This month, for my continuing look at the most popular and recommended Cozy Mystery series, I’ll be looking at Sheila Connolly‘s County Cork Mystery Series, a good example of a modern Cozy series. Usually I look at an author’s oldest (and usually longest-running) series, but in this case, I’m looking at this one instead of Connolly’s longer running Orchard Mystery Series because I’ve gotten more recommendations for this particular series. The specific entry I read was the first entry in the series, Buried In a Bog.
At the beginning of the novel, Boston-born Maura is visiting her recently-deceased grandmother’s home village of Leap (pronounced Lep) as a result of a deathbed promise. Raised by her grandmother and with relatively little in the way of career prospects in Boston (Maura is a bartender and waitress, a profession she can take up pretty much anywhere), Maura is quickly charmed by the small town. Taking a job at Sullivan’s Pub, Maura decides to spend a bit of time in Ireland getting to know her grandmother’s home town and the people her grandmother had still been corresponding with by mail before returning home to the States.
Naturally, this being a Cozy, it doesn’t take too long before bodies start turning up. Still, the murders in this particular mystery are a bit less central than in many Cozies. Instead, the first corpse discovered in this particular mystery is an older one, a corpse of an unknown individual found in the bog, apparently there for at least fifty years or as much as a century. It isn’t until the halfway point in the novel that another body turns up, and even then the story doesn’t revolve around it as much as in many mysteries, as the protagonist isn’t the person who stumbles upon it.
As a result, much of the novel feels much more relaxed and laid back than many mysteries. This shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise – one of the main things Maura notices about the rural Irish lifestyle she suddenly finds herself in is that the people there seem to take things a lot slower too, being more content to just let things happen than she’s used to as an American city girl. Maura also accrues a surprising amount of things without really needing to ask for them, just off the kindness of locals – a place to live, a car, and a phone all more or less fall into her lap with no obvious effort. Admittedly, this is likely more of a Cozy thing than an Irish thing – it seems like aimless youngish women in Cozies always have good luck finding jobs, residences, and new close friends!
Overall, Buried In a Bog is a very well-written Cozy with a laid back, easygoing atmosphere. If you’re more interested in a relaxing slice of Irish village life than in being dropped immediately into a mystery, this is likely a good Cozy for you.
Sheila Connolly also writes the Orchard Mystery Series, starring an orchard owner in Massachusetts, the Victorian Village Mystery Series, starring a boutique employee in Maryland, the Museum Mystery Series, starring a museum fundraiser in Pennsylvania, and the Relatively Dead Mystery Series, starring a sleuth who can see ghosts. As Sarah Atwell, she also writes the Glassblowing Mystery Series, starring a glass artist in Tucson.
If you’re interested in reading more of these brief revisits of some of the more popular Cozy Mystery Series that I’ve written in the past, you can find them at the Most Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on my site.