It’s a new year, and what better way to end the first month of the new year than with a Cozy Mystery recommendations post?
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 re-read another old favorite of mine, the first entry in Patricia Moyes’s Hentry Tibbett 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 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 2019 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:
Ellery Adams (aka J. B. Stanley, Jennifer Stanley, & 1/2 of Lucy Arlington): Secret, Book & Scone Society Mystery Series
Lorraine Bartlett (aka L. L. Bartlett & Lorna Barrett) (w/Gayle Leeson): Victoria Square Mystery Series
V.M. Burns: Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series AND Dog Club Mystery Series
Bailey Cattrell (aka Bailey Cates & Cricket McRae): Enchanted Garden Mystery Series
Sheila Connolly (aka Sarah Atwell): County Cork Mystery Series AND Orchard Mystery Series AND Victorian Village Mystery Series AND Museum Mystery Series
Ellen Crosby: Wine Country Mystery Series
Krista Davis: Pen & Ink Mystery Series
Jacqueline Frost (aka Julie Chase & Julie Anne Lindsey): Christmas Tree Farm Mystery Series
Parnell Hall (aka J. P. Hailey): Puzzle Lady Mystery Series
Lee Harris: Christine Bennett Holiday Mystery Series
Richard Houston: Books to Die For Mystery Series
Maddy Hunter: Passport to Peril Mystery Series
J. A. Jance: J.P Beaumont Mystery Series
Cynthia Kuhn: Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Series
Patricia Moyes: Henry Tibbett Mystery Series
Louise Penny: Inspector Gamache Mystery Series
Barbara Ross: Maine Clambake Mystery Series
Alexander McCall Smith: Isabel Dalhousie Series (not mysteries)
Victoria Thompson: Gaslight Mystery Series
I will list the authors and series that have been recommended, but I urge you to read the comments below so you can see the reasons other Cozy Mystery readers thought these were their best reads of the month.
♦To access more Cozy Mystery Books Recommendations, click on this link♦
P.S. I usually don’t comment on your recommendations since they speak for themselves.
I enjoyed Richard Houston’s book, “Letters to Die For”. It is book 4 of the series, but the first book of his I have read. I liked the characters and their interaction, that includes the dog. And, lots of good humor that I related to.
Also, I read Victoria Thompson’s, “Murder on Lexington Avenue”, part of her gaslight series. This book was very engrossing, a real page turner.
January Recommendations – 2019
The Coloring Crook – Krista Davis
I know there are many Krista Davis fans on this blog. Her books are often recommended. This is the second book in a new series.
Florrie Fox is manager of a bookstore, “Color Me Read’ in Georgetown. She also is a talented sketch artist. Her good friend and customer is found dead just after acquiring a valuable book. The book has ‘disappeared’.
There is quite a variety of diverse characters in this story. Davis develops them well with some depth. There are so many complex facets to this story that the reader’s interest is held throughout. And, WOW! — What a surprising end! Who would’ve “thunk”? (Not me.)
I really appreciate the flow of the story from beginning to end. Some authors have to ‘explain’ everything in the final chapters because none of it was evident throughout the story. Not this author. Davis always has delightful story telling talents (with a light touch) along with impeccable pacing.
In this series the romance angle seems stable. NOT like her other two series. I like the easy collaboration and support between Florrie and Eric (of course, a policeman!). Hopefully Davis will let this romance story line continue throughout the series.
Harvest of Secrets – Ellen Crosby
Love, love this series. AND, as I’ve stated many times, Crosby is a consummate and gifted writer. She previously has written for the Washington Post and ABC. This series, however, is more intense than many other cozies. There are times I’m in the mood for a lighter read, and other times I want to read a more intense story.
Lucie Montgomery manages the family vineyard along with fiance Quinn Santori. It is set in wine country in VA, near DC. A long time family acquaintance from France is managing a neighboring vineyard. He is found murdered. He has a nebulous past, thus there are several suspects.
This is a VERY multifaceted story with numerous twists and turns (including a possible hurricane). As with all the books in this captivating series, it is difficult to put down. Although this story could be read as a stand-lone, I think reading the previous 7 books gives a good foundation for each successive story.
Twas the Knife Before Christmas – Jacqueline Frost
This book is definitely a holiday read, set in Mistletoe, Maine with a lead character named Holly White. Cookie Cutter is her close friend. Too cutesy? Nah — this is an entertaining series, written on the ‘lighter’ side with very enjoyable characters. It has a strong family and community feel to it. DON’T mistake it for ‘fluff’.
The characters have strong relationships with some depth. Interactions are particularly well written. Holly is a particularly engaging and intelligent protagonist.
A well-known, not well liked man is murdered and his body is found at a community event. I can’t begin to explain all the complicated twists and turns in the mystery and also another personal story line. It keeps your nose in the book constantly turning page after page until you finish. Riveting.
This is the second book in the series. I definitely would read the first book to understand the characters and their developing friendships. The combination of light and gripping makes this a story most everyone will really enjoy!!
Yule Be Dead – Lorraine Bartlett, Gayle Leeson
Kate Bonner manages an artisan complex, Victoria Square, in upstate New York. They are celebrating a Dickensian holiday, so it does have a holiday feel/component to it. However, I wasn’t going to save it until next fall to read.
Kate’s mother-in-law comes to visit. Because Kate’s husband died, it is a strained relationship. Much emphasis is placed on this relationship and the reader will find it a fascinating component to the story.
This story/series is very character driven and these authors amplify the characters so well with much complexity.
The daughter of a tea shop owner in the complex is found dead. Of course the story revolves around this mystery, but I really think the mystery is more or less a background story to all the other stories and character interactions in this book. It is complicated, intertwined, and very interesting.
One story thread throughout is whether Kate will purchase the tea shop or not. One aspect I didn’t like was the turn of events in the romance angle. We’ll have to see how that all plays out in the next book.
Steamed Open – Barbara Ross
This is another series that is often recommended. I enjoyed this book, although it isn’t the ‘murder’ that drives the story. Julia Snowden’s family host daily clambakes on a nearby Maine island during the summer season. Recently they celebrated the life of a 102 yr. old woman who died. Her nephew is the heir apparent and is found dead in the mansion that his aunt had lived in.
Uncovering lifelong family secrets (of several characters) is a common thread throughout the story. There’s a variety of complicated relationships to discover and unfold.
It’s all interesting, well-paced, and well written. In many ways, a typical cozy!
Hope everyone STAYS WARM during this cold and frigid January week! 🙂
Patti S. says
Thanks MJ, for your thorough book reviews each month. You do a very good job of describing what is going on without giving the plot away. Thank you so much!
Carol K says
I have been reading Sheila Connolly’s Series: County Cork, Museum, started Victorian Village. I finally have #1 in her Orchard series. All are very good, easy reads that make me want to see what happens next and how.
Sheila Connolly (Cork County) has my attention this month. Just read 1 and 2 and getting ready to seek out 3-6. Very good flow and I love reading about Ireland anyway.
Sally Fortney says
I read The Novel Art of Murder by V.M. Burns. I love that she has the present day mystery and the 1930’s one that the character writes. This time solving the book mystery helped solve the current mystery. Also love her feisty grandmother and her friends.
Pam Walker says
I just read the first V.M. Burns, too, and really liked it.
Marie Lawlor says
I have just read all of the Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith. Waiting for the next one. No murders, but rather situations that Isabel works out according to her philosophy that we have a duty to help people as a result of our being in moral proximity with them. Her musings are very entertaining I think. Thoroughly enjoy this author.
I’ve been reading Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series. I’m on #11 of #13. LOVE them. I usually know “who done it” early in a mystery but with hers it’s always the last chapter! Very well written and I’ve learned a lot about Quebec and Canada that I’m sorry to say I didn’t know too much about. Great books.
I have been re reading the J.P. Beaumont Series by J.A. Jance. I really like the author’s writing style and am always engaged. I’m not sure if this series is considered a cozy, but I find it enjoyable.
The other series I have been re reading is the Christine Bennett Series by Lee Harris. Again, the writing style is simplistic but engaging. As I draw near the end of the series again, I find myself wishing there were more books in the series.
Maybe because I need some cheering up, I’m enjoying Maddy Hunter’s “Passport to Peril” series. Sometimes a little silly, but the protagonist’s voice makes me LOL. Emily Andrew is a youngish, unemployed woman, who takes a job escorting a group of senior citizens from small-town Iowa, her grandmother included, on various world tours (first book Switzerland, second Ireland, etc.) Of course there are murders. The romance element is contained enough for me, but it’s the main character and the pickles she gets in that give me the boost I need. Humor in cozies can sometimes seem too forced, but the author has just the right touch for me anyway.
Vicki L. says
I also have read and enjoyed the Passport to Peril series. It is light and funny.
You might try Parnell Hall’s Puzzle Lady series. It has a lot of humor and is set in a small town in Connecticut with a heroine who is a middle-aged lady with a lot of bad habits but who has found her talent is solving murders.
She makes me laugh which is much needed during these stressful times.
Thanks, Vicki. I have a couple of the Puzzle Lady series, but haven’t read them. I’ll make a point of it. Agree about needing laughs in these stress-filled days.
Tari H says
I absolutely loved The Whispered Word by Ellery Adams, the second in her Secret, Book & Scone Society. There’s just something about that series that’s so much more than just a group of women solving a murder. It definitely gave me book euphoria afterwards.
Patti S. says
I love this series also. It really makes you feel good after you have finished the book.
Janice G says
I have to agree with the previous recommendations of Sheila Connolly’s County Cork series. The Lost Traveler, the most recent book, is a good example of these stories in which characters play a more important role than the actual mystery. I would also recommend The Spirit in Question by Cynthia Kuhn, set on a Colorado college campus where a play is being staged in a historic Opera House that may or may not be haunted. I laughed out loud many times reading Call Me If Yukon by Maddy Hunter, the latest in her travel series. Emily and her husband are leading the Iowa senior citizens, obsessed as usual with technology and their smart phones on a tour of Alaska where again as usual a murder occurs on their tour. If readers prefer more serious books, this might not be the series for them but if you want a little lighter read as a diversion, these books are really fun.
Love the books by V.M. Burns. Read both the Mystery Bookshop series and the Dog Club Mystery Series. She has added a third series (RJ Franklin Mystery Series) which I have not yet read but hope to soon.
I just read Marigolds for Malice, the first time I’ve read Bailey Cattrell. It’s the third book in the series so I’ve requested the other two from my library because I enjoyed the characters and local area descriptions so much.