Spring is here! This means the weather is improving drastically, so much so that a lot of us will spend more time outside enjoying the spring-like weather, thus (possibly) reducing our Cozy Mystery reading time. If the gorgeous weather truly does cut down on our reading time, then it stands to reason that we will want to be even more selective when choosing which Cozies we read!
It’s at this time that I ask you to please tell us about a particularly good Cozy Mystery you read in March 2015. Also, please tell us why you think this Cozy Mystery book stands out amongst all the other good Cozies you read during March. If you tell us about more than one really stand-out-above-the-rest Cozy, please put the one you enjoyed the very most at the top of your list, or at least let us know which one is your very most favorite.
I’m going to start by recommending Rita Lakin‘s Gladdy Gold Mystery Series. This is one of my favorite Cozy Mystery series, and because I know it has a limited amount of books (7 total), I know that if I rush through them, it will be a case of And Then There Were None! So I take very long breaks between the books.
Rita Lakin has a background in television, both as a producer, creator, and writer. I’m glad she decided to write these Cozies! Her humorous series focuses on Gladdy Gold, who along with her sister and friends at a Florida retirement community, solves crimes. Gladdy is such a good sleuth that she starts her own private detective agency. Gladdy doesn’t do her sleuthing alone, the other ladies all play important roles in the solving of crimes. The relationships of the women play a big part in why I enjoy the series so much. Rita Lakin has also been able to fill the retirement community with secondary characters who co-mingle with the ladies and the crimes. (Hope that makes sense!) All of the characters are believable to me. I can only hope to be as spry as some of them when I hit the retirement community age!
Rita Lakin’s writing is crisp and easy to read. The sleuths are all smart, although a lot of that is because Gladdy keeps an eye on things, and pretty much directs all of their efforts. On the whole, the other ladies don’t seem to mind Gladdy taking over all of the time, and actually seem to depend on Gladdy to be the voice of reason.
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 March 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:
Victoria Abbott (aka Mary Jane Maffini & Victoria Maffini): Book Collectors Mystery Series
Ellie Alexander (aka Kate Dyer-Seeley): Bakeshop Mystery Series
Ella Barrick (aka Laura DiSilverio & Lila Dare): Ballroom Dance Mystery Series
Rhys Bowen: Molly Murphy Mystery Series
Eric Brown: Murder at the Chase
Leslie Budewitz: Seattle Spice Shop Mystery Series
Kate Carlisle: Fixer-Upper Mystery Series
Laurie Cass (aka Laura Alden): Bookmobile Cat Mystery Series
Erika Chase: Ashton Corners Mystery Series
John Clement: Dixie Hemingway Mystery Series
E.J. Copperman (aka Jeffrey Cohen): Haunted Guesthouse Mystery Series
MaryJo Dawson: The Strange Situation at Emlee
Jo Dereske: Miss Zukas Mystery Series
Kate Dyer-Seeley (aka Ellie Alexander): Pacific Northwest Mystery Series
Joanne Fluke: Hannah Swensen Mystery Series
Parnell Hall: Puzzle Lady Mystery Series
Miranda James (aka Honor Hartman, Jimmie Ruth Evans, & Dean James): Southern Ladies Mystery Series
Laurie R. King: Mary Russell Mystery Series
Laurie R. King & Leslie S. Klinger, Editors: In the Company of Sherlock Holmes (Anthology)
Rita Lakin: Gladdy Gold Mystery Series
Colette London: Criminal Confections (Chocolate Whisperer Mystery Series, book #1)
Ada Madison (aka Camille Menicino & Margaret Grace): Sophie Knowles Mystery Series
Margaret Maron: Deborah Knott Mystery Series
Catriona McPherson: Dandy Gilver Mystery Series
Camille Minichino (aka Margaret Grace & Ada Madison): Periodic Table Mystery Series
Mary Grace Murphy: Noshes Up North Mystery Series
Diana Orgain: Love or Money Mystery Series
Cate Price: Deadly Notions Mystery Series
Denise Swanson: Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery Series
Elaine Viets: Mystery Shopper Mystery Series
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. While I try to respond to all of the comments that are made on the Cozy Mystery blog, I generally don’t respond to the comments on these monthly recommendation entries.
My favourite true-cosy read last month was “Murder at the Chase” by Eric Brown. Crime writer Donald Langham and his girlfriend Maria Dupre are asked to investigate the mysterious disappearence of another writer from a small village in East Anglia. Cast of characters include an ecentric and alchoholic artist, a retired Hollywood actress, a gay vicar and a man who claims to be a Satanist and 120 yrs old!
The characters are really well drawn and believable, and very human. Even the “bit players” in the plot, like a sharp Cockney P.I. and an old theatrical “Queen” are so interesting I wanted to know more about them. Plot adequate, characters great.
I also enjoyed “Plain Murder” by C.S. Forester. (He wrote “The African Queen” and the “Hornblower” stories.) This is a short cracking little psychological thriller which I can’t really describe without giving the plot away. It’s been described as “English Noir” but, as you would expect for something originally published in 1930, there is no gore or foul language.
Finally, I can recommend Laurie King’s new Russell and Holmes adventure mystery “Dreaming Spies.” A lot of the story is set in 1920s Japan and makes a fascinating read.
There is one Cozy that I just finished and enjoyed by Ada Madison (a.k.a. Camille Menicino and Margaret Grace) but Ada writes as Sophie Knowles in The Square Root of Murder. I picked up this one with her other two in this series, The Probability of Murder and the Function of Murder. I plan to finish the other two shortly.
Spring may be here … but someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that for it is lightly snowing in Connecticut. Books read in March and I might add loved are:
Hanging By A Thread – Monica Ferris
Murder Buys a T-Shirt – Christy Fifield
Murder Hoods a Mermaid – Christy Fifield
Murder Sends a Postcard – Christy Fifield
Murder Ties the Knot – Christy Fifield
A Wee Murder in My Shop – Fran Stewart
Suspendered Sentence – Laura Bradford
Last Wood and Testament – Molly MacRae
I just wanted to give two thumbs up for Rita Lakin’s Gladdy Gold series as I am rereading them. Also, because it’s already in the 90’s in southern Arizona soon I’ll be spending more time inside reading because it’s just too darn hot! In fact I think of the summers here as “winter” because we are never outside!
HI Danna Recommending the Ashton Corners and Cheese Straw and Mystery society by Erika Chase. Since I got my kindle on February 19th I am on book four of this series and really like the settings and characters. Can’t wait for book 5 in Sept. Also tried 5 times to get the comment section to load up not sure if it is my computer or on the webpage at your end. See if anyone else has any trouble getting to respond.
Karen L. says
I enjoyed reading Quickstep to Murder by Ella Barrick. Stacy Grayson is partners in a dance studio with her fiancé, Rafe. But she breaks the engagement when she catches him cheating on her. They quarrel about changes he wants to make in the studio’s classes. Then Rafe is found dead in the studio and Stacy becomes a suspect in his murder.
I like watching Dancing with the Stars and so this book appealed to me. I liked Stacy right away as well as the other main characters. It is a quick read as well as being amusing.
March Recommendations – 2015
Assault and Pepper – Leslie Budewitz
This is the first book in a new series (Spice Shop Mysteries) by this author. Protagonist Pepper Reece left the corporate world to set up a spice shop in a market area of Seattle. She is smart, savvy and fiercely independent – exactly the type of sleuth I like best. A man dressed like a homeless person from the area is found dead at her door step. It turns out he is the father of one of her employees. Of course, the beloved employee is ‘suspect’.
Budewitz writes very intellectual stories with well-defined and intriguing characters. This book is fairly well paced with unusual and surprising twists. However, she is a very descriptive writer. I think sometimes she can go overboard, but if I lose interest in some of the ‘scenery descriptions’ I just skip over those paragraphs. She does the same thing with her other series. But, I do love, love her story telling. She is a gifted and obviously intelligent author. I think most of the blog readers will enjoy new series, too.
Borrowed Crime – Laurie Cass
This series has been mentioned several times on this blog. Borrowed Crime is the third addition to this bookmobile series. Minnie Hamilton is the assistant director of a small town Michigan library. Many of the adventures take place in her bookmobile. Her cat (Eddie) takes center stage in the stories as one of the most endearing characters. In fact, several endearing characters (some a little weird) make this series very enjoyable.
In this book, the husband of one of her bookmobile volunteers is shot while accompanying Minnie on one of her trips. There are several possible suspects, but one stands out about two-thirds the way through the book. There are some very interesting story lines or subplots, which really keeps the reader engaged. There is a huge surprise in the final chapters, having nothing to do with the ‘murder’, but with an ongoing story line from the beginning of the series.
Double Fudge Brownie Mystery – Joanne Fluke
This particular book suggestion is mainly for those that have read some books in this series AND have been following the saga of Hannah, Norm, and Mike ……………
I’ve said before – I like this series because of its family and ‘hominess’. I do think this is one of the weaker mystery stories in the series. As for the romantic story line, some have mentioned they stopped reading this series because Hannah (lead character) won’t select either Norm or Mike. I cared about that after the first few books. BUT frankly, it isn’t important to me because I think of both ‘boyfriends’ as part of the family, not as a ‘husband’ for Hannah.
Having said all that – I recommend this book because of a whole new direction Fluke has taken with this story line. She has laid out an ironic (perhaps tongue-in-cheek) scenario for the reader. As you’re reading the book you’ll be saying, “I can’t really believe this!” or “you’ve got to be kidding me!”
The final chapter is laugh-out-loud funny!! I think Fluke is having fun with the reader in this facetious/humorous way. AND I’m only suggesting to those that have followed this series (even if you haven’t read the last few books), read this particular book for that reason alone!
OH – and let’s not forget that all 28 recipes look scrumptious (probably the real reason this series is so popular!). I made the strawberry muffins and gave them to friends – all had positive comments and wanted the recipe. Yum!
Dying for a Cupcake – Denise Swanson
A couple of weeks ago, Danna had posted ‘Lefty and Lovey’ awards. This series won a ‘Lovey’ award. I can see why, it is an entertaining series with great characters, good plots with intrigue, and fast pacing. I prefer this series to the Scrumble River series, mainly because I enjoy these characters better.
A former resident of this small Missouri community who has gained fame as a ‘Cupcake Queen’, returns to put on a cupcake contest. As the contest progresses, a murder occurs. Dev (protagonist/sleuth), dime store owner, is on the committee sponsoring this contest. As usual for this author, the plot twists with some surprising revelations and even some emotional tugs).
As for the romantic storyline, I think Swanson and Fluke got together on this one! They both employed a similar twist to this particular plot. However in Swanson’s case, it isn’t done with a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ attitude. Kind of ironic, though…..that both of these authors just happened to use the same scenario.
First Date with Murder — Diana Orgain
I thought my favorite book for this month was ‘Assault and Pepper’, UNTIL I read this book. There is so-o-o much originality and creativity to the story line. I absolutely couldn’t put it down.
Briefly, Georgie Thornton was a San Francisco police communications officer until she was fired. Since she needs money she agrees appear on a reality TV show patterned after ‘The Bachelorette’. One of the contestants is hurled to his death while bunging jumping. A second hangs himself later in the story. Although the first is ruled an accident and the second one a suicide, Georgie is sure both are murders.
This author developed a very engaging protagonist with savvy and intellect. The plot has many twists and turns with an ending the reader will find difficult to figure out in advance. It is quick paced………….and my advice would be to find a block of time to read it because you won’t want to put it down, either!
I ‘m looking forward to the second book in this For Love or Money series. I don’t watch ‘Bachelor’, but as many know, their relationships generally don’t succeed/last. Will Georgie and her bachelor ‘selection’ be together in the next book? Hmmmmm…………….
Kudos to the author for a job well done!!!!
Meet the Baker — Ellie Alexander
ANOTHER – first book in a new series. I enjoyed this book, too. This story is set in a small Oregon tourist town, well known for its Shakespeare theater productions.
Juliet Capshaw is the main character. She returns home after ten years as a cruise line pastry chef. She has a troubled marriage and plans on staying in her hometown for only a couple of weeks. She is helping her mother in the family bake shop.
An obnoxious member of the theater executive board is murdered in this bake shop. Thus, Juliet (Jules) feels compelled to help find a solution to this crime.
The characters are varied, some engaging, some eccentric, perhaps ‘weird’. Together they make for an entertaining story. The mystery is resolved with a surprising culprit.
I also found the subplots interesting. The author deviated from the normal ‘cozy formula’. The problems within the marriage has nothing to do with an affair (surprise, surprise!). However, the story ending is very confusing with regards to this situation (or, maybe it’s just me – I just didn’t understand it).
Great potential to be a good series.
LAST, but definitely NOT LEAST (sorry for the length, but it really is good)………………
Scene of the Climb — Kate Dyer-Seeley
Well………..first I thought the Budewitz book was the best read of the month. THEN, I thought it was Orgain’s book. While I give high marks to Orgain for originality, I NOW think the best book I’ve read in March is ‘Scene of the Climb’. And, to think I came across it accidently. When I read the title page of Ellie Alexander’s book ‘Meet Your Baker’, I saw the copyright was to Kate-Dyer-Seeley. I then looked to see what she had written and found she released this first book in a new series last June.
Wow! This is a book with a LOT of depth and multi layers, both in the stories and characters. It is set in beautiful mountainous Oregon. This author is obviously talented in descriptive writing. You feel like you are right there, both in scenery and character feelings.
The protagonist (Meg) is a recent college graduate with a Journalism degree and no job. She lands a position with an extreme sport publication. While filming an excursion one of the participants falls off the cliff to his death. It is eventually ruled a homicide.
I love the characters, first the protagonist – outspoken and independent. I REALLY like her ‘Gam’ who has a ‘few’ magical powers (it’s fun, but definitely NOT overdone). Her hunky boss (too old) and a male ‘friend’ from college (but that relationship could change from ‘friend’ in future books). Meg has a very cantankerous relationship with her mother. Her father (a famous area journalist) recently died in a bicycle accident. She is residing with her highly intelligent and beautiful best friend until she has enough money to get a place of her own.
This is very well plotted, but not what I’d call a ‘quick’ read, mainly because of the depth of the mystery and sub stories. The culprit is very ‘unexpected’. Who would’ve ‘thunk’, and the reasons why?
Frankly, I’m glad I read it now (instead of when it was released last year). The story ends with a ‘tease’. Now I don’t have to wait a year for the 2nd book (Slayed on the Slopes) in the series. It will be released in a few days.
I don’t remember if this series was recommended earlier. BUT, I can assure blog readers, you WON’T be disappointed with this book. My BEST read of the month!
I’m glad to read your review of Kate Dyer-Seeley’s “Scene of the Climb”, since it’s your best book of the month!
Amazon had it listed among my book recommendations, so bought a copy and have it in my TBR pile. I’ll have to delve into it soon and keep an eye out for the next book in this series when I hit the bookstore next month.
I’ve read 14 books so far this month including the newest books in several favorite series and two new series. The new ones were Snow Way Out by Christine Husom and Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles by A.L. Herbert. I found it interesting in two of the other books that I really liked- An Early Wake by Sheila Connolly and Murder Ties the Knot by Christy Fifield- that the victims and murderers had no real connection to the ongoing story. In the Fifield book, we never even learn their names. It was refreshing in a way because in so many books, it’s the main character’s family and/or friends who are the suspects.
Based on previous recommendations from the blog, I started the Miss Zukas series. What a joy! Thanks all for the great advice!
Kathie Deviny says
Ms Zukas remains my favorite from the above. She “librarians” in my home state of Washington.
Stash Empress says
Is it that time of month already??? (Yeah, wedding is in 18 days, so I guess it *must* be!)
I didn’t read as many cozies as usual this month (usual for *me* that is 😉 ) due to impending wedding (I’m MOB) & also read a few non-cozy books too.
However did read some really good ones this month!
Laurie R. King & Leslie S. Klinger — A Study in Sherlock — first anthology of short stories by various well known authors, either written in the style of Sherlock Holmes, or else involving Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and/or Arthur Conan Doyle.
Parnell Hall — Puzzled Indemnity (Puzzle Lady Mystery) — these are just too funny — love all the zany characters & the crazy situations that arise.
Cate Price — A Dollhouse to Die For (Deadly Notions mystery) — Another good installment in this series, almost reminds me of a superannuated Nancy Drew, solving a series of murders using clues hidden in an old dollhouse.
Colette London — Criminal Confections (Chocolate Whisperer Mystery series)– after starting this book 2 mos ago, my digital library loan expired before I finished, and because there were so many holds on it, I had to wait this long to be able to renew it! Very good first in a new series, Hayden is a “chocolate whisperer”, who travels the world as a secret consultant for chocolatiers, troubleshooting their operations, their recipes, their product lines, etc. Really delicious premise 😉
Victoria Abbot — The Wolfe Widow (Book Collector mystery) — another good installment in this much loved series. Love the crazy crooked uncles!
Judith Flanders — A Murder of Magpies — very good new first in series, centering around a mystery in the publishing field.
Rhys Bowen — The Edge of Dreams (A Molly Murphy mystery) — Rhys Bowen is one of my favorite authors, I love both the Molly Murphy mysteries & also the Royal Spyness series. The series are very different, while the Royal Spyness series is humorous & fully of whacky characters, the Molly Murphy series is alway suspenseful, featuring a well crafted puzzle that Molly always manages to solve. This is probably one of the best of the series so far, featuring a bizarre series of serial killings that have ostensibly no connection — until Molly solves the puzzle (and almost gets killed in the process, but that’s par for the course).
E.J. Copperman — Inspector Specter (Haunted Guesthouse series) — I love this series & this one is even better than before — love the resident ghosts, as well as the “guest ghosts”.
Elaine Viets — A Dog Gone Murder (Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series) — another great installment in one of my favorite series.
Miranda James — Bless Her Dead Little Heart (A Southern Ladies Mystery) — This is a great first book in a new series, which seems to be a spinoff of the “Cat In The Stacks” series by the same author. (That is to say, the cat from the original series is a “guest” in this book). Love the characterizations — I really couldn’t put it down.
Danna Thanks for the suggestion of the Dandy Gilver series by Catriona McPherson. I was a little doubtful as it started off as Book 1 was a little slow, but I continued and it has become quite delightful. Dandy is quite a character and the author has her involved in many different situations while providing some insightful information about Scottish life in the 1920s. Laurie King’s latest book in the mary Russell series gives a great deal of background about Japan in the 1920s. It is Sunday in CT and the sun is shining here in CT after a tres miserable day Saturday. Hooray ! ! !
Just finished Kate Collins first book in her new series A High-End Finish. I like all the characters. Shannon Hammer is a home contractor, who of course finds a body in a home she is renovating. All her friends rally around to help find the real culprit. I think this series has a life span of forever.
I believe this series is by Kate Carlisle.
It is, she had me excited there for a minute…lol
Margaret Maron’s Deborah Knott entry, “The BuzzardTable”: Realtor murder! Quiet background exposed! Photojournalists — one quite mysterious! The Bryant and Knott families. … and Kezzie Knott’s way of speech that takes me right back to my days in NC. And Sigrid Harald, another of Maron’s series characters, is down in NC for a visit. 🙂
Can’t say I read many cozies this month. I’m going to see if I can find the Bookmobile Cat series though!
Ramla Zareen says
Thanks for providing an opportunity to recommend books …though I must mention that most of my favourite authors and series are already listed in this informative and organized website…! 🙂
Well, this month I read a book by a ‘new-to-me’ author…
…The Strange Situation at Emlee, written by MaryJo Dawson.
This is a part of the Sally Nimitz Mystery Series.
I especially enjoyed the ‘cozy’ ambience, that was enhanced by the warm personality of the protagonist and the old-family-home setting.
Anyway, thanks again for the wonderful website…! 🙂
All the best,
Death Nell is a series I started reading this month. It is written by Mary Grace Murphy and features a food blogger. It was really interesting. Hopefully there will be more in the series soon. I did read about this series on this site which I read all the time. Although I don’t live in Wisconsin, I used to work there for weeks at a time and love series set in the state.
I just finished “The Cat Sitter’s Nine Lives” by Blaize & John Clement. It’s the 9th in the series & I have enjoyed every one of them. John has kept up the Dixie Hemmingway character series after his mother’s death and he is doing a great job. I love how the animal character’s come to life – the writing brings out their individual personalities very well. The plot of the current book kept me guessing till the end – just what I like!
I haven’t read anything so far this year that I considered good enough to go on my favorite book list for 2015. I’ll try the Rita Lakin’s books, they sound like a fun read.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Ann, you might enjoy her books. Rita Lakin created a fun group of sleuths.
Margaret Anne says
This is definitely not a new series, and Camille Minichino/Ada Madison has already been recommended this month, but I read The Lithium Murder and it was great! The Periodic Table Mysteries are one of my favorite series, and although I received this book for Christmas in 2013, I have been waiting to read it because I knew I would love it… and I did! I adore Gloria Lamerino- she is independent, intelligent, and exudes a confidence that makes me want to spend time with her. She has a significant other in the series, but it is also clear that she does not need a man in her life to be happy or feel fulfilled. I also wish her best friend Rose was my friend!
Linda C says
Danna, Please keep this posting open a few more days. I read quite a few books these past few weeks that I want to comment on but I need to do some things this morning. I will get back to you later today, I promise.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Linda C, now I can’t wait to hear about the Cozies you read this month!