Sample Some Tasty “Cozy Mysteries”

The words “cozy” and “mystery” may not seem to go together at first glance, but with the growing popularity of the mystery novel subgenre,  they somehow do. What makes a mystery “cozy”? They are usually set in small towns, with amateur or atypical sleuths solving the crimes, and Angela Lansbury in Murder She Wrotethere isn’t a lot of swearing, gore, or sex. Think “Murder, She Wrote” with a hundred different themes.

The theme of the series is usually evident in the series name and the often-punny book titles. There seems to be a theme for every interest: Knitting (Dyeing Wishes : A Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery), Gardening (Harvest of Murder : A Gardening Mystery), Books & Reading (If Books Could Kill: A Bibliophile Mystery), and of course, Cats (Paws and Effect : A Magical Cats Mystery). But one of the biggest themes is Food.

We’ve assembled some mysteries sure to appeal to the Foodie and Amateur Detective in you!

Goldy Bear MysteriesCatering to Nobody by Diane Mott Davidson by Diane Mott Davidson. This series follows caterer Goldy as she solves murders and tries to keep her fledgling business afloat. Catering is a risky business indeed!

Hannah Swensen MysteriesThe Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke by Joanne Fluke. Hannah Swensen is a cookie baker whose gingersnaps are almost as tart as her mouth and whose penchant for solving crime definitely stirs things up.

Bakeshop MysteriesMeet Your Baker by Ellie Alexander by Ellie Alexander. Welcome to Torte – a small-town family bakeshop where the coffee is hot, the muffins are fresh, and the cakes are definitely to die for.

Comfort Food MysteriesDo or Diner by Christine Wenger by Christine Wenger. Trixie Matkowski  agrees to take over her aunt’s diner in upstate New York, and is looking forward to the small town atmosphere she knew as a child…. until murder is on the menu.

Tea Shop MysteriesShades of Earl Grey by Laura Childs by Laura Childs. Theodosia Browning is the  owner of Charleston, South Carolina’s  Indigo Tea Shop, where a mystery is always brewing…

Cheese Shop MysteriesThe Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames by Avery Aames. Charlotte Bessette runs Fromagerie Bessette, or as it’s more commonly known by the residents of small-town Providence, Ohio – the Cheese Shop. Another small town with a large number recipes to make and murders to solve.

 

A Delicious Mystery Series

I recently stumbled on the Verlaque and Bonnet mysteries by M.L. Longworth. These delectable stories are set in Aix-en-Provence and begin with Death at the Château Bremont.

Death at the Château Bremont‘s description says “Antoine Verlaque, the handsome chief magistrate of Aix and his sometimes love interest, law professor Marine Bonnet, investigate the death of a local French nobleman who fell from the family Chateau in charming and historic Aix-en-Provence.”

Simple, non? Well, that one-sentence blurb does not even begin to cover the colorful world waiting for you within its pages. Not only do you get a good mystery, the descriptions of the town and countryside are a virtual tour of Provence. Longworth, who has lived there since 1997, obviously loves her adopted home.

And the food! As the characters eat and drink their way though the story, I often became more engrossed in their meals than in their sleuthing. They partake of fine wines and cheeses. They visit vineyards and cafes.  They meet friends for scrumptious dinners at small restaurants owned by skilled chefs. I was completely consumed by lifestyle envy.

The story is liberally sprinkled with passages such as this:

He tore open the cannele and bit into the soft inner cake made of rum and vanilla. Crusty and caramelized on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside, it was perfect.

The mystery floats in the background as the characters sit in cafes consuming fine French food and debating the merits of various wines. Verlaque often despairs of Marine. He is a gourmet and she will eat anything! Still, they enjoy an on-again, off-again love affair amid some meals that made me want to pack and move to France.

There are currently six books in this cozy mystery series. Warning: They are not only a good read, they will make you hungry!

Murder in the Rue Dumas

Death in the Vines

Murder on the Île Sordou

The Mystery of the Lost Cézanne

The Curse of La Fontaine

What is the Next Book in This Series?

whats-nextIt is extremely frustrating to read a book only to discover it is part of a series, and there is no clear list of reading order. While some series are loosely tied together and allow for skipping around and reading out of order, others can only be fully enjoyed when read in order. To help ease your frustration, I am going to share the tools that I use to help determine the correct reading order. There are several routes to find the answer to this question, some are simple and easy, others require a little work.

The first way to find the answer of reading order is to find the author’s website. Many internet savvy authors, or their publishers, maintain websites with series listings in order and, in the case of multiple series, the suggested reading order for everything. Not all authors do this, but some have very helpful lists to help out their readers. Many include printable lists so you can easily keep track of titles you have read and what you should read next.

Some examples of authors that offer comprehensive lists or tools on their websites to find the reading order include Nora Roberts, Gail Carriger, James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, Charlaine Harris, and many more. I highly suggest checking with the author’s website first before branching out and trying other avenues, because who better to explain the best reading order than the person that wrote them?

goodrdsIf the author fails you, do not lose heart! My second choice for series order, and further reading suggestions, is Goodreads. If you search for a book title, Goodreads will give you a wonderful amount of information. On the book’s page you can follow links to the author page or a list of book in that series (both published and sometimes books that have not been released yet) in order. The bonus is you get suggestions for books that might appeal to you because some authors list what they are currently reading or their own recommendations. For instance, on the author page for one of my current favorites, Maria V. Snyder, you can see her books listed by series, in order, and what she is currently reading.

There are also a few websites dedicated to helping readers find the next book in a series, or the complete reading order of any given series.  One website that I often use is well titled as: Book Series in Order which you can search by author or character name.  Order of Books is a second site that can help you find the reading order of different authors and series. This site allows you to search by author or main character. If you are looking specifically for children’s series check out Juvenile Series and Sequels, and if you need young adult series listings I would suggest using Series and Sequels. whats-next-in-series1

If  you still are not sure about the series order of the books you are reading or want to read, please stop in and visit our Welcome Desk or give  the library a call. We are here to help.

Cozying Up With New Cozy Mysteries

reading

It seems that in November and December, our feet don’t stay planted in one spot for too long.  Be sure you take some time to put your feet up and take a step away from all the hustle and bustle by picking up a new cozy mystery to read!

twice-told-tailTwice Told Tail (A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery) – Ali Brandon – While being suspicious of an anonymous online bidder who is offering a lot of money for one of her antique books, Darla Pettistone is roped into helping bridezilla Connie Capello get ready for her big day until their shopping excursion ends in murder.

deck-the-hallwaysDeck The Hallways (A Fixer-Upper Mystery) – Kate Carlisle – While trying to transform a Victorian mansion into apartments for homeless families in time for the holidays, contractor Shannon Hammer must pull-off a Christmas miracle to save her father from prison and find the real killer of a miserly bank president.

hooking-for-troubleHooking For Trouble (A Crochet Mystery) – Betty Hechtman – When she believes she has witnessed a murder, Molly Pink, the founder of the Tarzana Hookers Yarn University, calls in her ex, homicide detective Barry Greenberg, who reports that nothing is amiss, forcing her to unravel the clues herself to find the truth. Includes recipes and crochet patterns.

we-wish-you-a-murdWe Wish You A Murderous Christmas (A Year-Round Christmas Mystery) – VIcki Delany – When the son of Jack Olsen, who owns the Yuletide Inn, decides to no longer celebrate Christmas at the Inn, sending the local shopkeepers into a tizzy, Merry Wilkinson is faced with a holiday homicide when he is found stabbed to death.

the-goodThe Good, The Bad, And The Guacamole (A Taste of Texas Mystery) – Rebecca Adler – When her best friend, Patti Lopez, is accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend, smooth-talking country crooner Jeff Clark, Tex-Mex waitress and part-time reporter Josie Callahan must put her sleuthing skills to good use to serve up the real killer.

shadesShades of Wrath (A Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mystery) – Karen Rose Smith – Hired to decorate a run-down mansion, which will now house Kismet, Pennsylvania’s women’s shelter, home stager and stray animal rescuer Caprice De Luca must instead design an investigation that will expose a crafty killer after the shelter’s director is murdered.

firstFirst Degree Mudder (A Pacific Northwest Mystery) – Kate Dyer-Seeley – An outdoor writer, Meg Reed, deciding to take her job to the next level, trains hard for Mud, Sweat & Beers, an extreme 5K mud run, only to find herself getting down and dirty in a murder investigation when her coach, Billy the Tank, is found dead.

crime-and-catnipCrime and Catnip (Nick & Nora Mystery) – T. C. LoTempio – Agreeing to look into the disappearance of a museum director’s niece, caterer Nora Charles and her faithful feline, Nick, are plunged into a world of coded messages, false identities and murder where they must solve this mystery in order to survive. Includes sandwich recipes.

prose-and-consPros and Cons (A Magical Bookshop Mystery) – Amanda Flower – When she finds one of the members of the local writing group dead right before the annual Food and Wine Festival, Violet, after the shop magically tells her she will need to rely on the works of Edgar Allan Poe to solve the murder, must act fast before someone else’s heart beats nevermore.

better-off-threadBetter Off Thread (An Embroidery Mystery) – Amanda Lee – While playing elf to Captain Moe’s Santa for sick children at a local hospital, embroidery shop owner Marcy stumbles upon the dead body of the hospital’s administrator and must, with the help of her police officer boyfriend and her Irish Wolfhound, find out who is trying to pin this murder on Moe.

frosty-the-deadFrosty The Dead Man (A Snow Globe Shop Mystery) – Christine Husom – When she finds Mayor Lewis Frost, Frosty to his friends, dead, apparently struck by the snow globe she sold him earlier that day, curio shop owner Camryn Brooks must shake things up to find a killer who is cold as ice.

ghostsThe Ghosts of Misty Hollow (Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery) – Sue Ann Jaffarian – While visiting a best-selling crime writer who needs her input as a medium, Emma Whitecastle is immediately contacted by a family of ghosts who originally owned the historic Massachusetts farmhouse and need her help in locating the spirits of their two children who disappeared, which results in the appearance of a dead body.

spouseSpouse on Haunted Hill (Haunted Guesthouse Mystery) – E.J. Copperman – When the cops show up at her doorstep, searching for her ex-husband who, owing some scary people a lot of money, has disappeared and left a body in his wake, Alison Kerby, with the help of ghosts Maxie and Paul, sets out to find her ex and clear him of the murder before the bad guys get to him first

A New Batch Of Cozy Mysteries

autumn reading

Finally!  The cool weather is here!  If you like it hot and humid, this was the perfect summer for you.  Hope you were able to enjoy some cozy mysteries by the beach, pool, or in some air conditioning!  Now Fall is here and we have a bunch of new titles for you to snuggle up with.  Enjoy!

digging up the dirtDigging Up The Dirt (A Southern Ladies Mystery) – Miranda James – When eligible bachelor Hadley Partridge returns to Athena to restore his family mansion, he finds a dead body and he must weed through the clues to discover the killer.

 

cancelledCancelled by Murder (A Postmistress Mystery) – Jean Flowers – When the dead body of fabric-shop owner Daisy Harmon is found after a massive storm, postmistress Cassie Miller is asked by Daisy’s widowed husband to find the truth before someone else is swept away by a killer.

murder of a crankyMurder of a Cranky Catnapper (A Scumble River Mystery) – Denise Swanson – When her pet-therapy project ends in murder, Scumble River School psychologist Skye Denison Boyd must find out who killed a curmudgeonly school board member before she meets the same fate.

no farmNo Farm, No Foul (A Farmer’s Daughter Mystery) – Peg Cochran – When the minister’s wife is murdered on her property during a fundraiser for a local church, Shelby McDonald, the owner of the Love Blossom Farm in the small Western Michigan town of Lovett, must dig in her heels and find the killer herself.

behind-chocolateBehind Chocolate Bars (A Chocolate Covered Mystery) – Kathy Aarons – While preparing for the annual West Riverdale Halloween Fair, business partners Michelle and Erica find themselves trick-or-treating for the truth as they try to prove the innocence of one of Erica’s comic-book club members when he is accused of murder. Includes chocolate-making recipes.

hammettThe Hammett Hex (A Book Collector Mystery)  – Victoria Abbott – While on a romantic trip to San Francisco with Officer Tyler Smiley Dekker, Jordan Bingham, in the process of returning a rare copy of Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest for her employer, discovers that someone is trying to kill them.

high-kicksHigh Kicks, Hot Chocolate, and Homicides (A Happy Hoofers Mystery) – Mary McHugh – When the Happy Hoofers score a gig at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall with the legendary Rockettes during the Christmas Spectacular, the toe-tapping troupe must solve a murder in between rehearsals and sightseeing before someone else dances to their death.

its-your-partyIt’s Your Party, Die If You Want To (A Liv and Di In Dixie Mystery) – Vickie Fee – While planning a riverboat gambler-themed engagement party, a murder mystery dinner for charity, and a businesswoman’s’ retreat, party planner Liv McKay must solve the murder of a party girl with a penchant for married men, but her efforts are thwarted by a killer with one seriously haunting vendetta.

killing-thymeKilling Thyme (A Spice Shop Mystery) – Leslie Budewitz – When she encounters an old friend who disappeared years ago, and who then is murdered only days later, spice shop owner Pepper Reece digs up the dirt on Seattle’s Pike Place Market to catch a killer only to place her own life in danger.

masking-for-troubleMasking for Trouble (A Costume Shop Mystery) – Diane Vallere – When the venture capitalist who was trying to push out local businesses, including hers, is found dead during a Halloween party, costume-shop owner Margo Tamblyn is the top suspect and must unmask the real killer before she is forced to wear prison stripes.

semi-sweetThe Semi-sweet Hereafter (A Chocolate Whisperer Mystery) Colette London – While in London to lend her expertise on all things chocolate to a posh chocolaterie-patisserie, detective constable Hayden Mundy Moore stumbles upon the dead body of a sexy celebrity chef who just happens to be the ex-husband of Hayden’s client and must unwrap the clues to catch a killer with a sweet tooth.

witchThe Witch and the Dead (A Wishcraft Mystery) – Heather Blake – When she discovers a pile of old bones in her Aunt Ve’s garage under a mess of memories and forgotten possessions, wish-granting witch Darcy Merriweather must solve a cold case to keep her aunt from doing a spell in prison

by-familiarBy Familiar Means (A Witch’s Cat Mystery) – Delia James -While painting murals in a new coffee house, witch and artist Annabelle Britton is asked by the owners to evict a restless spirit before the grand opening, which leads to the discovery of hidden smugglers tunnels beneath the shop, a dead body and a killer with a score to settle.

paws-andPaws and Effect (A Magical Cats Mystery) – Sofie Kelly – When her old beau, Detective Marcus Gordon, is accused of murder, resourceful librarian Kathleen and her magical felines must paw through the clues to discover who is trying to frame him for murder.

 

seeds-ofSeeds of Deception (An Orchard Mystery) – Sheila Connolly – While honeymooning at Monticello and enjoying Thomas Jefferson’s orchards, newlyweds Meg and Seth discover that something rotten is going on at home and must cut their vacation short when the police pick Meg’s father as the killer of a handyman.