Cozy Mysteries

Name: Cecily Christensen
Summary/Thoughts: This is the 1st book in the Emma Lord murder mystery series. Emma Lord owns a small town newspaper in the foothills of Washington State’s Cascade Mountains. Mark Doukas, grandson of rich, elderly Neeny Doukas, is murdered. Emma tries to find the killer when her son’s college roommate becomes the prime suspect.
My thoughts: this is a typical cozy mystery, with an idyllic setting, eccentric small-town characters, gossip, and without graphic sex or violence. There were several humorous circumstances, and a surprising twist at the end, although I saw clues. It was a good book for entertainment.
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Title: The Alpine Advocate
Author: Mary Daheim
Appeal Factors: Eccentric characters, small community setting, some humor, avoidance of explicit sex and violence
Read Alikes: Miss Zukas and the Library Murders by Jo Dereske, Anything Goes by Jill Churchill, Rest You Merry by Peter Shandy

Name: Anne Berard
Summary/Thoughts: I personally found this book very unsatisfying and wouldn’t recommend it to other readers. The characters seemed too hokey and too contrived.
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Title: Suture Self
Author: Mary Daheim
Appeal Factors: Pacific Northwest setting, Bed & Breakfast, female sleuth
Read Alikes: Diane Mott Davidson

Name: Susan Allison
Summary/Thoughts: On a spring morning in 1951, eleven-year-old chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce gathers with her family at the railway station, awaiting the return of her long-lost mother, Harriet. Yet upon the train’s arrival in the English village of Bishop’s Lacey, Flavia is approached by a tall stranger who whispers a cryptic message into her ear. Moments later, he is dead, mysteriously pushed under the train by someone in the crowd. Who was this man, what did his words mean, and why were they intended for Flavia? Back home at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ crumbling estate, Flavia puts her sleuthing skills to the test. Following a trail of clues sparked by the discovery of a reel of film
stashed away in the attic, she unravels the deepest secrets of the de Luce clan, involving none other than Winston Churchill himself. Surrounded by family, friends, and a famous pathologist from the Home Office—and making spectacular use of Harriet’s beloved Gipsy Moth plane, Blithe Spirit—Flavia will do anything, even take to the skies, to land a killer.
Appeal Factors:
Pacing: Engrossing, Leisurely paced
Storyline: Character-driven, Authentic
Tone: Candid, Comfortable, Humorous
Writing Style: Smart, Descriptive, Engaging
Characterization: Quirky, Well-developed
Protagonist: Precocious 11 year old female
Time Period: 1950’s rural England

Genre: Mystery, Subgenre – Cozy Mystery
Title: The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (6th book in Flavia de Luce series)
Author: Alan Bradley

Read Alikes:
Maisie Dobbs Series by Jacqueline Winspear
The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Name: Laura Bernheim
Summary/Thoughts: In the sixth book of the Bubbles Yablonsky mysteries, Bubbles, a former hairdresser turned reporter, finds herself witnessing the death of Debbie Shatsky.  Debbie, the envy of housewives everywhere due to her marriage to a hot plumber, has a fatal allergy to latex, and is killed when someone switches the glue for her weekly hair extensions.  When Sandy, the hairdresser and best friend of Bubbles is blamed, Bubbles goes into overdrive trying to prove her innocence.  She ends up finding herself to be the target of gun toting Santa Clauses, forced to re-marry her awful ex-husband after the kidnapping (and recovery of) their daughter, and finding herself still in love with Steve Stilleto, a fellow reporter.  Debbie, it turns out was running a scam through her work as a travel agent and perhaps didn’t have the perfect marriage after all.

Genre: cozy mystery
Title: Bubbles all the Way
Author: Strohmeyer, Sarah

Appeal Factors: Pacing: Fast  Characterizations: quirky small town characters, sarcastic narrator, sassy narrator, wacky mother figure (“Mama”), sleazy ex-husband, cliched newsroom characters, characters a bit cartoonish, names are silly– Dix Notch, Steve Stilleto  Story Line: red herrings everywhere, international intrigue (sort of), romance (with Steve Stilleto), small town conspiracies  Setting: small town PA (steel town), beauty salon, newsroom  Detail: descriptive stripper scenes, news room descriptions, beauty salon  Tone: funny, sarcastic, suspenseful (sort of)

Read Alikes: Stephanie Plum Mysteries by Janet Evanovich — wacky relative, torn between multiple men, series fiction, town is a character Body Movers Mysteries by Stephanie Bond — wacky relatives (again), women gets job moving bodies from the morgue and caught up in murder mysteries stretch — The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot — for any teen readers of this series partly because of (spoiler alert) the ending which will lead the plot in future books

Name: Lisa Gagnon
Summary/Thoughts: This is the 8th book in Donna Andrews’s  Meg Langslow Mystery series.  The book begins with Meg’s father digging a pool in the basement for a flock of penguins from the bankrupt local zoo. The body  of the zoo owner is found buried beneath the floor .  Meg  is determined to discover who the killer is before her house which she just finished renovating and was moving into becomes the new temporary  home for the all of animals from the zoo.
This is the first in the series that I have read and coming into the series on the 8th book did not detract from the murder plotline of the story, but I think I would have enjoyed the book more and been more invested in the characters more if I had already read the previous books in the series. Much of the storyline was implausible and I think it was more of a tool to use to give the secondary characters more action.
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Title: The Penguin Who Knew Too Much
Author: Donna Andrews
Appeal Factors: Funny, quirky, fast-paced
Read Alikes: Them Bones (Mississippi Delta Mysteries, 1)  by Carolyn Haines;  The Body in the Belfry  (Faith Fairchild Mysteries, 2) by Katherine Hall Page;  Strangled prose (Claire Malloy Mysteries, 1) By Joan Hess

Name: Louise Goldstein
Summary/Thoughts: The feisty, romantically challenged Agatha Raisin is at it again.

Her new marriage is not working out as planned.  Agatha’s new spouse (I won’t say who it is because I don’t want to put in a spoiler), is nitpicking.  Just because Agatha turned her beloved’s laundry pink, and just because she has not quit smoking as promised, and simply because she has taken on a job, and because she continues to dress in a non repressed manner….well, her spouse is totally on her case!

Not only that, but he is keeping some vital information about his health and his current state of “affairs” (pun intended here).   Agatha doesn’t know whether to punch her man or to grab desperately at him…..and you won’t either!

Read this book if you like to laugh!
Genre: cozy mystery
Title: Agatha Raisin and The Love From Hell
Author: MC Beaton
Appeal Factors: wit, Cotswalds setting, romance, character,cats
Read Alikes: M.C. Beaton Hamish Mcbeth series, Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey series

Name: Pam Aghababian
Summary/Thoughts: Juliet “Jules” has left her job as a pastry chef on a cruise ship and her life married to the ship’s head chef to return to her hometown of Ashland, Oregon, and her mother’s bakery, Torte. The town’s Shakespeare Festival is in full-swing, and shortly after her arrival, Jules finds a disliked festival board member murdered in the bakery. With a wide cast of characters, any of whom could have done it, and a love triangle thanks to her high school boyfriend who is now a cop and potential reconciliation with her husband, Meet Your Baker is as light and delicious as the Hazelnut Torte featured prominently in the story. This is the first in a series, and if the rest are as good as this one, I’d be happy to eat them right up.
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Title: Meet Your Baker
Author: Ellie Alexander
Appeal Factors: Pacific Northwest setting, bakery, Shakespeare/theater, small town, love triangle, fast paced, recipes
Read Alikes: Mary Jane Clark, Kerry Greenwood

Name: Meena Jain
Summary/Thoughts: Theodosia Browning owns a tea shoppe in Charleston, NC. At a party, a real estate developer is murdered by tea. There are several red herrings and possible love interests for Theodosia. My favorite parts of the books related to the descriptions of the tea and of Charleston – the setting was very much a character in the book. I liked Theodosia less – she seemed flighty, often leaving work to solve the murder knowing that her business was suffering. I also never got a good idea of why she wanted to solve mysteries and I don’t think Theodosia did either. I probably would not pick up the next book in the series because of that, but could recommend this book to someone who wants an easy read, great descriptions, a non-British Cozy mystery and quirky secondary characters.
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Title: Death By Darjeeling
Author: Laura Childs
Appeal Factors: Interesting main and secondary characters, great location – Charleston, NC and relatively easy read
Read Alikes: Carola Dunn, Maggie Selfton, Karen Ann Golden

Name: Liz Reed
Summary/Thoughts: This is the seventh book in the Seaside Knitters Mystery Series set in an idyllic fictional town on Cape Ann MA.  I would recommend starting this series at the beginning because there are so many long-running characters – in fact the author has begun including a “cast list” at the beginning of each book to help keep the townspeople straight.

This series is an old stand-by for me, and I know I like them so much because of the knitting appeal factor (a group of four women who knit solve murders, and often meet in the knitting shop one of them owns).  However, this book was a little bit of a let-down.  For one thing, this is the first book in the series that is sloppily edited.  There are grammatical and punctuation mistakes and sometimes even the wrong character’s name is used, and this was very distracting.  Also, this book just didn’t seem to be as well-written as previous books.  Some of the characters just weren’t realistic, more like caricatures of ideal teenagers, husbands, etc, and the authors lack of understanding of varied dialog was very apparent.

But, glossy shine is not necessarily a deterrent when it comes to cozy mysteries.  I would definitely recommend the earlier books in the series to anyone who likes to read stories with local settings, books with great descriptions of food, stories with descriptions of yarn and knitting, story lines dealing with close ties of friendship between women, and general “good old days” atmospheres.
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Title: Angora Alibi
Author: Sally Goldenbaum
Appeal Factors: MA location, knitter appeal, close female relationships, small town USA, investment in characters, leisurely pace
Read Alikes: “Knitting Mysteries Series” by Mary Kruger, “Black Sheep Knitting Club Series” by Anne Canadeo, “Cackleberry Club Mysteries Series” by Laura Child, “Knit One, Kill Two” by Maggie Sefton

One response to “Cozy Mysteries

  1. Pingback: Cozy Mysteries: June 8th SE-RART Meeting in Norwood | Reader's Advisory Roundtable -- Genre Study Southeastern MA (SE-RART)

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