I can hardly believe it is almost December! I don’t know whether this is because the year seems to have gone by so fast, or if it’s because I just remembered to take the recycling out a half hour ago, and I didn’t even need to wear a sweater over my elbow-length-sleeves shirt while running the bin down to the curb. It just doesn’t seem like we should be so close to 2015!
This is the time of the month where I ask you to please tell us if you read an extremely good Cozy Mystery book during November, and tell us what made that Cozy Mystery stand out as being so good. Please only tell us about the Cozies that were much better than the rest of the other Cozy Mystery books you read during November. Of course, if you read only one or two Cozy Mysteries this month, and liked both of them a lot, then please tell us about them.
What Cozy Mystery book (or author) have you read during November 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:
Ellery Adams (aka Jennifer Stanley, J.B. Stanley, 1/2 of Lucy Arlington): Books by the Bay Mystery Series
Donna Andrews: Meg Langslow Mystery Series
Lorna Barrett (aka Lorraine Bartlett & L.L. Bartlett): Booktown Mystery Series
Juliet Blackwell (Hailey Lind): A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery Series
Kate Carlise: Fixer-Upper Mystery Series
Maia Chance: Fairy Tale Fatal Mystery Series (Snow White Red-Handed is book #1)
Ann Cleeves: Vera Stanhope Mystery Series
V.C. Clinton-Baddeley: Dr. Davie Mystery Series (Death’s Bright Dart is book #1)
Cleo Coyle (aka Alice Kimberly): Coffeehouse Mystery Series
Betty Hechtman: Crochet Mystery Series
Georgette Heyer: Superintendent Hannasyde Mystery Series
Lee Hollis: Hailey Powell Food & Cocktail Mystery Series
Molly MacRae: Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery Series
Jenn McKinlay (aka Josie Belle & Lucy Lawrence): Library Lover’s Mystery Series
Jenn McKinlay (aka Josie Belle & Lucy Lawrence): Cupcake Bakery Mystery Series
Hannah Reed (aka Deb Baker): Scottish Highlands Mystery Series
Jean Rowden: Thorny Deepbriar Mystery Series (Gone Astray is book #1)
Annelise Ryan (aka Allyson K. Abbott & Beth Amos): Mattie Winston Mystery Series
Hank Phillippi Ryan: Jane Ryland Mystery Series
Del Shannon (aka Leslie Egan, Elizabeth Linington, & Anne Blaisdell): Luis Mendoza Mystery Series
Charles Todd: Ian Rutledge Mystery Series
Diane Vallere: Material Witness Mystery Series
Elaine Viets: Mystery Shopper Mystery Series
Patricia Wentworth: Miss Silver Mystery Series
♦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.
Stash Empress says
I managed to read some really GREAT books this month!!!
Molly Cox Bryan — Death of an Irish Diva (A Cumberland Creek Mystery) — A very good read, puzzles inside of puzzles, kept me guessing till the end. Just suggest you read this series in order, since there’s a “back story” that seems to be going on, references to something that happened with a character in previous books (who may or may not be returning), which, while they have no bearing on this particular story, will still leave you scratching your head if you haven’t read the previous books. I already have the next in the series on hold.
Catherine Lloyd — Death Comes to the Village (Kurland St. Mary mystery) — I LOVE this new series!!!! Historical mystery set in Regency England, bright gutsy female sleuth who solves the murder & thefts despite being told to desist by all the dominant males! Love it! I admit that I did figure out parts of the mystery but didn’t guess the identity of the murderer till almost the very end. A very enjoyable read & I already have the next in the series on hold for when it releases later this month.
And: Catherine Lloyd — Death Comes to London — Kurland St. Mary Mystery — Second installment of this historical mystery series taking place in Regency England. I’m a sucker for historical mysteries (particularly those with lovely clothing!) & really enjoying this series. While the first book got great reviews on Amazon, I don’t know why the reviews for this one were so weak (maybe only because it was just the first day of release when I read it & there weren’t hardly any yet?) – I really loved this book & went & wrote a 5 star review for it. The sleuth is a smart, strong, gutsy woman living in an age when upper class women weren’t supposed to appear anything but weak & decorative.
Joyce & Jim Lavene — Dae’s Christmas Past (A Missing Pieces Mystery) — Another great installment in this series — just note that while each book can be read as a stand-alone, you’ll get SO much more enjoyment out of the series if you read them in order! And as usual, a teaser at the end that makes you sit on the edge of your seat till the next one comes out!
Donald Bain — Lights Out — non-series stand alone — reminds me a lot of a different Donald, the classic Westlake with one of Dortmunder’s schemes — what could go wrong? (But w/o the nutty characters).
Livia J. Washburn — Killer on a Hot Tin Roof — Literary Tour series – I love this series — wish there were more & wish I could get my hands on them.
Nancy Coco — To Fudge or Not to Fudge (A Candy-Coated mystery) — another good book in the series. I really like the characters in this one…
Sylvia Selfman — Murder She Typed (Izzy Greene Mystery) — a senior sleuth solves a murder involving her senior citizen writing group. True, I did figure it all out fairly early on, but there were enough twists & turns that the answer wasn’t obvious — still a fun read.
G.M. Malliet – Wicked Autumn — Max Tudor series — This series is new to me & I really enjoyed it. Very well plotted, kept me guessing till the end. I look forward to reading more of this series!
Kathy Aarons — Death Is Like A Box of Chocolates – A Chocolate Covered mystery – first in a new series — got a store that’s half books, half chocolates — what more could anyone want? And then a murder occurs. Of course it does 😉
Tasha Alexander — A Fatal Waltz — Lady Emily mystery — I really enjoy this series which is set in Victorian England. Love well dressed aristocrats fighting crime & being spies LOL! (And the clothing — lets not forget the sumptuous clothing LOL!)
Stephanie Barron — Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas — Jane Austen mystery — I love this series, love that Jane Austen herself is the sleuth – and love the bits of history & real historical characters woven in the plots. This was another good one, though parts of the puzzle were fairly easy to guess — the major answers came as total surprises at the very end. Very well plotted & love all the descriptions of clothing & practices of the day.
Cleo Coyle — Billionaire Blend – Coffehouse mystery — I think this series just gets better & better — battling billionaires, smart houses, jetsetting the world, and plain old fashioned puzzle solving.
Mary Kennedy — Nightmares Can Be Murder — Dream Club mystery — First of a new series, the dream club is a unique new premise in cozy mysteries. Very well plotted, left me guessing till the end.
Julie Moffet — No One Lives Twice — Lexi Carmichael mystery — This series is new to me & I just LOVE it!!!! Different than the usual cozy sleuth, this one is a computer geek hacker for the NSA — and she’s *not* gorgeous or glamorous or athletic either! While trying to escape her mother’s matchmaking efforts, she’s approached and threatened by not one but two armed thugs & needs to find & rescue her missing BFF. The plot was well crafted & suspenseful — I couldn’t put it down & look forward to reading the rest of this series.
Kaitlyn Dunnett — Ho Ho Homicide — Liss MacCrimmon mystery. Another good installment in this beloved series. I like that this was an “away” story (Liss & her husband solving cold cases while on vacation on friend’s tree farm) — after all, the problem with murder in a small town is that by the time you have so many installments in the series — you’ve fairly depleted the population of the town LOL! (Cabot Cove should be a ghost town by now 😉 — also, “away” stories give us new characters to love & hate, which is also a good way to shake up things — I like that in a series, prevents them going stale after awhile. All in all another good read — I was only disappointed when the murderer was caught because I was so sure it was going to be someone else!
Jeanne M. Dams — Shadows of Death — Dorothy Martin mystery. I love Dorothy Martin books — they’re comfort reading to me. It’s funny that even though they’re set in current time (and everyone has a cellphone, computer, etc.) — they somehow still manage to read like “old” mysteries.
Emily Brightwell — Mrs. Jeffries Takes A Second Look — second anthology consisting of Mrs. JeffriesTakes Stock, Mrs. Jeffries on the Ball, and Mrs. Jeffries on the Trail and also Mrs. Jeffries Takes Tea At Three — third anthology consisting of Mrs. Jeffries Plays the Cook, Mrs. Jeffries and the Missing Alibi, and Mrs. Jeffries Stands Corrected. Lovely old “cozy” cozy series.
Barbara Allan — Antiques Fruitcake — A Trash ‘n’ Treasures mystery — 82 page holiday novella. Funny for short light read.
Dear Stash Empress: Love that name! An impressive list of books!
Since you like gutsy and strong women that can make it on their own or with someone that appreciates their differences! Under the pen name of Robin Paige-a husband and wife team that write the Charles and Kathryn Sheridan mysteries of Victorian and Edwardian England
-Kathryn Sheridan is one of those former American and Irish, independent women that don’t march to the English women’s beat.
I think you’d like this series and I agree that it helps to start with the first in the series-Death at Bishop’s Keep is the first of that series. I have found the characters likable and I’ve stuck with this series till the most current
Sorry Stash-my dad interrupted me and I literally left you hanging. I’m a full time caregiver/chauffer, etc for my 88 year old father who is failing. So I read to escape. But those books you wrote about sound great and I will order some from my library.
All my best and hopes for a Happy Holiday season for you and your family.
Stash Empress says
Yes, I’ve read that series — they’re very good!
Cold weather in Connecticut … lot’s of reading time. Here are my November books:
A High-End Finish (A Fixer-Upper Mystery)
Snow White Red-Handed (A Fairy Tale Fatal Mystery)
Suede to Rest (A Material Witness Mystery)
If Walls Could Talk: (A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery)
Just finished The Nightingale Before Christmas. Love this series, it never disappoints. Can feel a part of the family. Tried to save it to read closer to Christmas, but gave in and am glad I did.
Stash Empress says
That one was so much fun! I could NEVER have saved it for anything LOL!
Linda C says
Emma, I really enjoyed this book that you listed ,too. Wasn’t there another murder at this house? Seems to me that murder took place during Halloween!! This is a very good series. Love the way the author is allowing for the twin brothers to grow up being twin brothers but still having each one his own characteristics and personalities.
There are just too many new Christmas releases to hold each one off until just before Christmas too read.
Lynn T. says
While I enjoyed quite a few reads this month, there were two that I really liked a lot.
The first book is the Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves. I have enjoyed several of her Shetland Series books so I wanted to read her Vera Stanhope series. This first book took place in the North Pennines, England.
The book was well written and well plotted. There were many suspects. It was atmospheric. Vera Stanhope is not a cookie cutter inspector. She is quite plain, outspoken, blunt, a good listener and can walk very softly. She does not apologize when people realize she has been listening in. She is very intelligent and does not rush to action or judgement.
It was a book to savor and my interest never lagged. It was one of my best reads in 2014. I have written this before but I think fans of Louise Penny would like the writings of Ann Cleeves.
In April, Arlene recommended the Molly MacRae book Last Wool and Testament. Her recommendation caught my eye because she had been putting off reading the book and when she read it, she really liked it and was eager to read the next book.
Since that time I have read all four books in the series. I read the new book Plagued by Quilt that came out this month. This is now my favorite light paranormal cozy mystery. While all the books have been very good, I think this series even gets better as the series goes along. The characters are especially good and likeable. I love the interaction between Geneva the ghost and Kath. There is humor and a developing friendship between the two of them. The author is very good at word play and it is fun for the reader. This series should be read in order to enjoy all the books. Geneva put some readers off in the first book but hold on as you will probably change your mind in the next book. I always liked and got a kick out of Geneva. She is funny, dramatic and at times endearing to me. There is history and character development as the series progresses.
“Death’s Bright Dart” by V.C. Clinton-Baddeley. This is the first of his mysteries featuring the elderly Dr. Davie. Although it was published in 1964 it seems much more old fashioned. It’s a classic puzzle who-dun-it set in Cambridge and London. Good plot but it’s the little vignettes of characters that I love about his books.
“Gazebo” by Patricia Wentworth, published in the 1950s. A selfish woman, who squashes a romance between her drippy daughter and daughter’s “manly” boyfriend, is murdered. Boyfriend is the main suspect but step in Miss Silver…. I enjoyed this not so much for the plot which is a bit far-fetched but for taking me into another, more civilised, world. I liked the character sketches, particularly the 3 Misses Pym, gentile hard-up old ladies keeping their heads up. The 2 elder are nosy, gossipy and sharp tongued and the “youngest” is sweet and guiless and always being “sat on” by the others.
Winced a bit at some of the snobby and prejudiced assumptions of the age.
Jean Rowden,”Gone Astray.” This is an author new to me and this book is one of a series set in the 50s (not written in) featuring a village bobby, “Thorny” Deepbriar, who in this book has moved on into CID. A quintessential Cosy, even though the story is about the abduction and murder of 2 children and I know that sounds strange. The plot moves at a very gentle pace and there is a twist in the tale.
Charles Todd, “The Confession.” To be honest this story is a bit gloomy and gets too complicated at times but I kept turning the page to see what happened. Also I find his characters real and I care about them, mostly. It’s set in 1920 in an out of the way fishing hamlet on an estuary in Essex.The descriptions of the localities in these books is always interesting even to an English person like me who knows the facts and the history the writers refer to. There are a few anachronisms and a few “Americanisms” but so what, it’s fiction.
I read many books this month but the two favorites were Off Kilter by Hannah Reed and On Borrowed time by Jenn McKinlay. Off Kilter was a really fun read with a good story set in a scenic location and interesting characters. I enjoy all of Jenn McKinlay’s series and this book had a particularly satisfying conclusion.
The new Elaine Viets in the Mystery Shopper series is A Dog Gone Murder. It was really one of her best and the best so far in this series. The characters are enjoyable and I am glad she expanded the life of the grandmother who seemed really lonely in the rest of the series.
I also found that the Del Shannon books are now available for Kindle. This was the first series I ever read. They are dated, particularly politically but her plots are good and you have to read around some of the stereotypes in the books. The author has passed away and I believe she would likely have updated them if she could. Amazing how odd it is to read mysteries and police procedurals with no cell phones available. I think a lot of fictional murders would be prevented!
I read tons of good books this month but these were by far my favorite:
Cleo Coyle – Coffeehouse Mysteries – these are very well written cozies that take place in a city but still don’t lose their coziness. The characters are relatable, the book an easy read, and you can picture the setting in your head. Overall a great set of books!
Ellery Adams – Books By The Bay Mysteries – I’m currently reading the second book in this amazing set of mysteries. These Mysteries have the typical cozy feel and setting and are easy reads!
and finally Lorna Barrett – Booktown Mysteries – these books are some of my favorites and I was pleased to see that the latest book didn’t let me down. It was every bit as good as the rest!
Jonathan, thanks for the recommends. I’ll try Cleo Coyle’s books but I have to heartily agree that Ellery and Lorna are excellent and I’ve read quite a few by each of the authors. Very enjoyable reads.
You won’t regret reading Cleo Coyle’s books! As I read each book I love them more and more!
Linda C says
Jonathan, I too love the Booktown mysteries. What a wonderful town!! I don’t know if I could afford to live in a town like that or not , though. My social security check only goes so far!!
Never the less, what a wonderful series!!!
I think I’d jump at the chance to live there, but sadly my family’s finances are stretched, too. It probably ranks in the top three of my favorite mysteries!
Two of the best books I read were by Georgette Heyer. “Death in the Stocks” and “Behold, Here’s Poison!” The dialog is absolutely mesmerizing; you’d think you were watching a Noel Coward play. I loved both. Thanks for the recommendation.
November recommendations -2014
At the beginning of the month, I read a couple of ‘sub par’ books. Both were series (8th or 9th book in) I’ve been reading for several years. One, if fact, was written at such a simplified and tedious level I thought for sure the author handed this off to a teenager to write! I was getting discouraged until………………………………
Truth Be Told — Hank Phillippi Ryan
This author is an EXCELLENT story teller. I feel confident that ANY mystery reader would enjoy this series. Previously I’ve also recommended the previous two books. I know authors do book signings and local media events, however this author should be on the national stage. If she could get bookings on GMA, Today, and other national talk type programs, her books would soar to the NYT top ten best seller list.
Many, many of the cozy authors I read, develop their characters well. But Ryan is top notch, perhaps unbeatable – mainly because of her technique of writing the story from many character’s viewpoints in alternating chapters, or parts of chapters. The reader develops a real insight into the complexities of each character. It’s a huge help in really understanding the story and getting involved in it. (M. Maron also does this – but to a lesser extent.)
There are several plots, all intriguing, yet easy to follow. A past murder comes back into focus as its anniversary approaches. Then a recently released felon confesses to the murder. Another plot involves a bank and some of its questionable activities. Again another murder, although this one is current. Through the characters, this gets tied together in an intricate way.
Jane is a newspaper journalist. When assigned a story about banking customer relations, she then becomes involved in trying to solve a murder. Her ‘secret’ boyfriend (Jake) is a police detective. In this book we see some insightful sides to Jake, we haven’t seen before – defining him a bit better.
DON’T be put off by its length (OH NO, Danna, it’s 400 pages!). This story doesn’t waste paragraphs on ‘outside interests’ like crafts, cooking, issue advocacy, etc. Each page is gripping, the pacing outstanding, the story suspenseful. It is very, VERY difficult to put down. There’s a shocking twist on page 358 – so-o-o-o cool and totally unexpected. It’s worth. every. single. page!
This book could be read as a stand-alone, but to fully understand the main characters I recommend reading it sequentially.
There is one aspect of the story (in all three of the books), which I find unbelievable. The author writes that anyone working for the massive Boston police department cannot date (or obviously marry) someone who works for any area media outlet. If they do, they will automatically be fired. Within the story, the same is true in reverse – anyone working for a Boston media outlet cannot date anyone working for a law enforcement entity – or they will be fired. I just can’t imagine that a place of business can have that much control over one’s personal life. Perhaps (hopefully) the author fictionalizes this aspect of the story to heighten the drama.
Ryan is an investigative reporter for a TV station in Boston. This is a very smart, intense, and intellectual story. I can’t say enough good things about this author and this series. Read it, you’ll enjoy it and won’t be disappointed.
High End Finish — Kate Carlisle
Each month I like to read either a new series or new author. This is Kate Carlisle’s new series in which protagonist Shannon Hammer owns a home renovation and repair business, previously owned by her father. I never let a lack of interest in the subject matter deter me from reading a book. Like her bibliophile subject, Carlisle writes with great detail about renovations projects. Since it doesn’t interest me, I quickly skip over these paragraphs.
I was a bit surprised when by page 20, I felt the book was ‘predictable’. I already figured out who would be murdered, who would be accused, and who the love interest would be. However, knowing Carlisle is an imaginative author, I continued on. The setting is a small seaside community near San Francisco.
A much disliked ‘womanizer’ is found dead in one of the homes being renovated. The suspects are many.
The characters have many layers, especially the protagonist. Obviously intelligent, she is also zealous and fiery. However, there aren’t the ‘quirky’ relatives and neighbors which make the bibliophile series so much fun. But there are an interesting array of close friends and also ‘non friends’. The dialogue is quick and sharp. It’s a quick read because the pacing is swift.
Predictably there are two possible romantic interests and, OF COURSE, one of them is the police chief. He is recently divorced and new in town.
The solution was a bit weird, but there are many directions this story would go with interesting developments.
Knot Guilty – Betty Hechtman
I wasn’t going to recommend this book because as I was reading it I thought the romance story line was really odd and off base, certainly not up to Ms. Hechtman’s usual standard of writing. However, it took more twists and turns than the mystery story line. The ending – leaves one in suspense, ensuring the reader will at least read the first chapter of the next book!
As typical, though, this author writes an interesting mystery. The store where Molly (protagonist) works decides to set up a crochet booth at a knitting show. The organizer of the knitting show is murdered in her hotel suite. Amongst the suspects is one of Dolly’s co-workers. However, there are plenty of people to accuse of the murder and the ending isn’t a complete surprise.
The characters with their various story lines always keep the reader engaged. It’s well paced, moving along swiftly.
On Borrowed Time — Jenn McKinlay
What’s not to like about a J. McKinlay book!! She’s got three ongoing series, all of which are enjoyable. Although, in this book there a few implausible situations. But the story as a whole has an international intrigue flavor to it. Briefly – Lindsay (protagonist) is a librarian. A man is found murdered in her library. Her brother is kidnapped by an international cartel. The pacing is quick with several twists. This is the fifth book in the series and McKinlay is still sticking to the cozy formula of two possible romantic interests. For all the McKinlay fans, this book does not disappoint.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
MJ, YIKES! 400 pages!!!
I read the series by Lee Hollis. I loved the characters! Flawed, sometimes outrageous but likable. The series tales place in Maine. I loved the series. Haley Powell is the main character, works for a local newspaper. I would highly recommend the series.
My favorite book this past month was Sugar and Iced by Jenn McKinlay. She introduced a new character, who I imagine will be reappearing in future books. The books are impossible to put down and the dialogue can make me laugh out loud. The best part of the book was the character development Olivia is going through. I am looking forward to the next book to come out.