I got an email two days ago from my best friend (college roommate) who lives in Iowa. She mentioned just how tired she is of winter. While reading her letter, I was able to look outside and watch the birds (and squirrels) in our back yard as they flitted about enjoying the sunshine. What a drastic difference!
As March is finishing up, I am reminded that it is time for me to ask you all about the Cozy Mystery book(s) that you have read during March that stand out as really good Cozy Mysteries. Please tell us why you are recommending the book(s) so that by reading your reasons, we can see if we might be interested in it (them), also.
I am going to start by telling you about the Cozy Mystery author I am currently reading. I started reading her a short while back when I kept seeing her being recommended in these monthly recommendation entries. Some of you kept talking about Joanne Fluke. So, better late than never, bada-beem, bada-bum, I tried her. Boy am I glad I did!
Fluke’s Hannah Swensen mysteries have become my go-to books when I’m looking for a comfy-cozy read. I find the writing very easy to read, and I love the interaction Hannah has with her sister, niece, brother-in-law, and mother. The relationships she has with her loved ones rings very true to me. The books are a nice escape-type of reading. And I love experiencing the cold of Minnesota, as well as its beauty. I enjoy Hannah’s small, close-knit community, as well.
What Cozy Mystery book (or author) have you read during March 2014, 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 Abbott (aka Mary Jane Maffini & Victoria Maffini): Book Collectors Mystery Series
Susan Wittig Albert: China Bayles Mystery Series
Donna Andrews: Meg Langslow Mystery Series
Alex Archer: Rogue Angel (fantasy series?)
Mignon F. Ballard: Augusta Goodnight Mystery Series
C. J. Box: Joe Picket Mystery Series: Breaking Point (not Cozy)
Laura Bradford (aka Elizabeth Lynn Casey): Amish Mystery Series
Duffy Brown: Consignment Shop Mystery Series
Laurie Cass: Bookmobile Cat Mystery Series
Laura Childs: Tea Shop Mystery Series
Alys Clare: Hawkenlye Mystery Series
Shelley Costa: Miracolo Mystery Series
Mary Daheim: Emma Lord Alpine Mystery Series
Krista Davis: Domestic Diva Mystery Series
Jo Dereske: Miss Zukas Mystery Series
Carola Dunn: Daisy Dalrymple Mystery Series
Dawn Eastman: Family Fortune Mystery Series
Chrystle Fiedler: Natural Remedies Mystery Series
Joanne Fluke: Hannah Swensen Cookie Jar Mystery Series
Sally Goldenbaum: Seaside Knitters Mystery Series
Kerry Greenwood: Corinna Chapman Mystery Series
Leslie Meier: Lucy Stone Mystery Series
Laura Morrigan: Woof at the Door (1st in the Call of the Wilde Mystery Series)
Kate Parker: Victorian Bookshop Mystery Series
Perri O’Shaughnessy: Nina Reilly Mystery Series (not Cozy)
Gail Oust: Piper Prescott Mystery Series
Patricia Rockwell: Essie Cobb, Senior Sleuth Mystery Series
Denise Swanson: Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery Series
Victoria Thompson: Gaslight Mystery Series
Christine Wenger: Comfort Food Mystery Series
♦To access more Cozy Mystery Books Recommendations, click on this link♦
This month the one that stood out in my mind was Carola Dunn’s latest Daisy Dalrymple book Heirs of the Body. I forgot how much I enjoyed this series. The 1920/30’s english setting is always such an interesting time to read about, it’s that time between wars, before so much about the world changed and it’s always fascinating to me to try to figure out the laws of inheritance in the British peerage. Daisy is trying to be a modern woman in a time when that simply isn’t done. Her interactions with her family and loved ones are always fun to read and the mystery is usually very well put together. This series reminds me a lot of Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness series of which I am eagerly awaiting the next installment, so Daisy is a good filler in between those books!
Jackie J. Griffey says
Danna: I’ve read several of Fluke’s cozies too and enjoyed them. I got tired of the two boy friends but not her Krazy Kat LOL. We have two house cats and a ‘feral’ one who only comes in when it gets cold enough outside to frost his whiskers – which it has been more frequently than Arkansas was prepared for! I could well believe the damage he did to Hannah’s Christmas tree (she even tried hanging it from the ceiling! Ha!) So many of our favorites (Jonathan Kellerman’s Killer among them) have new books out now I’ve taken a break but I know my daughter and I will go back to Fluke’s books soon.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Jackie, every once in a while I take breaks from certain favorite authors, also.
I have been very content with the Diva series by Krista Davis. Sophie is a practical, innovative, interesting woman. The setting in Old Town Alexandria is charming and quaint. The books are well structured – I especially love the mini-cliffhangers at the end of chapters followed by a slightly snarky domestic goddess question/answer! And Bernie. Let’s not forget lovely Bernie…
Bev S says
I’ve been reading the Alex Archer Rogue Angel series and can’t wait to get my hands on the next book. To date there are fifty books in the series, and like the Annie books are written by a group of authors all using the name Alex Archer. The main character in the series is an archeologist, Annja Creed. Her mentors are Roux, a five hundred year old man and his apprentice Garin Braden. Annja finds herself in any number of mysteries and her trusty sword is always at her side. For many years this sword (which had been broken in pieces) was lost, but finally Annja finds the last missing piece and the sword, which had belonged to Joan of Arc becomes whole once again, and has attached itself to Annja. Surprisingly, Roux and Garin had been at the trail and burning of Joan and had seen the sword being broken.
A good read for someone who likes lots of excitement in her books and a fast read. These books have an introduction in the first chapter which is mostly historical,but once you get into the book you don’t want to put it down. I will add the list of books in a second email.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Bev S, are the Alex Archer Rogue Angel books Cozy Mysteries, mysteries, or fantasy books? I’m not sure what to classify them as…
Here’s a link for anyone interested in looking at the Alex Archer Rogue Angel books.
From the sound of it, possibly put them under Paranormals?
Danna - cozy mystery list says
*Susan, from what I could find out, I don’t think they are paranormal mysteries…
Jackie J. Griffey says
Angel books? Sounds interesting, Carolyn Hart has a series about an angel who returns also. Ghost Work and Ghost in Trouble are two my daughter have read and enjoyed.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Jackie, you might want to take a peak at Mignon F. Ballard’s Augusta Goodnight Mystery Series.
Linda C says
Danna, Author C. J. Box isn’t a cozy mystery writer but I would still like to recommend his “Breaking Point.” This book was one from his Joe Picket series. I have enjoyed all of the Joe Picket books so far. This one I enjoyed all the more because the story had a very surprising ending. I didn’t see this ending coming at all. I love mysteries that end that way.
Some of the contributors to this blog might not enjoy some of the off colored language that is scattered throughout this book. But I didn’t think this language was bad enough for me to stop reading the book. Some of the bad language parts I was able to just skip over.
Steeped in Evil – Laura Childs
Laura Childs tea mysteries are often recommended on this blog. The latest addition to the series involves a winery where someone is murdered at a tasting party. The old (regular) characters are dependable, well developed, and enjoyable. Child’s has introduced new eclectic supporting characters to the story. There are many twists to this plot and until close to the end, the reader isn’t aware of who is the culprit. If you haven’t read this series, you can still enjoy this book as a stand alone.
Dead Between the Lines — Denise Swanson
Although I enjoy the Scumble River series, I like this series (Dime Store) better. I think it’s because I find the main characters more enjoyable. In MANY ways these two series are very similar – one can certainly tell that both series are written by the same author. This author also adds romance and humor into all her books.
Dev (main character) owns a dime store in a small MO town. Perhaps because Swanson’s background is in school psychology, she has developed a very complex main character with many background ‘issues’. To make this book multifaceted, a few of the chapters are written from the viewpoint of the boyfriends. It’s definitely a positive, adding to the intricacy of the story.
A literary club meets at her store and one of its attendees is murdered after the group leaves. Although Swanson always writes a well paced book, I thought the mystery storyline was a bit ho-hum at first. But as it delves further into the background of the victim it becomes far more intriguing. The ending was a total surprise (almost shocker)! No way could I have figured it out. This should be a sequential read, so one is able to follow the intrinsic relationships.
Lending a Paw – Laurie Cass
I mention this book because several blog readers have commented they like stories with animals. It’s the first in a new series, by a new author. For the first 60 pages or so, there’s an entertaining/witty dialogue between the lead character (Minni) and a stray cat (Eddie) she found. Cass portrays Minni as a caring, humorous, and empathetic character.
In many states where tax cuts are far more important than services, libraries really feel the pinch with monetary resources greatly diminishing. Minni (ass’t. library director) obtains funds for a bookmobile from a wealthy patron to expand library services throughout the county. It is set in a small resort community on Lake Michigan in northwestern lower Michigan.
This cat is certainly the second leading character. Of course there is a murder and Minni sets out to find ‘whodunit’ because she thinks the local police are ineffective. As I continued reading it, I thought for sure the police would zero in on Minni as the murderer. After all, that’s the formula for the first book in many new series. I was pleasantly surprised that this author used some creativity to deviate from this formula. In fact, the detectives are pretty minimal in this story.
This paperback book is a bit long – 342 pages. What I don’t know is if there are less pages on a Kindle or Nook format than in a paperback. I found there are several places throughout the book where one can skim through. In fact (I won’t explain why – but it becomes obvious), the reader can skip pages 322-332 without losing any context. I think cat/animal lovers will find this book entertaining.
Danna, I didn’t want to ‘duplicate’ your recommendation, but had put this book on my recommendation list this month. Ironically, some of my comments echo what you’ve said (I actually wrote this a couple of weeks ago when I read this book). I could have deleted it, but decided to keep it on this list.
Blackberry Pie Murder — Joanne Fluke
I’ve never recommended a Fluke book before. However as I was reading Blackberry Pie Murder, I understood why I read each book when released in February. I always feel like its comfortable – very homey and with a sentiment you’re reading about family – more or less the epitome of ‘cozy’. To get that feeling, one should read this series in sequence. There’s a simplistic characteristic to these books, both in family story line and characters. When I came to the realization that the romantic aspect probably won’t be settled until the final book, I just sit back and enjoy reading about the various friendships and family connections.
Hannah owns a cookie shop in a small Minnesota community. FYI – several recipes are always part of the books. I’ve made many, and all have been good. In this book there is a recipe for Nutella cookies. I baked them last weekend – yum!
The homicide mystery in this story is creative and interesting. Fluke’s clues are usually obvious and there was a big one in the beginning of this book. I was able to figure out who did it about 2/3rds the way through, but didn’t know the whys and wherefores. This book has an unusual ending for a Fluke book. The murder is resolved. However, there is an aspect of the mystery story she carries over. Usually her mysteries are tied up with a neat bow. Even my daughter commented it was an unusual ending for a Fluke book.
An interesting blog topic sometime might be ‘inconsistencies’ in various cozy stories. Since I’m kind of a detailed person, I usually pick up on it. Oftentimes I find them humorous, but wonder why the editor didn’t catch it. In this story, Hannah’s sister (Andrea) kept coming over to Hannah’s house to eat supper for several evenings because she was avoiding her sheriff husband…………BUT she has two small children – didn’t she want to eat with them, either? I guess you’d call it ‘literary license’. It’s minor, and certainly doesn’t take away from the fact that this book is a pleasant read.
This is an FYI –
Yesterday, as I started the second book of a series, I read the author’s ‘acknowledgements’. Since some aspects were discussed on this blog (re-introducing regular characters in a series) awhile ago, I thought the author’s perspective was enlightening.
She commented that this was ‘the first time she wrote a second book in a series. There were several challenges as to where to draw the line so readers starting with the second book would still follow easily, but readers who began with the first book won’t get too much repetition’. She then went on to state that it took several iterations, and much patience from her editor.
I know I have been frustrated with how an author explains a recurring character in sequential books, often times waiting too long. BUT, I’ll now think more positively of the author, knowing they struggle with this in hopes to get it right.
Jackie J. Griffey says
About those ‘sequence problems’ in writing a series. What I do is list my characters as I go – names in red to find fast plus black for anything about them to remember (as a relationship) so after I have set up a file on the Work in Progress, this character list is at the front of the file where I can get to it in a hurry when I’m doing another in the series. Hope this helps 😎 My series so far are The Maryvale series; Maggie and Joe (Memphis PD); Insurance series (three and a half so far using 20 years exp. in the claim business with some fond memories; happy reading and writing to all of us and thanks for sharing. )
After I got a bit tired of Conrad Allen’s mystery series I found myself reading Mignon F. Ballard’s Augusta Goodnight Mysteries.
“Angel at Troublesome Creek” is the first one and having read later ones a while ago it’s a bit obvious that the author is still finding her feet with a guardian angel as sleuth. But I loved it all the same. I also read “An Angel to Die for” and the pace really picks up in “Shadow of an Angel”. After that I had to concentrate on other matters and didn’t read any mysteries at all.
I love the unusual concept about this and the fact that the guardian angel isn’t the least bit ethereal or omniscient. She comes across quite human, she eats and drinks and she makes mistakes same as everybody. She’s also the one constant through the books as the person she’s sent to changes with each book (except for the last two, I think). She’s kind of filling in as a temporary guardian angel which has the nice twist that she doesn’t know everything about that person already and gets to know her better over time same as I do.
I love the Hannah Swenson mysteries also and have all of them. Somehow I stumbled into them when she started writing them and they are in my top 10. When I find a new book series (usually from this website), I read all of them. This month I read all of Perry O’Shaughessy (who is not cozy) and Patricia Rockwell’s Senior mysteries (which are cozies) and I did find on this site. They are funny and give you a whole new appreciation for assisted living centers. I think as a younger Baby Boomer, it’s comforting to read about bright women of a certain age.
Karen L. says
I read these 3 cozies:
St. Patrick’s Day Murder by Leslie Meier: I love this series. Lucy and her family seem so normal in a small town in Maine. I also enjoy reading a book with a holiday setting.
Blackberry Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke: The latest in the Hannah Swenson series. I haven’t decided if I want Hannah to choose between Norman and Mike or not. I know that I couldn’t live in the cold of Minnesota during the winter.
Thyme of Death by Susan Wittig Albert: I enjoyed this new (for me) author. I particularly like the character development of the main characters.
My most recent reads are re-reads. The Corinna Chapman / Earthly Delights series by Kerry Greenwood.
Lovely, fresh, and light mysteries. As you said, Danna, they’re my “go-to books” when I’m looking for a good, comfortable, familiar read. Like joining old friends for an afternoon of chat and relaxation.
I highly recommend all but No. 5.
I love medieval mysteries, so I love Alys Clare, and while not actually medieval, I also love Victoria Thompson. Would love some more recommendations. I do read P.C. Doherty, C.L. Grace, Kate Sedley and many more. Thanks
I, in fact, discovered my read this past month from another person’s comments here (on the post about reading authors in a series I believe). Which is why I love this site. The series is the Miss Zukas series by Jo Dereske. I read the first book, “Miss Zukas and the Library Murders,” and have just started the second, “…. and the Island Murders,” and I know I have a new series I will love. I think Miss Zukas might annoy the daylights out of me if I met her in real life, but her quirks and flaws make her a delightful read I think. I’m kind of picky on series I commit to, so many thanks to whomever originally mentioned this one!
I just finished Mary Daheim’s latest book, “The Alpine Yeoman”. It was excellent and up to her usual standard. She manages to develop her characters most skillfully. They age and mature as nature would intend them to do. In this book the plot involves a current social problem and some solutions for it. Of her two series, I prefer the Alpine books.
Has Susan Sundwall written a second book? I checked the list and could not find her first book ” The Red Shoelace Killer”.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Gayle, I just checked and can’t find any other mysteries in this series.
Kim D says
My favorite cozy this month was Pearls and Poison by Duffy Brown. Have loved every one of her books in this series. It’s amazing what Reagan gets herself into 🙂
Like Angela, my favorite read this month was Heirs of the Body by Carola Dunn, the most recent Daisy Dalrymple book. I’ve enjoyed all of the books in the series and this one is a lot of fun. We get to spend a lot of time with Daisy’s family as they search for the family heir amongst the descendents of the black sheep who left the country several generations ago.
Another book I enjoyed this month was Victoria Abbott’s latest Book Collector mystery, The Sayers Swindle. This is the second book in the series and I like how it builds on relationships and events from the first book. The books have a likable heroine who is determined to be the first in her family to go straight (although she wavers a little) and earn the money to go back to grad school and a fun supporting cast.
I also enjoyed the first book in the Family Fortune series, Pall in the Family by Dawn Eastman. There is a touch of paranormal in this series as the heroine comes from a family of psychics who would love to see her develop her “gift” and stay in her home town which was founded by psychics. However, she would rather rely on her cop training to solve the murder of a family friend.
I read a couple more first books in series that I enjoyed and am looking forward to more books in the series. Both are set in family restaurants. One was Do or Diner by Christine Wenger, the first Comfort Food mystery. Trixie, newly divorced from Deputy Doug, has bought her aunt and uncle’s diner following the death of her uncle and on her first day, the health inspector dies in her kitchen. The other is Shelly Costa’s You Cannoli Die Once, the first Miracolo mystery. Eve has been the chef at the family’s Northern Italian restaurant since she broke her leg at a performance of Mary Poppins (thereby ending her Broadway dance career) and discovers a body in her kitchen one morning – who turns out to be her grandmother’s boyfriend. Both series establish a great set of supporting characters and make you very hungry as you read.
Finally, like MJ, I read and enjoyed Dead Between the Lines by Denise Swanson. I too enjoy the Dev books a little more than the Scumble River books, although I like them both. To protect the reputation of her store, Dev works at finding out who killed the author in the alley while trying to sort out her feelings for the two men in her life.
I finished reading the Sally Goldenbaum’s Seaside Knitters Mysteries series this month (A Fatal Fleece, Angora Alibi). Looking forward to her next book “Murder in Merino” coming out in May. Also I read and loved “Shunned and Dangerous” by Laura Bradford and “Murder with Peacocks” by Donna Andrews.
I highly recommend Rosemary and Crime by Gail Oust. A divorcee begins a new life by opening her own business, Spice It Up. Witty characters, charming small town life makes for a great read.
I just finished reading Scent to Kill by Chrystle Fiedler. The book was excellent. This is the second book in the series. Willow is a Holistic Doctor that inherited her aunt’s health food store and cafe. Her ex boyfriend is accused of murder and asks Willow to help solve the mystery. Its a good and easy read. The book has lots of information on essential oils which is very interesting. Her first book was great also Death Drops.
Wolf at the Door by Laura Morrigan was another favorite this month. Grace is an animal trainer & psychic that is asked to help care for the doberman of the murder victim. The doberman is the only witness of the murder. She also has to care and communicate with the victim’s jaguar. It has lots of twist and turns. Very well written. Looking forward to the next in the series.
Linda C says
Danna, I read 2 books at the end of the month that would like to comment on.
“Safe From Harm” by Stephanie Jaye Evans. This book I would say could fit into the Christian fiction/mystery group. The story is about a minister and his family getting mixed up in a supposedly teenage suicide. This was a very good book until I got to about the last few chapters. Until then I didn’t want to put the book down because the story was so good. But then, to me, this was another case of how the writer seemed to be in too big a hurry to finish the book. The last few chapters sort of put me off the book. This book was the second in this series.
While reading this book I thought I would try to find the first book of the series. But after reading those last chapters I don’t know if I really want to read that first book or not. Since I did like the first 3/4ths of the second book, though, I do think I will give a third book a try. Maybe this writer will not be in such a big hurry to finish the next book.
One thing about this book, what happens because of the relationship of the minister and his family throughout the book gives a lot of credence to why some religions want their priest and ministers to stay single. This minister had a very hard time trying to separate his church duties from those duties of his family. Just an observance as I read the book. I have real opinions on this issue.
The other book I read that I did enjoy was “The Vanishing Thief” by Kate Parker. This book is set in Victorian England with dukes, ladies, and lords. This book, although not one of my favorite was okay. I will read a second book in this series if there is one.
My DH says he would recommend the mysteries by David Rosenfelt and also those by Jeffery Deaver. He really enjoys books by these two writers.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Linda C, at first it looked like you weren’t going to recommend the book, and then it looked like you decided it was good, and that you want to read the next book in the series.
Linda C says
Danna, Sometimes I wonder why the Good Lord gave me a brain when at times I fail to use it!! I do want to recommend this ” Safe From Harm.” It was a very good book, had a very good plot, at least for the first two thirds of the book. As I said though, the last few chapters of the book , to me anyway, seemed to be hurried to a conclusion. I will give a third book in the series a chance but I don’t know as if I want to try to find the first book in the series. Maybe if the third book is any good I will try the first book.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Linda C, lately I am finding that I don’t use mine from time to time! I have notes on top of notes to remind me of things I need to do.
I had to call the air conditioning man to check to see why our AC wasn’t keeping up. Hello-ooo!!! It is the first time I forgot to change the filters, which doesn’t sound too serious, but good grief! Lucky for us he didn’t charge us for the house visit. I went ahead and annotated the three-month changes on my calendar. It’s a slippery slope…