We’re coming to the end of May, so it’s once again time to discuss the best Cozy mysteries that we’ve 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! This has been a good month for me in terms of time I’ve been able to spend reading, so I have two series to recommend – Kathleen Bridge’s Hampton Home & Garden Mystery Series, and Carolyn Hart’s Death on Demand Mystery Series. I’m not going to go into detail again here on why I recommend them, as I’ve already written full blog posts about each, but if you’re interested be sure to check out the entries!
So, what have you been reading that you can recommend in May? 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 May 2018 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): Book Retreat Mystery Series AND Supper Club Mystery Series
Barbara Allan: Trash ‘n’ Treasures Mystery Series
Donna Andrews: Meg Langslow Mystery Series
Mary Kay Andrews (aka Kathy Hogan Trocheck): The High Tide Club (not Cozy)
Cynthia Baxter: Lickety Splits Ice Cream Shoppe Mystery Series
Jessica Beck (aka Elizabeth Bright, Casey Mayes, Melissa Glazer, Chris Cavender, Tim Myers, & D.B. Morgan): Donut Shop Mystery Series
Stephanie Blackmoore: Wedding Planner Mystery Series
Bethany Blake: Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery Series
Rhys Bowen: In Farleigh Field (not Cozy)
Kathleen Bridge: Hampton Home & Garden Mystery Series AND Home by the Sea Mystery Series
Duffy Brown: Cycle Path Mystery Series AND Consignment Shop Mystery Series
Vivien Chen: Noodle Shop Mystery Series
Laura Childs: Tea Shop Mystery Series AND Scrapbooking Mystery Series AND Cackleberry Club Mystery Series
Jane K. Cleland: Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery Series
Kate Collins: Flower Shop Mystery Series
Cleo Coyle (aka Alice Kimberly): Coffeehouse Mystery Series
Edmund Crispin: Gervase Fen Mystery Series
Elizabeth J. Duncan: Penny Brannigan Mystery Series
Kate Dyer-Seeley (aka Ellie Alexander): Rose City Mystery Series AND By the Sea Mystery Series
Amanda Flower (aka Isabella Alan): Magic Garden Mystery Series
Agatha Frost: Peridale Cafe Mystery Series
Joanne Fluke: Hannah Swensen Mystery Series
Nell Hampton (aka Nancy Coco and Nancy J. Parra): Kensington Palace Chef Mystery Series
Carolyn Hart: Death on Demand Mystery Series
Mary Ellen Hughes: Keepsake Cove Mystery Series
Miranda James (aka Dean James, Jimmie Ruth Evans, & Honor Hartman): Cat in the Stacks Mystery Series
Libby Kirsch: Stella Reynolds Mystery Series (first entry The Big Lead)
Gayle Leeson (aka Gayle Trent & Amanda Lee): Down South Cafe Mystery Series
Mary Marks: Martha Rose Quilting Mystery Series
Shawn McGuire: Whispering Pines Mystery Series (first entry Family Secrets)
Jenn McKinlay (aka Josie Belle & Lucy Lawrence): Library Lover’s Mystery Series
Lynne Murray: Josephine Fuller Mystery Series
Sofie Ryan (aka Sofie Kelly & Darlene Ryan for Young Adult): Second Chance Cat Mystery Series
Dell Shannon (aka Leslie Egan, Elizabeth Linington, & Anne Blaisdell): Luiz Mendosa Series
Dorothy Simpson: Inspector Thanet Series
Victoria Thompson: Gaslight Mystery Series
Sigrid Vansandt: Marsden-Lacey Cozy Mystery Series (first entry Two Birds With One Stone)
Debbie Young: Sophie Sayers Village Mystery Series (first entry Best Murder in Show)
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.
Kimberley C says
I have been racing through Laura Child’s “Tea shop AND scrapbooking mysteries” this month. I don’t know why it took me so long to read these series. They are both terrific.
If you haven’t read The Cackleberry Club series yet, that one’s SO fun!
Family Secrets A Whispering Pines Mystery by Shawn McGuire is the 1st in the series. Currently there are 3 books and she is working on a 4th to be out soon. This series is one that once you get started it is hard to put down. I have read all 3 and can’t wait for the 4th. I’ve been told there are to be 9 in the series.
Carol Z says
I loved Duffy Brown’s “Geared for the Grave.” It had a great sense of place (Mackinac Island – which I must plan a trip to) and characters I definitely want to revisit. Since I enjoyed that book so much, I just started her Consignment Shop series and am loving that one as well!
Susy S says
I am going to start that one tonight.
Margaret StashEmpress says
Oh wow — that time of month already? And I actually have NOTHING to post this month! How pathetic is that??? But I look forward to reading everyone else’s recommendations as usual.
May Recommendations — 2018
My first three recommendation are the first in a new series, all of which I enjoyed so I wanted to mention them (I liked them equally, so they aren’t in a ‘favorite’ order).
Death By The Sea — Kathleen Bridge
This is the first book in a new series by this author. I enjoyed it as much as I enjoy her Home and Garden series. It is set in Melbourne FL and a bit quirky (well……..MORE than a bit!). It does make it a fun read.
Aunt Amelia is a former movie star and owns a hotel/resort. Liz Holt is an author and has returned to this community, living in a beach house on the premises. She helps her aunt with the hotel. An interesting aspect to her is she has a scar (which is alluded to, but not explained) on her face. If anyone has read Bridge’s other series you will remember that her main character has a hearing defect. So this author adds a focus of adversity to her stories, which I believe enhances the narrative.
A murder doesn’t take place until close to the halfway point of the book. In this case it involves a wealthy, but infuriating, couple staying at the hotel while waiting to tear down a historic home and rebuild another one.
The pacing is good with several twists. One can guess at ‘who dun it’, but is confused by the sequence of events.
Natural Born Killer — Kate Dyer-Seeley
Since discovering this author a few years ago, I’ve read her other series (two of which are written under the pseudonym of Ellie Alexander).
This is a new series. Britta Johnston leaves her husband (OF COURSE after discovering he was having an affair!) and moves back to her hometown (Rose City) near Portland, OR where her aunt Elin owns a floral shop. Britta is educated and very creative in floral design/knowledge. Thus, her aunt is extremely pleased she’ll manage her business.
Someone wants to buy out all the business owners in this area so they can be torn down and a new development can be built. He is murdered in the back of the floral shop.
It is so REFRESHING that Dyer-Seely deviated from the cozy ‘formula’ that the protagonist is always the suspect in the first book of a series!! Kudos to her — neither Elin nor Britta are suspects.
There is a mix of engaging characters with depth and smarts. The murderer is a surprise. At least I didn’t have a clue until it was revealed. This author is a very good story teller and this is an enjoyable page turner.
Murder With A Cherry On Top — Cynthia Baxter
I picked this book up because it was recommended on this site. First of all, I was really surprised about the different format for this story. In actuality, there is no interaction with the local police (just at the beginning when the protagonist is picked up for questioning). The next time the police come into the picture is at the end when they arrest the culprit.
The focus is totally on Katy McKay who moves back to the Hudson Valley to open an ice cream shop (Lickety Splits). She is living with her grandmother in the home she grew up in. She formerly lived in NYC and was a PR exec. She is a strong willed and independent character.
Kate’s childhood nemesis owns a bake shop across the street from the ice cream shop, and she was murdered. Kate methodically works to find a solution to this murder. There are several interesting characters she interacts with. I must say this mystery took a track I never thought of……………..highly creative writing by this author. The killer is a shocker, almost as much as the reason.
As I was reading this book, it hit 97 degrees (WOW!) in my community today (Memorial Day), so all the dialogue about the various fantastic flavors of ice dream makes one drool!
Lord of the Pies – Nell Hampton
This is the second book in this series and ‘error free’ – YAY! 🙂 I often find errors (and not small ones) with this author, and am SO pleased that this time it is well edited (because she really does tell imaginative stories).
This is set in England and Carrie Ann Cole is the personal chef to the royal family at Kensington Palace. Several chefs have entered a baking competition and one of them is murdered. Carrie Ann embarks upon a quest to solve the mystery.
The setting, the wit and humor, the remarkable characters add up to a good story. On top of that, add in unexpected twists and turns, and even interesting romance dynamics. It’s on the lighter side and a quick read.
Two other books from stablished series I read are, Shot in the Dark, by Cleo Coyle and ‘Antique Blues’ by Jane Cleland. All I can say is ‘yada, yada,’ and ‘same-o, same-o’. In other words (as usual) both books are excellently written with great characters and a thrilling mystery. I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention them.
My only complaint is Cleland doesn’t involve Josie’s fiancé in solving the mystery. He’s a former police chief, but his part throughout the story has been reduced to (until the last chapters) just giving hugs/kisses and making an occasional breakfast for Josie. I miss the intellectual interaction/dialogue between these two characters (as depicted when the series started). I REALLY hope in future books, Cleland will give him a more prominent role.
Just want to clarify……..
Kathleen Bridge’s, ‘Death By The Sea’ is part of her new By the Sea Mystery series, not the Home and Garden series.
Jo Anne Yerkes says
Jessica Beck’s Cocoa Crush and Pastry Penalties.
Kate Collins Dirty Rotten Tendrils.
Joanne Flukes Raspberry Danish Murder.
Miranda James Claws For Concern.
Sofie Ryan’s The Fast and the Furriest.
susy lewis says
Oh! I have read some FUN books this month:
Sigrid Vansandt’s Marsden-Lacey series. About two middle (mostly) aged American women, solving murders in a charming English village. The author does a great job at showing how the Yanks think, act, and speak differently than the Brits.
Debbie Young’s Sophie Sayers series. Young woman inherits charming cottage in charming Cotswold village. Bookshop, hunky man, eccentric characters. Perfect cozy fun!
Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St. Mary’s series. Not cozy. Kinda sci-fi cozy? Extremely FUN! Wicked good dialogue. Clever. Novels and short stories. Give it a whirl!
I can’t find these authors but they sound right down my alley. They aren’t on our cozy site that I can find
Betsy N says
My favorite cozy this month was the new Josie Prescott Antique mystery Antique Blues by Jane K Cleland. This has been one of my favorite series since the first book. I love how strong, assertive, and self aware Josie is. I enjoy her tight knit circle of friends/employees and learning the finer details of antique appraisals.
This wan’t a big cozy month for me, due to budget and having a few not-at-all cozies I wanted to catch up on, but I did manage to re-read a favorite series, Lynne Murray’s “At Large” books. This is an older series, and there are only four books, but OH MY, is it nice to have a heroine who is intelligent, sassy, intrepid, and plus-sized! I only wish there had been more of these.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Bek, I also have read all of Lynne Murray‘s At Large mysteries and truly enjoyed them. I remember (years ago) writing to Lynne and asking her when her fifth Josephine Fuller mystery (something with the term “King Size” in it – I think…) was going to be published. I was really disappointed when she told me she would not be releasing any more in the series…
Sally A Fortney says
I enjoyed Die Like An Eagle by Donna Andrews. Her books are so funny but not silly. Now that Meg is assistant to the mayor, she has reason to be involved in solving the murder and works with the police. This book has her helping with her sons’ baseball team.
J. Bouchard says
Do you know if there is a cozy mystery that the main sleuth us 80 years old and delivers meals on wheel? Thank you for your assistance.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
J, I’m afraid that isn’t ringing any bells. Perhaps another reader can help, or I’ll add this to a list I keep of potential upcoming questions to put on the main blog page.
I have three series to recommend this month.
1. All four books in the Book Retreat Mystery series by Ellery Adams: This series has likeable, interesting characters, and plenty of intrigue and adventure. At one point, while reading a chapter of “Murder in the Paperback Parlor”, I was so immersed in the story that I didn’t realize someone was talking to me. I was pulled into the story that much. Hopefully, the four books that have been released so far are just the beginning of this wonderfully well-written series.
2. ” A Fatal Collection” from the Keepsake Cove Mystery series by Mary Ellen Hughes: This is the first book of a new series. I found the main character to be very likeable and the setting absolutely charming. Callie Reed inherits her aunt’s music box shop in Keepsake Cove – a tourist segment of Mapleton, MD featuring quaint collectibles shops. I figured-out who the murderer was very early – I thought it was very obvious – however, that didn’t hinder my overall enjoyment of the book. I particularly liked the resolution (or perhaps a resolution for the time being) between two characters towards the ending.
3. “Flowers and Foul Play” from the Magic Garden Mystery series by Amanda Flower: This is the first book of a new series. This is the third series I’ve read by Amanda Flower, and I love them all. This series centers around Fiona Knox who moves to Scotland after she inherits her godfather’s cottage and magic garden. The characters are an eclectic mix…including a cat named Ivanhoe, who Fiona inherits from a different source, and a red squirrel with personality reminiscent of Disney’s chipmunk duo, Chip and Dale. Fiona learns that she is connected to the garden and the magic held within its ivy-covered walls, and it’s secrets are gradually revealed throughout the story. I was surprised when the murderer was revealed – I didn’t have it figured-out at all.
Janice G says
Most of the books that I read this month were the newest books in established series. Antiques Wanted is the latest book by Barbara Allan following the adventures of Brandi and her mother Vivian Borne. This is a funny, quirky series with the mother/daughter arguments in the text along with admonishments from their editor to keep on task. Vivian is running for county sheriff despite her many run-ins with the law. They become involved in solving the murder of the aunt of her main competitor for the job.
I also enjoyed The Marmalade Murders by Elizabeth J. Duncan, Murder on Union Square by Victoria Thompson, Blueberry Muffins and Misfortunes by Agatha Frost, and Murder Borrowed, Murder Blue by Stephanie Blackmoore. I also very much liked Death by Dumplings by Vivien Chen. The focus on Chinese-American merchants in Cleveland is a refreshing departure from many other cozies.
I recommend all of Jenn McKinlay’s books, but just finished reading one of her Library Lover’s mysteries, Death in the Stacks. All of her characters are really fun and her writing keeps me reading until way into the late hours. I can’t put it down.
Susy S says
Absolutely agree! I usually buy her books the day they are released and finish them in a day or two.
Jan Clancy says
I have read all of Jenn McKinlay’s books too. Her books were my first Cozy Mystery and now Im hooked! Im looking into another set of series to read. Your recommendations are helpful.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Jan, I am very glad you find my recommendations helpful. I have really enjoyed Jenn Mckinlay’s Cupcake Bakery Mystery Series also!
Mary Marks “A Quilting Series”, is one of my favorites! She pulls us in and it’s like Martha is a good friend 🙂
Barb E says
I see a couple other mentions of Jane K Cleland’s Josie Prescott Antiques series. I also read and liked the latest one – Antuque Blues. She always turns out a good read.
I started the Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery series by Bethany Blake. Death by Chocolate Lab is the first one. Really liked all the characters and the pets. Just quirky enough. I’m working on the 2nd one now – Dial Meow for Murder.
Another book I really enjoyed was The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews. Although this wasn’t a true cozy, she is on the author list so feel I can put her in my list.
Arlene Johnson says
Love all your recommendations – or at least the ones I am familiar with. However, I really am getting weary of reading about shop keepers. How about some nice cozy procedurals. I re-read Edmund Crispin, Dorothy Simpson, Del Shannon etc. No angst, just plain detecting and on the part of Crispin, a little goofiness and a bit of musical learning.
Hopefully you are checking back this particular blog recommendations entry with responses, so you can see the following ‘none shop’ series suggestions. Or perhaps Danna can forward this entry to you (don’t know [?] if that’s possible). There are multiple series that don’t involve a retail shop – these are just a few good ones (at least I think so).
I mentioned Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Jane Ryland series in response to Linda (below). Also, Margaret Maron’s Deborah Knott series, Kate Dyer-Seeley’s Pacific Northwest series, Victoria Abbot’s Book Collectors Mysteries, Amanda Flower’s Appleseed Creek Mysteries, Julia Buckley’s Writer’s Apprentice series, Lucy Burdette’s Key West Food Critic series, Edie Claire’s Leigh Koslow Mysteries, Ellen Crosby’s Vintage Vineyard Mysteries, Jeanne Dam’s Dorothy Martin series, Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef mysteries, Denise Swanson’s Scrumble River series, Dorothy St. James’s White House Gardener’s series, AND Anne George’s Southern Sisters Mysteries (a MUST read!). Over the years, this last one has been mentioned numerous times on this recommendation blog.
Linda S. says
I’ll add Kylie Logan’s “League of Literary Ladies” and Margaret Grace’s “Miniature” series to MJ’s excellent suggestions above.
Thanks to a recommendation from a reader on this site I gave Rhys Bowen’s IN Farleigh Field a try. It has me interested in WWII mysteries now so anyone who has recommendations on series in that period I’m interested.
Thank you to the person who suggested In Farleigh Field and Dana thank you for keeping this site alive and interesting.
Patti Smith says
Try the Billy Boyle mysteries by James R. Benn. There are quite a few of them. They are about a US Army detective and the stories are set during WWII. I really liked them all.
I read three really good books this month. Calamity Cafe by Gayle Leeson (Down South Cafe #1) is so much fun. I’m only bummed I’ve already read the others in the series already.
Egg Drop Dead by Laura Child’s is the 7th book in the Cackleberry series and probably my favorite in the series so far.
Finally, Chili Con Corpses by Ellery Adams/JB Stanley is the third in the hilarious Supper Club Series. It is the first series I’ve read featuring a male sleuth and I already have the next book in the series ready to go.
Oops – it is Gayle Leeson, not Lesson. Also, I really recommend reading the Supper Club series in order.
MJ – thanks for recommending the new series by Kathleen Bridge. I’m off to find it.
Linda S. says
My 93 year old Mom & I both like the “Stella Reynolds” series by Libby Kirsch. Stella is a TV reporter who moves across the country chasing stories and solving mysteries. There are five books in this series to date and they were all well written and quite entertaining.
I see that Libby Kirsch was a TV journalist herself which would explain why the level of detail about the inner workings of live reporting was so realistic. She was writing from experience! Perhaps she is an author you would consider adding to your list, Danna?
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Linda, I’ll put her on the list of authors I’m considering! But it’s quite long, so it might be a while until I get around to it.
I don’t know if you’ve read Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Jane Ryland series, but I think you may enjoy it based upon your May recommendation.
In her real life, Ryan is an investigative reporter for a Boston TV station. She brings these skills into her stories and has written an outstanding series. There’s only five books with the last one written in 2016, so I’m afraid it may be the last book of the series.
Linda S. says
Thanks for the recommendation, MJ. We haven’t read her but will now. I also appreciate the heads up that the series may be over. I’ve decided that’s better to know up front as opposed to waiting & wondering when the next book was going to appear.
Marion S says
Just found and reading through all of Mattie Winston Mystery Series by Annelise Ryan. Learning so much about evidence collection and role of ME. Complex relationships; must read in order.
Author Kate Carlisle’s series, Fixer-up Mystery series and Bibliophile are favorites; great characters and mysteries; waiting for next editions.
Just reread all of Dixie Hemingway series by Blaize/John Clement to date. Waiting for next edition John promised. Hope it is soon, but no word yet on when.
Great characters and plots for all of Jenn McKinlay’s series=Cupcake Bakery Mys, Hat Shop Mys and Library Lover’s My.
Melissa Castor says
Libby Klein’s Class Reunions Are Murder was hysterical! So, so funny and a definite must-read in my opinion.