It’s the end of April already! Where has the time gone. It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating Easter, and we’re already looking at Memorial Day being right around the corner!
I’m going to try to keep this super short, so we can get right to our April 2015 Cozy Mystery book recommendations. If you read a Cozy Mystery this month that you think far exceeded your expectations, would you please tell the rest of us about it. We’d not only like to see which Cozy you think was the best you read this month, but also why you think it was better than all the rest of the Cozies you read during April.
Also, if you tell us about several great Cozies you read this month (and why you liked them so much) please put the one that you think was the absolute best of the best at the top of your list.
Please do not tell us about the Cozy/Cozies you read that you did not like.
What really good Cozy Mystery book did you read during April 2015 that you know the rest of us would enjoy reading, and why did you enjoy it?
Here are the current recommended authors who some of you have read and recommended this past month:
Sparkle Abbey: Pampered Pets Mystery Series
Susan Wittig Albert: China Bayles Mystery Series
Simon Brett: Fethering Mystery Series
Simon Brett: Melita Pargeter Mystery Series
Duffy Brown: Consignment Shop Mystery Series
Christina A. Burke & Elizabeth Ashby: Danger Cove Renovation Mystery Series (The Secret of the Painted Lady, book #1)
Jessie Crockett: Sugar Grove Mystery Series
Kathi Daley: Zoe Donovan Mystery Series
Jana DeLeon: Miss Fortune Mystery Series
Laura DiSilverio (aka Ella Barrick & Lila Dare): Readaholics Book Club Mystery Series
Claire Donally: Sunny & Shadow Mystery Series
Margaret Grace (aka Camille Minichino, Ada Madison, & Jean Flowers): Miniature Mystery Series
Joan Hess: Claire Malloy Mystery Series
Edward D. Hoch: The Sherlock Holmes Stories of Edward D. Hoch (short stories)
Alan Hunter: Inspector George Gently Mystery Series (Gently Does It is book #1)
D.E. Ireland: Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins Mystery Series
Miranda James (aka Dean James, Jimmie Ruth Evans, & Honor Hartman): Cat in the Stacks Mystery Series
Diane Kelly: Tara Holloway Mystery Series
Leigh Perry (aka Toni L.P. Kelner): Family Skeleton Mystery Series
Josi S. Kilpack: Culinary Mystery Series
Joyce and Jim Lavene (aka J.J. Cook & Ellie Grant): Taxi for the Dead Mystery Series
Anna Loan-Wilsey: Hattie Davish Mystery Series
Kylie Logan (aka Miranda Bliss & Casey Daniels): Chili Cook-off Mystery Series
Anne Perry: Charlotte & Thomas Pitt Mystery Series
Barbara Ross: Maine Clambake Mystery Series
Mark Reutlinger: Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death
M.L. Rowland: Search and Rescue Mystery Series (Zero-Degree Murder is book #1)
Jane Sevier: Psychic Socialite Mystery Series (Fortune’s Fool, book #1)
Liz Trenow: The Forgotten Seamstress (possibly not a mystery)
Ashley Weaver: Murder at the Brightwell
Since everyone is writing why they like the particular Cozy they’re recommending, I encourage you to read the comments below.
♦To access more Cozy Mystery Books Recommendations, click on this link♦
P.S. I try to respond to all of the comments on the Cozy Mystery blog, however I don’t usually respond to the comments on these monthly recommendation entries.
Pumpkin Roll – Josi Kilpack
This series has been suggested before. It’s sort of up and down with me – I’ve enjoyed some of the books more than others. However, this particular book is probably the best of the series so far (I haven’t read the future ones yet).
Sadie Hoffmiller (protagonist) and her boyfriend (detective) go to Boston to babysit his three grandsons while their parents are on a trip to Texas. There is a lot of weird things going on in the neighborhood, starting with a new neighbor across the street who seems psychologically unfit.
This is a very strong and compelling mystery, ironically there isn’t any murders. This author usually writes more light-type mysteries. This story has more of a psychological bent, dare I say somewhat disturbing and intense. Definitely NOT a criticism, but more of an analysis since it varies from her approach in previous books.
As you read the story it sticks with you, as other adjectives apply like gripping or even spooky. The focus here is almost totally on the mystery, eluding other side stories or sub plots. The ending is a huge surprise (at least for me). I did NOT see it coming………….no way, shape, or form! And, when you finish, it still sticks with you.
Pride v Prejudice – Joan Hess
This book is a bit different than others in the Claire Malloy series. It pretty much is totally a mystery story line. There really isn’t much in sub plots relating to her daughter or husband. Claire is center stage on each and every page.
This is a very good mystery, so those of you who don’t like the side stories will really enjoy this book. Ironically, I took a ‘guess’ at the culprit on page 46 (which I almost never do) and I was right. But that didn’t deter from the story at all. The new characters relating to the mystery are multifaceted with complicated backgrounds. It is extremely quick moving story taking place in just 5 days.
But here is the caveat……………….Hess is the master of humorous dialogue! Most sentences in most paragraphs on almost every page are witty (I know, an ODD description when murder(s) takes place). She is so-o-o-o talented in this area – probably one of the best. Many, many LOL moments!
I’d also like to point out that this series is set in Arkansas. But other than the author mentioning it, the reader wouldn’t have any idea where it was set. I mention this because so many find the locale important when selecting a book. In this case, it really doesn’t make any difference…..no descriptive area writing at all. She does emphasize the college campus in all her books, but it could be a college campus in any state. I hope someone wouldn’t deny themselves the enjoyment of this book just because it’s is ‘nominally/technically’ set in a southern state.
Bittersweet – Susan Wittig Albert
There is so-o-o-o much to say about this book, I hardly know where to begin. In contrast to Hess, this author doesn’t utilize humor in this particular story, but she does extensive research for it. Several of her books are ‘issue oriented’. I find this VERY interesting and informative. In this book she extensively discusses canned hunting and touches on PETA and drones. Since she is a master story teller, all this is intertwined throughout the book, bringing awareness to the reader. Frankly, I really like this because I do learn so much of a subject(s) I know very little about.
On a previous blog, ‘themes were discussed when asked about what a reader looks for in a new series. Cooking, needlework, books, etc., etc. were mentioned. However no one mentioned books that discuss ‘issues’. I remember reading a cozy story which included a domestic violence story line (perhaps S. Rosett?), and H. P. Ryan focused a story on foster care abuses. Of course, there are many others. I enjoy this type of ‘theme’. Albert does it extremely well.
Albert also gives us a ‘travelogue’ about Texas (this story is set in Utopia – evidently near San Antonio). Her descriptive writing is so good, that one can visualize the scenery. I know very little about Texas and this gives me an insight.
The story is set Thanksgiving week while China’s family is visiting her mother. I also took note that this is NOT a ‘who dun-it’ because the reader knows who will be murdered and who committed the crime very early in the book. It’s about the quest for the solution.
For some reason Albert introduces a character(s) to develop an ‘affair’ story line. It’s a bit strange because it’s with characters we’ve never read about before and most likely will never read about again.
The female game warden is a strong female character, but with some loose morals. First of all, she beds down with a newcomer to the community on the first dinner date and a few subsequent dates. Not being satisfied with that, she seeks out the new sheriff in town. Almost beds down with him on the second encounter (no dates), but he has an emergency call. Since this has absolutely no relevance to an already jammed pack story, I wonder what the point was. I found it surprising because it’s such a departure for Albert and this series.
Perhaps the publisher insisted on some ‘passion’ in the story. The characters are necessary to the mystery storyline, the passion/romance (if you can call it that) – not so much. Albert developed the China and McQuaid romantic storyline over several books, not just a chapter in a book (and they certainly didn’t jump in bed together at the first or second date/meet/ greet).
BTW, in the beginning of the book, China comments, ‘she doesn’t understand how protagonists have so much time to solve mysteries in cozy books while running a business’ (I’ve paraphrased it – but mention it because I thought it was so funny!).
Dull or boring are NEVER adjectives used in describing Albert’s books. There’s always a LOT going on which makes for an extremely interesting/engaging read! This book can be read as a stand-alone. ‘China’ brings readers ‘up-to-date’ in a couple of pages near the beginning of the story. I’ve already recommended it to non-mystery friends who have relatives in Texas and visit often. It really reads like a novel instead of a ‘series’ book.
Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco – Laura DiSilverio
This is the first in a new series by this author. I’ve enjoyed some of her other series, so thought I’d like this one, too. On the down side, she only writes three books in each series. I suppose she must get bored. But it presents a problem with her readers, who like the characters and want the stories to continue.
Amy-Faye (protagonist) is an event planner set in beautiful ‘Heaven’ Colorado. She takes on a wedding event which surprisingly (to her) included her ex-boyfriend and his fiancée. Her reading group, ‘Readaholics’ is currently analyzing “Maltese Falcon’. One of its members is murdered. Thus, the group involvement in solving it.
Enjoyable characters, quick paced, smart and independent protagonist all contribute to the likeability of this book. But Amy-Faye turns ‘foolish’ when she makes a very poor choice in the final pages of the story. The author could have kept this lead character in ‘smart mode’, but didn’t.
Having said all that, I’m really looking forward to the next installment due out in December. I think it will be an entertaining series. Good read!
Sticky Situation — Jessie Crockett
I’ll keep it brief. My main reason for always recommending books in this series is because the protagonist and her family are wealthy! A departure from the ‘cozy formula’ used by several authors to make the lead character poor (husband, fiancée, boyfriend ran off with her money and left her penniless)…….which leads to a ‘oh woe is me’ story line. I like Crockett’s different (perhaps more creative) approach. The family (definitely NOT arrogant/snobby) use their monies for many charitable projects within their community.
Good strong characters with an interesting plot. I enjoy learning a little about the maple syrup industry, too.
OFF TOPIC, but still connected to the above subject. Have any of you tasted maple cream or maple butter (east coast, it’s called maple butter, and in the Midwest – it’s maple cream)? They are the same product, but neither has any cream or butter in it. It is pure maple sugar spun into a peanut butter-like consistency. Heaven! It is GREAT on English muffins, bagels, pancakes, Eggos, toast, etc. I don’t like syrup on my pancakes/waffles, but LOVE, love this.
I discovered this product last fall at a nearby festival and have been addicted ever since. I’ve been out of it for the past month and have gone into ‘withdrawal’! Luckily I’ll be able to get some more this Saturday at a local Farmer’s Market. As something different, I’ve given small containers ( 8 oz.) of this for Christmas/birthday presents………..always well received.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
MJ, I’ve never heard of Maple Butter or Maple Cream, but you sure make it sound delicious. I just looked it up to see its nutritional information (and to see what it looks like) and couldn’t find anything on it.
The following is a ‘definition’ from Wikipedia:
Nutrition facts (from the container label of the Maple Cream I “consume”):
Serving size: 1 Tbsp.
Total fat: 0
Total Carbs: 17g
It’s unlikely I use a tablespoon/serving because it is very sweet and I use it sparingly (well, perhaps 1 Tbsp. on one whole (split) English muffin/bagel, or two pieces of toast, 2 pancakes). I usually butter my English muffin, bagel, Eggo, toast, etc. first, then sparingly put on the maple cream. I especially like it on ‘flavored’ (cinnamon, French toast, cranberry, pumpkin, blueberry, apple, etc.) English muffins/bagels, or even some of the flavored Pepperidge Farm breads). It does have a lot of carb/sugar grams………….but since I’m ‘addicted’, I’ll give up the sugar elsewhere!
Also, syrups used on pancakes, waffles, etc. have more calories/serving. I just looked at the label of some maple syrup I have ………… Serving size: ¼ cup, Calories: 210, and Carbs: 53g.
Since I buy it locally, it’s a whole lot cheaper than at Amazon and some other places.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
MJ, I was interested in seeing the sugar content, so the information you posted is exactly what I wanted. My husband likes waffles a lot, so this looks like it might be a good topping for him to use. I’ll check and see if my grocery store carries it >>> which will only happen if they have their own brand. They are awful about carrying other brands for quirky items. (I mean “quirky” in a good way!)
Danna and readers et all:
I like the Emily Brightwell’s Mrs. Jeffries series and Robin Paige’s (Bill and Susan Albert) Victorian and Edwardian mysteries and I agree with MJ about the Anne Perry’s Thomas and Charlotte Pitt’s but please add Anne’s Christmas novels to the list as well and William and Hester Monk also by Perry.
MC Beaton does a wonderful Hamish McBeth set in Lochduh, Scotland as well as the Agatha Raisin series but I personally liked the Hamish McBeth series.
Avery Aames writes the Cheese shop series which is fun but I gain too much weight when I read those, LOL.
My all time favorites to top this list is Miranda James’s Cat in the Stacks series and the Mrs. Jeffries series.
Linda C says
MJ, Joan Hess is one of those authors that, to me, only has to pick up a pencil in order to have a best seller. I really enjoyed ‘Bittersweet.”
I enjoyed the mystery but in books like this I also enjoy the sideline stories that go along with the mystery. I so enjoy the development of the characters.
The interaction among Claire and her daughter is wonderful. I am so glad that Inez is being allowed to come into her own charactership (if there is such a word) in the series. I know Inez has had a major role in the series throughout but I am so glad she is able to give the daughter a little competition. Love the series.
Joan Hess keeps referring to “Maggoddy in this series so maybe there is hope that she hasn’t given up on that gang after all!!!!
(Sorry, the daughter’s name escapes me at this most senior moment)
Linda C says
BOY DID I JUST GOOF!!!!!
I just gave Joan Hess credit for writing Susan Wittig Albert”s book “Bittersweet”.!! I am so, so sorry. I did read Bittersweet and I loved the book. I loved the sideline story about the game warden and I hope this will become another series. I just hope it doesn’t replace China and McQuaid.
Of course the book of Joan Hess’ that I was trying to recommend was “Pride & Predjudice.”
I guess that is what you get for trying to read so many books at one time. But then again maybe I can blame it on so many good books coming out at the same time that I feel compelled to read more than one at a time.
Sorry Joan Hess fans!!!
Sorry Susan Wittig Albert Fans.
Believe me, I am a strong fan of both myself!!
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Linda C, no goof >>> anyway, that’s what I think! Why do you think I am so obsessive about my lists? Without my lists to keep track on my authors and titles, I’d be lost!
My favorite book this month (and one of my all time favorite series) is Demise in Denim by Duffy Brown. This installment focuses on the relationship between Regan and Boone and her quest to get him out of trouble. It helps to have read the novella that was released a few months ago but you could pick up the storyline without it. I read more than usual this month due to taking advantage of some free and/or cheap e-books. Two series that I discovered and enjoyed were Kerry J. Charles art museum series and Lynn Cahoon’s coffee/bookshop series.
I love Duffy’s books and this was no exception but since you chose this it gives me a chance to list my other favorite.
I read a number of enjoyable books this month and would like to share three of them.
Demise in Denim by Duffy Brown
Reagan, Kiki, and the gang are back in another fun-filled and very funny adventure. Lawyer Walker Boone is on the run and hiding from the police because someone is setting him up for the murder of a local man. Reagan has finally admitted to herself she is crazy about Boone, and she’s determined to find the killer and get Boone off the hook. Reagan is such a fun protagonist. She is strong and feisty and is a loyal friend. When she teams up with Aunt Kiki, anything can happen—and it usually does!
I love this series—it is one of my favorites. Ms. Brown’s books are filled with lots of humor, great characters and a beautiful setting. I can’t wait for the next book in this series.
The Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco by Laura DiSilverio
The Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco is the first book in the new Book Club Mystery series. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The protagonist, Amy-Faye, is one of six members of the Readaholics Book Club. When one member dies, the group sets out to prove their friend was murdered.
This very entertaining and well-written mystery is filled with twists and turns, which in my opinion makes for a fun read. The characters are a likable bunch, and I connected with them immediately. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in this series.
The Secret of the Painted Lady by Christina Burke and Elizabeth Ashby
The Secret of the Painted Lady is Book 1 in the Danger Cove Renovation Mysteries. It is an engaging first book in what I hope becomes a long-running series. Alex is a great lead character. She is a renovation expert and the new owner of an old run-down house she plans to quickly rehab and sell. Her plans are put on the back burner when a dead body is found in the old house’s bathtub. She needs to identify the body and solve his murder before her bank account ends up in the red.
Alex is smart, talented, and has a good sense of humor. The scenes she shares with flower shop owner George (who becomes her sidekick—and hopefully more in future books) were some of my favorites. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the dialogue. This book boasts a fun mystery, likable characters, and a great setting. I’m hoping there are more adventures planned for Alex and George.
On the blog earlier this month we were discussing ‘What draws you to a new author?’ One of the suggestions (Actually mine, I think) was a clever title.
Well, I picked up my main recommendation for this month, for that very reason. “Fifty Shades of Greyhound” by Sparkle Abbey.
The protagonist, Mel Langston is a pet therapist in California, and the book opens with her attending a high profile fundraiser for a greyhound rescue. The fundraiser title? You guessed it: 50 shades of Greyhound! (Hence the title of the book.)
At the fundraiser an unknown man is stabbed in the back (Literally, not just verbally! Lol!) and a catering hand is accused – and vanishes!
Since said catering hand is the brother of one of Mel’s best friends… you can guess the rest!
Well written and informative without going over the top or into too much irrelevant detail. (A pet peeve of mine.) I highly recommend it!
There’s also an entertaining side plot involving a dispute over the ownership of a family heirloom brooch, which I found just added to the story, rather than distracting from it. I got the impression that this actually runs right through the series, not just the one book, too.
All of the books in the series have titles based on popular books / tv series’ (‘Desperate Housedogs’ anyone? Lol!) and I will definitely be looking out for them.
Manhattan in Miniature by Margaret grace
This is one of my favorite cozy mysteries. I love the natural relationship between Gerry Porter and her granddaughter. This book is different that the other miniature mysteries because it takes place in New York City instead of California. The author uses interesting places such as Rockefeller Center, Radio City and the Rockettes to really make you feel that you are in Manhattan in December. The story is a little hectic because Gerry and her granddaughter are working at a huge craft fair show, are also helping Gerry’s friend look into the death of her aunt, and are asked to help with security at the craft show. However, I still really liked this book– It’s definitely one of my favorites.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Terrym, I bought the Kindle copy of this book and am trying to save it until the holidays. Chances are pretty low that I will be able to hold myself back from reading it before then, but I’m going to try!
Good Luck! 🙂
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Susan*, I’m hoping I can at least hold back until October… (When they put the Christmas decorations up in all of the shopping strips and parking lots.)
I read a lot of new Cozies this month.
Some of my favorites were
Wouldn’t It be Deadly by DE Ireland
A great fun Historical Cozy with Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins as sleuths. One of the best mysteries I have read recently.
Musseled Out by Barbara Ross
Just as good as the previous two. This one maybe the best in the series. The characters are really being fleshed out.
Deceptive Homecoming by Anna Loan-Wisley Due in August 2015
I love this historical series. This is also one of my favorites in this series. This series should be read in order so you have time to read the first three before this one is published.
I just discovered a new author, thanks to your list: Jana DeLeon and have almost finished the first installment in the Miss Fortune Mystery series: Louisiana Longshot. This is one of the funniest books I have ever read, made me laugh out loud in the tube of all places!
It ranks high on my list of favorites “LOL” books, together with Toni McGee Causey’s Bobby Faye novels.
Jane Sevier – “Fortune’s fool” and “a Billy Sunday kind of Love”.
These are the first 2 books (both available in Kindle format) of a series called “a psychic socialite story” set in the 30s in Memphis.
Both books are interesting as they give an insight on life in this particular era and they are real page turners, you don’t want to put them down until you find out what’s really going on. Also Nell the main character is an interesting woman who seems to be able to find her real self at a time when women were not allowed much freedom and I liked following her.
I started a new series, the Fethering mysteries by Simon Brett, this month. The first book is Body on the Beach and I enjoyed it very much. I like the big differences between the personalities of the two sleuths, the snooty (perceived) attitude of the townsfolk, and that the author is very cagey about reveling facts about his characters’ backstories. The setting is wonderful. Book two, Death on the Downs, is waiting on my bookshelf!
Stash Empress says
This is interesting — for once I haven’t read any of the books that others are recommending this month — usually I’ve read them all LOL!
Also, due to my daughter’s wedding and the preceding & ensuing festivities (not to mention finishing sewing my MOB gown at 3:30am the morning of the wedding!) — I’ve read hardly *anything* this month (hardly anything for me LOL) — and a couple of the books I did read were not mysteries or not cozies.
So — a very short list from me this month!
Diane Kelly — Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses (Tara Holloway series) — I like the character & the situations she gets into & the plots are always fast paced with LOTS of action. (Just wish she would tone down the “passion”.. don’t need that in my cozies.. just saying…) — and as usual, there’s a running “thing” in the book, taken from the title — in this case you’re wondering just HOW MANY pairs of cheap sunglasses will get destroyed in how many bizarre ways until she goes & gets a new pair of designer shades???? 😉
Joyce & Jim Lavene — Dead Girl Blues (Taxi for the Dead series) — couple of comments here — first of all, the Lavenes are probably my favorite couple in the world — 😉 – don’t know how they manage to churn out SO MANY books & SO MANY series –but they do — and it works! Second — I don’t generally read zombie books — totally not into the brain suckers… but the Lavenes’ zombies are different (well besides not looking undead & not eating brains & etc.) — they’re otherwise normal people going about their business — just — not actually living… In fact in this book, the second of the series, they’ve been named “LEPs” — for Life Extended People LOL! We get further into the various characters & their backstories in this fast paced & suspenseful story — which leaves me waiting for the next book to come out!
Edward D. Hoch — The Sherlock Holmes Stories of Edward D. Hoch — not a cozy, but if you like Sherlock Holmes, these stories are pretty close to flavor of the originals, so a good addition.
Mark Reutlinger — Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death — OK, this one is just plain fun– Elderly Mrs. Kaplan, herself a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, takes upon herself to solve a mysterious death in the retirement home.
Anne Perry — The Angel Court Affair (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt series) — I love this series, love following the continued adventures of this couple & though I usually do guess who did it, its still a great read. (The problem in general is that unless the murderer will turn out to be someone we have not “met” in the book, which would be bad form on the part of the author & we wouldn’t want to read anymore of their books if they kept doing that, then the murderer has to be one of the characters we *have* met — and since there can only be a limited number of characters given space in any story [unlike in real life where there are an unlimited number of people on the planet, any of whom can be the perp, whether the police have met them or not] — well then that pretty much limits who *can* be the murderer… so once you eliminate this one & that one — whoever is left pretty much will have to be the murderer — but the fun is still in finding out WHY!)
Another book I would highly recommend — though I don’t know if its technically a mystery — though there is a huge element of mystery in the story & we don’t find out till the end how all the elements combine – and what *is* the secret of the patchwork quilt anyway? – The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow — an amazing book — following simultaneously the story of a woman who unearths an amazing patchwork quilt in her mother’s attic & tries to find out who made it & what their connection is to her family (and why are parts of the quilt made of fabrics that were available ONLY to the royal family???) — interspersed with an interview of the inmate of a mental asylum — and how the two stories come together at the end makes for a fascinating read.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Stash, there’s nothing like cutting it down to the wire! Well, at least you finished your Mother of the Bride gown! (I hope your daughter’s wedding was a great success!)
I read A Skeleton in the Family and The Skeleton Takes a Bow by Leigh Perry. I loved the “magical realism” in both books. I have also started rereading the Lucy Stone mysteries by Leslie Meier thanks to the big Kindle sale.
This month I have read two great sets of books. The cat in the stacks series by Miranda James, which features Charlie Harris and Diesel. Also she has started a new series featuring the misses Decote from the cat series called bless her Dead Little Heart. These are the stories set in small town Mississippi. The other author is Kathi Daley and her series about Zoe Donovan a animal lover and relocator. The whole series follows one right after another so the story line I easy to follow without a lot of repeating. There is also the whale and tails series by Kathi Daley, Once Upon a Grind by Cleo Coyle Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz and Death Al Dente also by Leslie Budewitz but each is a new series
My favorite book this month was “Zero Degree Murder” by M.L. Rowland, book one of the Search and Rescue mysteries.
This is a cozy series but is in the same vein as the Anna Pigeon Mysteries by Nevada Barr. So if you enjoy that series, this Search and Rescue series should be right up your alley.
Gracie Kinkaid left behind a dysfunctional family, lousy boyfriend, and dull corporate career to move to the mountains of southern California and lead a simple, scaled-down life so she could pursue her passion volunteering as a certified tracker and search and rescue team member. She volunteers with the Timber Creek SAR team.
On Thanksgiving four hikers vanish on the mountain. They are members of the cast and crew of a Hollywood action adventure film being shot locally. The hikers are the film’s lead actor, an actress, a production assistant, and the action-scene personal trainer for the lead actor. The Timber Creek SAR team is called in and Gracie and Steve Cashman are sent up the mountain to find the missing hikers.
But unbeknownst to Gracie and Steve, the personal trainer is a wanted violent war criminal from eastern Europe who has been living and working in the U.S. under an assumed identity. When the four hikers stopped to take a water break and chat partway up the mountain, the actress, also from eastern Europe, accidentally discovered the personal trainer’s real identity. He went on a violent rampage, killed one person and the other two ran off.
Hours later Gracie and Steve find the actor, Rob Christian, by himself and off the trail. A head injury has fried his recent memories. His ankle is busted and he has hypothermia. They tend to his wounds and camp out for the night. Because they are in a radio-contact dead zone, the next morning Steve leaves with their radio to head part-way down the mountain to make radio contact with headquarters to request more SAR personnel with a litter to carry out the injured Rob. But Steve is never heard from again.
Steve and Gracie’s boss is panic stricken because he’s heard nothing from Gracie and Steve, nor have any of the hikers been found. Just as reenforcement SAR members are sent in, a blizzard whips up, suspending further SAR efforts. The killer is stalking Gracie and Rob, so she must use her training and wits to keep Rob and herself alive until the storm clears and help can arrive.
This story was a real page-turner. I have the second book, “Murder off the Beaten Path” in my TBR. The third book, “Murder on the Horizon” will be released in August.
I also read several other “first in a new series” books that first came out a year or two ago, which I have in my goodly-sized TBR pile.
“Chili Con Carnage” by Kylie Logan (Chili Cook-off Mysteries) is a fun and quirky mystery. Half sisters Sylvia and Maxie Pierce grew up spending their summers on the road with their father Texas Jack Pierce, the chili cook-off king, with the chili cook-off Showdown circuit as it travels the southwest. The Pierces’ make and sell their own line of custom mixed chili spices and spend time perfecting their chili cook-off recipes. The sisters are now adults with separate lives, but after their dad disappears on some unknown adventure, Maxie and Sylvia spend the summer on the Showdown circuit running their dad’s business.
While the Showdown is in Taos, NM, a newly hired roadie is murdered with one of Sylvia’s engraved knives which she’s had since her days in culinary school, and she’s arrested for his murder. Maxie sets out to clear her name with some help from Nick Falcone, the Showdown’s head of security who is an ex-police officer.
“The Big Kitty” by Clair Donnally (Sunny and Shadow Mysteries) was a good start to a series. Sonata “Sunny” Coolidge moved back to her hometown of Kittery Harbor, Maine from NYC after her widowed father’s heart attack. She’s a former print journalist for a NY paper who winds up freelancing for her hometown newspaper after the elderly neighborhood cat lady, who after misplacing a winning multi-million dollar lottery ticket in her house, dies under questionable circumstances. The woman’s son is a suspect. He’s also a drug user and is hooked into the local drug dealing scene, but he’s soon murdered. Are the deaths of both mother and son connected? Sunny investigates this as do several sympathetic members of the local police force. One of the cats that belonged to the cat lady, Shadow, adopts Sunny as his ‘person’ and he accompanies her on her investigations. If you are someone who is owned by cats, you will adore Shadow and will enjoy reading about his view of the world.
I believe a reader had recommended Simon Brett’s Melita Pargerter series so read ‘A nice Class of Corpse’ and thoroughly enjoyed it. Melita is an older, smart lady who used some of the skills she learned and contacts from her late husband ‘jobs’ to solve a mystery. I thorougly enjoyed it so then read “Mrs. Pressumed Dead’ and it was also an enjoyable read. I will space out the remaining 4 books in this series. I seem to be in a phase I’m enjoying books with older sleuths….
Came on to say my best “cosy” read in April was “Gently Sahib” by Alan Huntly but the sad news has just come that Ruth Rendell has died. She was brilliant. Put all others in the shade.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Anne, her books have given readers (all over the globe) many, many hours of wonderful reading. She is one of my favorite authors, and I certainly agree with your sentiments.
Linda C says
Danna, For the last several days I have been reading, and in some cases rereading Victoria Thompson’s ‘Gaslight mysteries.’ Some of the books I know I have read before but I can’t remember some of the content and I think that is because I read those just after I had that mini stroke that I had in 2013 that affected my memory.
I was able to get some of the earlier books in this series from the lending library of my local library that has allowed me to read the books in order. I love this series.
I love not only the mystery and the love story but the historical content as well. I love reading American history. I love stories that take place during the last part of the 1800’s and the early 1900’s. It’s a wonder New York City grew the way it did. People were so mean to each other in New York City!
I would recommend this series to anyone who likes to read about that part of our country’s history.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Linda C, I have one series that I never tire of re-reading (E.F. Benson’s Lucia novels). Each time I read them I discover something new, or at least that’s how I feel. (Who knows, I may be discovering the same exact thing each time I re-read the books!) You sure picked a fantastic author to concentrate on!
Linda C says
Danna, One particular book I read recently that I enjoyed was ” Murder at the Brightwell” by I think Avery Ames. This book was set in England during the 1930s, during the depression, but the characters were moneyed people that evidently according to what little was mentioned in the book the depression had very little effect.
This was a very good book. I loved the story. I loved the mystery. I loved the love story. I think, not to spoil the plot for others , the main male character is going to be some kind of secret agent for the English government, which in turn is going to be the reason that he is going to be the cad that he is. But I think we are going to have to wait a few books into the series to discover this.
I can hardly wait for the second book to come out in this series, that is how much I enjoyed this first one. But , even though this book was set in the 1930s during the depression there was very little in the actual story that would allow a reader to realize that.
To me, except for a few places this book could have been set in any time period. When I read a novel that is supposed to have an historical setting or an historical background, I would like some kind of references to that time period. I love history and history related novels.
I do hope to see more of the series.