As it will soon my August, it’s time for me to ask you ALL about the Cozies you’ve been reading this month. As some of you know, I highlighted two Cozy Mystery series (Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mystery Series and Leslie Meier’s Lucy Stone Mystery Series) that are popular for a reason: they’re both great examples of what we look for in our Cozies! So rather than repeat everything I previously said about my two picks for this month’s recommendations, I’ll refer you to the Most Popular & Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on my Cozy-Mystery site.
So, are there any Cozy Mysteries that you’ve read during July that you think stand out as better than the rest of the Cozies you read this month? If so, would you please tell us about these really good Cozies and why you liked them so much? I think it’s fair to say that most of us are always on the look-out for new-to-us Cozy Mystery authors! We’d appreciate hearing about the Cozy Mysteries you especially liked, so that we can read them, too. (If you have a lot of Cozies you think are terrific, would you post the ones you think are even better than the others at the top of the list?)
As usual, please do not tell us about the Cozy Mysteries you did not like.
What really good Cozy Mystery did you read during July 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:
Ellery Adams (aka Jennifer Stanley, J. B. Stanley, & 1/2 of Lucy Arlington): Book Retreat Mystery Series
Isabella Alan (aka Amanda Flower): Amish Quilt Shop Mystery Series
Ellie Alexander (aka Kate Dyer-Seeley): Bakeshop Mystery Series
Beverly Allen (aka Barbara Early): Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery Series
Donna Andrews: Meg Langslow Mystery Series
Donald Bain & “Jessica Fletcher”: Murder, She Wrote Mystery Series
Mignon F. Ballard: Miss Dimple Mystery Series
Lorraine Bartlett (aka Lorna Barrett & L.L. Bartlett): Victoria Square Mystery Series
Clara Benson: Angela Marchmont Mystery Series (The Murder at Sissingham Hall is book #1)
Jennie Bentley (aka Jenna Bennett & Bente Gallagher): Do-It-Yourself Mystery Series
Janet Bolin: Threadville Mystery Series
Laura Bradford (aka Elizabeth Lynn Casey): Emergency Squad Dessert Mystery Series
Julia Buckley: Writer’s Apprentice Mystery Series
Julia Buckley: Undercover Dish Mystery Series
Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib): Key West Food Critic Mystery Series
Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli (aka Elizabeth Lee): Little Library Mystery Series
E.J. Copperman (aka Jeffrey Cohen): Mysterious Detective Mystery Series
Cleo Coyle (aka Alice Kimberly): Coffeehouse Mystery Series
Jeanne M. Dams: Dorothy Martin Mystery Series
Krista Davis: Domestic Diva Mystery Series
Laura DiSilverio (aka Lila Dare & Ella Barrick): Mall Cop Mystery Series
Wendy Sand Eckel: Rosalie Hart Mystery Series (Murder at Barclay Meadow, book #1)
Joan Hess (aka Joan Hadley): Maggody Mystery Series
Julianne Holmes: Clock Shop Mystery Series
Ellen Elizabeth Hunter: Magnolia Mystery Series
Julie Hyzy: Manor of Murder Mystery Series
J.A. Jance: Ali Reynolds Mystery Series
Rett MacPherson: Torie O’Shea Mystery Series
Connie di Marco (aka Connie Archer): Zodiac Mystery Series
Mary Marks: Martha Rose Quilting Mystery Series
Lisa Q. Mathews: Ladies Smythe & Westin Mystery Series (Cardiac Arrest is book #1)
Jenn McKinlay (aka Josie Belle & Lucy Lawrence): Cupcake Bakery Mystery Series
Jenn McKinlay (aka Josie Belle & Lucy Lawrence): Hat Shop Mystery Series
Leslie Meier: Lucy Stone Mystery Series
Leigh Perry (aka Toni L.P. Kelner): Family Skeleton Mystery Series
Hannah Reed (aka Deb Baker): Scottish Highlands Mystery Series
Delia Rosen: Deadly Deli Mystery Series
Sara Rosett: Ellie Avery Mystery Series
Ann B. Ross: Miss Julia Mystery Series
Jane Thynne: Clara Vine Mystery Series (Black Roses is book #1)
Charles Todd: Ian Rutledge Mystery Series
Diane Vallere: Material Witness Mystery Series
Peggy Webb: Southern Cousins 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.
Left For Dead is excellent. It is the 7th book in the Ali Reynolds Mysteries series by J.A. Jance. Left For Dead explores the dark underworld of the drug cartel and trafficking across Arizona’s border with Mexico.
Ali Reynolds is a former cop and news anchor who has a passion for doing the right thing. When Ali is called to the hospital when a former colleague from her police academy days is shot, she learns of a Jane Doe in the bed next to her friend who was found in the Arizona desert. Both victims, her former colleague and the young woman, were left in the desert for dead. These two seemingly unrelated cases come together; Ali and Sister Anselm (her elderly nun friend) work together to solve these cases.
I like the way Jance develops each of her characters in detail and yet keeps the plot moving forward. I like this series just as well as her Joanna Brady Series and J. P. Beaumont Series.
There was a new release in one of my favorite series this month – Dressed to Kilt by Hannah Reed. I love the setting in the Scottish Highlands and the recurring cast of interesting characters. The author also adds some realism by introducing the issue of immigration laws that some authors seem to ignore when having characters move to a different country. Of course, if the series is going to continue, this issue has to be resolved.
A new series that got off to an interesting start is A Most Curious Murder by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli. I had some trouble initially getting into the story because of the many quotes from Alice in Wonderland, a book that I haven’t read in many years but once I got into the story, I enjoyed it very much. One of the main characters is a little person who writes books about fairy tales and who has a fairy garden. The other main character at first comes off as unlikable but improves as the story continues.
The last book that I want to recommend is by an author not yet on the site. Murder at Barclay Meadow by Wendy Sand Eckel was a very good book. After her marriage breaks up, a woman moves to a farm along a river that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. Shortly after moving in, she finds a body of a college student in the river. Not satisfied with the official ruling of accidental death, she, along with an interesting group of people that she meets in a college writing class, begin to investigate on their own. The second book in this series was released just a few days ago and I am looking forward to read it.
I loved Murder at Barclay Meadow … the second book in the series was just released … Murder at the Day Lily Cafe. Can’t wait to read it.
This has been a busy month. I participated in a Facebook group’s read-a-thon, and read more than I have in a while:
1. Finished the last book in Laura DiSilverio’s Mall Cop series, which I am sad to say was canceled by the publisher. I enjoyed this series very much: strong female character and a different premise for a cozy.
2. Read all 3 of Beverly Allen’s Bridal Bouquet Shop series, which sadly has also been cancelled. This is another good and interesting cozy series, and I just hate that there will be more.
3. Next up, Diane Vallere’s Material Witness series. This was fun to read, with interesting side characters and plotlines which weren’t too much same-old, same-old. Plus, I love fabric too, so it was easy for me to identify with this book’s premise. There are only 2 so far, and I know 1 more is due – I hope this series is continued!
4. I then segued to Leigh Perry’s Family Skeleton series, which was so much fun. Sadly, it too was canceled by its publisher, but I understand there may be hope for more from another publisher!
5. Finally, I am in the middle of Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse mystery series, and it’s pretty good as well.
6. I tried to read 4 other series but they weren’t for me, so I won’t describe them any further. (I read 2 books of each series before deciding I just couldn’t read any more, for various reasons)
Hello All! New to commenting here but have been following for a while and I have gotten some great book ideas, so thank you all!!
This month my “New” section at the library gave me “Just Killing Time – A Clock Shop Mystery” by Julianne Holmes (I think this is her first ever). I have to say I wondered in the very beginning if I would like it, there was a lot of scene setting and people meeting, but for a first-in-a-series I guess that should be expected. The main character, Ruth, is a clock-maker from a long line of clock-makers who inherits the family business and along with it the mystery of the murder of her grandfather. She is easy to get to know, and I thought the story was well-written, the characters easy to imagine, and the town easy to picture.
Plus, I know a lot more about clocks now, which is one thing I love about cozies, I always seem to learn something new 🙂
Hope you enjoy it !!
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Leslie, I’m so happy you decided to post a comment! Welcome!
I would recommend two new series from Julia Buckley. The first title is A Dark and Stormy Murder. The protagonist is Lena London, an aspiring writer who becomes the assistant to Camilla Graham, a best selling author. There are, of course, quaint and quirky small town characters and romance with a cliff hanger ending that left me wanting more.
At the end of the book was a sample from her other series. The book is entitled the The Big Chili. I liked the fact that the series takes place outside the city of Chicago where I live. The protagonist is Lilah Drake, an aspiring chef with a interesting sideline catering business– she cooks for her clients and they take the credit for creating the dish. Here too are fun characters, a loving family and of course, a romance that gets off to a very rocky start. I recommend both books.
I just finished reading A Dark and Stormy Night and enjoyed it very much. I hope that they resolve the cliff hanger in the next book.
I read several of Janet Bolin’s Threadville series and loved them! I am greatly disappointed that her publisher has discontinued the series. There are too many “loose ends” left hanging. I really wish they would change their minds. ?
July Recommendations – 2016
Grace Sees Red — Julie Hyzy
There are some interesting revelations in this book. Grace Wheaton is the manager of Marshfield Manor. Her prickly assistant, Francis, visits her ex-husband (who knew?) who is living in a ritzy medical facility in a nearby community. She has an adversarial relationship with one of his roommates, who is later murdered. Of course, Francis is a suspect. Since the detectives in the community where this facility is located are somewhat incompetent, Grace steps in to find a resolution.
This is a well written series, something I’ve come to expect from this author. Grace is a very strong protagonist with diverse and complimentary characters surrounding her. And, the mystery unravels in a complex manner. As always, Hyzy writes a fast-paced story.
It’s taken a lo-o-o-ong time, but it appears there is a budding romance for Grace. As I’ve read the last couple of books in this series, it has been something I’ve wondered about. Hyzy doesn’t usually leave that aspect out of her books. So I’m excited to see this other story line added to this series. 🙂
Diva Serves High Tea — Krista Davis
This series is always recommended. I liked this book for the normal reasons. Twisted plot with multiple turns, good depth to characters, and dialogue with much wit. The antique store owner is found murdered. His past is convoluted with many connections to current residents. It moves quickly, but sometimes does get bogged down a bit.
One aspect I thought was humorous. In the beginning of the book, Sophie (about age 30) quickly put on ‘pedal pushers’. Huh? Are they still around?
The other thought – is a character missing? Or did he go somewhere, and I don’t remember. There doesn’t seem to be any mention of Wolf’s boss. He was so remarkable (??) that I don’t even remember his name! But at page 225 or so, I thought, “where is he?”
Murder, Handcrafted — Isabella Allen
This series is set in Ohio Amish Country. Protagonist Angie owns a quilting shop. She is dating the hunky sheriff. Both are ‘Englisch’. Angies’s parents have moved to this community from Texas. They are renovating their kitchen and the electrician they hired is electrocuted. He’s not well liked so there are many possible suspects, including Angie’s childhood friend, Jonah.
This a fun read because it incorporates ‘Big Foot’ into the story line. I enjoy the characters – a nice mix of the two cultures, although there is some friction. The ‘murderer’ is a complete surprise. I did not see that coming!
Eclair and Present Danger — Laura Bradford
This is the first book in a new series. Winnie Johnson seeks ways to enhance her bakery business after losing her store front location. With a renovated ambulance, she creates a business bakery plan on ‘wheels’. She loves living in her older (somewhat nosy) neighborhood. Unfortunately, one of her neighbors is smothered with a pillow.
Several eclectic characters are introduced. The dialogue is written with some wit and humor. It’s a well plotted mystery with a somewhat surprise ending. Bradford did NOT follow the normal cozy formula with a romantic tie to a detective, FBI agent, or lawyer. Kudos for creativity in going another route with this story line!
Good start for a hopefully long series!
Thanks for the recommendation. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this new series although I enjoy Bradford’s series set in Amish country. Maybe I’ll give Eclair and Present Danger a try.
I’m loving Jennie Bentley/Jenna Bennett. She writes as Bentley for the Do-It-Yourself series with Avery Baker and as Bennett for the Savannah Martin series.
I’m reading the first of the Do-It-Yourself books, & even though I figured out whodunnit right away (maybe that changes in later books), I really don’t care. I can disappear in her writing. The descriptions are just right – not too long or short, and she has great characters & settings. You feel like you’re there. Avery Baker is just right, also. She’s not perfect but is smart and spunky. I hate heroines that let themselves be walked on and books where they are constantly insulted by family or anyone else. The situations are realistic enough that you don’t get distracted by them. Also, I LOVE when they have an element of some long ago mystery. I’d love to hang out with Avery, Derek and Kate in Waterfield. I hope this series goes on for a long time. Same with the Savannah Martin series for the same reasons.
Rett MacPherson – Torie O’Shea series. Pretty much the same reasons as above.
Ellen Elizabeth Hunter – Magnolia mysteries/Wilmington series. Ditto. Also several of these are set during holidays, which I love.
One other thing I enjoy about each of these series is the relationships – with sisters, friends, families, etc. One of the reasons I came to love one of my favorite authors – Anne George.
I hope this helps someone find a new favorite. If you like any of the authors I’ve mentioned, you’d probably like the others.
I agree with you Terri. I love, love, love both series by Jennie Bentley/Jenna Bennett. Pace yourself with the do it yourself series because unfortunately she is not writing any new books in that series, although that doesnt stop me from rereading that series when I need my avery and derek fix. However, her savannah martin series is still going but unfortunately I usually read those books the day they come out and then i have to wait and wait for the next one to come out so I can repeat the whole process. 🙂
My favorite book this month is No Shred of Evidence by Charles Todd. This is about the best series I read. Also enjoyed the first Angela Marchmont, titled The Murder at Sissingham Hall, by Clara Benson. It is styled after mysteries written during the 20s and 30s a la Dame Agatha.
I’ve never read Charles Todd before, but I liked your comments about that series. I just ordered A Test of Wills, first in the series. It sounds really good.
I am reading the Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross. Excellent writer and great sense of humor!
I’ve been re-visiting some old friends this month, in the small Arkansas town of Maggody. Courtesy of author Joan Hess. Quirky characters abound!
I must say, though, that the first couple in this series (Which I’ve just acquired) don’t seem quite as good as the later ones. I think it must have taken her a couple of books to get into her stride, as it were, so if you’re starting at the beginning, don’t give up! They’re worth persevering with.
Peggy Webb and her Southern Cousins Mystery series is a fun read. I love that she gives Elvis, the hound dog, a voice in her stories. Wish there were more of them.
Right now, I am reading for the first time, Jenn McKinlay, her “Hat Shop Mystery” series.
I just finished “Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty…Not a cozy mystery but interesting.
Well, I’ve been busy this July with my nephew’s wedding but one series I read was Mary Marks quilting series. I got all but the last book in the series at HPB and read them back to back in just a few days. I really really enjoyed them!
My books for the month were:
“Moving Is Murder” by Sara Rosett (Ellie Avery Mysteries). I had never read this series before and the publisher recently reissued this first-in-the-series book so I bought a copy since I found the concept of the sleuth being a military wife interesting. One of my nieces is a military wife and you don’t read mysteries very often that focus on the daily lives of military families. Author Sarah Rosett is an Air Force wife, so Ellie Avery is one as well.
Ellie’s husband Mitch is an Air Force pilot, and they are first-time parents to their infant daughter Livvy, who is three months old as the story begins. Their former base in California is scheduled for closure, so they’ve just relocated to Washington State. They buy a house in a subdivision close to their new base and many of their neighbors are military families. After one of the other military wives, who was Ellie’s neighbor, dies in what is ruled as a freak accident, Ellie finds evidence to prove it was murder and reports this to the on-base authorities. At first she isn’t taken seriously but she continues her sleuthing Then a second military wife who lived on their street is murdered. The authorities begin to take Ellie more seriously, but she does a better job finding clues than they do. This places her life in danger as she struggles to figure out a connection between the murders of both women.
“From Herring to Eternity” by Delia Rosen (Deadly Deli Mysteries). It’s been a year since former Wall Street stockbroker Gwen Katz left her life in NYC behind to run her late Uncle Murray’s Jewish Deli down in Nashville, Tennessee. Gwen also inherited her late Uncle’s house. But now a persistent and irritating college professor starts hassling Gwen and produces a legal contract signed by Uncle Murray stating the professor and his grad students have permission to excavate under the house’s basement for a year since it’s supposed to be a Civil War burial site. So Gwen lets the local Wiccan Coven perform a ceremony in her basement to turn the house into a “Wiccan Temple” to hopefully grant the place immunity from the excavation. Gwen thinks the scheme is in name-only but the Wiccans have other ideas.
To make matters worse, one of Gwen’s Deli’s regular customers, a struggling musician named Clifford “Lippy” Montgomery, dies after someone poisons his herring lunch and his trumpet case is stolen. The police detective who lands the case is Gwen’s ex-boyfriend, an awkward situation. Lippy’s sister Tippi (named after actress Tippi Hedron) comes to town and Gwen helps her out. She tells Gwen Lippy told her he had a “treasure” in the now-missing trumpet case. But then Tippi is murdered. Whoever poisoned Lippy, then killed his sister, obviously is one of the customers who was in the diner while Lippy had been eating his lunch, so Gwen starts sleuthing into her regular customers’ lives. She must also contend with the legal issues with her house, the college professor and the Wiccan coven. She also becomes a target for harm as well with a late night home invasion. But Gwen is persistent about figuring out who is behind the murders.
I am a big fan of Tony Hillerman’s Jim Chee/Joe Leaphorn mysteries, and am happy that his daughter Anne continues the series. But there were several of the earlier mysteries in the series, written in the 1980s, which I hadn’t read, so I played catch-up with reading two of them- “Sacred Clowns” and the “The Ghostway”. Both enjoyable reads.
Great reads, people! I just love a good cozy! Donna Andrews’ latest “The Nightingale Before Christmas” brought out my Christmas spirit in July! Her Meg Langslow mystery series never disappoints me. I started a new series by Lorraine Bartlett (Lorna Barrett). “A Crafty Killing” kept me guessing until the very end! Hats off to her Victoria Square series! I’m looking forward to #2. Jenn McKinlay’s new series…Cupcake Bakery Mystery…. leaves me with a desire to do some baking. If you want a real sugar high without the calories, don’t miss “Sprinkle with Murder” and “Buttercream Bump Off.” Both left me drooling and wanting to lick the spoon with the frosting. Is this cupcake heaven? Hope so!
Margaret StashEmpress says
I got a fair-ish amount of cozy reading done this month — not as much as I used to, most probably because I’ve been playing games on my Kindle Fire instead of only reading LOL!
Ellie Alexander — A Batter of Life and Death (Bakeshop Mystery series) — Juliet Capshaw (call me Jules!) is part owner (with her mother) of a bakeshop in Ashland, Oregon, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (hence her name). In this book she gets involved with a reality baking show — and murder ensues… of course it does…. 😉
Jane Thynne — The Scent of Secrets (Clara Vine series)
Jane Thynne — The Pursuit of Pearls (Clara Vine series)
These are books #3 & 4 in the Clara Vine series. Clara Vine is a German Actress (with a Nazi-sympathizing English aristocrat father) in the 1930’s. She is actually working for British Intelligence and is in an unusual position of being able to get close to the wives/girlfriends of the highest ranking nazis. Very gripping reading, couldn’t put them down! Ordered the first two books from Amazon, they’re coming from the UK, taking a month to get here — should be here some time soon already!
Lucy Burdette — Fatal Reservations (Key West Food Critic series) Newest in this fun series, there is trouble at the daily Sunset Celebration when Haley’s tarot reading friend is accused of the murder of a controversial restaurateur and its up to Haley to find the real murderer — while getting her column in by deadline.
Mignon F. Ballard — Miss Dimple Picks a Peck of Trouble (Miss Dimple series) Its back to wartime again, this time 1944 Georgia, where veteran teacher Miss Dimple Kilpatrick has to solve the murder of a local young girl, before her former boyfriend is wrongfully convicted of the crime.
Lisa Q. Mathews — Permanently Booked (The Ladies Smythe & Westin series) — Second installment of this fun series. Twenty-something Summer Smythe is living in her late grandmother’s unit at the Hibiscus Pointe Retirement Community and together with longtime resident Dorothy Westin is once again involved in solving a murder. This time its a seemingly mild mannered librarian and book club leader who has been killed and its up to the ladies Smythe and Westin to find out whodunnit.
Donald Bain — Murder, She Wrote: Design For Murder (Murder She Wrote series)– needs no comment — most recent in old favorite series.
E. J. Copperman — Written Off (Mysterious Detective series) — Ok, this one is kind of… interesting! New series featuring mystery author Rachel Goldman who is called upon by detective Duffy Madison to help investigate series of kidnapping/murders of writers — only thing is — Duffy Madison is the detective that Rachel *created* in her books….. and yet… here he is… in the flesh…!
Laura Levine — Murder Has Nine Lives (Jaine Austen series) — Newest in this series — all I can say is — beyond hysterical! Just get it & read it!
Lorna Barrett — Title Wave (Booktown series) — Newest title in this series. Ok — here’s the scoop — I had never read any of this series before. I did pick up one title about a year ago, whatever was the newest one then. I just couldn’t get into it, couldn’t figure out the relationships between the myriad characters, gave it back to the library unfinished. Then this series was recently discussed on this blog. https://cozy-mystery.com/blog/lorna-barrett-booktown-mystery-series.html So when I found the newest title in the library last week — I just had to pick it up — one of the pluses (to me) is that its an “away” book — the main characters are at sea on a cruise with writers and readers — so I didn’t have to deal with all million characters “at home” — plus — the author gives a very good character list at the beginning, explaining who is who (even the not so “obvious”) — so — I really LOVED this book!!!!!! Now I can go back & start at the beginning of the series!
Sandra Bretting — Murder at Morningside (Missy Dubois series) — First in a new series. Missy is a hat designer who has been hired to design a $$$$ bridal veil for a socialite wedding to take place at luxurious antebellum Morningside Plantation. Only the bride gets murdered — and nobody seems sorry. Its up to Missy (who feels sorry for the girls’ stepmother — they bonded over their love of hats) to find the murderer.
Joan Hess (Joan Hadley) — Big Foot Stole My Wife and other stories. This is a book of short stories written by Joan Hess, some under the name of Joan Hadley, spanning many years (the oldest is from 1990, I think). They have all been printed elsewhere (a couple I recognized, but not all). Two are from Joan’s popular Claire Malloy series, another two are from her popular Maggody series & the rest are stand-alones.
Sara Rosett — Marriage, Monsters-in-Law, and Murder (Ellie Avery series) Organizer Ellie Avery promises to help her sister-in-law Summer organize her wedding, most particularly to keep the groom’s mother and stepmother apart for the four days of wedding party on an island resort. What she doesn’t bargain on is the appearance of the groom’s psycho ex-girfriend and some nasty pranks apparently targeting the bride… and then the murder….
Krista Davis — The Diva Serves High Tea (Domestic Diva series) Another great favorite series. We all love to love Sophie and love to hate Natasha. This time its all about tea, tea parties, high tea, and a murder that might or might not involve a tearoom.
Ellery Adams — Murder in the Paperback Parlor (Book Retreat series) — Saving the best for last! Just the best. Just simply the best. Love this series. Want to go live at Storyton Hall!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I read these authors except for one. That’s 32 of them. We have all great taste in authors, series and books.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Ginger, I agree with you. It looks like a lot of us read the very same Cozy Mystery authors!
I just finished The Madness of Mercury by Connie Di Marco (Connie Archer), about an astrologer/lunar chart reader. It was actually quite fascinating and made me want to learn more about the charts and things. The book and the mystery were fantastic, too. I didn’t see the culprit until the end.
I have just finished a new series by author Julia Buckley, A Dark and Stormy Murder. I found it spellbinding and had trouble putting it down. Well written. Hope to see more.
Johanna Challis writes great period mysteries with Daphne DuMaurier as the protagonist . The Villa of Death, peril at Somner House are just two of several.