It’s the end of the first month of the year, so this will be our first Cozy Monthly recommendations for 2017! If you read a great Cozy in January, be sure to post it here! I haven’t had as much time as I would like to read unfortunately, so I only have one recommendation – Lucy Burdette‘s Key West Food Critic Mystery Series.
If you’re interested in reading why I’m recommending these series, you can go to the Most Popular & Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on my Cozy-Mystery site for my full write-ups on each of these great Cozy series.
So, what have you been reading that you can recommend in January? 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 January 2017 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 (writing duo Mary Jane Maffini & daughter Victoria Maffini): Book Collectors Mystery Series
Ellery Adams (aka J. B. Stanley, Jennifer Stanley, & 1/2 of Lucy Arlington): Book Retreat Mystery Series
Mary Angela: Professor Prather Mystery Series (first book An Act of Murder)
Nancy Atherton: Aunt Dimity Mystery Series
Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib): Key West Food Critic Mystery Series
Ellen Byron: Cajun Country Mystery Series
Lynn Cahoon: Tourist Trap Mystery Series
Joanna Carl (aka Eve K. Sandstrom): Chocoholic Mystery Series
Jane K. Cleland: Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery Series
Nancy Coco (aka Nancy J. Parra and Nell Hampton): Candy Coated Mystery Series
Sheila Connolly (aka Sarah Atwell): County Cork Mystery Series
Leighann Dobbs: Lexy Baker Mystery Series
Elizabeth J. Duncan: Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery Series
Carola Dunn: Daisy Dalrymple Mystery Series
Kate Dyer-Seeley (aka Ellie Alexander): Pacific Northwest Mystery Series
Victoria Hamilton (aka Amanda Cooper): Merry Muffin Mystery Series
A. W. Hartoin: Mercy Watts Mystery Series (first book A Good Man Gone)
Betty Hechtman: Crochet Mystery Series
Delia James: Witch’s Cat Mystery Series
Kate Kingsbury (aka Rebecca Kent & Allison Kingsley): Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery Series
T. E. Kinsey: Lady Harcaslte Mystery Series (first book A Quiet Life in the Country)
Amanda Lee (aka Gayle Trent & Gayle Leeson): Embroidery Mystery Series
Catherine Lloyd: Kurland St. Mary Mystery Series
Karen Macinerney: Dewberry Farm Mystery Series
Susan Elia MacNeal: Maggie Hope Mystery Series
Molly MacRae: Highland Bookshop Mystery Series
Catriona McPherson: Dandy Gilver Mystery Series
Jenn McKinlay (aka Josie Belle & Lucy Lawrence): Library Lover’s Mystery Series and Hat Shop Mystery Series
Leslie Meier: Lucy Stone Mystery Series
Charlotte Moore: Kate & Kylie Mystery Series (first book A Body in the Bargain)
Diana Orgain: Love or Money Mystery Series
Louise Penny: Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery Series
Carol J. Perry: Witch City Mystery Series
Barbara Ross: Maine Clambake Mystery Series
Samantha Silvers: Cassie Coburn Mystery Series (first book Poison in Paddington)
Karen Rose Smith: Caprice de Luca Mystery Series
Diane Vallere: Material Witness Mystery Series
Radha Vatsal: Kitty Weeks Mystery Series (first book A Front Page Affair)
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.
A cozy mystery I read in January and would like to recommend is My Bad Grandad by A. W. Hartoin. It is the 7th book in the Mercy Watts series.
Mercy’s misadventures are delightful, and I especially enjoy her interactions with her supporting characters.
Highly recommend this series, but start at the beginning with A Good Man Gone. There is an intriguing mystery interwoven into the series.
I can’t wait for book 8.
Crushed Velvet by Diane Vallere is the story of how new fabric store owner, Polyester Monroe, helps to prove her friend’s innocence and track down the real killer. Poly receives a delivery of fabric just days before her Grand Opening, crushed under a dozen bolts of fabric is Phil Girard. His wife, Genevieve, local tea shop owner and close friend of Poly, is the prime suspect.
This is the second book in the Material Witness Mystery series and I enjoyed it as much as the first. The characters in the series are fun and well developed. The plot was full of action with enough twists and turns to keep me guessing throughout the book.
Lady Hardcastle mysteries. Delightful mysteries starring lady Hardcastle and her ladies maid, Armstrong, who have a rather mysterious past. There are two books in the series, “A Quiet Life in the Country”, and “In the Market for Murder”. Death Around the Bend”, is available for pre-order.
Oops, Lady Hardcastle mysteries are authored by T.E Kinsey
I’ve started reading the Witch City mysteries by Carol J. Perry. Love them. Good story and you don’t want to put it down.
January Recommendations – 2017
Hooking For Trouble –- Betty Hechtman
This is a fun series, but I was wondering if I was getting tired of it and put off reading this latest book. However it grabbed me from the beginning. A singing group has moved into a home behind protagonist Molly Pink. While looking for her cat, she believes she witnessed a murder in their yard. But there was no body when police came to investigate. To further complicate things the singing group is going to perform at an event at the bookstore where Molly works. So she must keep it quiet that she is their neighbor.
This story is fast moving, the characters old and new are diverse, thus making the story interesting. Even Molly’s parents are brought into the story line for a very ‘fun’ aspect.
The romance angle in this series has had its ups and downs. Although Molly is dating a lawyer, the police detective is still in the background. There is a HUGE cliffhanger in the last sentence of the last paragraph on the last page of this book. My suggestion would be to wait until next fall to read this book, then follow it up with her newest release which hopefully clarifies the cliffhanger.
Better Late Than Never — Jenn McKinlay
I have yet to ‘meet’ a Jenn McKinlay book that I haven’t liked. She’s currently writing three ongoing series.
On amnesty day an overdue (20 years!) book is returned to the Briar Creek Library where Lindsey Norris is the director. A murder victim checked out the book on the day of her murder. The murder was never resolved and Lindsey wants to investigate.
This is a very well written and well plotted mystery with a totally surprising ending. I’ve enjoyed the characters in this series with all their quirks and varied personalities. The romance story line is a bit weak (or has disconnects), but finally gets on a stable track.
First Degree Mudder – Kate Dyer-Seeley
I’ve enjoyed this author’s two series. In this series, Meg Reed writes for a sports magazine set in Oregon. She is a novice writer who often finds herself in precarious situations with her adventures. In this story she is training for an upcoming mud race. The demanding trainer is found dead in the steam room and Meg pursues an investigation.
There is a lot of interesting information wound into the stories this author writes. First of all, her descriptive writing is very vivid. Next, there is a focus on the characters, as we follow the stories of Meg’s two best friends, her mom, and her grandmother. ALL very well developed and enduring characters. I also appreciate the humor in these books.
The murder mystery is resolved by the end of the book. HOWEVER throughout the four books in this series has been a continuing mystery…………..yet to be resolved. It’s the death of Meg’s father and the questionable circumstances surrounding his death.
I suppose the author’s intent is keep bringing the reader back to the series, but I’m not a fan of unfinished ‘mystery’ story lines. Since I like the characters, the author’s exceptional writing, and the ease of reading these stories with well-paced plot lines, I’d still read the stories when this other mystery is solved.
So note to author: You don’t need this ‘handle’ to keep us coming back……………please wind up this story line and move on. Four books is long enough!
Plaid and Plagiarism — Molly MacRea
I said to myself, “I’ll read this book because I like this author’s other series about soap making”. About halfway through the book I noticed the style of writing was so totally different. Upon checking it, I realized that I had been thinking of Crickett MacRea, obviously NOT the same as Molly MacRea. Duh!
This is a story of four women (three from the US) who have decided to purchase a bookstore in a small Scotland community with expansion plans for a tea room and a B&B.
A reporter at the local newspaper is murdered. Although the story does focus on solving this murder, this book is really about these four women and their connections with each other. It reads more like a novel than a cozy mystery. It is somewhat a slow moving story, but enjoyable nonetheless. The characters are very interesting with great potential for future stories.
Dangling By A Thread — Lea Wait
I really enjoy this series mainly because of the diverse characters and the interactions of these characters. Angie returned to her Maine hometown after spending 10 years in AZ. She has taken over managing a needlepoint company for her grandmother who recently married a local pastor.
This is a very fast read……read it in two days. The author keeps the reader interested page after page after page. However, there is a strong environmental focus (about birds) throughout the story.
A man is found murdered on a nearby island. Because they want to save a specific species of birds, the ‘embroidery group’ gather to find ways to impede the sale of this island to a wealthy man. There are a few twists to the story with interesting side stories. With well placed ‘clues’ it was easy for me to figure it out before the ‘final reveal’.
Hammett Hex – Victoria Abbott
This mother/daughter duo write an enjoyable series. This is the 5th book and I think it’s the best one yet. Jordan and Tyler take a San Francisco vacation where Tyler’s grandmother lives. The reason I happen to like this story better than the others is because it doesn’t involve her wacky uncles (except for one).
There are two ongoing mysteries in this saga. One involves Tyler’s grandmother and a couple of break-ins in her home. The other involves attempts on Jordan’s life and their ransacked hotel room.
It is a very convoluted tale with a very independent protagonist. Her antics always make the stories fun. Because of the ‘vacation’ location, there are many new characters, most developed with a lot of duplicity.
A quick read and enjoyable story and subplots……….hardly can resist that combination!
I’m almost done with the Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton. Normally I think cozies with a ghost are too hokey, but she is a wonderful writer and I’ve enjoyed every one.
Leap Year Baby says
I started reading Louise Penny’s Three Trees mysteries. I just started reading the series three weeks ago. I’m hooked I’m now reading book ten. I haven’t been able to put the books down. You finish one and you want to know what’s next. Just like chips can’t eat just one!
Highly recommend this series.
Margaret StashEmpress says
I’ve been pretty much MIA the last few months, didn’t get as much reading done as usual, and seemed to miss the posting dates for the “best of ____” blog entries to boot! So here’s my totals for November, December & January all together! (22 books in 3 months — now that is seriously pathetic!!!!)
Victoria Hamilton — Muffin But Murder, Death of an English Muffin, Much Ado About Muffin (Merry Muffin series) These are the 2nd, 3rd, & 4th book in this series. Merry Wynter inherits a castle in a small town (upstate NY?) from a great uncle, her last living relative. Initially she plans to sell it because she couldn’t afford the upkeep (and what would she do in small town USA anyway?) but as time goes on, first she has to solve several mysteries surrounding the castle, which eventually morphs into trying to figure out how to make enough money to do some refurbishing to make it saleable (this is where the muffin baking comes in), which then morphs into how can she make enough money to KEEP the castle and remain in “small town USA” with the people she has come to know and love. (Not to mention the dead bodies that keep popping up 😉
Leslie Meier — Candy Corn Murder (Lucy Stone series) Second to newest installment in this long running & well beloved series (Somehow I got out of order, having found the Manor House title before I got this one). Love Lucy & her family & her adventures.
Amanda Lee — Wicked Stitch (Embroidery mystery series) — Marcy Singer, owner of The Seven Year Stitch (needlework shop) has been long bothered by a neighboring shopowner who has taken a dislike to her for some unknown reason. Now this shopowner’s equally despicable sister has opened a competing needlework shop next door to Marcy — and even copied the layout & decor of her store! If this wasn’t all bad enough, Both sisters have booths at the much awaited Tallulah Falls Ren Faire — and their booths are on either side of Marcy’s — does not look like its gonna be a fun two weeks for Marcy…. and then it only gets worse when she discovers the body of one of the sisters at the Faire.
Ellery Adams — Murder in the Secret Garden (Book Retreat series) I LOVE LOVE LOVE the whole premise behind this series. I WANT TO VACATION THERE. Heck — I want to LIVE THERE!!!!!! So glad the series has been picked up by a new publisher and will continue!
Diana Orgain — A Second Chance at Murder (Love or Money series) I read the first book in this series last month & wondered how it was going to be a continuing series in that the main character Georgia Thornton is a contestant on a reality show where she has to find the love of her life. Presumably when the show is over, its over, right? Well I was wrong. She’s back, with boyfriend this time, on yet another reality show! Only this time the boyfriend goes missing before filming starts & the only clue is his watch… found next to a dead body of a woman… check…..
Carols Dunn — The Winter Garden Mystery (Daisy Dalrymple series) The Honorable Daisy Dalyrymple is scandalizing 1923 England by trying to make her own way by writing articles for popular magazines. While doing a series of articles on country manor houses, she comes across a murder — and of course she solves it herself… of course she does… 😉
Radha Vatsal– A Front Page Affair (Kitty Weeks series) — OK — I admit — its a new series! But a historical one, with a strong female sleuth! Kitty Weeks, society girl, aspires to be a real journalist. Its exciting times — the Lusitania has just been sunk and talk about the Great War is everywhere. Of course being a girl, she’s lucky to get a job as assistant to the society editor, covering parties. But when a murder occurs at a high society picnic that she’s covering, Kitty decides to show the men what she can do & solve the murder herself. Very well written & looking forward to more from this author.
Susan Elia Macneal — The Queen’s Accomplice (Maggie Hope series) — Another series I’m totally in love with & at the edge of my seat waiting for each new installment.
JoAnna Carl –The Chocolate Bunny Brouhaha (Chocoholic series) — What can I say — I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this series!!!! (That and to add that no actual bunnies, either living or chocolate, were harmed in the writing of this book LOL).
Sheila Connolly — An Early Wake (County Cork series) — Maura Donovan is back, still trying to keep Sullivan’s Pub operating in the black (or at least green). A scheme to bring back the heyday of Irish pub music backfires when a dead musician is found & Maura must get to the bottom of things.
Ellen Byron — Plantation Shudders (Cajun Country series) — Another new series. I was on the fence about starting this one for a very long time — but it had so many recommendations — on this list & elsewhere — that I decided to give it a try. Maggie Crozat comes home to her family’s Cajun country B & B & has to solve a murder to exonerate her family. Not a startlingly new premise for a cozy, but very well written & very good characterizations.
Jane K. Cleland – Glow of Death (Josie Prescott Antiques series) — Another great installment in an old favorite series. Antique seller Josie Prescott has been asked to appraise a valuable Tiffany lamp for a wealthy local couple. Later she hears that the wife has been murdered — except — this is not the woman who hired her to appraise the lamp! Josie has been scammed and now finding the killer has become personal for her.
Wendy Sand Eckel — Murder at Barclay Meadow & Death at the Day Lily Cafe. First & second in a new series. (Yes, again, I know I’m not big on new series, but this one has a different & interesting premise). Rosalie Hart is newly divorced & ends up in her aunt’s old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere (ok, Maryland’s Eastern Shore) — initially planning to see what improvements she needs to make to the property so she can sell it & get on with her life, she eventually decides to stay & make a new life for herself. In the first books she finds the body of a young girl floating in her marsh grass and the local sheriff seems disinclined to do anything in the way of investigating the death. Rosalie is convinced its murder & together with a ragtag band of friends she’s made in a local college writing class, she decides to investigate. I love Rosalie & her group of friends — a more unlikely group of friends — or detectives — you’ll never meet. In the end they do solve the murder — and Rosalie decides to stay & open her dream Day Lily Cafe — where she finds herself solving yet another murder with the aid of her friends. Hopefully there will be more in this series, I really enjoyed Rosalie & her friends.
Kate Kingsbury — The Clue is in the Pudding (Pennyfoot Hotel series) — I really loved this series when it was a “regular” series & very disappointed when it switched over to “holiday specials” only. So here’s the most recent holiday installment that I was able to get my hands on. It was delightful, of course, though I really have a hard time believing that murder now only occurs once a year at the Pennyfoot LOL!
Amanda Lee — The Stitching Hour (Embroidery Mystery series) Marcy Singer & her needlework shop, The Seven Year Stitch are back. This time its Halloween season and a haunted house has opened up in the vacant store next door. Marcy is concerned that the noise will disturb her regular customers — but she wasn’t counting on the murder that occurs….
Catherine Lloyd — Death Comes to the Fair (Kurland St. Mary series) — I’ve been hugely enjoying this series (set in Regency England) since its inception — I love historical series, and the more elegant the clothing, the better! Miss Lucy Harrington & Major Sir Robert Kurland are back, this time planning their wedding — or trying to, what with all the interfering relatives that keep complicating their lives — and then a murder occurs…. again…..
Elizabeth J. Duncan – Ill Met by Murder (Shakespeare in the Catskills series) Second in the series by the author who brought us the favorite Penny Brannigan series. British costume designer Charlotte Fairfax is working for a Shakesperean theater company housed in a Catskills hotel (and solving murders as they appear) — now that’s a novel twist that no other author has come up with yet! (I’ve mentioned many times — I’m not a fan of the current deluge of new series that are carbon copies of all the old series — how many needlework shop or bakeshop owners can you have running around sleuthing already? I try to avoid new series unless they’ve had massively rave reviews or if they’re written by an author I already adore or if they have some premise that’s majorly different than all the other cozy series out there — this series fits all those criteria!)
Delia James — A Familiar Tail (Witch’s Cat series) — First in a series (yeah I know I swore of off those new series, but I heard good things about this one LOL) — Anna Britton goes to visit a friend in Portsmouth, NH — and discovers that her grandmother used to live there — and that not only is her grandmother a witch, but Anna herself is too — its a bit much to digest, particularly with a spooky cat named Alistair adopting her (her new familiar) and having to solve the murder of her grandmother’s old friend, coincidentally the witch who was Alistair’s previous owner. While I’m also not usually a fan of paranormals, this one is done in a light & humorous way — sort of “para-cozy lite” — very fun & enjoyable & looking forward to the next in series (which is currently towards the top of my towering TBR pile…)
Catriona McPherson — The Reek of Red Herrings (Dandy Gilver series) — I’m not even going to attempt to give a synopsis of this book. Just read it. The author has an amazingly twisted mind… that’s all I’m gonna say on that subject!
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Margaret, that’s still a decent number of books for a few “bad” months. I’m glad to see you back and hope you manage to make up the reading in months to come!
The book that I really liked this month is Fatal frost by Karen MacInerney in the Dewberry Farm series. I liked it so well that I have another one of her books in that series — Killer Jam — waiting for me at the library. I also like her gray whale inn mystery series. lucy Resnick is a former investigative reporter that bought her grandmother’s farm and is trying to make the farm successful. She uses her reporter skills when the sheriff arrests her friend Molly for a crime she doesn’t commit. This story takes place before Christmas and I read seasonal books any time of the year. There’s a Christmas market that sold Christmas cakes and breads, candied almonds, and holly and mistletoe.
I haven’t read as many books as usual this month but several deserve a recommendation. Iced Under by Barbara Ross continues the story of Julia and her family who run a clam bake during the summer season on their private island. As the title suggests, this book takes place during the dead of winter and explores the history of Julia’s mother who does not believe that she has any living relatives. A box arrives in the mail with a valuable piece of jewelry and this sets Julia off on a quest to find out who sent it. You might feel cold while reading this but it is an interesting insight into how this family came to own an island and what role ice played in their history.
Assault and Beret by Jenn McKinlay is a great addition to the Hat Shop series. The cousins are in Paris to teach a hat making class but also to look for the man one of the cousins married impulsively and left just as quickly. They get involved in an art theft and possible kidnapping and soon all of their London friends come to help them find answers. A fun read.
Another book I enjoyed this month was The Act of Murder by Mary Angela, the start of a new series. The book is set on a small college campus in the Midwest where an English instructor gets involved when one of her students is found dead in the college theater where he was working on constructing sets. The conclusion was a surprise and I’m looking forward to seeing how the series progresses.
I really enjoyed Charlotte Moore’s A Body In The Bargain and it’s sequel. They are about two best friends Kate and Kylie who enjoy living in a small town and enjoy arts and crafts, like painting and repurposing tag sale furniture.
I also greatly liked reading Samantha Silvers new series. Her first two books are Poisoning in Paddington and Bombing in Belgravia. Her heroine, Cassie Colburn is a doctor who was very badly injured and disabled near the end of her surgical residency. To escape depression, she relocates to London, meets a brilliant French sleuth and helps solves some very intriguing mysteries. Hope you enjoy them also!
I was first introduced to Cozy mysteries by a recommendation to a Joanne Fluke, Hannah Swensen mystery. I absolutely loved them and proceeded to read everyone of them. Waiting for her next one to come out.
Since finishing the Hannah Swensen series (my favorite series so far) I have gone through several others. I have completed (in no particular order of preference because I enjoyed them all equally):
Nancy Coco – Allie McMurphy series
Leighann Dobbs – Lexy Baker series
Karen Rose Smith – Caprice De Luca Mystery Series
Lynn Cahoon – Jill Gardner Series
I have tried several other authors since finishing the above but haven’t found one yet that has held my interest enough to read more than a couple of books in the series except perhaps my most recent tries which look promising:
Barbara Ross – Maine Clambake Series
Laurien Berenson – Melanie Travis Series
Pre Cozy mysteries I read mostly espionage – Vince Flynn and Brad Thor, etc., very intense! It’s wonderful to pick up something light and fun! But there are so may authors to choose from one doesn’t know where to begin!