Silly Sleuths and Cozy Crimes
Even though mysteries aren’t my favorite genre, I have to admit I have a soft spot for cozy mysteries. Any theme is fair game for one of these lighthearted, cutesy whodunits: bakeries and caterers of all kinds, beading and knitting camps, even a magical dressmaking shop. (I’m even less interested in living in a small town now, however, since they seem to be hotbeds of murder. Wait, that’s it — I’ll start a Mattress Store Mystery series and call the first one Hotbeds of Murder!) If you find cozy mysteries as cornily charming as I do, then you’re going to love this reading list. For prices and how to buy, see the Book Carousel of Corpses at the bottom of the page.
Pies and Prejudice (A Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery)
by Ellery Adams
After catching her cheating husband in the act, Ella Mae LaFaye packs her bags and goes home to rural Georgia, to console herself by baking her scrumptious pies. But it turns out that Ella’s pies have magical effects on those who eat them, as Ella discovers when she opens her Charmed Pie Shoppe. One person who isn’t enchanted by the pie is Ella’s old frenemy, Loralyn Gaynor. When Loralyn’s fiancé is found dead — murdered with Ella’s own rolling pin! — Ella decides to take matters into her own hands, setting out to find the real killer before all the bad publicity destroys her new business. Full of delightfully wicked villains and a healthy sprinkling of paranormal twists, and not to be read without dessert handy.
Due or Die (A Library Lover’s Mystery)
by Jenn McKinlay
Of course there’s a cozy mystery series for library lovers!
In small-town Connecticut, Lindsey Norris enjoys a quiet life as the library director, where the biggest excitement is a kerfuffle over who will serve as the next Friends of the Library board president. Lindsey attends an election meeting in support of her friend, Carrie, who’s been the target of harassment from the incumbent president, Bill Sint. Carrie wins the election, only to discover her husband dead in their home, shot through the window while seated in his chair. Despite her alibi, Carrie quickly becomes the main suspect, but a vicious storm rolls in, temporarily halting the investigation. Lindsey and Carrie rally their loyal friends to solve the murder and restore peace to the library.
Maids of Misfortune (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery)
by M. Louisa Locke
This is Sue’s pick – she really enjoys this series set in a boarding house in late 19th century San Francisco. Author Locke does meticulous period research and includes quotes from San Francisco media of the day with each chapter. Main character Annie Fuller runs the boarding house and moonlights as fortune teller Miss Sybil, doling out financial advice to wealthy businessmen. There’s no other way for her to make use of her business acumen in the Victorian, patriarchal society, and the extra income helps keep her afloat. Between her tenants and her beau, handsome lawyer Nate Dawson, Annie keeps busy solving crimes in a city on the brink of a new era. See Sue’s reviews of book 1 and book 2 in the series.
A Broth of Betrayal (A Soup Lover’s Mystery)
by Connie Archer
A Broth of Betrayal might be my favorite one, purely for its ridiculous title. In quaint Vermont, Lucky
Jamieson runs a café called By the Spoonful. A protest against the construction of an eyesore of a car wash, right in the center of the town’s picturesque village square, comes to a halt with the discovery of a skeleton that might date back to the Revolutionary War. Meanwhile, auto mechanic Harry Hodges (the leader of the anti-car-wash protests) is found dead in his garage. Next, the would-be owner of the proposed car wash dies in a mysterious fire on the construction site. Just when it seems things can’t get any worse, the mayor — a friend of Lucky’s — disappears. Lucky searches for her missing friend, while Lucky’s father and his buddies work the Case of the Car Wash Corpses. Hopefully all that murder won’t spoil your appetite, because the book includes a selection of tasty soup recipes for the cozy season.
A Custom-Fit Crime (A Magical Dressmaking Mystery)
by Melissa Bourbon
Texas dressmaker Harlow Jane Cassidy is finally on the verge of making it big: her designs are being featured in an upcoming magazine spread — if she can finish her creations in time for the photo shoot. Meanwhile, she’s planning her mother’s wedding to the town sheriff, hosting an old friend, and trying to evade a rival dressmaker from Dallas who wants to poach Harlow’s designs. When Harlow’s competition turns up dead in the bathroom of Harlow’s studio during the photo shoot, it doesn’t look good for her. With some help from her friends (and some friendly ghosts, naturally), Harlow works to clear her name and pinpoint (HA!) the real killer. Amazingly, this is the fourth book in the Magical Dressmaking series, so if you like this mystery, there’s plenty more where that came from.
The Llama Of Death (A Gunn Zoo Mystery)
by Betty Webb
Another pick by Sue, The Llama of Death is set (of course) in a zoo.
Our main character for this series (which also includes The Anteater of Death and The Koala of Death) is Teddy Bentley. Teddy is a zookeeper at the private Gunn Zoo located in the tiny coastal town of Gunn Landing Harbor. She has a felon father, a meddling mother and a lawman lover, none of which keep her so busy that she can’t snoop around when nefarious deeds take place that involve her beloved zoo animals. We get to both go to work at the zoo with Teddy and enjoy the unique floating community of houseboat dwellers that author Webb has created for the series. There are definitely some genre winks and nods in these books, making them fun and light but still possessed of solid cozy mysteries and engaging characters.
Dyeing Wishes (A Haunted Yarn Mystery)
by Molly Macrae
It’s hard to imagine a more cozy setting than a yarn shop! Kath Rutledge inherited her Tennessee yarn and fabric shop from her grandmother, as well as a loyal sewing club and a TV-loving ghost in the attic (really). On a day excursion to Cloud Hollow Farm to learn about dyeing yarn, the group of friends discover a pair of bodies in the sheep pasture — and one of them is the daughter of a sewing club member. The grieving ladies urge Kath to investigate the suspicious death, and her resident ghost is only too happy to be her sleuthing sidekick. Meanwhile, Kath is figuring out her other inheritance from her grandmother: her psychic powers. Is Geneva the ghost somehow related to the present-day killings?
Fundraising the Dead (A Museum Mystery)
by Sheila Connolly
Nell Pratt is the director of development for the Society for the Preservation of Pennsylvania Antiques, and when she’s not seeking donations for
the museum, she’s off solving crimes. A valuable collection of George Washington’s letters goes missing — and the archivist who discovered the missing documents is killed on the same day — but the Society’s president seems strangely reluctant to investigate. One of the snooty board members (who also happens to be a descendant of Washington’s correspondent) bossily orders Nell to track down the correspondence, even though Nell is also trying to plan the society’s glitzy 125th-anniversary gala. A comedy of society manners as well as a cozy mystery, this is the first in a series of fundraising murder mysteries. Who knew nonprofits could be so deadly?
photos by Emma, mamsy, tripalbum.net