July is almost over, so it’s time to discuss our favorite Cozy Mysteries that we have read this month! If you read a Cozy mystery this month and want to recommend it to the rest of us, be sure to post it here! It’s definitely been a good month for me, as I’ve reread the first entries of both Elizabeth J. Duncan‘s Penny Brannigan Mystery Series and the Book Collector Mystery Series by Victoria Abbott!
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 July? 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 July 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:
Avery Aames (aka Daryl Wood Gerber): Cheese Shop Mystery Series
Allyson K. Abbott (aka Annelise Ryan & Beth Amos): Mack’s Bar Mystery Series
Victoria Abbott (writing duo Mary Jane Maffini & daughter Victoria Maffini): Book Collector Mystery Series
Ellery Adams (aka J. B. Stanley, Jennifer Stanley, & 1/2 of Lucy Arlington): Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery Series
Susan Wittig Albert: China Bayles Mystery Series
Annie’s Attic Mystery Series (various authors)
Lorna Barrett (aka L. L. Bartlett & Lorraine Bartlett): Booktown Mystery Series
M. C. Beaton: Agatha Raisin Mystery Series
Susan M. Boyer: Liz Talbot Mystery Series
Laura Bradford (aka Elizabeth Lynn Casey): Tobi Tobias Mystery Series
Kathleen Bridge: Hamptons Home & Garden Mystery Series
Leslie Budewitz: Food Lovers’ Village Mystery Series
Kate Carlisle: Bibliophile Mystery Series
Laura Childs (aka Gerry Schmitt): Tea Shop Mysteries AND Cackleberry Club Mystery Series
Jill Churchill: Jane Jeffry Mystery Series
Edie Claire: Leigh Koslow “Never” Mystery Series
Cleo Coyle (aka Alice Kimberly)): Coffeehouse Mystery Series
Mary Daheim: Hillside Manor Bed & Breakfast Mystery Series
Krista Davis: Domestic Diva Mystery Series AND Paws and Claws Mystery Series
Vicky Delany (aka Eva Gates): Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery Series
Elizabeth J. Duncan: Penny Brannigan Mystery Series
J. C. Eaton: Sophie Kimball Mystery Series (first book Booked 4 Murder)
Janet Finsilver: Kelly Jackson Mystery Series
Agatha Frost: Peridale Cafe Cozy Mystery Series (first book Pancakes and Corpses)
Dorothy Gilman: The Tightrope Walker Stand Alone
Nell Goddin: Molly Sutton Mystery Series (first book The Third Girl)
Ellie Griffith: Ruth Galloway Mystery Series (not Cozy) (first book The Crossing Places)
Carolyn Haines: Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery Series
Lee Harris: Christine Bennett Mystery Series
B. B. Haywood: Candy Holliday Mystery Series
Julie Hyzy: Manor of Murder Mystery Series AND White House Chef Mystery Series
Madison Johns: Lake Forest Witches Mystery Series
Dolores Johnson: Manda Dyer Mystery Series
Sofie Kelly (aka Sofie Ryan & Darlene Ryan for Young Adult): Magical Cats Mystery Series
Cynthia Kuhn: Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Series (first book The Semester of Our Discontent)
Victoria Laurie: Psychic Eye Mystery Series
D. Lawdog: The Lawdog Files (true crime stories)
Laura Levine: Jaine Austen Mystery Series
Ruby Loren: Madigan Amos Zoo Mystery Series (first book Penguins and Mortal Peril)
Kylie Logan (aka Miranda Bliss & Casey Daniels): Ethnic Eats Mystery Series
Virginia Lowell: Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery Series
Meg Macy: Teddy Bear Mystery Series
Mary Marks: Martha Rose Quilting Mystery Series
Carrie Marsh: Morhollow Sweet Tooth Murder Mystery Series (first book The Deadly Jellybean Affair)
Francine Mathews (aka Stephanie Barron): Merry Folger Nantucket Mystery Series
Alyssa Maxwell: Gilded Newport Mystery Series
Alexander McCall Smith: No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series
Jenn McKinlay (aka Josie Belle & Lucy Lawrence): Library Lover’s Mystery Series
Emma Miller: Amish Mystery Series
Marcia Muller: Sharon McCone Mystery Series
Nadine Nettman: Sommelier Mystery Series (first book Decanting a Murder)
Wendy Roberts: Bodies of Evidence Mystery Series
David Rosenfelt: Andy Carpenter Mystery Series
Sara Rosett: Ellie Avery Mystery Series
Paige Shelton: Scottish Bookshop Mystery Series
Denise Grover Swank: Rose Gardner Investigations (first book Family Jewels)
Denise Swanson: Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery Series
Victoria Thompson: Gaslight Mystery Series
Linda Wiken (aka Erika Chase): Dinner Club Mystery Series
Diana Xarissa: Isle of Man Ghostly Cozy Series (first book Arrivals and Arrests)
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 just discovered Jill Churchill’s Jane Jeffry’s series and am really enjoying it. It isn’t available on the Kindle and my library doesn’t have any so I am scouring thrift stores and used book stores. The search is part of the fun! Can anyone recommend a similar series?
Sue, try your library’s ILL (interlibrary loan service). They should be able to get for you the books you want to read. I think my library has all of them, so this series is out there for loans to other libraries. The ILL service generally picks the closest library that has it available to send to your library.
Years ago, I met Jill Churchill at a book event. I’ve mentioned this before on this blog………..but will again because I think it’s funny.
She told us that she selected the pseudonym ‘Jill Churchill’ so her books would be placed next to Agatha Christie in the mystery section. Smart lady!
Also there are some online used book sites where you can find her books. I don’t think Danna allows us to mention them, though.
Rebecca H. Kaufman says
MARY DAHIEM bed and breakfast mysteries and thrift books can get you both Jill Churchill and Mary Daheim.
Rita McDonnell says
Some of my reads for the month:
Paige Shelton – The Cracked Spine (new series, liked it, can’t wait to get the 2nd one)
Linda Wiken – Toasting Up Trouble and Roux the Day (liked both, like the fact that the job of the sleuth is different, a party planner)
Kylie Logan – French Fried (2nd in the series Ethnic Eats Mystery.)
Meg Macy – Bearly Departed (1st in a new series, again like the different setting, a Teddy Bear factory. Liked all the characters, like the dynamics of Sasha and her sister)
Done for now.
Just about done with the first in the BB Haywood series featuring Candy Holliday who runs a blueberry farm in Maine with her dad. I ordered the entire series and I’m looking forward to all the rest. I also recommend the Andy Carpenter series which is not strictly cozy, but cozy enough, clever, funny, and well plotted.
Margaret StashEmpress says
I too am enjoying this series — but need to warn you — though the main mystery in each book is pretty much stand-alone, there is a “backstory” mystery going on which progresses from one book to the next so you REALLY need to read this series in order or at best some things won’t make sense — and at worst, you’ll have read things in later books that “spoil” previous books for you. Great series but MUST read in order! (I know, cuz I DIDN’t until I realized this & was sooooo sorry!)
Kim L-B says
In July I read the Amish Mystery Series by Emma Miller and the Hamptons Home and Garden Mystery Series by Kathleen Bridge. I enjoy reading just about anything with an Amish background and that series did not disappoint. The mysteries are very well crafted.
The Hamptons Home and Garden Mystery Series is now one of my top favorites. I love the coastal setting. I collect vintage things so that was a connection I enjoyed, too. The characters are all likeable and the main character has a cat 🙂 – always a plus in any series I read.
All during July, I have been reading a series called “Annie’s Attic Mysteries”, written by various authors and published by Guideposts. I found a box full of them at a thrift shop. Annie has recently been widowed and has been rehabbing the house left to her by her grandmother. She finds things stored in the attic that leads her to solve various mysteries with the help of her friends in the local crafting club. Very gentle “small town” mysteries that were quite enjoyable!
Based on your recommendations, I am now reading the first in the Penny Brannigan mystery series and I love! I am really looking forward to the rest in the series. ?
Margaret StashEmpress says
I just started the newest Penny Brannigan this morning — lucky me!!!
A Grave Prediction – Victoria Laurie, A Grave Calling (Bodies of Evidence) – Wendy Roberts, and Death in Advertising – Laura Bradford. All very good.
The Diva Takes the Cake
The Diva Haunts the House
The Diva digs up Dirt
All written by Krista Davis
All read by Audible
I reread Edwin of the Iron Shoes by Marcia Muller, the first book in the Sharon McCone Series. It was just as good the second time. I read it first in the late ’70’s. Reading it the second time, I found it to be a little dated, but it was written over 35 years ago. My how things have changed for women! Yeah! The book is short, but I think that is because the author’s writing style is very direct, there is no unnecessary fluff or filler.
July Recommendations – 2017
Better Homes and Corpses — Kathleen Bridge
New author, new series. When I finished this book, I knew it had to go to the top of my recommendation list. It is a very well written, well plotted, gripping mystery. I was reading it well into the night – tick-tock midnight, tick-tock 1:00, etc.
There is so much depth to Meg Barrett, the protagonist character. She is an interior decorator in the Hamptons (NY) area. She also has a hearing impairment which is talked about in the story, but not dwelled on.
Meg makes an appointment with the wealthy owner of a local mansion for a consultation. When she arrives she finds the woman dead in the arms of her daughter. The daughter is diagnosed with trauma and is unable to remember the event. The son is accused of his mother’s murder.
So many curves in this story, however the clues are there to figure it out. BUT I was surprised as the story unravels and the guilty person is revealed. Many of other readers, much smarter than me, will be able to figure it out. I also found the side stories somewhat equally absorbing because the characters are varied, and hopefully developed with more depth as the series progresses.
Luckily I got a late start on this series and the next two books are available. Yay!
ONE ODD NOTE: On the cover of all three books in this series the author is clearly listed as ‘Kathleen Bridge’. However in the OCLC database the author of the third book (Ghostal Living) is listed as Kathleen Bridge Greenstein (thus, it’s listed that way in a library’s inventory). I checked the title page of Ghostal Living and the copyright is to ‘Kathleen Bridge’ (nno Greenstein mentioned here) Go figure!
Murder at Redwood Cove – Janet Finsilver
Most likely, I got this book because it was recommended on this site. Kelly Jackson moves from her family guest ranch to temporarily manage a northern California B&B because the manager has died, falling off a cliff. A senior sleuth group has convinced Kelly that the manager was murdered.
The characters are so charming they really pull you into the story. Center front stage is a delightful 10 year old boy and his dog. He’s smart as a whip, but is autistic. The seniors are fairly outspoken, yet well respected.
There’s complexity to the plot which involves drugs. The twists and turns makes it a page turner. Kelly is a smart and sharp protagonist developed with depth. She’s able to combine several threads to find the surprising conclusion. I have several books on the shelf to read or I would have immediately gotten the next book. For those that like ‘shorter’ mysteries this one is for you – it’s only 184 pages long!
French Fried – Kylie Logan
I haven’t read all books by this author, but have read and enjoyed all of her books under this pseudonym. Her books are always well-written.
This is the second book in a new series. Laurel Inwood is the lead character and developed with much complexity and introspection – so much is going on in her life, both with her background and her future. She is a strong and independent character. Her aunt Sophie is also a very entertaining character. The story revolves around a diner in a small Ohio town.
A good friend is murdered. In a convoluted way, many complications of her background comes to light, entering into the deduction process as they are revealed.
One small error, though. Towards the end of the book, ‘Rocky’ is putting dressing on her salad. WELL, Rocky is the murder victim, dying 100 pages earlier (and , NO, there aren’t any ‘ghosts’ in this book. I don’t know how I catch these little (inconsequential) mistakes and none of the editors or beta readers do.
There is so much creativity to this author’s (Kylie Logan) writings that, so far, I have recommended each and every one of them.
Never Con a Corgi — Edie Claire
I started this series because of Danna’s recommendation. A few years ago, I read the first five books written successively. Recently, I decided to pick up the series again with book 6, written 10 years after book five.
In the first few pages of this book the reader learns that Leigh Koslow (protagonist) and husband Warren are the parents of 10 yr. old twins. In my astonishment, I said, “Huh? Where did they come from?” It was then that I realized the author decided to keep the series in ‘real time’. Eventually Claire brought us up to date on all the main characters.
Leigh discovers the body of a developer on nearby property. He wasn’t well-liked because he wanted the owners of the various properties to sell to him so he could develop a shopping area.
The characters in this series are so unique and enjoyable. Claire always writes her stories with humor, wit, AND many LOL moments. The mystery is excellent, the ending a complete shocker!!
Although I recommend reading the series from the beginning, it would be very easy to pick up this series with this book. I’m looking forward to the next book.
Grace to the Finish – Julie Hyzy
There are many Julie Hyzy fans on this site. Her books are often recommended. For those that haven’t discovered her yet this is an excellent series showcasing her creativity and originality. The stories are well plotted and move along quickly.
Grace Wheaton is the curator at the Marshfield Manor House. She is the niece of the billionaire owner Bennet Marshfield. However, this story isn’t centered at the Manor House. Grace and her roommates are renovating a building they plan to open as a restaurant. A banker is found dead in the basement.
The characters are all so diverse that the reader is always engrossed in the side stories. Because of this, the reader eagerly awaits the next ‘installment’. Ahhh…one month down, eleven to go!
Lions and Tigers and Murders, Oh My – Demise Swanson
The characters in this series are pretty much like the characters in the Scumble River series. So when I first read the acknowledgements, and it indicated she’d select the ‘love interest’ she’d continue to date, I knew immediately whom she chose. No surprises there. Usually there is a more distinct difference in the lead characters in different series by the same author, but that’s not the case with this author.
As always, Swanson has written a good mystery. It’s well paced and difficult to put down. Devereaux (Dev) Sinclair is the owner of a five and dime store in a smallish community. A wealthy man, developing an animal park, reports his wife missing. PI Jake (one of Dev’s love interests) takes the case. Of course, Dev helps solve the mystery. A man is murdered, but it isn’t too difficult to figure out ‘who dun it’.
This series has enjoyable character driven side-stories, which keeps the reader quite interested in their various quandaries.
Margaret StashEmpress says
Didn’t I read someplace that “Grace to the Finish” is the last in this series? Don’t know if it was cancelled or if the author just decided she’d gone as far with the series as she wanted to.
I suppose that’s possible, but there still are ongoing side stories that haven’t come to a conclusion. On her blog she discusses the ending of the White House Chef series, but doesn’t say anything about this series. I also glanced through her facebook page and nothing is mentioned about this being a ‘final’ book.
I believe in her newsletter Julie Hyzy said this was to be the last “Grace”. She wanted her new books to go in a different (and I think) darker direction.
Linda MH says
Hi MJ and Margaret,
I received a newsletter from Ms. Hyzy–the newletter arrived in my inbox on 6/1 and the book came out on 6/27. She said (and I quote)–“Grace’s adventures will be coming to an end soon, too.” She said it was her decision to end the series, her publisher wanted to continue it. Ms. Hyzy said that although the ending of her last Ollie book was left vague, the latest Grace book has a more solid ending. She said that she is “stepping back” from cozies for the time being and going to explore her “darker roots” by writing more mysteries. After reading this, it is my belief that the series is done. She also said that the newsletter she sent out will be her last (or second to last)for a very long time. Hope this information helps.
Knot What You Think by Mary Marks. Just love this series about a small group of quilting friends. It’s lively, fast paced and has some great characters.
Aunt Bessie Needs, the 14th in the series by Diana Xarissa. Set in a small town on the Isle of Man, Aunt Bessie is a slightly starchy, upper middle-aged woman (or so she considers herself) and her relationships with the other main characters are well done, the crimes interesting and the descriptions of the island make me wish to be there for another visit.
A Toast to Murder, book 5 in the Mack’s Bar series by Allison K. Abbott solved an ongoing mystery and got everything back on track. Mack has synesthesia, a condition in which her senses engage differently. Sounds have flavors, scents have sounds, etc., and this helps her in solving mysteries. Her bar is the meeting place for a group of her friends and customers who call themselves the Capone Club and they all work together on the crime solutions, similar to the Vidocq Society.
For the Birds, Rose Gardner Investigations #2, by Denise Grover Swank was another enjoyable read. From the beginning of the Rose Gardner books, through this new series with Rose and the series with Neely Kate I have been caught up with these characters and their stories.
And, last but not least, I highly recommend The Lawdog Files by D. Lawdog. True short stories written by a Texas Deputy (still active so trying to maintain some anonymity. The writing is wonderful, the stories in turn hilarious, touching and just plain fun. Lawdog spent much of his youth in Nigeria and was taught mainly by English tutors, and it shows in his writing. Love the dry humor, the descriptions so clear you can see the action perfectly. If “The Pink Gorilla Suit” doesn’t have you laughing out loud, well, there’s just no hope for you.
Kathleen Kendler says
I just finished Dead Cold Brew by Cleo Coyle. Since I haven’t read them all or in order – this one is not quite cozy. The bedroom scenes are a little more than a cozy calls for. But the story is good and the recipes are delicious. I also read Expresso shot andf Latte Trouble by the same author. All were good reading. Read the following:Meows, Magic, & Wands by Madison Johns; Lowcountry Bonfire and Lowcountry Bookclub by Susan M. Boyer; Peguins and Mortal Peril by Ruby Loren; The Deadly Jellybean Affair by Carrie Marsh; and Booked 4 Murder by J. C. Eaton. I enjoyed them all.
Agatha Raisin in THE GOES THE BRIDE by M. C. Beaton was a fun read this last month for me. Love the series as Agatha bumbles around and comes up smelling roses–except for her love life. I’ll be sad when I finish this series.
Janice G says
I enjoyed The Art of Vanishing, the second book in a college based series by Cynthia Kuhn. I would also recommend Bearly Departed by Meg Macy and Espresso and Evil by Agatha Frost. My favorite of the month, although it is not a cozy, was The Chalk Pit by Ellie Grffiths, the latest in her Ruth Galloway series about a bone specialist who consults with the police on unusual cases.
Lynn T. says
The Elly Griffiths series is my all time favorite series. I wait eagerly for the new book to come out each year. It is a series that one really needs to start with the first book for the character development. The books are character driven. I look forward to catching up with the characters in each new book.
Terry M says
I bought Death in a mood indigo by Francine Mathews which is a Merry Folger mystery at a library sale. Meredith or Merry is a detective in Nantucket. The setting makes a very interesting story. Her father is the chief of police, whom she works for.. By investigating a skeleton found on the beach, Merry also finds out more about her mother’s death.
I found a second book in this series. Death on Nantucket which has just been published in 2017. Merry is planning her wedding to her longtime boyfriend. She is still a detective but her father has retired and is no longer the chief. Merry is wrestling with the decision of whether she will stay in the police dept since she doesn’t get along that well with her new boss. She is also trying to solve the murder of a young woman whose father is struggling with dementia. There are many issues and suspects in this book. I really liked the Merry Folger series– found it very interesting!!
Lynn T. says
Agree! I read this month Death in the Off Season by Francine Mathews and enjoyed it. The author recently spoke at a bookstore and I read about it in a blog. Her first 4 books came out in the mid 90’s. She was asked to write a 5th book about Merry Folger. She agreed if she could go back and update the first 4 books. So they have been updated and reissued. I borrowed the 1st updated book in the series from the library and enjoyed it very much. Want to continue with the series.
Deana Greenberg says
Nell Goddin’s latest in the Molly Sutton series came out this month. Her books feature an American sleuth in a small French village–she nearly starves me to death with the descriptions of food. No profanity, if that’s something important to you. No supernatural elements. Just classic cozy mystery that makes you feel like you’ve taken a trip to France.
Theresa K. says
I just discovered the magical cats mysteries by Sofia Kelly. Sort of reminiscent of the Cat Who mysteries I so loved by Lillian Jackson Braun. The main character is a librarian who has adopted 2 very special feral cats.
Julie Hyzy: “Fonduing Fathers”
Ollie is the White House Chef, and has a knack for getting into skirmishes, even when she isn’t trying. Washington D.C. is the setting, with lots of interaction with the White House secret service. The White House Chef series is fun and entertaining. The other book I read last week was a great science fiction/medical suspense novel: “Invasion”, by Robin Cook. Not a new book, but a great read.
I read Lorna Bartlett’s Just Clause, Paige Shelton’s Of Books and Bagpipes, Vicki Delany’ Elementary, She Read and Kate Carlisle’s Once Upon A Spine. Enjoyed all of them. Like all the different characters. I have learned about bookbinding, Scotland, Sherlock, and gotten some delicious recipes.
Marie Lawlor says
I have been reading the Gaslight Mystery series by Victoria Thompson. Enjoy period cozies.
Over the past year I’ve been reading a very enjoyable series by Dolores Johnson….the Mandy Dyer series and finished book 5 of 8 ‘Homicide and Old Lace. Mandy Dyer owns a dry cleaners and is asked to clean a wedding dress which she later finds out is for the bride of her ex-husband. The bride is stabbed on her wedding day and Mandy becomes a suspect. This book has good characterization, is witty, and just a fun read.
I just finished ‘The Passover Murder’ by Lee Harris. Christine Bennett, a former nun, attends a Passover Seder and is asked to look into what happened 16 years ago when a family member went to open the door during a seder meal and was never seen again. It was all I could do not to peek at the end of the book to see who did it!
Margaret StashEmpress says
I read some really great books this month, some not so great books, had some disturbing experiences and some new to me & not sure how I feel about them experiences LOL!
First of all, you just mentioned Penny Brannigan — just began the newest one this morning — lucky me! Love Penny, despite not knowing a thing about Wales (except what I read in books) & never having had a manicure in my life, LOL, it just feels like Penny is a dear old friend & I love to catch up with her latest adventures.
I had a new experience listening to my very first audio-book this month! I know, really? Somehow I’ve always preferred the printed word to the spoken word, guess its jut the way my brain is wired. My husband is always trying to get me to listen to some great streaming speaker & I keep saying, I’ll read all the articles this person has written, but I have no patience to sit & listen to a speech! Anyway, I had the two most recent Cleo Coyle (Coffeehouse) books, but when I picked up Dead to the Last Drop, realized I had never read the prior title, Once Upon a Grind. I looked it up on my public library’s website & realized they only had it currently available as an audio-book — soooooo — I bit the bullet!
I found it an interesting experience, liked it more than I thought I would (the audio experience, I mean, not the book — the book was great LOL) — what I didn’t like was that in audio version — it was over 10 hours of listening time! I could have READ the same book in 3-4 hours! I just didn’t have that much patience to listen for so long! In the end I “multitasked” by playing my favorite Kindle game while listening, but still…. The other thing about an audio-book (that I was unaware of) that I’m still on the fence about — the person who read the book used different accents for all of the characters — so I understand that she made Boris sound really Russian… (and there were actually quite a number of Russian characters in this title & she did them ALL with accents..ok..) but the other characters ALSO all were done in very distinct accents — and I’m not sure how I feel about that — some are very “Joisey” (New Jersey) and some very “Nyew Yawkish”… now I actually LIVE in Brooklyn close to the last 40 years — and I found some of these over the top accents very grating on the nerves! So how do other people like audio-books — do they increase your enjoyment of the story or not? Do you just listen to them while driving or other times when you’re doing something else with your eyes? Or do you listen for the actual listening enjoyment? Or what? And do all the people who read the audio-books do accents for each character or was it just this person? And how do people feel about this?
Now for the really great books!
Cleo Coyle — Once Upon a Grind, Dead to the Last Drop, Dead Cold brew — these are the 3 most recent titles in the popular coffeehouse series. Now a confession — I don’t drink coffee 😉
But I love this series, love the deep connections between the various characters, Claire’s beloved boss Madame Dreyfus-Allegro is her former mother-in-law, her business partner Matteo Allegro (with whom she has a very close relationship, both business & personal) is her ex-husband, her boyfriend (cop Mike Quinn) has an assistant Manny Franco who is Claire’s daughter Joy’s boyfriend — but the monkey-wrench in that romance is that Franco had mistakenly (wrongly) arrested Joy’s father, Matt (who hates all cops anyway) and now Matt is very strongly against that relationship. The various baristas & their significant others are also all part of the coffeehouse “family”. And this is all before the mystery even begins! Lots of great plotting in all these books, lots of great misdirection — I almost NEVER guess whodunnit in a Claire Cosi book — and that’s saying quite a lot!
Susan Wittig Albert — The Last Chance Olive Ranch (China Bayles series) One of the things I love about this long running series is that there are usually two consecutive mysteries going on in each book — one involving China, obviously, and her herbal cohorts, and the other involving her husband (former cop, current PI, frequently the two overlap). In this title China is off to do a workshop at the Last Chance Olive Ranch, while solving old family mystery there, at the same time as her husband is on the trail of a perp he put away awhile back who has broken out of prison & is on a killing spree.
Sara Rosett — Mother’s Day, Muffins and Murder (Ellie Avery series) Ellie Avery is practically unique in the cozy world in that she didn’t have to break up with her husband to begin her dream business LOL! Rather as a military wife she’s become adept at organizing & so has opened an organizing business. This title revolves around a murder occurring at her children’s school, and I have to say I did spot the murderer pretty early on, but only because having read so many mysteries over the years, you get a feel for who it “has to” be. 😉
Victoria Laurie — A Panicked Premonition (Psychic Eye series) Really enjoy this series, this newest title does not disappoint! Psychic FBI consultant Abby Cooper’s inner eye gives her just enough insight to know when something’s not right, but never tells her outright where to go or what to look for, and the psychic “clues” frequently turn out to be plays on words, so nothing is ever as it seems. Most particularly in this book.
Dorothy Gilman — The Tightrope Walker (and The Maze in the Heart of the Castle) — I had read The Tightrope Walker (a stand alone from the creator of the beloved Mrs. Pollifax series) many many many years ago, but read it again after the post on this blog about the author & having read that the author actually subsequently wrote the companion YA fantasy story (The Maze in the Heart of the Castle). I had never read that & felt I had to reread the original first because of course I’d forgotten the story entirely. Loved it. The Tightrope Walker centers around a young woman struggling to find herself who finds a long ago message in an antique hurdy-gurdy from a woman about to be murdered & sets out to find out who the women was & what really happened to her. It turns out that the murdered woman was the author of the sleuth’s favorite childhood book, The Maze in the Heart of the Castle, and that there was supposed to be a manuscript of a sequel that was somehow never found & published. She finds the missing manuscript, finds the murderer, and in the process finds herself. As satisfying a story now as it was 30+ years ago.
Laura Levine — Death of a Bachelorette (Jaine Austen series) What can I say, this series is just plain FUN!!!! It doesn’t really matter who killed who, or even why, for that matter — its all about where, how & what messes did Jaine get into in the process? (And the side story of what trouble her parents are getting up to back in their Florida retirement community — always hysterical!) Love LOVE this series. For anyone who wants to know, this title finds her writing dialogue for a dyslexic and dialog challenged minor royal on a reality show set on a tropical island — sharing a room with a waterbug the size of a golfball, no a/c, living on starvation rations, and fending off an amorous elderly local island king who wants her for his 12th wife (and the first 11 are none too happy either… 😉 )
Carolyn Haines — Sticks and Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney series) Newest title in this popular series. Excellent read, though I have to honestly say, most of the time I just don’t “get” what resident ghost Jitty is at. I’m used to ghosts that tell you stuff outright, while Jitty shows up in a series of different guises in each book, usually following a pattern & Sarah Booth has to figure out what she’s getting at. Sarah Booth probably gets it better than I do 😉 But the mysteries are good & well plotted & fast paced & I really enjoy them. In this installment she is hired to discover what really happened the night a local politician’s wife & only son were killed in an accident.
Vickey Delaney — Elementary, She Read (Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series) Ok, you have all heard from me many times how I’m not a fan of new series because recently they’ve been sprouting up like mushrooms, usually second-class copycats of current series. So I rarely read a new series unless its either written by a favorite author (not always an indicator of success though!) or has an unusual premise. This one has an unusual premise, who can resist a bookshop dedicated to Sherlock Holmes? With a sleuth named Gemma Doyle who seems to channel the great detective himself? (Which of course makes everyone suspect her because how could she have known xyz and don’t tell me because of the dust on the dead man’s shoes!) Great story, REALLY enjoyed it & really looking forward to the next installment.
Alyssa Maxwell — Murder at Chateau sur Mer (Gilded Newport Mystery) I’ve also mentioned a number of times how much I enjoy historical mysteries, particularly when involving the (well dressed) rich & famous & this is one such series. Sleuth Emma Cross is a poor relation of the Vanderbilt family, trying to make her way as a journalist at a time when women were only allowed to write about fashions. She stumbles across & solves murders. The stories are well crafted, I usually never figure out whodunnit, and the characters are sympathetic & well written to show how the real people of the time lived. Great series, hope there will be many more.
There were another couple of books I read that were new series, one had a promising premise but was so annoying that I put it down after 20 pages. The other was written by an author whose previous series I loved, and I did read this one through to the end, but unfortunately the wacky characters weren’t zany enough & the straight characters weren’t sympathetic enough. In her previous series, the characters situation pretty much carried them, so they had to be good, while this one was the common formulaic “woman breaks up with spouse/boyfriend & goes back home to go into business with family member/friend, stumbles over a body, is the number one suspect, has to find the real murderer because the cops won’t, and ends up as girlfriend of the cop (who, just for fun, was also her childhood boyfriend, and they broke up over a misunderstanding, now corrected after all these years)” — Now I didn’t give away the book because THERE ARE SOOOOOOO MANY JUST LIKE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Which is one of my bugaboos –why can’s female sleuths be happily married? Why do they always have to break up/be widowed & relocate, usually to their childhood homes, & begin new businesses (or join existing family business) in order to be sleuths? Where would the world be if Jessica Fletcher, when widowed from husband Frank, had left Cabot Cove & moved back to Dumbleflip to join her 3rd cousin in the family widget business?????? (Would there be an influx of crime to previously quiet Dumbleflip? Would Cabot Cove see a sharp decrease in the murder rate? Or would they just have a huge uptick in the amount of crimes left unsolved? Thankfully, the world will never know!)
And, saving the worst for last…. I read a book..by an (previously) beloved author…. loved the characters, the plotting, etc. Normally would be recommending her book… except…. Except for a two page episode of egregious fat shaming…. which served NO purpose in the story… involved NO characters even IN the story… simply two pages of the main characters making disparaging comments about a stranger walking past them on the street who is overweight. Has nothing to do with the story. We don’t know her name or who she is or anything about her. Except that there is an overweight woman walking by & our sleuth & her best friend are saying nasty things about the way she looks, seguing into how you can’t say anything these days because people will get insulted, and ending with them deciding that its ok if they say nasty things about her (being fat) to each other, as long as they don’t go up to this total stranger on the street & insult her to her face….. I was totally shocked. These characters are not airhead anorexic bimbos, but rather mature women in their 40’s. They care passionately about the welfare of animals, preserving the environment, preserving the heritage & culture of African Americans & Native Americans, LGBT rights, protecting endangered wildlife, these are all recurring themes in this series — but the author concludes its ok for them to bash fat people (whom they don’t even KNOW — perhaps the woman had a medical condition????) I’m not talking about discussing healthy nutrition and lifestyle — I’m talking about insulting comments. And to add the part about how its too bad nowadays you can’t say anything for fear of insulting people? But its ok to decide they can say the nasty things between themselves (on the pages of the book, you understand???) just as long as they don’t tell it to the (strange) woman to her face? Hello? Would she be ok with them making disparaging comments about African Americans? Gay people? No? Not ok? But fat people? Yes, I’m overweight. Yes I’m offended. There was absolutely no reason for this little dialog. I promise you there are more overweight people buying her book than bald eagles… and statistically probably more overweight people buying her books than Native Americans (I don’t know the demographics, but in total numbers, I wouldn’t doubt it!) — so — she’s not worried about offending people who shelled out good money for her books??? I’ve spent plenty of money on this long running series in the past but no more — sorry lady — you just lost a paying reader!
Margaret, regarding your comment about happily married sleuths……..
Two series came quickly to mind because the author writes the husband/wife (working together as a team) stories with equality, love, and respect. I’m know there are more if I gave it much thought.
I love, love, love the interaction of the husband and wife team that Kate Carlisle writes about in her bibliophile series. She keeps this side story interesting/fun. AND, another Kate……….Kate Collins does the same thing with her Flower Shop series. Both write good husband/wife relationship stories along with a good mystery.
I also enjoy the China Bayles series the BEST when both China and McQuaid (husband) are involved in solving the mystery together. Oftentimes, though, Albert (author), sends McQuaid on a ‘trip’.
This seems to be the MO of many authors with married couples, the husband or significant other is sent away. I suppose the author wants to focus on the female protagonist. But it takes a lot more talent with creativity to include both husband and wife.
Now here’s MY curious (??) question that I’ve wondered about for awhile. Oftentimes in the ‘formula’ of a cozy there are two romantic interests in the beginning. Eventually as the series progresses it’s narrowed down to one and then they get married.
BUT how come none ever get pregnant and have children? There are some series that START OUT with children, examples: Sara Rosset (Ellie Avery), Joan Hess (Claire Malloy), Edie Claire (Leigh Koslow) series where 10 yr. old twins pop up after a 10 yr. writing lull, etc., etc.
BUT in all the series I read there are no pregnancies — even many books and many years later. (Aames ENDED her cheese shop series with a pregnancy.) It’s no big deal — just a curiosity. Hmm…..
Margaret StashEmpress says
Yes I agree with you on the Kate Carlisle series, but are they married yet or just engaged? In the most recent title didn’t Brooklyn just meet her future in-laws? (We’re talking about the bibliophile series, right?)
As for pregnancy– I know I have seen that — Lori was pregnant twice (twin boys, then a girl) in the Aunt Dimity series, Meg Langslow had her twins in that series by Donna Andrews (what’s up with these twins though? LOL!) Ellie Haskell was pregnant in her series by Dorothy Cannell (again twins!). There are probably more but those are the ones that came to mind first. The question should more accurately be — why do cozy mystery pregnancies always result in twin boys??????
OH! you’re right about the Carlisle series…………they are engaged. But I love the way the author portrays their relationship. 🙂
I’m only guessing (??), but perhaps some authors ‘struggle’ to keep committed relationships an enjoyable storyline, thus sending the male character on trips. I also like the interaction between Claire and Mike in the Coyle series, but in several stories Mike has been in DC.
Although I read a lot of series, I don’t read any of those you mentioned (regarding pregnancies). I only read the first couple of books in the Langslow series. I KNOW it’s VERY popular on this blog, but I lost interest — and, my TBR pile is very high.
But you are such a voracious reader, that I do read many of the same books you do and usually agree with your assessments.
In the Laundry Hag series the protagonist is married from the beginning with two sons, and she was pregnant in the last book. That was actually one of the things I liked about it because it was different.
Rebecca Kaufman says
Cleo Coyle has a husband and wife team in the Coffee Shop Mysteries.
Margaret StashEmpress says
No, actually for most of the series Claire is business partners with her ex-husband, Matt Allegro. The coffee house belongs to her former mother-in-law. In the latest title, (that I JUST read lol) Claire gets engaged to her boyfriend-the-cop (yet another piece of the cozy “formula”).
Rebecca, Margaret is right about the management team of the coffee shop in this ‘fictional’ series with Claire and her EX-husband, Matt.
However ( just in case there’s any confusion), in REAL life this series is written by a wife and husband team – Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini.
Wow, I am with you on the fat-shaming. Such an “easy” prejudice to display these days. In TV and movies you can always tell who’s going to be the nerd, the resentful employee, the murder victim nobody liked, and so on, because horror of horrors, they’re large. I think the same thing applies in books.
I feel that if you’ve enjoyed the author’s mysteries until now, you could write them an email at their website expressing your extreme disappointment with those pages.
Some people feel quite justified in handing out dieting and exercise advice to those of us who are large. I say, “Thank you, I know what I need to do,” and change the subject.
I wish I could know what series/ author you’re talking about. I’d just as soon avoid it rather than get “shamed” by some smug author!
Sharon S says
I read two cozies this month. The Cold Light of Mourning by Elizabeth J. Duncan, the first in her Penny Brannigan series, was very good. I thought it was a great mystery and a great introduction to this series. It kept me guessing right up to the end. Great description of Wales, I thought I was right there with Penny and everyone. Good beginning to a series, and I will definitely read more of it.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith was delightful. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re looking for a feel-good book. McCall’s writing and description of southern Africa is breathtaking. I adore Precious. A devoted daughter. And she doesn’t solve just one mystery, she solves a whole bunch! lol! I am looking forward to reading the entire series.
The good news is, there are some 17 books in the series now. Reading a No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency book is a wonderful visit with dear friends, and Smith has a sly sense of gentle humor.
Ha! I too am “traditionally built” :^D
My July reading was” A Just Clause (Lorna Barrett), Treble at the Jam Fest (Leslie Budewitz), Murder She Barked (Krista Davis), Murder at the Fortune Teller’s Table (Janet Finsilver), and Decanting Murder (Nadine Nettman). I recommend each of the books and their series. I agree that “series” book sshould be read in the order they were written.
I am very new to Cozy Mysteries, and I have to admit, I am really enjoying them so far. I am a small-town librarian, so these books have always piqued my interest whenever I check them out to my patrons. I saw a Kate Carlisle Bibliophile mystery come across my desk last week, so I decided to go ahead and give it a try. It was her latest one – Once Upon a Spine – and I as I was reading, I found that I was really enjoying it. It was fun and not something that required too much on my part as the reader, and this was quite refreshing. Also, since I am a librarian, I am a bit of a bibliophile myself, so I could identify with the character to that extent. I decided to put that one down and go back and read the first 10 books in the series. I finished Homicide in Hardcover over the weekend, and I am almost done with If Books Could Kill. These books are so much fun, and I can appreciate the mystery theme without being too heavy. I have also started Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, and I am enjoying that one as well.
I look forward to this each month because I always get some ideas for new series from everyone here! Here is my July list of reads, all recommended.
Due or Die, (Library Lover’s #2), Jenn McKinlay
When the Cookie Crumbles, (Cookie Shop #3), Virginia Lowell
Eggs in a Casket, (Cackleberry Club #5), Laura Childs
Pies and Prejudice, (Charmed Pie Shoppe), Ellery Adams – new series I love
Steeped in Evil, (Tea Shop #15), Laura Childs
The Long Quiche Goodbye, (Cheese Shop #1), Avery Aames – my fave of the month
Eggs in Purgatory, (Cackleberry Club #1), Laura Child’s – not reading these in order