Favorite Cozy Mystery Books for 2013

We started the “Favorite Cozy Mystery Books for the Year” last year when Lynn T proposed that we list our very, very favorite-est (my words, not hers!) mysteries of the year. We already do our monthly favorite mysteries, so these Favorite of the Year should be the very best of the best we have read.

I have read many good Cozy Mystery books this year. I have also read some not-so-good Cozy Mysteries. (Haven’t we all?!?) I have mentioned several of the authors who are on my Favorite Authors list. But who wrote my very favorite mystery read of the year?

When I was talking to my husband about this entry, I asked him how I could ever pick just one mystery book and say it was my very favorite of the year. I have enjoyed so many, how would I be able to pick just one? I then told him about several of my favorite authors who I have read this year. Since this list is not comprised of just brand new authors who started being published this year, it includes ALL Cozy Mystery authors. Hmmm… That’s a whole lot of authors! He then asked me who I thought is my very favorite Cozy Mystery author, to which I responded, Agatha Christie.

Christie is one of the very few authors who I have read, re-read, and plan to re-read again. She was a formidable story-teller. Her characters always ring true to me. There’s a reason her books are still so popular; although written many years ago, they seem almost ageless. She is able to describe/depict the very nature of people and their quirks. Her writing style is flawless and flows so easily. Her mysteries are perfect.

So, I will nominate Agatha Christie’s (1957) What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw (aka 4:50 from Paddington) since it is the last Miss Marple mystery I have read by this phenomenal author.

So please tell us about your Favorite Cozy Mystery Read for 2013, and why you are picking this book or author. Thank you!

As usual with these types of entries, I will add the books/authors who you all comment about to the list:

Favorite Cozy Mystery Reads for 2013:

Ellery Adams (aka Jennifer Stanley, J.B. Stanley, & 1/2 of Lucy Arlington: Poisoned Prose

Nancy Atherton: Aunt Dimnity and the Lost Prince

Josie Belle (aka Jenn McKinlay & Lucy Lawrence): Buried in Bargains

Agatha Christie4:50 from Paddington (aka What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw)

Agatha ChristieBy the Pricking of My Thumbs 

Sheila ConnollyBuried in a Bog

Amanda Flower (aka Isabella Alan): A Plain Scandal

Mary Lou KirwinKiller Librarian

Joyce and Jim Lavene (aka J.J. Cook & Ellie Grant): Harrowing Hats

Jenn McKinlay (aka Josie Belle & Lucy Lawrence): Cloche and Dagger

Louise Penny: How the Light Comes In

Dana Stabenow: Bad Blood

Heather Webber (aka Heather Blake): The Root of All Trouble

If you’re interested in seeing a whole lot more recommendations made by Cozy Mystery readers, click here: Monthly Cozy Mystery Recommendations.

Comments

  1. Since you mentioned Dame Agatha – I recently finished reading By the Pricking of My Thumbs, and it was so good that I still haven’t figured out what to read next! Some books are like that, I just want to savor the mood a little longer before starting on something else. This was a Tommy and Tuppence novel that I read many long years ago, and just stumbled upon it recently and decided to read it again (having forgotten most of the story and most importantly, “whodunit”). Agatha was really at her best in writing this one. The mystery was very original and inventive, the plot fast-paced, and the characters were, of course, wonderfully fun. I couldn’t put it down. Yes, I believe that was my favorite cozy for 2013.

  2. My favorite new book of 2013 was “Buried in a Bog” by Sheila Connolly. I found this book to be very original both in setting and characters. The mystery aspect was really secondary to the feelings that the writing elicited. I have already ordered the second book in the series that is coming out next month. I enjoy all of Sheila Connolly’s series but this one is very special.

    • Janice,

      I agree with you 100%. I also like S. Connolly, but felt this is different than her other series. Many cozy authors write with some predictability and a ‘formula’. When they vary from that, they deserve lots of praise for originality and creativity. Kudos to Connolly for doing just that in ‘Buried in the Bog’. From reading her acknowledgements, I got the feeling this book was very special to her, too.

    • Buried in the Bog was the book I was going to suggest also. Could not put it down. I enjoy all of Connolly’s books but this one was just extra special. Can’t wait to read the next in the series.

    • I really enjoyed this one as well; I think a lot of Irish Americans wonder what it would be like to go back and live in the old country. I confess, though, that part of the allure of the series for me is wondering how long she can have her main character tripping over dead bodies in a town of 200 before the townsfolk ride her out of town on a rail!

  3. I hesitated with this posting as I had 4 favorites reads in 2013. Which one should I chose? Two of my favorites are not authors that are listed on this site. Are they Cozies? I think so as they meet many of the guidelines. The protagonists are amateurs sleuths. Two of my favorite reads were new to me this year and the other two were series that I follow.

    So I decided to list my favorite read that is not on this website and to list my favorite that is on this website.

    My favorite read that is not on this website is The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths. Ruth Galloway is an forensic archeologist who teaches at a university in the Norfolk England area. She lives in a remote area on the saltmarsh. Bones have been found and she is called in as a expert to date and give information about the bones.

    This has become one of my favorite series. It was so atmospheric. One could almost see the gray skies and feel the biting wind and rain. Ruth is nearing 40 and somewhat overweight. She loves the remoteness of the saltmarsh. She herself at the start on the series is somewhat remote.

    This year I read all the other books in the series and am now waiting the new book this year. I have a large TBR pile and I would be reading a book and thinking I have to go back and read more about Ruth Galloway. Her character does grow and change.

    My favorite that is on this site is Poisoned Prose by Ellery Adams. Last year Written In Stone was a favorite read. Ellery Adams/J.B. Stanley is an excellent writer. She can weave an original story with ongoing character development. Her Mystery by the Bay Books are not formula driven. This is one series that I think one should start with the first book in the series due to the character development. In so many books, the characters do not grow and change. In this series, they evolve with the series. I have wondered at times, when Ellery started this series if she knew the path she wanted Olivia to go on to evolve as a character or if the books guided her as she wrote the series. It is an excellent series with every book different.

  4. I really enjoyed Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series. I’ll chose “As The Light Comes In” because it wraps up all the loose ends from all the books. I read many of the books in 100+ degree heat during a very hot Tucson summer. I felt I knew the characters and the ice and snow of Three Pines cooled me down. (I’m going to read more “cold” books this summer!)

  5. This request for favorites just really shows us how fortunate we are to have these wonderful authors to choose from (and it’s HARD to do since if it came to a choice between groceries and a book, my daughter and I would pick The BOOK every time! (Uh-huh, whether the economy’s in the toilet or not. And of course this is not counting the ones looking down from where there are no deadlines!) We finally came up with: Cleo Coyle’s coffee house series; Mary Daheim’s bed and breakfast series (her cousin Judith died thus tear but she is continuing the series and it keeps her feeling close, bless her talented heart; Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series; for laughs and wonderful characters there’s ANYTHING by Fanny Flagg; and then for last place, eyes bugged out at all the talent before us, we picked Johnathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series. But girls (and boys) there are so MANY talented authors, we bless them right along with the family every night.
    Happy reading, writing, and sharing to all of us in 2014!
    Group Cyber Hugs,
    Jackie Griffey
    jacjgriffey on Facebook now since there is another one on Facebook now. – nothing like seeing another to keep one humble 8-)

  6. OK, OK, this is a difficult task! I reread my recommendations for 2013 and found MANY good cozies, several of which I could claim as a favorite. Hmmmmmm, I’m deliberating — can’t you just see the brain wheels turning on this snowy, blizzardy day (already 10 inches on the ground since 7:00am, with another 6+ hours of more snow to come!)? Yikes!

    I guess no one would be surprised that I’d say the Appleseed Creek Mystery series (book two, ‘Plain Scandal’ was released in February and book three, ‘Plain Disappearance’ was released in September). These books are equally good. I’ve outlined my reasons for liking this series on the various recommendation lists. The mysteries are very good with some noteworthy characters, and the subplot stories are always interesting/informative.

    If I was FORCED to declare another 2013 favorite because everyone is tired of me talking about this Amish series, I’d say Hank Phillippi Ryan is an exceptional author and her new series is gripping. ‘Wrong Girl’ was released in the fall and is a real page turner from beginning to end. It’s an excellent story.

    Back to reality, the shovel is ‘calling’ to me to pick it up (or wait ‘til spring for it to thaw)…………………..

  7. Even though I couldn’t find her on your list of cozy mystery writers, this new author’s book is my favorite of this year. ‘Just Holler Bloody Murder’ by Dershie McDevitt takes place on a South Carolina barrier island, and besides the plucky protagonist, Callahan Banks, my favorite character is her nearest neighbor, a fourteen foot long alligator. More than the mystery plot about who has committed the murders which have shaken up the small community on the island and the humorous and romantic sub-plots, I think of the setting when I remember this book. It’s apparent that the author is intimately familiar with this environment, and she lets the reader live there for a little while. I hated to leave.

  8. Only one? Eeep! What a choice!
    If I absolutely have to choose only one… I think I’ll nominate ‘Harrowing Hats’ by Joyce and Jim Lavene.
    A new-to-me series this last year, and a discovery that I’m very pleased with.
    Happy New Year, everyone!

  9. Danna I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place. How to pick out a favorite mystery book for the year. Every book I read becomes a favorite until the next one. Some I would reject for poor writing styles, mismanagement of grammar, or characterization. I can be picky about these items where others can see the whole picture and love a book I hate. Most of my favorite authors have written great books this year; therefore, they would top my list. Mary Daheim, Donna Andrews, Gail Bowen, Ruth Rendall, Sharon McCrumb, Rhys Bowen, J.A. Jance, Carola Dunn, Ann Purser, Joan Hess, Lesley Cookman, Simon Brett, and Mark Schweizer to name a few. Take your pick they were all my Favorites.

  10. Danna, I read many very good books last year as well as a few good ones already this year but the one that tops my list from last year: Dana Stabenow’s “Bad Blood.” Without giving the plot away to those who maybe haven’t read this book yet, the story was great the ending just blew me away. I did not expect the ending at all.

  11. My favorite book this year was Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimnity and the Lost Prince. This was such a heartwarming book. Two people that loved each other and found each other again after many years have passed. Such a nice story!

  12. Been giving this a lot of thought and my choice is: The Root of All Trouble by Heather Webber. Ms. Webber fills her books with great characters, well-written mysteries, and just the right amount of humor. Her Nina Quinn series is a favorite of mine.

  13. Like everyone else, I thought this would be a tough decision – there were so many wonderful books that I read! Then I started going through my monthly recommendations and realized there is one author I have read more than any other this year, Jenn McKinlay. I started off the year reading two books from her Library Lover’s series and at the end of the year I read two books from her Good Buy Girls series (writing as Josie Belle) and the first book in her Hat Shop series. As I have mentioned, she is one of my favorites among the newer authors. Her books are exactly what I need and what I look for in a cozy mystery, something light to take my mind off day-to-day matters with a great cast of characters that I enjoy spending time with. Narrowing it down to one favorite, I’m going with Cloche and Dagger. It was a great start to a new series – and I loved the opening where the heroine is reeling from the notoriety resulting from the video that went viral of her break-up with her boyfriend when she discovers he is married (at his anniversary celebration!).

    • Hi Judith-
      I also loved Cloche and Dagger! This was a great new series and I am looking forward to more books by Jenn. I almost named this as my favorite book, but I had to go with Aunt Dimnity and the Lost Prince.

      • Aunt Dimity and the Lost Prince is on my TBR list – maybe I need to move it up a little!

      • Judith and Patti,

        I’ll put a ‘third’ on this one. This is an excellent story, with a promising beginning of an enjoyable new series. I, too, am looking forward to the next book, ‘Death of a Mad Hatter’, to be released in May.

        • I’ll agree with all of you! Love Jen Mckinlay! I read all of her current series and count the days until her new releases. I will mention Buried in bargains, the latest in the Good Buy girls series. I really like this series for so many reasons but then again I could say the same about her other ones as well!

          And since naming just one is way to difficult I will list a few runner-up authors…Heather Blake (any series), Nancy Atherton (loved this year’s Aunt D story and that series is not losing it’s luster for me yet) and Juliet Blackwell’s witch or house renovation series for the paranormal lovers.

  14. Danna - cozy mystery list :

    Thank you ALL for your 2013 Favorite Cozy Mystery Reads. (I hope I have all of them listed.) It sounds like quite a few of you have the very same mystery in mind, which says a lot about that book!

  15. Like the rest of you I have read many good books last year and would have a hard time to pick just one. But I just finished reading “Killer Librarian” by Mary Lou Kirwin. I thought I would die laughing because I could see everything happening. Our heroine (is 45) is a librarian and getting ready to go on her first trip to Europe with her boyfriend of 4+ years and hours before the plane takes off he dumps her. She decides to go London anyway and when she gets to the airport finds him with a much younger woman. All the way to London she is plotting his demise and at a pub one night she tells a stranger all about what has happened and how she wants to get rid of her ex. The stranger says he will take care of it and then when she runs into her ex at a museum and sees the stranger talking to the new woman she thinks she has put a killer on their trail – you have to read to find out what happens.

  16. I didn’t read a lot of cozies this year, but HANDS down, my favorite was an unusual choice for me–a young adult protag–something I don’t read very often, but was just awesome in this book:

    The Tell-Tale Con by Aimee Gilchrist

    We read it as a buddy read as one of the books selected “by blurb only.” Was a lot of fun and a great cozy read!

  17. I read the whole series by Jess Lourey (murder by the month) which has a fabulous character group and interesting stories. It is exceptionally well written and the heroine has just the right amount of emphathy–something sometimes missing in cozies. I hope the series continues when the 12 months are ‘used up’ as it would be a loss. I’ll bet others feel the same sense of loss I feel when a really well done series ends or the writer stops writing it.

  18. Danna, I just yesterday finished reading Aunt Dimity and the Lost Prince. I loved this book. Lori has my talent of jumping to conclusions!! I am so good at that. If awards were given my walls would have fallen down.
    My January’s are like Lori’s February’s, dull, cold, icy, nothing to do, no money to do it with if there was something to do, the store shelves are empty and bare, might as well read. Lots of good books on the shelves.
    At least February has Valentine’s Day!!

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Linda C, I hope you are feeling well these days. How is your needlework going? That ought to keep you warm. There’s nothing to keep you warmer than crocheting or knitting an afghan, especially as it gets to the point of being so big you have to roll it up to keep it on your lap.

  19. I discovered Kathi Daley in 2013 and absolutely LOVE her work! Cupid’s Curse, which recently released, is such an awesome novel.

  20. My most recent favorite is the series by Imogen Robertson. I have read all of her Crowther and Westerman mysteries. Excellent characterization, great historical detail, lots of twists and turns, a bit dark at times, but enthralling reading! Strong female lead and elusive male counterpoint! Not a romance.

  21. I started reading the Miss Dimple series by Mignon Ballard this past year. They are set during WWII in a small town in Georgia. Miss Dimple is a first-grade teacher and she and her friends solve the mysteries. The fourth one was just released in Feb. 2014. It is very interesting as she discusses WWII rationing, etc. They are not overly grim. My parents married during this time and this brings back memories of their stories about WWII.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list :

      Betty, I would love to add the Miss Dimple mystery that would qualify as the favorite Cozy Mystery you read last year. If you have time, please send the title and I’ll add it to this list.

    • I’ve read the first three Miss Dimple books and LOVE them! Another thoroughly enjoyable read! Can’t wait for the fourth!

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