This month, I’m going to start out the Cozy Mystery Recommendations by telling you about my favorite Cozy Mystery book that I read during January. As I have mentioned many times before, I try several new-to-me authors in between reading a Cozy by one of my favorite authors. I’m always on the look-out for new authors to add to my favorites list, and this time, I found one!
The Cozy Mystery I tried, and enjoyed a lot, is Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron. A few days ago, Kimmie wrote some rather glowing comments about this Cozy right here in one of the comments:
LOVED the setting, cast of characters and the family dynamics. This is a place I would absolutely visit!! With all of the descriptive visuals, I was sucked in and felt like I was watching the whole story from the comfort of my comfy couch on the front porch!? (Not to mention, it left me salivating over the delicious dishes referenced throughout the book!!)
Kimmie, I couldn’t have said it better! Plantation Shudders is the first in the new Cajun Country Mystery Series (by Ellen Byron) and it is set between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, which after visiting a few times, I will say is almost like a country within itself. (I can’t think of anywhere else that has its own unique flavor!)
Maggie (short of “Magnolia” >>> which may well be pretty common in Cajun country!) comes from two very respected families in the area. She lives/works at the bed and breakfast that was formerly the plantation on her father’s side of the family. She also works as a guide at the plantation her mother’s side of the family had to bequeath to the state because of financial reasons. Her family’s B&B is finally starting to recover from the devastation brought on my Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately >>> enter Murder!
I enjoyed all of the characters in the book, both the “regulars” as well as those who were in the book as guests at the B&B >>> who I am guessing won’t reappear. I especially enjoyed Maggie’s interaction with Xander, the Autistic son of one of the “regulars”, and I am hoping he continues to inhabit this Cozy series. (Also, Gopher, the family Basset Hound is too darling!)
The plot, characters, unique setting, small town feeling, mystery, and writing style are all things that I enjoyed, and I find myself looking forward to the release of the second Cozy in this series. Oh, and for those of you who enjoy your Cozies with recipes, there are some pretty appetizing looking recipes included as well!
So now it’s your turn! Would you please tell us about the really good Cozy Mysteries you read during January, and please tell us why you liked them so much. These should be the Cozies you thought were better than the other Cozies you read during the month. This way, the rest of us will be able to read your recommendations/comments, and put those authors on our Cozy Mystery radar. Please list the Cozies you liked the most at the very top of the 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 January 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:
Susan Wittig Albert: Darling Dahlias Mystery Series
Ellie Alexander (aka Kate Dyer-Seeley): Bakeshop Mystery Series
Sally Andrew: Tannie Maria Mystery Series (Recipes for Love and Murder is book #1)
Donna Andrews: Meg Langslow Mystery Series
Melissa Bourbon (aka Misa Ramirez): Magical Dressmaking Mystery Series
Ali Brandon (aka Diane A.S. Stuckart): Black Cat Bookshop Mystery Series
P.J. Brackston: A Brothers Grimm Mystery Series (Gretel and the Case of the Missing Frog Prints is book #1)
Simon Brett: Fethering Mystery Series
Catherine Bruns: Cookies & Chance Mystery Series (Taste Like Murder is book #1)
Ellen Byron: Cajun Country Mystery Series
Laurie Cass (aka Laura Alden): Bookmobile Cat Mystery Series
Laura Childs: Scrapbooking Mystery Mystery Series
Jane K. Cleland: Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery Series
Kate Collins: Flower Shop Mystery Series
Cleo Coyle (aka Alice Kimberly): Coffeehouse Mystery Series
Vicki Delany (aka Eva Gates): Year-Round Christmas Mystery Series
Laura DiSilverio (aka Lila Dare & Ella Barrick): Readaholics Book Club Mystery Series
Carola Dunn: Cornish Mystery Series
Kate Dyer-Seeley (aka Ellie Alexander): Pacific Northwest Mystery Series
Wendy Sand Eckel: Murder at Barclay Meadow (Stand Alone?)
Amanda Flower (Isabela Alan): Living History Museum Mystery Series
Eva Gates (aka Vicki Delany): Lighthouse Library Mystery Series
Nancy Haddock: Silver Six Crafting Mystery Series
Barbara Hambly: Benjamin January Mystery Series (Crimson Angel is book #13) not Cozy
Susannah Hardy (aka Sadie Hartwell): Greek to Me Mystery Series
Julianne Holmes: Clock Shop Mystery Series (Just Killing Time is book #1)
Christine Husom: Snow Globe Shop Mystery Series
Sofie Kelly (aka Sofie Ryan): Magical Cats Mystery Series
Joyce and Jim Lavene (aka J.J. Cook & Ellie Grant): Sharyn Howard Mystery Series
Joyce and Jim Lavene (aka J.J. Cook & Ellie Grant): Canterville Book Shop Mystery Series
Karen MacInerney: Gray Whale Inn Mystery Series
Jenn McKinlay (aka Josie Belle & Lucy Lawrence): Library Lover’s Mystery Series
Terrie Farley Moran: Read ‘Em and Eat Mystery Series
Patchwork Mystery Series: The Christmas Quilt by Kelly Ann Riley
Kathy Reichs: Temperance Brennen Mystery Series (not Cozy)
Ruth Rendell: Dark Corners (Stand Alone, not Cozy)
Paige Shelton: Dangerous Type Mystery Series
Rosemary Stevens (aka Rosemary Martin): Beau Brummell Mystery Series
Joyce Tremel: Brewing Trouble Mystery Series (To Brew or Not to Brew is book #1)
Ashley Weaver: Amory Ames Mystery Series (Murder at the Brightwell is book #1)
Christine Wenger: Comfort Food Mystery Series
Marty Wingate: Potting Shed Mystery Series (The Garden Plot 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.
Bev S says
I just finished the first in the Merry Mysteries set….they seem to be stand along books as each has different characters.
The first book, The Christmas Quilt is set in Maple Hill and it could be the prequel for the Patch Work series published by Guideposts…same setting and same characters.
Have just started the second book, Angels Among Us by Ellen Harris and it is set in the San Juan Islands – specifically Sparrow Island – off the coast of Washington state.
Have no idea if it is a prequel for any of the Guidepost series, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
The third book, and I’ll be reading it sometime soon, is The Lost Noel by Jo Ann Brown. This story is set in Ivy Bay…and I assume as it mentions Hyannis, it is in Massachusetts…
Also have a second set of two books and only two books in this series, and again published by Guideposts.
Chesapeake Antique Mysteries by Pam Hanson and Barbara Andrews…
Kate C says
In her debut cozy, Just Killing Time, Julianne Holmes drew me in immediately and kept me turning pages as the complex plot unfolded. What I enjoyed most was the careful, well-integrated development of setting. Very skillful! (A Clock Shop Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime)
I read a number of very good books this month. A new to me author is Ashley Weaver who was recommended by several people on this site. Her first book, Murder at the Brightwell, set at an oceanside hotel, reminded me of an Agatha Christie mystery with all of the intrigue and connections between the characters. The second book in the series, Death Wears a Mask, was equally good. The main character and her playboy husband are fascinating characters. This is an author who would be a really good fit for this site.
The first book in a new series that I enjoyed is To Brew or Not to Brew by Joyce Tremel. Part of the reason that I liked it so much is that it is set in my hometown of Pittsburgh and involves a young woman opening a brew pub in the trendy neighborhood of Lawrenceville. I happened to work in that area for many years when it was anything but trendy but it was fun to picture the familiar streets and landmarks. All of the characters in this book were interesting including her chef, a former professional hockey player.
January Recommendations – 2016
Dead to the Last Drop — Cleo Coyle
I picked up this book to read when it was released in December. I had been looking forward to it. BUT when I started reading it, I found it too intense for a December read so I had to put it down. I resumed reading it again on a rainy January day. Like all the books in this series it is very good.
It’s written a little differently, though. Sort of an after, then a before, then another after, then a much longer before. My description may be confusing, but the book isn’t. One does know who the villain is from the beginning, but not the whys, where-fores, and how-tos. Nor do we know the ‘collaborator’.
This story involves a corruption investigation of Mike’s (Clair’s boyfriend) boss at the DOJ. It’s set in DC with the opening of a DC branch of the NY Village Blend coffee house. Each week there is a Jazz night called ‘Open Mike’. Unbeknownst to Clair, the ‘disguised’ President’s daughter has been playing piano at this event. She disappears. Another man is injured at the coffeehouse and subsequently dies (murdered).
The story intertwines a lot with many aspects to it. Thus, keeping the reader turning the pages. The characters are distinct/noteworthy, and the ‘family’ of characters are, as always, enjoyable!
Without giving a ‘spoiler alert’, I was very pleased with the direction the story will take in the next book.
Booked For Trouble — Eva Gates
This series is set in a small east coast community at a Lighthouse Library. Lucy (protagonist) is a librarian, moving here from Boston.
Her wealthy mother (Suzanne) comes to visit, obviously angst by something in her personal life. A former schoolmate is found murdered on the Lighthouse property. Suzanne is a suspect because she and the victim had an argument in the hotel lobby.
I read some very slow moving mysteries last month, so was pleased at the quick pace of this story, written with some humor. The characters are enjoyable and the ending somewhat of a surprise. This story is pretty straight forward and doesn’t have a lot of plot twists
According to cozy ‘formula’ (I say facetiously), there should be two love interests. I think the author ‘channeled’ the Fluke mysteries. In this case, one is the mayor (who is a dentist) and the other is a detective. These ‘involvements’ are very chaste, with Lucy ‘undecided’ which one she likes best – ALA Hannah Swenson!!
Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen — Vicki Delaney
This is the first book in a series I anticipate will be very enjoyable. Set in Rudolph, NY (aka Christmastown), it is Christmas personified!!
For those that haven’t read it yet, you may want to put it on your Nov./Dec. list for later in the year.
Merry Wilkinson is the protagonist and owner of an upscale holiday treasure shop. Numerous little things go wrong as this community celebrates Christmas activities. Sabotage is suspect. Merry discovers a body in the park.
The characters are interesting, the plot straightforward, and the culprit a COMPLETE surprise.
**COMMENT: I read the two above books (Booked For Trouble, Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen) back-to- back, just a day apart. If I hadn’t, I would never have noticed the similarities. They’re pretty miniscule, but worth noting nonetheless. The first thing I noticed is in the second book, when Merry discovered the body in the park she took off her jacket and covered it. She later lamented she’d never wear that jacket again. I thought, “WAIT A MINUTE – that same scene happened in ‘Booked For Trouble’. So I thought I’d pay attention to other possible similarities. In both books they drank the same wine. The personality traits of both protagonists’ mothers are also alike, although their backgrounds are different. Both are ‘divas’ paying much attention to appearance details, clothes, hair, etc. Again, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if the author hadn’t put so much emphasis on it, and often throughout the stories. AND, again there are two love interests, although the professions of the two ‘admirers’ in the second book aren’t similar to those in the first book.
I KNOW, I KNOW…………………pretty minor!
Maybe other authors also do this and I just hadn’t noticed, like Parra/Coco, Adams/Stanley, Aames/Gerber, McKinlay/Belle, Logan/Bliss, etc., etc., etc. Perhaps others have also noticed similarities amongst these and other authors using pseudonyms.
Iced Princess – Christine Husom
This story is set in Brooks Landing, MN near the Twin Cities. Cami (protagonist) returns to her hometown after working in DC for a senator that didn’t get reelected. She is managing a curio shop (w/many snow globes) for her parents. Her friend Pinky owns the attached coffee shop. A newly hired employee is murdered in her shop.
I thought I had it all figured out by page 52. However, when Cami had the same ‘possibilities’ as I did by page 110, I knew I was wrong! With the characters and the plot there is a bit of a ‘same-o, same-o’ cozy feel to it. However, I recommend it because it is an enjoyable light read. There are unexpected twists to the plot with some depth and just a ‘touch’ of the paranormal. There are a few possible suspects, in addition to a red herring. The reader can kind of figure out the culprit and why, but the how is somewhat baffling until the end.
Husom deviates from the cozy formula of two potential romantic interests. There is only one (of course, with angst) in this book, with future relationship development a possibility.
Pouncing on Murder — Laurie Cass
This series has been recommended several times on this blog. AND, there’s a reason for it – it’s good.
Minnie, assistant director of a library in a small Michigan community, is the lead character. She drives a bookmobile to several rural areas often encountering amusing (if not weird) characters. Eddie, the cat, is a feature character in this series, second only to Minnie herself. Lots and lots and lots of interaction/conversation between Minnie and Eddie. Of course, this is the technique this author uses to inform the reader of the ‘mind set’ of Minnie.
A sort of curmudgeon in a rural area is murdered. Since he utilized the bookmobile and was known to Minnie, she feels compelled to find the perpetrator. This takes her down roads (literally) with many turns.
I take issue with one aspect, though. This author went down a ‘non-traditional’ road (in cozy formula language) with the romance story line. Minnie’s romantic interest was a doctor. Great, huh? Well, in this book the doctor’s on his way out. AND, lo and behold, the new love interest? A detective! — just following the formula like most other cozy authors.
This book is a fast read with much humor injected throughout each page. Totally enjoyable!
Florist Grump — Kate Collins
When I started reading this book, I didn’t think I would recommend it. It starts out very slow (almost boring) and probably wouldn’t meet the ’50 page’ rule. I’d read a page or two, then put it down to do something else. It is very methodic and detailed while laying out the mystery. However, I probably said the same thing about the last book or two I read in the series, too. It really picks up and turns out to be a good mystery and an enjoyable read. So, my advice is to stick with it – you probably won’t be sorry.
I stayed with it because I enjoy the characters and their witty discourse/dialogue. Marco and Abby are living with her parents while they build a home. This causes much angst w/Abby. They are asked by fellow merchants to help clear a beloved elderly gentleman accused of murder.
There’s a heartwarming ending to the side story (as there is with several other books in this series), thus putting a smile on your face when you finish it.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
MJ, I read your recommendations just before it was time for me to pick a new Cozy to read, and wow, am I glad I did! Your write-up about Pouncing on Murder was so incredibly good that I decided to finally try the Bookmobile Cat Mystery Series by Laurie Cass. As I have mentioned many times before, I have a humongous TBR queue on my Kindle! Lucky for me I had Lending a Paw waiting for me to read. I started it, and am loving it! (So far, it is very reminiscent of the Coziest of Cozies! Sort of like a Joanne Fluke Cozy.)
Have any of you read the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline winspears? I want to talk to someone about this.
Yes, and I loved them!
Yes, and they’re very good. You need to read them in order (IMHO) for Maisie’s development as a character to make sense and contribute depth to every mystery.
I love these books for their psychological emphasis as Maisie analyzes the crime and possible suspects. I love her working relationship with Billy, her right-hand man, and with her high-society friend from school. I enjoy her independence and determined approach to her career.
Ellen Byron says
What a fantastic surprise!! Thanks so much, Danna. I’m thrilled you enjoyed PLANTATION SHUDDERS. And yes, Xander is an important part of book two in my Cajun Country Mystery series, BODY ON THE BAYOU.
I want to take this opportunity to let readers know how invaluable their feedback is. You mentioned the shout-out from Kimmie. Well, Kimmie, I hope you read this because I wanted to tell you that your comments were very important to me. I’ve re-read them several times as I work on book three in the series because they inspire me and remind me what I should strive for. So thank you. Cozy-mystery.com rules! 🙂
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Ellen, I’m so happy to see Xander will be in Body on the Bayou. (My background is in Special Ed, so I’m delighted to see him in your books.)
Ellen, your words are very kind and thoughtful! I have a HUGE smile on my face ?! As a fan and reader of cozy mysteries, I really appreciate the effort and talent that goes into an author’s creative works. When an author can project a good mystery/storyline, its characters and setting…….”visually descriptive,” that pulls me in…..that’s how I know I’ve read a really, really good book! And that’s how I felt after reading Plantation Shudders! Reading is my entertainment and my escape from the stressors of life, so again, I THANK YOU! I am absolutely excited for book 2, and more to come!! ?
Danna, I was surprised to see my words when I logged on to see what was happening on your site this week! That was very nice of you to reference my comments, so Thank You for the shout-out!!? I agree and I am also happy to know Xander will play an important part in future books! His character adds a unique element within the story, which is very nice to see.
With the winter’s bitter cold weather, it’s nice to curl up with a good book at night. So I read a decent number of mysteries this month, all enjoyable books. I read a mixture of ‘first in a new series’ titles and books from ongoing series I enjoy.
My books from ongoing series-
“Bones of the Lost” by Kathy Reichs (Temperance Brennen Mysteries). This was a page-turner which took place mainly in Charlotte, North Carolina with a side trip to Afghanistan. Tempe works with CMPD Det. Erskine “Skinny” Slidell to solve the complex case of an unidentified teen girl who was killed by a hit-and-run driver. But her work with Skinny Slidell gets put on hold for over a week when she travels to Afghanistan to examine the remains of two Afghani men shot in the chest in self-defense by an Army Sergeant, as they were rushing towards him while they were supposedly armed. While that event took place a year ago, the Sergeant is just now being accused of having shot them in the back in cold blood, and Tempe’s examination of their remains is needed for the military tribunal for this case. After that issue is wrapped up, she returns home and resumes working with Skinny on the case of the murdered girl, which leads to some shocking surprises and danger for Tempe.
“Literally Murder” by Ali Brandon (Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries). I love this series, and of course Hamlet the surly black cat who is the bookstore’s mascot. After the video of Hamlet imitating Darla’s karate routine goes viral on the web making Hamlet an instant internet celebrity, Darla and Hamlet are invited to attend the annual Feline Society of America Championship Cat Show in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with Hamlet as the guest of honor. Darla’s best friend Jake’s mom Nattie is one of the volunteers for this show. So Darla, Hamlet and Jake head down to Florida, leaving the cold New York winter behind. But things become complicated when Hamlet is catnapped, then one of the cat breeders who was angered his cat didn’t win is found murdered in the hotel suite of the wealthy man who sponsors the cat show. Darla and Jake befriend a local cab driver whose cousin is the FLPD Detective on the case. So Darla, Jake and Nattie wind up helping out the police, as they are the first ones to figure out whodunit.
“Cat Trick” by Sofie Kelly (Magical Cats Mysteries). Librarian Kathleen Paulson again finds herself in the awful position of stumbling across a dead body. This time it’s Mike Glazer, a hometown boy made good who now is a partner in a large tourism company based in Chicago. He was helping the town set up an arts and crafts and food festival to show off Mayville Heights’ autumn tourist potential to his partners and other tour operators with the goal to expand local tourism into the fall months. But Mike acted like a bossy jerk around town, angering a lot of people. Kathleen’s police detective boyfriend Marcus Gordon lands the case. Kathleen learns the Glazer family has been beset by tragedy in the past and Mike’s death is just a further blow. One of Kathleen’s dear friends asks her to look into Mike’s murder, which Marcus isn’t happy about. Finding the killer involves digging through past events and old secrets which occured long before Kathleen arrived in town.
First is a new series books-
Two are by Kate Dyer-Seeley. One under her own name and the other under her pen name, Ellie Alexander.
“Scene of the Climb” by Kate Dyer-Seeley (Pacific Northwest Mysteries). Meg Reed, a Portland, Oregon native is the daughter of a well known print journalist, who passed away a year ago. She has just landed her first serious post-college writing job. She’s only a casual outdoorswoman but bluffs her way into a job at Northwest Extreme Magazine, which is geared towards experienced outdoors enthusiasts. At first her job involves writing outdoor gear product reviews and the like, but then she winds up in over her head when she’s assigned to cover the Oregon segment of the outdoor adventure reality tv show “Race the States” which involves hiking treks in the mountains more suitable for experienced hikers and climbers. On the first day, one of the competitors falls off a cliff to his death and Meg is the only witness. At first his death is believed to be an accident, but the police later rule it a murder. Meg starts doing research into the other competitors and the show’s producers, but this makes her a target. Luckily she has some help and support from her two best friends, and she’ll need it as confronting a killer is dangerous business.
“Meet Your Baker” by Ellie Alexander (Bakeshop Mysteries). Juliet “Jules” Capshaw is a pastry chef who takes a break from her career as a chef aboard an European cruise ship and from her troubled marriage to return alone to her hometown of Ashland, Oregon to help her widowed mother run their struggling family bakery, “Torte”. Ashland is a popular tourist destination for all things Shakespearean and is home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. One morning the body of Nancy Hudson, one of the board members of the Festival is found murdered inside of the bakery. Nancy was a vicious person so she certainly had a lengthy enemies list. Jules’ old high school sweetheart Thomas is one of the policemen who lands the case. But Jules can’t help investigating Nancy’s murder herself and uncovers dark secrets about Nancy’s life that lead to her murder and this knowledge creates danger for Jules.
“Feta Attraction” by Susannah Hardy (Greek to Me Mysteries). Georgie Nikolopatos manages Bonaparte House, a Greek Restaurant and historic house in upstate New York. It’s a family owned restaurant Georgie runs with the help of her mother-in-law Sophie. Georgie and her husband Spiro have a daughter in college, but for years their marriage has been over even though they never divorced and still live under the same roof. Spiro realized he is gay and has had boyfriends over the years, but still keeps it “secret” although it’s the worst kept secret in town and everyone knows the truth about Spiro, and how their marriage has become a sham.
Spiro disappears and Georgie suspects he’s gone off on a trip with a new boyfriend, but she starts receiving weird and vague ransom notes. At first Georgie thinks the notes are a prank. She is thinking about ending the sham marriage and dating her friend Keith, since she and Keith have real chemistry. She and Keith go looking for Spiro but instead stumble upon the body of rival restaurant owner Domenic DiTomasso. The police consider the Nikolopatos family potential suspects in Dom’s death since there was the business rivalry. Plus a mysterious Coast Guard investigator shows up also interested in Dom’s murder. Not helpful since Spiro still can’t be found.
Georgie learns Spiro’s boyfriend Ignatius “Inky” LaFontaine lives in town and has no clue where Spiro is. She also learns their relationship is serious and they want a future together. The ransom notes and emails Georgie receives become more threatening although they are still somewhat cryptic and her worry over Spiro’s wellbeing increases, so she teams up with Inky to investigate Spiro’s disappearance and how this connects to Dom’s murder and the two wind up in the middle of a dangerous and convoluted plot involving more than one bad guy.
“The Final Reveille” by Amanda Flower (Living History Museum Mysteries). Kelsey Cambridge is divorced with a five year old son named Hayden, and is the director of Barton Farms, a living history museum with a small working farm. She and her son live on-site in a small cottage along with her widowed father who is a Shakespearean actor and drama professor at the local college. Barton Farms depends on grants from the Cherry Foundation to help keep it afloat although Kelsey is trying to develop ways to increase tourism dollars to make the Farm self-sufficient. One way is by hosting a Civil War reenactment weekend, which attracts tourists in droves.
Cynthia Cherry, who runs the Cherry Foundation is a dear friend and mentor to Kelsey, but she is in failing health and her soon-to-be heir, her greedy nephew Maxwell, wants to pull the plug on the farm’s funding. But someone pulls the plug on Maxwell first and he’s found murdered on the farm during the Civil War battle weekend. Kelsey is a prime suspect. The other suspects include Shepley the farm’s gardener, who has had his own run-ins with Maxwell; as well as Maxwell’s fiancee Portia and her ex-boyfriend Wesley, one of the reenactors; along with Chase Wyatt, another reenactor who is an EMT and was the first person to find Maxwell’s body.
Kelsey does some investigating on her own and receives some help from her assistant Ashland George and from Chase, but she’s not sure if she can trust Chase. Then a second person is killed and set up to take the fall for Maxwell’s murder but Kelsey isn’t buying it. Figuring out the killer’s identity involves looking into the shady details of Maxwell’s personal life but the killer is looking to stop Kelsey in her sleuthing tracks.
I found a couple new authors I liked this month, plus my usual ones and a new series by a familiar author. I read some of my regular authors and they did not disappoint. They were: Ripped from the Pages by Kate Carlisle, Florist Grump by Kate Collins, Sense of Deception by Victoria Laurie, Dead to the Last Drop by Cleo Coyle and since I like to read books in order, I am only up to File M for Murder by Miranda James.
A favorite new author I discovered (I didn’t even see her on your list) is The Garden Plot by Marty Wingate. (I finished this one and am currently reading her second book. I’m going to wait to read her third book so I will have something to look forward to. The main character is a 50 something American who moved to England to try and become the head gardener of a small historic garden. I love settings in England because I have always wanted to travel there and even though I don’t have a green thumb I like reading about people who do. I enjoyed the characters and story.
I also read two books by Catherine Bruns called Taste Like Murder and Baked to Death. I love to bake and like reading any mystery books involving baking.
I have had an author I put on my list to read which I got from your site a year or so ago but never saw any of her books when I went to HPB. The e-book of her first book was finally at a good price so I got it. yea! It was Murder on the Rocks by Karen MacInerney. I liked it because it took place in Maine in a small coastal town. The main character just opened a B&B. Living in southwest texas, I would love to live in a small coastal town up north and run my own B&B but I know I wouldn’t make it, at least not during the winter, since most of us think it’s cold and wear jackets when the weather is in the 60s! I liked it so much, I got the next 3 books in the series because they were at a good price too. 🙂
At my last book store run, I found a new series by an author I’ve read before and enjoyed. It was The Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco by Laura DiSilverio. I love love love most cozy series involving librarians, book store owners,etc, and even though the main character was an event planner, she belonged to a small group of ™readaholics” that would pick a different book to read and discuss. I guess I like to live vicariously through all these characters, because even though ive never dreamed of being an event planner, I think it sounds like fun and enjoyed this series.
Thanks for all the work you put into your site. It’s my go to for everything cozy! 🙂
Karen MacInerney is one of my favorite authors, a gifted and engaging story teller. I’ve read the six books of the Gray Whale Inn series and I always recommend them. There’s two ‘novellas’ to the series which I didn’t read because they are only available on Kindle.
She started another series last July – Dewberry Farm. I mentioned the first book, ‘Killer Jam’ on the recommendation list either Aug. or Sept. I think you’ll enjoy this series, too.
A couple of years ago (2012) she wrote a book titled, ‘Mother’s Day Out’. I thought it was VERY good. It was self-published and didn’t get much attention. I’m excited to see the second book, ‘Mother Knows Best’, will be released March 15.
BTW, Ms. MacInerney resides in Texas and the other two series I mentioned are set in Texas.
MJ, you said: “I’ve read the six books of the Gray Whale Inn series and I always recommend them. There’s two ‘novellas’ to the series which I didn’t read because they are only available on Kindle.”
Have you thought about downloading the free Kindle for PC (or Mac) app onto your computer for reading Kindle-only ebooks?
I have both the B&N Nook and the Kindle for PC apps on my computer. When I got my iPad I put both apps on there as well.
My best read in January was “Dark Corners,” the last book by Ruth Rendell. It’s quite short but a real page-turner; I couldn’t put it down. I won’t reveal the plot but it starts with a small incident which snowballs into something big. She writes plainly but with such mastery. She really was an amazing writer and story-teller. Sad to think there will be no more.
I also enjoyed “The Killing in the Cafe” by Simon Brett – vintage Feathering, – and “Valley of the Shadow” by Carola Dunn. This last was a “Cornish” mystery, faster paced than the “Daisy Dalrymple” series and more of a thriller, but still a “cosy,” set in the late 60s/early 70s.
I’m going to try “Booked for Trouble” by Eva Gates, recommended above, if it’s published in the U.K. -not everything is.
Lynn T. says
I enjoy Paige Shelton’s cozy mysteries so I was eager to read To Hellvetica and Back. It is the first book in the Dangerous Type Mystery series. The location is Star City Utah which is a tourist ski area. Clare has joined her Grandfather Chester in his business The Rescued Word.
They repair old typewriters, old books and sell stationary. An Underwood No. 5 typewriter is at the center of the mystery and a murder. Enjoyed the mystery, the characters and Paige Shelton’s writing.
I enjoyed reading Do or Diner by Christine Wenger. This is a culinary cozy with recipes in the back of the book. Trixie agrees to buy her aunt’s property which includes beach cottages, a comfort food diner, and a home for Trixie. On the day she moves in, a murder occurs in her diner’s kitchen. Trixie feels she must solve the murder in order to clear her name and make her business a success. This book has a great small town setting, quirky characters, a strong smart heroine, a rescued dog, and of course, food. Looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Stevens’ s “The Bloodied Cravat” (Beau Brummell mysteries).
Hambly’s “Crimson Angel,” though it’s not a cozy. (Just in case there are Benjamin January fans who don’t know about the new book.)
I like books to be funny but not silly. Donna Andrews is a master at that. The one I read this month was The Good, the Bad, and the Emus. She has wacky relatives, crazy situations with animals, especially birds but they have a believable quality.
I enjoyed Dickens of a Murder by Joyce and Jim Lavene, first in the Canterville Book Shop Mysteries. I think I found the recommendation on this list. It was a bit of fun, and I liked the booky side of things and the ghost of Dickens popping up all the time. He told the main character the ending to The Mystery Of Edwin Drood – his last book unfinished because of his death – and I do wish she’d shared that with us!
My favorite Cozy mystery for January is Recipes For Love and Murder by Sally Andrew. It takes place in Ladismith, South Africa and features a protagonist who writes an agony and recipe column for the local gazette. She uses personalized recipes as the means to help her fans negotiate their way through love and relationship problems. Tannie Maria becomes swept up in a murder investigation when one of her letter-writers is murdered. In addition to a terrific story and humorous, quirky characters (food-obsessed Tannie Maria often talks to her food), Recipes For Love and Murder was a fascinating read because it incorporates serious themes of life and politics in South Africa. The book includes a glossary of South African words and phrases and numerous delicious recipes for meats, sweets and breads. This is Andrew’s first novel and she is working on a second.
Thank you for the recommendation on Plantation Shudders. I just started reading it! I sure have a long to-read list with all the great recommendations.
I started two new cozy series this month. I read the first book of the Read ‘Em and Eat series by Terrie Moran and loved it! I liked the two main characters the most because they are best friends that know almost everything about one another. I also liked the fact that they ran a bookstore cafe that held weekly book groups. Also, each table in the cafe signified a well-known author or literary character. =)
I also began Jenn McKinlay’s Library Lovers series (finally!) I kept putting it off for whatever reason, and now I’m kicking myself for doing so. I fell in love with the library and the characters because it reminds me of my current job at my local library. It’s almost like I’m reading a story about my co-workers…well, except the fact that a dead body is involved and cranky old Ms. Cole. None of my co-workers are as cranky as her!
I recently read the first in a new series by Wendy Sand Eckel called Murder at Barclay Meadow. I really enjoyed it … I have read over 200 cozy mystery series and I’m always thrilled to find a series with a fresh voice. The amateur sleuth (Rosalie Hart)is a recently separated woman who inherits a farm from her deceased Aunt in Maryland. She slowly finds new friends that she meets in a writing class and together they solve the mystery of what happened to a young college girl that Rosalie discovered near her home. I highly recommend this debut!
Margaret StashEmpress says
This was another slow reading month for me — I got very little reading done.
Susan Wittig Albert — The Darling Dahlias and the Eleven O’clock Lady (Darling Dahlias series) — I love this historical mystery series from Susan Wittig Albert even more than her other series (China Bayles) — I love the old time small town America feeling, the strong women who did what it took to keep the country going — and did it with grace and style. This newest title did not disappoint — excellent read.
Laura Childs — Parchment and Old Lace (Scrapbooking Mystery series) — Again, I think this is my favorite of this author’s series. Maybe because I like crafts and scrapbooking but don’t drink tea? Or maybe because of the wacky characters that turn up? I did enjoy this one very much.
P. J. Brackston — The Case of the Fickle Mermaid (A Brothers Grimm mystery) — This is just an altogether funny series — the sleuth is Gretel — yes *that* Gretel as she is constantly reminding everyone. Together with her brother Hans(el) in tow, she is off detecting on the high seas, trying to track down the mermaid that is causing havoc with the seamen on a floundering cruise line. Really funny series!
Nancy Haddock — Basket Case (Silver Six series) — I liked this series, I’m always partial to senior sleuths and this was a well crafted story with good solid characters. I think it would have been better though if the main character had *not* been the niece of one of the seniors but rather that the seniors had solved the mystery themselves. Oh well… but I did enjoy it & do look forward to the next in the series.
Joyce & Jim Lavene — Last Dance (Sharyn Howard series) — This is the first in the series & has just been republished. They are planning to republish the rest of the books in the series over time. I don’t know how I missed this series the first time around, but now I’ve started & plan to read them in order as they come out! Another strong not-so-young female detective. Good one.
Simon Brett– The Tomb in Turkey (Fethering series) — I love this series & sooooo glad Brett finally brought out a new one! This time Jude & Carole are off on vacation in Turkey, despite that Carole is not really solid on the whole concept of “vacation” 😉 I love the running gag where Carole is carrying a pack of Imodium with her wherever she goes, because you know all that foreign food, and at the end she gets back to England & realizes she never used it once. 😉
Jane K. Clealand — Ornaments of Death (Josie Prescott Antiques series) — Another well crafted series with good plotting & good characters. In this one Josie has to solve the mystery of a long lost relative — and more recently lost $$$$$$ antique miniature paintings.
Love, love, love the Sharyn Howard series. Although I enjoy several of their series, this is perhaps my favorite.
AND, what’s really neat about it is the Lavenes were able to conclude the series when they wanted to, thus tying up the ongoing story lines. When they ended the series, they said it ‘ran its course’. SO-O-O good!
Margaret StashEmpress says
Oh I forgot one:
Mellisa Bourbon — A Seamless Murder (Magical Dressmaking series) — I love this series so much! (probably because I sew) — Harlow Cassidy is a dressmaker with a special gift — thanks to her great great grandfather, Butch Cassidy, all the women in their family are born with a special gift. Harlow’s grandmother is a “goat whisperer”, Harlow’s mother can make plants bloom and grow just by being near them, and Harlow can sew clothing that will make the wearer’s dreams come true. This time she has to make aprons for a red hat group — and of course a murder occurs. Now while I did guess the murderer very early on— what I loved about this book was it was full of honest to goodness CLUES — so you had just as good a chance as the detectives of figuring it out. Of course the clues were all ambiguous — so everyone was looking in the wrong direction — but somehow when I saw the first clue, my though was “what if it meant ___________ instead of ____________” — and then I took each successive clue in the same direction. Loved solving the puzzle!
I, too, loved Plantation Shudders and have recommended it to several fellow cozy mystery readers. One of them, a retired librarian, liked it so much she recommended purchasing it for our library’s collection to one of her former co-workers (which they did).
Looking forward to the next installment in September. It reminds me of another recent first in a series that I enjoyed, Doing It at the Dixie Dew by Ruth Moose. So if you like Plantation Shudders, you might want to give Dixie Dew a try.
Jenni C says
If you like really funny you should read Laura Levine and Jess Lourey. Both are very funny. I didn’t read them this month, but this is my first recommendation.
I just read the Killer Librarian by Mary Lou Kirwin – it was a fun read.
I absolutely love the Booktown Mystery Series by Lorna Barrett (she goes by a number of different names) including L.L. Bartlett – these books I’ve listed were excellent.
Murder is Binding (2008)
Bookmarked For Death (2009)
Bookplate Special (2009)
Chapter & Hearse (2010)
Sentenced to Death (2011)
Murder on the Half Shelf (2012)
Murder in the Three Volumes (2012)
Not the Killing Type (2013)
Book Clubbed (2014)
A Fatal Chapter (2015)
Title Wave (2016) – still waiting to read this one