Cozy Mystery Books Recommendations – January 2013

Here it is: 2013, a brand new year!

Please tell us about a few of your very favorite Cozy Mystery reads of January 2013. This should be authors who you think the rest of us absolutely have “got to know” about, so that we can also enjoy their Cozy Mystery books. Please include WHY you enjoyed these authors.

*****

I’m going to start by recommending Margaret Grace. She writes the Miniature Mystery Series, of which I am a fan. I have to admit that I am not all caught up with the series. There are six mystery books in the series, and I am currently reading the fourth. I consider Grace’s Miniature Mystery Series a truly Cozy series. Grace has a vocabulary that is rich enough for her to be able to convey, let’s say anger, without having to rely on graphic language. Her characters are more like people to me, people who I would enjoy hanging out with.

Gerry (Geraldine) Porter is the main sleuth. She is a retired English teacher, who primarily does her sleuthing when her granddaughter (Maddie) is visiting. They have a terrific relationship, which seems very real to me.

I find the writing to flow very easily. Grace has a lot of secondary reoccurring characters, who she weaves into each book’s plot. Grace also gives us red herrings which make sense, and are not just plopped into the story line.

Margaret Grace is also known as Camille Minichino and Ada Madison. I have read (and enjoyed) all eight of Minichino’s Periodic Table Mystery Series. As a matter of fact, since I enjoyed this series so much, I thought I probably wouldn’t enjoy Grace’s Miniature Mystery Series. I find that I usually only like one series an author writes, but this time I was wrong. In fact, since I enjoy Grace’s and Minichino’s Cozy Mystery series so much, I’m planning on trying Madison’s Sophie Knowles Mystery Series.

I will add the recommended authors to this entry as they come in. (Please do not tell us about the authors you did not like.) Thank you!

What Cozy Mystery book (or author) have you read during January 2013, and why did you enjoy it (or him/her)?

Here are the current authors who some of you have read this past month, and wanted to tell the rest of us about:

Barbara Annino: Stacy Justice Mystery Series

Donald Bain (w/ “Jessica Fletcher”): Murder, She Wrote Mystery Series

Maggie Barbieri: Murder 101 Mystery Series

Lorna Barrett (aka Lorraine Bartlett & L. L. Bartlett): Booktown Mystery Series

Ella Barrick (aka Lila Dare & Laura DiSilverio): Ballroom Dance Mystery Series

Jessica Beck: Classic Diner Mystery Series

Janet Bolin: Threadville Mystery Series

Ali Brandon (aka Diane A.S. Stuckart): Black Cat Bookshop Mystery Series

Duffy Brown: Consignment Shop Mystery Series

Karen Cantwell: Barbara Marr Mystery Series

Elizabeth Lynn Casey (aka Laura Bradford): Southern Sewing Circle Mystery Series

Bailey Cates (aka Cricket McRae): Magical Bakery Mystery Series

Erika Chase: Ashton Corners Book Mystery Series

Laura Childs: Tea Shop Mystery Series

Patricia Cornwell: Kay Scarpetta Mystery Series (not cozy)

Cleo Coyle (aka Alice Kimberly): Coffee House Mystery Series

Elizabeth Spann Craig (aka Riley Adams & Elizabeth Craig): Myrtle Clover Mystery Series

Philip R. Craig: Martha’s Vineyard Mystery Series

Kyra Davis: Sophie Katz Mystery Series

Monica Ferris: Needlecraft Mystery Series

Shelley Freydont: Celebration Bay Mystery Series

Erle Stanley Gardner: Perry Mason Mystery Series

Margaret Grace (aka Camille Minichino & Ada Madison): Miniature Mystery Series

M.K. Graff: The Blue Virgin

Sue Grafton: Kinsey Millhone Mystery Series

Elly Griffiths: Ruth Galloway Mystery Series

John Grisham: The Appeal

Julie Hyzy: White House Chef Mystery Series

John Dunning: Cliff Janeway Mystery Series

Sophie Kelly: Magical Cats Mystery Series

Alice Kimberly (aka Cleo Coyle): Haunted Bookshop Mystery Series

Mary Lou Kirwin: Librarian Mystery Series

Jill Marie Landis: Tikki Goddess Mystery Series

Victoria Laurie: Psychic Eye Mystery Series

Amanda Lee (aka Gayle Trent): Embroidery Mystery Series

M. Louisa LockeVictorian Mystery Series

Charlotte MacLeod (aka Alisa Craig): Peter & Helen Shandy Mystery Series

Molly MacRae: Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery Series

G. M. Malliet: Max Tudor Mystery Series

Lorena McCourtney: Ivy Malone Mystery Series

Jenn McKinlay (aka Lucy Lawrence & Josie Belle): Library Lover’s Mystery Series

Wendy Roberts: Latte, Espresso, Cappuccino & Murder Mystery Series

Dorothy L. Sayers: Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery Series

Rochelle Staab: Mind for Murder Mystery Series

Teresa Trent: Pecan Bayou Mystery Series

Elaine Viets: Mystery Shopper Mystery Series

♦To access more Cozy Mystery Books Recommendations, click on this link♦

Comments

  1. This month I have read Amanda Lee’s Embroider Shop series. They were very good and a new setting for me. I have also been reading the miracles of Marble Cove series. Each book is by a different author but involves the same 4 main characters. It is published by the Guidepost magazine company. I also read Patricia Cornwell’s new book Bone Bed. But I don’t think that she would be classified as a cozy writer.

  2. Great minds think alike. I recently reviewed Ms. Grace’s latest mini-mystery on my blog, and I also highly recommend it! Mix-Up in Miniature.

  3. I read cozy mysteries by Donald Bain (Murder She Wrote series) and Elaine Viets (Mystery Shopping series).

    I love the main character, Jessica Fletcher, in the Murder She Wrote series and, of course, the TV show. I am 50 and enjoy reading about smart and confident older women characters like Jessica. And there is a lot of humor in Elaine Viets’ books. I read the series Dead-end Jobs and thoroughly enjoyed it. This new series by her is just as funny and the characters are very likable. Plus, she does so much research for the “behind the scenes” part of her books that I just really enjoy all the stories.

  4. I read the second and third books in Jenn McKinlay’s Library Lover’s Mystery series this month. I love the library setting and the protagonist has to deal with settling into both her new job as head librarian and living in a small town while dealing with murder. Fortunately she has made some good friends who help her out. Jenn McKinlay is definitely becoming one of my favorite authors!

    Another book I read this month also has a book theme, Read and Buried by Erika Chase. This is the second book in the Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series. One of the fun things about this series are the references to other mystery books, particularly as the cozy readers in the book club try to convert the fans of the more gritty mysteries.

    I also found a new series this month, the Celebration Bay Mystery series beginning with Foul Play at the Fair by Shelley Freydont. I had enjoyed the other two series she wrote and this series is off to a good start. The protagonist is an event planner who has just been hired to coordinate the various festivals and events in an upstate NY town, so it is another case of a newcomer having to deal with settling into a small town while dealing with murder.

  5. Didn’t have much chance to do much reading this month. The books I did read and enjoyed are:
    Bewitched, Bothered and Biscotti – Baily Cates
    Grounds to Kill – Wendy Roberts
    I have just started rereading the following
    “A” is for Alibi – Sue Grafton
    “B” is for Burgler – Sue Gratfon.
    Wow this series began in 1982. Unbelievable!

  6. I just finished Extra Credit, the latest in Maggie Barbieri’s Murder 101 Mystery series. Alison Bergeron is a college professor married to a cop whose ex-wife’s brother dies after giving his nieces $5000 each in cash for a birthday present! When $250,00 in cash is discovered in the deceased’s matress, the plot thickens. Seemingly unrelated subplots all come together in a climax I didn’t see coming. It’s almost 400 pages but I read it in a day. If you haven’t read the 6 earlier books you have a treat in store.

  7. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve read three of the “Ruth Galloway” series by Elly Griffiths. I think there are four books so far so I’ll be reading the next one very soon. I love the forensic archaeology angles, the main character has depth and the geography of the stories hold my interest and keeps me turning the page. One of the special things about the books are the references to contemporary music, TV shows and events, things that I’m familiar with and make me smile and connect with the characters in the book.

  8. I’ve read several books this month, with two that are especially good. The first is, ‘Fonduing Fathers’ by Julie Hyzy, the latest release in her White House chef series. I really enjoy this series. This story reaches into the past and present for its mysterious endeavors. The main character, Ollie, wants to unravel misconceptions of her deceased father and runs smack into murder and intrigue. It keeps the reader engaged and is a real page turner. The characters are complex/interesting, including the adorable 9 year old president’s son (especially important to the story). The romance with a special agent is appealing because this is a ‘boyfriend’ who supports his ‘girlfriend’ and isn’t constantly telling her, ‘not to get involved’! All the books in this series have been good, but this is one of the best. Although I always enjoy reading series books ‘in order’, this particular book can easily be read as a ‘stand alone’.

    The second book I highly recommend is, ‘A Novel Way to Die’ by Ali Brandon. This large city setting (Brooklyn) has a small town feel to it, with friendly neighbors who know each other and watch each others’ back. The main sleuth (Darla) inherited a book shop and lives upstairs (somewhat typical). The mix of endearing characters grows on you throughout the book. I sort of figured out who the criminal was about 2/3rds through the story – nonetheless, the story is intriguing. I had a difficult time putting this book down. Animal lovers will enjoy the ‘featured’ cat, who Darla claims is the real ‘crime solver’ because ‘smart cat’ drops a lot of clues along the way.

    I’ll also mention ‘Holiday Buzz’ by Cleo Coyle. It is same-o, same-o. BUT, I don’t mean this in a negative way because all the books in the coffee house series are good. Detective boyfriend still works as a consultant in DC, but comes back to New York on the weekends. Much of the mystery/action involves the coffee house manager (Clare) and her co-owner ex-husband. An employee is murdered. There’s gangsters, danger, and (of course), an incompetent lead investigator. This author(s) always creates exceptional characters. I wanted to point out something I just noticed in this series. The authors’ pen name for this series is Cleo Coyle. AND, the main character’s name is Clare Cosi. How dumb am I that I NEVER noticed the clever play by the authors on the C. C. initials? It took me 12 books to realize this! I bet most of you noticed it in the first book.

    By the way, Danna, I have read the Sofie Knowles (as you mentioned in the opening) series and find it enjoyable/intelligent. I got her latest book, ‘Function of Murder’ a few days ago. I haven’t read it, so can’t yet comment.

    Don’t add these names to the list because I’m just commenting on your statement about not enjoying more than one series by an author. IF the genre (cozies) is the same, I find I usually like several of an author’s series (ex: Laura Child’s three series, Ellery Adams and J. Stanley, L. Barrett and Bartlett, Bliss, Daniels, and Logan, Hyzy’s three series, Isleib and Burdette, Atwell and Connelly, Washburn’s two series, and Denise Swanson’s two series – just to name a few!!!)

  9. I just finished reading Copycat Killing by Sophie Kelly. It’s the third in her Magical Cats mystery series. The character, Kathleen Paulson is a librarian in a small town in Minnesota. She has two cats, Hercules and Owen, who with their “magical abilities”, help her solve the mysteries that always come her way.

    Cats, books, murders and of course, a handsome detective…need I say more? :)

  10. I’m on the third book of Victoria Laurie’s Psychic Eye Mystery series. I love these books! The main character is Abby Cooper, a (you guessed it) psychic. The stories are very well written, and the author obviously has a great sense of humor.

  11. I am an avid reader but I read very little during the Christmas season. So, I needed some, light quick books to get me started. I hit gold with these two books : Citizen Insane – Karen Cantwell and Mai Tai One On – Jill Marie Landis. The characters in each book were so much fun. Next on my list was A Chili Death – Jessica Beck – new series, it was good but not as good as the donut shop series.
    Then I read Dead Man Waltzing – Ella Barrick, this is the second in the series and she did not disappoint. I am now reading Last Wool & Testament – Molly MacRae this is a new series so I am trying to sort out all the characters.
    I love reading all of your reviews so please keep them coming.
    Thank you Danna for such a great web site.

  12. I have read the following books in January and the list is short due to being sick and a very full basketbal schedule.

    1. Threaded for Trouble by Janet Bolin. This is the 2nd in the Threaded series. I love the characters who are colorful and pull together to help each other in any situation. I am waiting on the third one.

    2. Killer Libriarian by Mary Lou Kirwin. This is the 1st in this series. I love reading about libraries and librarians. This book is explores books and that is wonderful. I looking forward to the 2nd one.

    3. Who Do, Voodoo? by Rochelle Staab. This is the 1st in Mind over Murder series. It explores fortune telling and other things in a very funny way. I have the second one in my to be read pile and cannot wait to read it.

    4. Last Wool and Testament by Molly MacRae. This is 1st in the Haunted Yarn Shop. I loved it and found out some of the secrets. But I think there are more to discover and cannot wait for the second.

    I read the next 3 books on my Kindle. I know I said I would never get it but I did and am reading books on it. I’m not sure about reading on it but I am still trying. I will still buy good old paperbacks.

    5. Opal Fire by Barbara Annino. This is the 1st in the Stacy Justice series. A Cute Series

    6. A Dyeing Shame by Elizabeth Spann Craig. It is the 3rd in the Myrtle Clover series. Oh my, I cannot wait to find others in the series. I love Myrtle. My mother will love this book.

    7. A Dash of Murder by Teresa Trent. I am sure the no. of this book in the Betsy Livingston. I love Betsy, her aunt, her son and dad. The name of the town won me over, Pecan Bayou. I am looking for more in the series.

    Danna, I hope things are better with your mother. I am thinking of you and your family during this time. I live with my eldery parents and I know kind of what you are dealing with.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Thank you, Ginger. I’m glad to see you are doing the basketball games again. I know how much you enjoy them (and how much reading you get done when you are working at some of the games!) Now that you have a Kindle, I hope you are able to take advantage of some of the great deals BB tells us about.

    • Ginger I, too, read A Killer Librarian. Weren’t u surprised how they went towards the end with a certain character? I was shocked that they would do that but like u, I can’t wait for the second one. Welcome back have missed seeing your posts.

    • I also read Killer Librarian. Just wanted to let blog readers know this book is set in England, although it ‘features’ a Minnesota librarian (vacationing in England). I know several of you have mentioned you like the ‘English’ setting. It’s also very book/literary oriented.

    • “Overdue for Murder (Pecan Bayou),” the second of the Pecan Bayou series by Teresa Trent is free today.

  13. It’s been a busy reading month for me. After recommendations on this site, I began the Peter/Helen Shandy mysteries by Charlotte MacLeod and read “The Luck Runs Out” in January. Really like this series.

    Also continuing my reading of the Perry Mason Mysteries by Erle Stanley Gardner which has been such a pleasant surprise. I love period cozy mysteries.

    I read Child’s latest Tea Shop Mystery which was fun as always. Added Child’s 1st Cackleberry Club but found I’m more drawn to the characters and setting descriptions of the tea shop. (Um… do you think the fact that I’m a tea drinker contributes to this choice?)

    Currently starting a new series for me, “A Beautiful Place to Die” set in Martha’s Vineyard. I tend to have several books going at once – one on my phone; one on my Kindle Fire; and of course, traditional print from the library. I even have books in various rooms in the house. But, when I’m close to the end of a book I like, it goes with me until it’s finished.

    • Has nothing to do with tea. I too prefer the Charleston tea shop to the Cackleberry club even if I don’t like tea. The characters, settings, events all just seem so much more plausible.
      Also all the December discussion about Peter Shandy had me taking down my falling apart paperbacks by Charlotte MacLeod. Her Sarah Kelling/Max Bittershoen series is just as good and a wonderful reread.

  14. Iced Chiffon (A CONSIGNMENT SHOP MYSTERY) by Duffy Brown
    I loved the characters in this book and it had me chuckling a lot as the mystery unfolds. Anxious for the newest book to be released in May so I can continue with the shop owners adventures.

    • Darleen,
      I too loved this book. I love reading books that take place in the South, especially Savannah. Does anyone have any other books that are in the South?

      • Danna - cozy mystery list :

        Diana, I have a whole bunch of authors who write books set in the south on the Cozy Mysteries by Theme page. I haven’t finished listing all of the states, but there are quite a few states listed toward the bottom of the page, right about the “Miscellaneous” theme.

      • Diana,
        Danna’s theme list w/southern state settings is very comprehensive. Take particular note of Laura Child’s Tea Shop series, set in Charleston and the Scrapbooking Mysteries set in New Orleans. She’s very descriptive of the surroundings in her writing. A particular favorite of mine is the exciting Judge Deborah Knott mystery series by Margaret Maron, set in North Carolina. Several of us have commented favorably about the Southern Sisters Mystery series by Anne George, set in Birmingham. I also like Patricia Sprinkle’s Thoroughly Southern Mystery series and Sheila Travis’ mystery series set in Georgia.

  15. I read Invisible by Lorena McCourtney. It was free on my Nook but she has others that I want to get. Her sleuth is a LOL as she calls herself. A Little Old Lady. It is a Christian mystery in that she quotes scripture and gets one of the cops to go to church. There was a murder and several other mysteries, and the characters were interesting and amusing.

  16. Danna, Since I have been trying to teach myself how to crochet I haven’t been reading as much this month. I am attending crochet classes and that is helping me a great deal but wow!! are my finger joints stiff and sore!!
    I have read some books though. The one that stands out above those though, is “The Appeal” by John Grisham. This is a great book. I have had this book in my thoughts quite often throughout the days.
    There is a sort of disclaimer at the end of the book where this author is saying, more or less, how this book is purely fiction, something he made up in his own mind. But this book sure does make me wonder on the way things were done on this book isn’t really how things are really done in real life.
    The book is about how a once well established husband/wife law firm took on a case for a woman whose husband and son died from cancer they both contracted because of the dumping of some chemical waste into the areas’ drinking water supply. The firm wins the lawsuit but then the lawyers for the chemical company appeal the decision. As the story goes on we are given methods this company CEO uses in order to place a Supreme Court Justice of his choosing on that panel.
    I didn’t like the ending of this story at all. And yes, there is that disclaimer of sorts at the end of the book. But with all the shenanigans that go on in this country I wonder just how often these sorts of things really go and I think a lot of this stuff goes on in real life. I just don’t think a lot of this stuff is fiction at all.

  17. This past year I discovered a ‘small series’ outside of cozies , the Bookman series’ by Cliff Janeway. And, I’ve always loved Cleo Coyle and Laura Childs. And Monica Ferris’ needlecraft series is fun as well and I’ve actually done one of the projects.

    Am reading the Alice Kimberly haunted bookstore series now.

  18. I want to recommend M. Louisa Locke’s Victorian mystery series set in San Francisco. She currently has two titles in the series along with a couple of short stories based on characters from the novels.

  19. I enjoyed The Blue Virgin by M.K.Graff this month. It is a blend of a cozy and a police procedural. If you like mysteries set in England, you might enjoy this book.
    It was set in Oxford England. I enjoyed traveling through the city with the main characters. It was quite atmospheric. The author is an American but seems to have researched her book very well. I liked looking up British terms in my Kindle dictionary.
    The characters were well developed. I especially liked the two main male characters in the book. The female amateur sleuth is a children’s book author. My one qualm about the book is that she is pregnant and didn’t seem to question putting herself and her unborn baby in danger. However, it is fiction and putting one self in danger, is almost a given in a cozy mystery.
    It was a well written book. It was very well plotted and there were a lot of red herrings. It was not a book that one had solved early on. There were a lot of suspects. The next book is The Green Remains which takes place in the lake district of England. I am looking forward to reading and learning about the lake district. I was quite taken with the Oxford location in this book.

  20. I just finished Lorna Barrett’s Murder is Binding, the first in the Booktown Mystery series. Really enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading the 2nd one as well as her other series.

  21. One of my very favorites is the Kindle daily deal today: Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers, for $1.99. This is the second book about Harriet Vane, whom Lord Peter Wimsey met while she was on trial for murder. Having gotten her off, he is now trying desperately to woo her. Back at Oxford for her college reunion, she gets in danger again, and together she and Lord Peter save the day. Dorothy Sayers is an absolute master, and tgis is one of her absolute best!

  22. I’d like to add Ann Charles to your list. She writes the Deadwood series and the Jackrabbit Junction series. I really enjoy both series and always look forward to the next one.

  23. Thank you so much, for your suggestions!!!

    “Auntie”

  24. I am just finished with a new G. M. Malliet – A fatal winter. An Agatha Christie or Patricia Wentworth type of English village cozy. All the proper people are there – store keeper, love interest, disagreeable heirs of a wealthy landowner and then there is the vicar a former MI5 yet. And the names – Foot rustle, Baynard, Edenstartel they are a hoot. In addition to the improbable characters, the story really is well written. Well worth the time if you want a true English village cozy.