The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Books Every x Should Read. With all the concern about the future of cozy mysteries (for more info go here or check out the Save Our Cozies Facebook Group) right now they've been on my mind a lot and apparently have started jumping to my Amazon cart of their own free will. I'm quite convinced that pre-orders don't count.
A cozy mystery is one with very low levels of gore and violence actually taking place on the page. The main character is usually female and generally an amateur though not always. Not only is there a murder or three but generally there's also another interest that runs through the whole series. There's cozy mysteries set in bakeries, libraries, bookstores, quilt shops, hotels, farmer's markets, orchards, museums, and anything else you can think of. Seriously, if you have an interest in anything there's a cozy mystery series to go with it. There's also different levels of supernatural - from none to ghosts that follow the main character around and help out - and romantic subplots. Not to mention that there's almost always a good dash of humor to help the murder stay cozy. But with all the cozy mysteries out there sometimes it's hard to figure out where to start so hopefully these suggestions will be helpful!
First Book: Pall in the Family (2013)
Most Recent Book: An Unhappy Medium (2016) - Book #4
The What: Clyde (short for Clytemnestra) is a former police officer who has returned to her hometown of Crystal Haven, Michigan and come back to her unusual and psychic family. Murder and mayhem ensue as Clyde wrestles with figuring out what she wants to do and how to deal with her rather quirky and opinionated family. Fun and funny but not over the top into slapstick.
2. The Potting Shed Mysteries by Marty Wingate
First Book: The Garden Plot (2014)
Most Recent Book: The Skeleton Garden (2016) - Book #4 with Book #5 coming out in August
The What: Pru is living her dream of becoming a gardener in England after spending the first 50 or so years in her home state of Texas. Along the way she uncovers family secrets, new friends and family, a new love interest and of course lots of dead bodies. I really like the bits of history that are mixed in with each book and the beautifully described English gardens. It makes me want to get planting!
First Book: The Deep End (2015)
Most Recent Book: Guaranteed to Bleed (2015) - Book #2 with Book 3 coming out in May
The What: This series is set in the 1970s. Ellison Russell is a strong, relatable, interesting character who does have a gift for stumbling over dead bodies. I love her voice and her relationships with her friends, her daughter, and everyone else around her. This is a good "gateway" cozy if you're new to the genre.
4. Liz Talbot Mystery by Susan M. Boyer
First Book: Lowcountry Boil (2012)
Most Recent Book: Lowcountry Bordello (2015)
The What: This is quickly becoming one of my go-to mystery series. The South Carolina setting is fantastic and the mysteries are fast paced page turners. While these are definitely cozies they feel like they have a little bit more grit in them than a lot of others. I like Liz a lot and her job as a PI gets her in all kinds of trouble. There is a ghost but only in small doses.
First Book: Meet Your Baker (2014)
Most Recent Book: On Thin Icing (2015) - Book #3 with #4 out this summer
The What: Do not under any circumstances read this book on an empty stomach. The food and coffees at Torte will have your mouth watering and your stomach grumbling. The main character, Jules, is a professionally trained pastry chef and her creations sound amazing. Adding to the fun is a giant Shakespeare festival which brings lots of tourists and theater people to Ashland, Oregon.
6. Mainely Needlepointers by Lea Waite
First Book: Twisted Threads (2014)
Most Recent Book: Thread and Gone (2015) - Book #3 with Book #4 due out in October
The What: One of my very favorite things in a mystery is a bit of history mixed in. If the characters are having to do research for any reason I'm completely on board. So far all 3 in the Mainely Needlepointers series have done just that. They also have lots of interesting mysteries that are taking place in the present day too as well as a intelligent and intense main character who used to work as a PI. There is lots of talk about needlepointing but as someone who can even thread a needle it doesn't get overwhelming or to detailed.
First Book: Well Read Then Dead (2014)
Most Recent Book: Caught Read Handed (2015) Book #2 with #3 coming out this summer
The What: If I could make one fictional place real it would be the bookstore cafe in this series. Read 'Em and Eat is a combination cafe and bookstore that hosts all kinds of book clubs and has not only a book themed menu but book and author themed tables. If this was a real place I'd be heading to the beach and you could find me at the Agatha Christie table ordering Swiss Family Robinson Cheeseburgers. The detectives themselves are people I'd want to hang out with and the mysteries are fun and well-paced.
8. Library Lovers Mysteries by Jenn McKinlay
First Book: Books Can Be Deceiving (2011)
Most Recent Book: A Likely Story (2015) - Book #6
The What: Lindsay Norris is the director of the Briar Creek Public Library which comes with a host of teenage volunteers, a fabulous children's librarian, and a cranky assistant. There's also a whole host of townspeople and lots of talk about what kind of books they read. If you're feeling hungry you can jump over to her Cupcake Bakery series (complete with cupcake recipes and lots and lots of cupcake descriptions) or you want something a little different you can go make hats in London with the Hat Shop Mysteries. Whichever way you go McKinlay is always entertaining.
First Book: One Bad Apple (2008)
Most Recent Book: A Gala Event (2015) - Book #9
The What: Meg loses her job in Boston just as she and her mother inherit an old house in a little town in Massachusetts which includes an apple orchard. From then on there's lots of murders, new friends, new love interest, and lots and lots of apples. I find myself craving all things apple when reading this and there are usually some delicious recipes at the back of the book. There's also a bit of home restoration and history related mysteries. Connolly also writes The Museum and County Cork series. Both are good but I'm always drawn to an Irish setting so the County Cork series may be my favorite of the 2.
10. Haunted Home Renovations by Juliet Blackwell
First Book: If Walls Could Talk (2010)
Most Recent Book: Give Up the Ghost (2015) - Book #6
The What: This series leans way towards the paranormal with main character, Melanie Turner, who is not only running a construction company but also fights ghosts who are interfering with her renovation work. She's a smart and sarcastic character who is a bit softer than she's like to let on and doesn't let steel toed boots interfere with her love of vintage clothes. Blackwell also writes the Witchcraft Mystery series that centers around Lily Ivory, a witch who runs a vintage clothing store.
So that's a few of my favorites but it's by no means even close to a complete list. There's so many wonderful authors whose books I love - Lynn Cahoon, Paige Shelton, Ellery Adams, Diane Vallere, Kate Carlisle, Victoria Abbott, Paige Shelton, Kathy Aarons, Susan Furlong, Elizabeth Lynn Casey, Lorna Barrett, Laura Bradford and so many more.
Are you a cozy mystery reader? If so who are your favorite authors?