I have been anticipating this entry for almost an entire month. It is the time of the month when I ask you all to recommend your favorite Cozy Mystery book read of this past month. This should be the book you read during May 2013 that you think the rest of us have absolutely got to know about >>> so that we can read it also. Of course, if you read more than one Cozy Mystery that you loved, let us know about those. Please tell us why you enjoyed the book (books). This makes it easier for the rest of us to decide whether we want to give the authors/books a try.
The Cozy Mystery book I read this month which I thought was a really good book is Susanna Calkins’ A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate. I am hoping that Calkins has many more Lucy Campion mysteries in store for us. (Here is the link to my entry explaining why I like this first mystery novel in Calkins’ new Lucy Campion Mystery Series so much.)
What Cozy Mystery book (or author) have you read during Mayl 2013, and why did you enjoy it (or him/her)?
Here are the current recommended authors who some of you have read this past month:
Victoria Abbot (aka Mary Jane Maffini & Victoria Maffini): Book Collector’s Mystery Series
Ellery Adams (aka Jennifer Stanley, J. B. Stanley, & 1/2 of Lucy Arlington): Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery Series
Susan Wittig Albert: China Bayles Mystery Series
Laura Alden: PTA Mystery Series
Lucy Arlington (Duo: Jennifer Stanley & Sylvia May): Novel Idea Mystery Series
Nancy Atherton: Aunt Dimity Mystery Series
Ella Barrick (aka Laura DiSilverio & Lila Dare: Ballroom Dance Mystery Series
C. C. Benison: Her Majesty Investigates Mystery Series
Heather Blake (aka Heather Webber): Wishcraft Mystery Series
Janet Bolin: Threadville Mystery Series
Jacklyn Brady (aka Sherry Lewis): Piece of Cake Mystery Series
Emily Brightwell: Mrs. Jeffries Mystery Series
Duffy Brown: Consignment Shoppe Mysteries
Rita Mae Brown: Mrs. Murphy Mystery Series
Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib): Key West Food Critic Mystery Series
Susanna Calkins: Lucy Campion Mystery Series
Kate Carlisle: Bibliophile Mystery Series
Ann Charles: Deadwood Mystery Series
Erika Chase: Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery Series
Laura Childs: Scrapbooking Mystery Series
Laura Childs: Tea Shop Mystery Series
Edie Claire: Leigh Koslow (Never) Mystery Series
Mary Jane Clark: Piper Donovan Wedding Cake Mystery Series
Sheila Connolly (aka Sarah Atwell): County Cork Mystery Series
Jeanne M. Dams: Dorothy Martin Mystery Series
Laura DiSilverio (aka Lila Dare & Ella Barrick): Mall Cop Mystery Series
Joanne Dobson: Karen Pelletier Mystery Series
Alice Duncan: Mercy Allcutt Mystery Series
Laura Durham: Annabelle Archer Mystery Series
Sara Hoskinson Frommer: Joan Spencer Mystery Series
Anne George: Southern Sisters Mystery Series
Sally Goldenbaum: Seaside Knitters Mystery Series
Kerry Greenwood: Phryne Fisher Mystery Series
Carolyn Haines: Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery Series
Victoria Hamilton: Vintage Kitchen Series
Rosemary Harris: Dirty Business Mystery Series
Anna Lee Huber: The Anatomist’s Wife
Julie Hyzy: White House Chef Mystery Series
Julie Hyzy: Manor of Murder Mystery Series
Diane Kelly: Tara Holloway Death and Taxes Mystery Series
Joyce and Jim Lavene (aka J. J. Cook): Peggy Lee Garden Mystery Series
Sherry Lewis (aka Jacklyn Brady): Senior Sleuth Fred Vickery Mystery Series
Karen MacInerney: Grey Whale Inn Mystery Series
Charlotte MacLeod (aka Alisa Craig): Peter Shandy Mystery Series
Katherine Hall Page: Faith Fairchild Mystery Series
Nancy J. Parra: Gluten for Punishment
Cynthia Riggs: Martha’s Vineyard Series
Joanna Campbell Slan: Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-N-Craft Mystery Series
Dorothy St. James: White House Gardener Mystery Series
Ann Summerville: Lowenna Mystery Series
Shirley Tallman: Death on Telegraph Hill
Lea Wait: Shadows Antique Mystery Series
Edith Wharton: The Age of Innocence (not a mystery)
Livia J. Washburn: Literary Tour Mystery Series
Heather Webber (aka Heather Blake): Lucy Valentine Mystery Series
Jacqueline Winspear: Masie Dobbs Mystery Series
♦To access more Cozy Mystery Books Recommendations, click on this link♦
Kath B says
I think everyone already knew about this series but me. I just finished The State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy. Soo enjoyable!
I also read Death by Cashmere, book 1 of the Seaside Mysteries by Sally Goldenbaum! Loved it!
My favorite books for this month are Death, Taxes, and Extra-Hold Hairspray (Death and Taxes #3) by Diane Kelly and Better Off Dead in Deadwood (Deadwood Mystery #4) by Ann Charles. Both of these series are great!
Never Buried by Edie Claire – this is the first in the series and the first I have read by this author. The book starts out with an embalmed corpse placed in the hammock of the back yard of the house that Leigh (the main character) is staying at. Story moves quickly and great characters.
Footprints in the sand by Mary Jane Clark – This is the second or third in the Piper Donovan series and it was very entertaining. This story centered on Amish customs and I enjoyed it.
For Whom the Funeral Bell Tolls by Livia Washburn – This is her tourist series. Delilah and her son in law are travel agents that take groups on tours. Delilah always discovers a dead body and proceeds to solve the mystery. Definitely a cozy mystery and I did not suspect the killer.
Bowled Over by Victoria Hamilton -Vintage Kitchen Series
Peach Pies and Alibis by Ellery Adams-Charmed Pie Series
Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson
Read and Buried by Erika Chase
Two books that I particularly like were by Laura Childs and Kate Carlisle. I read the first book in Child’s scrapbooking series. I have previously read her tea shop mysteries. I was intrigued by the scrapbooking series because it is set in New Orleans and I visited there last summer. I also enjoyed Kate Carlisle’s bibliophile mystery. Somehow I started with the second in the series–I normally do not do that! I will have to backtrack!
I love the Kerry Greenwood Phryne Fisher mysteries – I’ve read the whole series (in order, of course), and am now re-reading all the books again. On my tablet, I created a list of my favorite Kerry Greenwood phrases – top of the list was “as self-centered as a gyroscope”, which I had never heard before. Her books have little “fluff” or filler, and I’ve learned considerable from some of them. The Australian TV series in now available on DVD in the US – programs are nicely done, but they don’t follow the books faithfully, and of course lack the cool phraseology found in the books. However, the music from the TV series is terrific, as are the sets and the characters. Oddy enough, I don’t care for her other series. But Phryne Fisher is cool!
When I start out to give my recommendations, I think, “keep it short, brevity is important”. However, as you can see, I didn’t stick to that bit of ‘self-advice’………………….
Malled to Death by Laura DiSilverio. Originally when I picked up the first book in this series, I didn’t think I’d like it. I guess I thought the concept of ‘mall detectives/security’ was dumb. However, I was really wrong. The main character (EJ Ferris) is a former soldier who was wounded in battle. Recovering from knee injury/surgery she hopes to become a police officer, but because of her injuries she has been rejected wherever she has applied. She settles for this position while to continue to pursue her dream job.
This is the third book in the series. While I think all were good, this one is the best so far. It features her parents (famous Hollywood couple) who are filming a movie at the mall. DiSilverio has developed wonderful characters, including EJ’s 85 yr.old grandfather who’s a former CIA agent. He is hilarious with his various antics, but still in full command of his faculties. There is a lot of wit in this series, but also much complexity. Finally we get a glimpse into the good looking/hot Cookie Shop owner’s secretive background. Of course, the handsome police detective has romantic potential, too. In previous stories we learned about EJ’s parents, but the focus on them in this book makes this a multifaceted story. About 2/3rds the way through the book, the reader figure out ‘why’ the crime/murder was committed, but it is difficult to figure out ‘who’ until the end. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read!
The Christie Curse by Victoria Abbott
This book is written by the mother-daughter Maffini writing team. It is an excellent first book in the series. This book has been recommended in previous posts, and I wanted to add my support for those recommendations.
I read a book a couple of months ago that had a good mystery storyline, good topic, good characters. However it was so slogged down with excess detail I found myself skipping several pages. I couldn’t in good conscious recommend it. This book ‘embodies’ what a cozy should be — good mystery, great (some off-beat) characters, really witty, and importantly, it is quickly paced. The female protagonist takes a researching position with an older wealthy lady who is seeking an undiscovered A. Christie play. She was raised by uncles of ‘questionable’ reputations because of their past/current (perhaps unlawful) activities. Romantic possibilities include a childhood friend who isnow a (hot) librarian and (of course) the requisite police detective. I enjoyed Maffini’s Charlotte Adams mystery series. This is equally as good, if not better. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, Sayers Swindle due out in the fall.
Oak and Dagger by Dorothy St. James
I really like smart, intelligent books, and this series fills the bill (as do books by Isleib/Burdette and Mancino/et al). Casey Calhoun is a White House gardener. Her past is fraught with angst after witnessing the death of her mother and the disappearance of her disgraced father. This story solves some mysteries of her past (also discussed in the previous two books) and she comes to terms with it. But that is a side story to the main storyline – the White House curator is found dead in one of the private gardens. The plot is well paced with several twists. The well developed characters help make the story exciting. There is a ‘budding romance’ with one of the secret service agents, who treats her as an equal and recognizes her intelligence.
Those that enjoy historical mysteries will find the historical aspects of this story enjoyable. Interesting factoid: Each chapter begins with a quote of a former first lady.
Topped Chef by Lucy Burdette
I recommended the first book in this series. Then I recommended the second one. Now I’m recommending the third one. Can you tell I really enjoy this series? The interaction between the lively characters really keeps the plots interesting. In fact, the subplots are almost more interesting than the mystery itself. This book was hard to put down, not because of the mystery, but because of the creative stories/situations. The main character (food critic for a local magazine) is asked to be part of a judging panel to choose a chef for a new reality food show filming in Key West. One of the judges is murdered. You won’t be able to figure out ‘who did it’ because there aren’t any ‘clues’ along the way. This series is so smart because this author is a strong creative writer (it probably helps to be a psychologist!). And, I love it that the author doesn’t try to hide her identity. She is obviously proud of her work and you can read about her at the end of each book.
In case Amy who (on a previous blog) is still looking for an author with descriptive travel, good mystery, no bedroom scenes, etc, I’d highly recommend Jeanne Dams latest book in the Dorothy Martin mystery series – Murder at the Castle. She and her husband are attending a Welsh music festival when a murder takes place. As with several of her books, the travel imagery has the reader ready to pack their bags!! Penny Brannigan (from the series by E. Duncan) makes another cameo appearance! As always, Dams has developed interesting characters with a complex plot and it is well paced. Interesting sidebar……..I didn’t know until this book (I’ve read them all) that the ‘M’ in Jeanne M. Dams stood for ‘Martin’. This book can easily be read as a ‘stand alone’.
Readers of the Scrapbooking series by Joanna Campbell-Slan might like to know (if you haven’t read them all yet) that last year’s book, ‘Paper, Scissors, Death’ (2012) is part one and this year’s book, ‘Picture Perfect Corpse’ (2013) is part two of a story (although sequentially they are books 5 and 6 of this series). The author doesn’t define it this way, I did. The latest book (#6) starts out within hours of when the first book (#5) ended. I wish I would have known that in advance, because I’d wait the year to read them both sequentially and at one time. I couldn’t recommend last year’s book because the book ended with a cliffhanger regarding the future of two of the characters. Sort of ‘soap opera-ish’, except the reader had to wait a full year to finish the story. A reader could read this second book as a stand alone because the author explains many details from the first book. BUT you can’t read the first book without also reading the second.
Having said all that, I have to compliment Campbell-Slan on an outstanding book (the best of the series, so far). There are several story lines that keep it a real page turner. Kiki is the main character and the previous books have been written with her as an intelligent and creative character. But she was a doormat without a spine, which always had frustrated me as the reader. In this book the word ‘spunk’ is mentioned several times as Kiki becomes a very strong character, who develops a spine and stands up for herself and her daughter. My reaction was, “hurray, it’s about time!” As I was reading this book, I began to wonder if an author plots out the development of a character over the long haul of the series, working with an outline of perhaps 6,8, 10 (or, whatever) books. How do they know the publisher will stick with them for that many books?
My intention after reading ‘Paper, Scissors, Death’ was to get the next book, ‘Picture Perfect Corpse’ from the library and read just a couple of chapters to find the fate of the two characters. THEN (out of protest), I was going to return it and never read this author again. I read the first chapters and put the book down for a week or so. I decided to pick it up again the other day. I was a goner — I just couldn’t stop reading it.
Especially in this book, Campbell-Slan is a gifted story teller. There are well developed/exciting characters, great dialogue, some humor, and several exceptional sub plots which integrate well with the main story. The author brings into the storyline ‘cutting’ – an epidemic among young women. Who knew? Kudos to Campbell-Slan for educating the reader about this issue. At the end of this book the author teases us with a storyline for the next book. BUT as for the stories in these last two books, they all come to a conclusion. Another, hurray! THE END (for real)!
I just finished reading”Ready,Scrap,Shoot”. I think that is the book from 2012 MJ. I was surprised that it didn’t end. I agree that Kiki became a stronger character in this book. I liked the many story lines. I only read ebooks now but the new book ‘Picture Perfect Corpse’ is $9.99 for the kindle. I refuse to pay more than $7.99 so I will have to get the paperback from the library as I want to read it while the other book is still fresh in my mind.
ginger g. says
I have only read 2. Here is my list
1. Arsenic and old Cake by Jaclyn Brady. The third in the a piece cake series.
2. Agony of the Leaves by Laura Childs. Tea shop series.
Our annual used book fair is this week and next, will be stocking up. Trip to good-looking and barnes noble is in the plans as well. Starting work on my building that will house all books and hope to finish it before Aug. School has been out a week and reading is in the plans everyday.
ginger g. says
By the way everybody that is on the list right now, is an author that I read.
My favorite THIS month was the most recent of one of my “favorite” series by Shirley Tallman, “Death on Telegraph Hill.” Tried an author new to me, C. C. Benison. Her book “Death at Buckingham Palace” was the first in “Her Majesty Investigates.” Although not among my favorites, it was freshly different from my usual. Continued with the Charlotte MacLeod’s Peter Shandy series which is always fun. Read a new e-book, “A Graceful Death” by Ann Summerville which was yet another change of pace for me. Currently reading my favorite series author, Jacqueline Winspear’s latest Masie Dobbs “Leaving Everything Most Loved.” I am also listening to the audio version of Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence;” not a cozy mystery but a long overdue read which may take some time since I only use my phone for books while waiting in assorted places, i.e. doctor’s offices, etc. It is so wonderful to always have a book with me to enjoy! And I really appreciate this blog, these lists, and the entire website. Thanks so much.
Margaret M. says
I have to recommend my new favorite series. Duffy Brown(Dianne Castell) writes the new Consignment Shoppe Mysteries. I chose this for it’s setting–Savannah, Georgia (when you listed it in your blog of new to the site authors) and so glad I did. The first book in the series “Iced Chiffon” was wonderful. I could not put it down, and it is laugh out loud funny. What a well crafted mystery! Many suspects with plenty of motives. Running around Savannah chasing down all the suspects was a blast.
The characters are so well crafted I could visualize them. Reagan is sharp tounged and witty and Aunt Kiki is a hoot and oh so southern. But my favorite is Walker Boone, he is wonderfully written and one of the best characters I have read in a long time. Not your typical “cozy mystery” character; he is so refreshing.
Savannah is shown for all of it’s beauty and splendor and even it’s flaws. It makes me long to visit is again.
She also writes in the first person, which I enjoy. I like hearing the character tell her story, and some of the funniest moments are when Reagan tells her story.
Just picked up “Killer in Crinolines” and as soon as I finish the Laura Childs Tea Shoppe Mystery I am reading now I will jump into it.
Julie F. says
You’ll love Killer in Crinolines as well. This is one of the best series that I’m reading right now, and I read A LOT of them! It’s so nice to read a well-written mystery, sorry to many of the authors that I read, but too many seem to have the same “formula” and for many there is just the flimsiest excuse for why the main character starts to investigate.
Maria (BearMountainBooks) says
I have been looking forward to it also! I read some UF and there was a really good one in there, BUT I also read
No Money Down by Julie Moffett! Oh, how I love this series. I hadn’t read this one because even though it is the first, I read out of order. This one was kind of a prequel.
These books are so funny for a geek like me. Just love them.
Joan M says
Read the first 2 books in the Jim and Joyce Lavene “Peggy Lee” garden mysteries, Pretty Poison and Fruit of the Poisoned Tree. Then took a detour to non-cozy land with Joe Hill’s NOS4A2, Dan Brown’s Inferno, Charlaine Harris’ Dead Ever After, Robert Parker’s Wonderland, and James Patterson’s Zoo. Currently reading the 3rd Peggy Lee mystery.
Terri D. says
Duffy Brown’s Consignment Shop Series, Carolyn Haines’ Smarty Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery Series), Ann Charles’ Deadwood Series.
Barbara Thompson says
I just finished the first book in the Threadville Mystery series by Janet Bolin Dire Threads. Excellent cozy even if, like me, you are not a craft or sewing person.
i read “the good, the bad, and the witchy” by heather blake “truly madly” and “deeply desperately” by heather webber who is heather blake. it is about the valentine family who can read the “auras” of people and match the perfect couple.lucy can only find lost objects. It holds your interest. i couldn’t wait for the next book
Linda T says
I am new to the cozy mystery world and thoroughly enjoying it! I have just finished reading the first two books in the Southern Sisters series by Anne George and can’t wait to get started on the third. I enjoy the interactions between these two sisters who are different as daylight and dark. They are laugh out loud funny at times and get into very interesting situations.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Welcome to the Cozy Mystery world, as well as to the Cozy Mystery site, Linda T. You are not alone in your enjoyment of Anne George. Those Southern Sisters are a great sleuthing team.
I was hoping that this sharing time would happen soon as I wanted to mention 2 books that caught my eye this month.Usually some authors of series become jaded, but this time 2 of my favorite authors broke the mold. Number 1 was Susan Wittig Albert’s newest book “Widow’s Tears”. She still has the same cast of characters but she has them involved with a ghost of a previous disaster. Her descriptions of Galveston in 1900 are most evocative and the story line intrinsic. The usual murder is incidental to the main plot. If I say too much, the plot will be revealed. The other book I enjoyed was Nancy Atherton’s new “Aunt Dimity….” which also was not an ordinary story. I am still wending my way through series of mystery books. Right now I am in the middle of Joanne Dobson’s books about Karen Pelletier. It is amazing to me as I read any series how the most authors develop and improve on their chief characters. An excellent non mystery was “The Creation of Anne Boleyn, very informative and thought provoking.
No Place For Secrets (Fred Vickery series) by Sherry Lewis.
Rest You Merry (Peter Shandy series) by Charlotte Macleod
I’ve always read mysteries(William G Tapply, Robert Parker,
Phillip R Craig type of books) and only the MC Beaton cozy mysteries. Recently found your blog and now cozies are my main books to read. Using your author listing I was able to find all the Fred Vickery books at a used book store and also bought Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod (your favorite author) and now want to find the rest of the books for this series. I don’t have an e-reader so either buy used or check out from the library. Thank you for all you do for us readers.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
You’re right, PamB. Charlotte MacLeod is on my “favorite authors” list.
Buried in the Bog – Sheila Connolly
Quick Step to Murder – Ella Barrick
Mrs. Jeffries Turns the Tide – Emily Brightwell
Gluten for Punishment – Nancy J Parra
Grace Under Pressure – Julie Hyzy
Grace Interrupted – Julie Hyzy
Grace Among Thieves – Julie Hyzy
All great books. Held my interest throughout the month.
I read several wonderful historical mysteries this month. Like Danna and several others, I thoroughly enjoyed Susanna Calkins’ Murder at Rosamund’s Gate and am looking forward to more in that series. I put it on my wish list when Susie mentioned it in her comments to this blog and I am very glad I did.
I also read the latest Maisie Dobbs book, Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear. One of the joys of this series has been watching the characters grow and change.
The third historical mystery I read was The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Lee Huber. This is the first in a new series, the Lady Darby Mysteries. The book introduces some interesting characters and it will be fun seeing where they go from here.
Finally, I read Fallen Angels by Alice Duncan, the third book in the Mercy Allcutt Mysteries. This is a charming series set in the mid-1920s Los Angeles. Mercy is a young woman from a wealthy Boston family living with her sister and brother-in-law, a Hollywood producer, who wants to write novels so she takes a job as the secretary of a PI to get real world experience. Naturally, she then proceeds to help her boss solve his cases – especially in this instance as her boss is suspected by the police of killing his client.
On the contemporary front, I was delighted that Sara Hoskinson Frommer was back with a new Joan Spencer Mystery, Her Brother’s Keeper. Joan’s daughter is getting married and her ne’er-do-well brother has shown up to attend the wedding. It was wonderful getting reaquainted with the cast of characters.
Linda T says
Read Laura Durham’s Annabelle Archer wedding planner books. Loved all three of them. Wish she would write more of them.
I agree Linda T loved Laura Durhams series. I often wonder what happens when an author no longer continues writing especially if it was a successful series.
I don’t think the last two books i read would count as cozies. I just know I like to sit and read on the sofa, with my cat and a cup of coffee, so I’m the one who’s cozy, even if the book isn’t 🙂 But I’m really looking forward to the next Jacqueline Winspear. There are a lot of great recommendations here!
Killer in Crinolines was my favorite. Thanks for mentioning my Lowenna Series.
Jo R says
Have finally begun reading the “Mrs Murphy” series by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown. Am thoroughly enjoying these, but a few words I skip over (cursing unnecessary). One minute I am laughing so hard, then the next wondering ‘who done it’. If you love animals, you will probably enjoy this series – I know, I am.
“Brush with Death” (Karen MacInerney) from the Grey Whale Inn series
“Pushing Up Daisies” (Rosemary Harris) from the Dirty Business series
“Murder at the PTA” (Laura Alden) from the PTA series
“Poison Ivy” (Cynthia Riggs) from the Matha’s Vineyard series – I guess she was dropped by her publisher and this is available on e-book only
“Every Trick in the Book” (Lucy Arlington) from the Novel Idea series
“Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding” (Lea Wait) from the Shadows series
“The Body in the Piazza” (Katherine Hall Page) from the Faith Fairchild series
also, I confess – I occasionally read non-cozy mysteries (GASP!!) and have spent most of this month catching up on those. but when the thriller/slasher group is done, I always like to come “home” to the cozies!