I have been surveying some of the Cozy Mystery series that are most frequently recommended in our monthly recommendations, and next on my list is Isis Crawford’s Mystery with Recipes Series. Isis Crawford is somewhat of a veteran writer of Cozy Mysteries. As Barbara Block, she wrote the Robin Light Mysteries which included ten books published between 1994 and 2007.
The Mystery with Recipes Series began with A Catered Murder, published in 2003 and is now up to book sixteen which will be published in a few months (2016). As the name of the series suggests, these books fit squarely within the culinary cozy mystery theme, mysteries with recipes, that is so popular in the Cozy Mystery genre.
Set in Longely, New York, a town that is about a $200 cab ride from New York’s Kennedy Airport, the mysteries involve two sisters, Bernie and Libby Simmons as the sleuths. A Catered Murder begins with Bernie arriving at the family home/bakery/cafe early in the morning after taking such a cab ride. Bernie arrives with no luggage or cash after having flown from Los Angeles following a discovery that her long-time live in boyfriend has been cheating on her with one of her best friends. Bernie left literally everything behind.
Libby, Bernie’s older sister, has been running the cafe and catering business “A Little Taste of Heaven” while also taking care of their wheelchair-bound father who lives in the family’s quarters above the shop. Bernie arrives on the same day as Libby is catering the local high school’s reunion. So Bernie is immediately put to work helping. Yikes! At the reunion dinner, someone dies and the mystery begins!
Libby wants to help find the murderer both because the death occurred during her catering event, but more importantly, because one of her best friends, Tiffany, is accused of the killing. Bernie and Libby’s father, Sean, is the former chief of police of Longely. Luckily, he still has contacts that can help them try to solve the murder even though he is on the “outs” with the current chief of police.
Bernie has a nearly photographic memory. She is always annoying Libby with her encyclopedic knowledge on trivia related to food (or just about anything!) Libby, who is also suffering from a long-ago failed romance, is more the steady matronly type who took over the business of running the shop after their mother died.
Libby and Bernie are somewhat of a rarity in the Cozy Mystery genre in that they both provide substantial contributions to the sleuthing. In A Catered Murder it would be difficult to say which of the two sisters is the primary sleuth. To me, the relationship of the sisters is one of the most attractive parts of the book. The relationship is nicely drawn as complicated with some sparks and disagreements, but it obviously is still based on deep sisterly affection. (Love that!)
There’s a reason Isis Crawford’s Mystery with Recipe series has been recommended by other Cozy Mystery readers. It’s a series that keeps on delivering, a series that is full of characters who will draw you in and make Longely, NY and the “A Little Taste of Heaven” shop a comfortable and inviting place to which to return.
As an added bonus (for Cozy Mystery readers like me >>> who love holiday themed Cozy Mystery books, Isis Crawford sets a lot of her Cozies during holidays (Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, and even the Fourth of July!) She has written so many holiday themed Cozies that she is on the “Holiday Theme Mystery Authors …” page on my site. This page features Cozy authors who set a lot of their books during the holidays.)
P.S. If want to read some of the other entries about highly recommended Cozy Mystery series, you can see them on the Most Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on my site.
Thanks for this, Danna. I never realized that Isis Crawford is also Barbara Block. I really liked the Robin Light series. Wish she’d write more of them!
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Dragons3, I’m glad you reminded me about Barbara Block. >>> I meant to look and see if she wrote any holiday themed Robin Light mysteries. (I just checked, and it doesn’t look like she did.)
It’s been a long time since I read them, but I don’t recall any.Maybe just incidentally like it took place around Christmas or Halloween or whatever, but not really holiday themed.
Margaret M. says
I don’t follow this series religiously, but I have read several of them; and they are pretty fun. It is set in a fictional town in the Hudson Valley, that would be a short drive (south) from my neck-of-the-woods, so I like that. And I agree with you Danna, I love the relationship with the sisters and their dad. It really does have a fun cast of characters.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Margaret M, I love your location! You have access to some of my favorite Cozies >>> I enjoy several series that are set in the northeast.
I keep trying to discover what Libby’s dad’s health issues are. I know he was fired from his police chief’s job, but I have no idea why he is in a wheelchair most of the time and for some reason this bothers me. I feel like his character is incomplete because of this. Does anyone know what his problem is?
4chickenmom7 - Jane Austin says
I have read almost all of this series and have yet to find one that doesn’t make me want to read more. Bravo to the author Isis Crawford.