delight you!
I also read the first three books in the Miss Fortune series by Janna DeLeon. OH MY GOODNESS! These excellent mysteries are set in Sinful, Louisianna, and feature Fortune Redding, a CA operative hiding out in Sinful, and masquerading as a retired beauty queen. These books are literally laugh-out-loud funny. In fact, they are “spit tea all over the living room” funny. Can’t WAIT to get more of them!
And I’ve also started the Aunt Dimity series. Loving it so far, and am six books in. This series is a bit different. No bodies on the ground, but certainly mystery aplenty…and there’s always Aunt Dimity, who is a ghost. Very different from most cozies, given the dearth of death, but the mysteries that there are, are quite interesting. It’s a nice break away from so many that leave us wondering how on earth so many murders can occur in one small village!
Not, mind you, that I don’t thoroughly enjoy those small towns, but one does wonder about the crime rate in them!
Susy L says
Bek, I want to thank you for the Jana DeLeon recomendation. The books are hilarious and do make me laugh out loud! Just like Stephanie Plum use to make chuckle, the slapstick, physical comedy is uproarious. Almost done with book three and have 4-6 on order at my library. Again, ty!
You are very welcome! There is actually a Sinful, Louisiana website that you would enjoy, I think. You can find it at http://sinfullouisiana.com/. AND, if you just enjoy that sort of thing, you can fill out and print a certificate of honorary membership in the Sinful Ladies Society, signed by Ida Belle and Gertie! Yes, of course I have mine printed out and ready to hang after I buy a frame!
I started the month with some vintage mysteries. ‘Death From a Top Hat’ and ‘No Coffin For a Corpse’. Two 1930’s mysteries starring stage magician ‘The Great Merlini’. Written by Clayton Rawson, a professional magician himself. Disappearing bodies and locked rooms with no apparent exits for the murderer. Old-school fun and games. Highly recommended.
I’m currently reading something a bit different – but still fun. ‘Anonymous Rex’ by Eric Garcia, stars Vincent Rubio, a PI on the skids since the murder of his partner; whose role-models are Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe.
The big difference is that Vincent is a velociraptor. A dinosaur. In this world dinos never died out and live among humans. Disguised as humans. Tongue in cheek and little weird, but so far quite a bit of fun.
I read A Crafter Knits a Clue, the first one in the Handcrafted Mystery series, by Holly Quinn. I loves crafts and that is why I read it. It was very good! I work in a public library and I get to order mysteries. After reading the first one, I ordered the whole series for our library. I am excited to read the next two!
Susy S says
This month I discovered a couple of new to me authors. J.C. Eaton is the first and I already read the second book as well. Our sleuth, Phee, is a middle aged divorced woman whose mother lives in Sun City West (a retirement community), AZ. Since I have lived in the Phoenix area most of my life, I was quickly hooked. The mother is a challenge and her friends are very quirky. Phee is working as an accountant for the Mankato PD when her mother calls demanding she come solve the ‘murders’ of several members of her book club. Phee turns to her police buddy Nate for advice and a little assistance.
I really enjoyed the first book and went out an bought the second the next day, and read it in one day.
I also read several other authors who were new to me, but which have previously been recommended on this sight, including Julia Buckley, Elizabeth Craig, Vivien Chien and E. J. Copperman. They have all been added to my to buy list.
Patti S. says
I read Buried to the Brim by Jenn McKinlay. As always, it was nice to catch up with the gals from the hat shop and their friends. Was a very good story, especially if you are a dog lover.
Paula Catherine says
I also wanted to recommend Here comes the body by Maria DiRico AKA Ellen Bryon. It is the first in a series about a women who returns to her family in NY after her husband goes missing. Mia is very devoted to her family, wants to make her new position successful.
Her father has a hall, gives her a job and she becomes an event planner. Her dad is attempting leave his “family” business behind.
I liked the book, I thought it was funny . Being a second generation Italian myself I thought there were a few too many Italian phrases, but it helped seeing her grandmother and her friends as they are. Some of the neighborhood practices were so funny, including the BVM, plastic on the furniture, just like it was in my grandfather’s living room
I think the series will be as good as her other one, so I am looking forward to reading, the next one.
Janice G says
Much Ado About Nutmeg is the latest book in the Pancake House series by Sarah Fox where a murder takes place during a 50 and up sports competition. Two of the things that I like best about the series are the romantic relationship between the main characters – no interfering relatives or exes causing trouble and the solution to the mysteries are challenging. The setting on the Pacific coast is also pleasing.
I also liked Last Licks by Cynthia Baxter. The ice cream shop is being used to film a scene in a movie when the actress playing the lead role is poisoned. This also was a mystery that wasn’t easy to solve.
Claw Enforcement by Sofie Ryan is another fine entry in this series. I can also recommend A Field Guide to Homicide by Lynn Cahoon and Dead in Dublin by Catie Murphy.
Nurse L says
I’ve noticed they are re-releasing Mrs. Polifax series by Dorothy Gilman. I read them years ago and loved every one. You do need to start with the first one to find out how she became a “spy”
I remember that series! I LOVE it! I’m thrilled that it is being re-released. I believe that I might have read my first Mrs. Pollifax in the Reader’s Digest Condensed Book Club. My dad was a member, and that was my introduction to a good many excellent authors.
Susy S says
I know that I my first one WAS in Readers Digest. It was ‘The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax’ and I also remember ‘A Palm for Mrs. Pollifax”. I think I read these in the early 1970’s. I was always a big reader, and had read all of the books in our small local library that today we would call YA books, so my mother told me to start reading those.
Nurse L says
I did too! I then went out and bought the full book.
The Hillary Greene series by Faith Martin is excellent!