Mystery Books that Take Place in Arizona…

Here are some fun Arizona facts:
The largest city and capital is Phoenix.
State motto is “God Enriches” (Ditat Deus)
State nickname is the Grand Canyon State.
State flower is the Saguaro Cactus Blossom.
State bird is the Cactus Wren.
State animal is the Ringtail.

Mystery authors who are found on the Cozy Mystery Site who feature Arizona locations in their books:

Garrison Allen: Big Mike Mystery Series… Mike is a huge Abyssinian cat who eats lima beans, and is owned by a mystery bookstore owner…

Sarah Atwell (aka Sheila Connolly): Glassblowing Mystery Series… sleuth is the owner of a glassblowing studio…

Deb Baker: Dolls to Die For Mystery Series… doll-collecting sleuths…

Tony Hillerman: Joe Leaphorn & Jim Chee Mystery Series… Navajo tribe police officers…

J. A. Jance: Joanna Brady Mystery Series… Joanna is a sheriff AND  Alison Reynolds Mystery Series… Alison is a blogger/sleuth…

Jenn McKinlay (aka Lucy Lawrence): Cupcake Bakery Mystery Series… Melanie Cooper is the owner of the Fairy Tale Cupcake Bakery…

Keith Miles (aka Conrad Allen & Edward Marston): Merlin Richards Mystery Series… Merlin is an architect/sleuth…

Nancy Pickard & Virginia Rich: Eugenia Potter Mystery Series… Series originated by Virginia Rich, continued by Nancy Pickard… chef/sleuth…

Louise Ure: Psychological Thrillers…

Betty Webb: Lena Jones Mystery Series…

Please feel free to comment if you see an author from the Cozy Mystery Site who belongs on this list, or if you have any corrections.

♦To access more Cozy Mysteries by Theme click on this link.♦


  1. says

    Didn’t the Kirk Mitchell series take place in Az??? Now I have to go check. I know one of the books was partly in NM and another the detective team traveled…north, but I thought they were based in Az. I could be wrong…too many books, not enough brain!


  2. says

    Thanks, Maria, for telling us about Kirk Mitchell. I just looked him up, and it looks like his Emmett Parker mystery is set in the “Arizona area” including Oklahoma and New Mexico.

    I know what you mean by “too many books, not enough brain!”!!!

  3. says

    Great listing. I like Arizona – it is one of my favorite states – outside of Texas. I recognize three of the writers – Jance, Hillerman, Atwell.

  4. says

    When I lived in Arizona, I was reading Hillerman and Jance. Since I now live in Minnesota, I read Ferris and Krueger, and write my own series about a Minnesota birder who finds bodies while looking for birds. But my protagonist still has Arizona roots – he reminisces about birding in Arizona and in the fourth book (due Sept. 2011), he’s out in Flagstaff to solve an old murder. I think there’s something about Arizona that just lends itself to mystery – the breathtaking scenery, the desolate spaces, the cultures, the people.

    • Fritzie says

      Hi Birdermurdermomma! You forgot to tell us what books to look for that you wrote. I also used to live in AZ and am now in MN. Would love to read your stuff. Thanks!

  5. Sandra says

    Emmett Parker and Anna Turnipseed
    1. Cry Dance (1999)
    2. Spirit Sickness (2000)
    3. Ancient Ones (2001)
    4. Sky Woman Falling (2003)
    5. Dance of the Thunder Dogs (2004)

    I love the Tony Hillerman books but missed reading Kirk Mitchell….I have lived in Arizona all of my 55 yrs…shame on me! They’re on my list now! Thanks Maria.

  6. Dina says

    I’m sorry, I listed those because they probably aren’t really considered cozy. I was just thinking about that they are set in Arizona – although they’re probably not that much different in style of writing from Jance and Hillerman’s. I do know that I especially enjoyed James C. Mitchell’s. And once when I e-mailed him about enjoying his books, he recommended Jance. And I think he mentioned Hillerman and Webb. Earlene Fowler lists on her website Betty Webb as one of her favorite writers. I have one of Webb’s books in my To Be Read stack of books.

  7. Judith says

    Jenn McKinlay’s new Cupcake Bakery Mystery series is set in Scottsdale, Arizona. I just finished reading it – not only did I enjoy the story but I was wishing the cupcake bakery actually existed so I could go there the next time I visited my parents in Phoenix!

  8. Sandra says

    I love Betty Webb’s Lena Jones series and just picked up her latest, Desert Lost,she again takes up her fight against polygomy cults. I think the reason I like her books so much is her descriptions of Scottsdale and the rest of Arizona are right on. As I’ve posted before, I was born in Tempe, AZ and have lived here for 55 yrs. So I definitely know the places Betty describes. When she writes about Lena’s daily run in the 100+ degree evening heat winding up and down through the buttes of the Papago Park area I can see the red sandstone of Hole-in-the-Rock, large rocks that were formed millions of yrs ago. I can hear the chants of the ancient Hohokam Indians. I can picture her story of the 3,100 German WWII prisoners of war that were housed there. Lena sprints past our first governor’s pyramid shaped tomb and slows past the Phoenix Zoo, stopping to stretch at the Desert Botanical Gardens. All the while she and her Pima Indian partner, Jimmy Sisiwan, are solving mysterious crimes in Arizona, freeing an Apache Indian artist from a probable long prison term, hoping to end polygamy on the Utah/Arizona border, and hoping one day to learn the truth about Lena’s true identity and why she was found as a young child shot in the head and left to die on an Arizona street.

  9. Janet says

    I met J.A. Jance in her home state of AZ. I got the newest Brady-Beaumont and the 1st Ali Reynolds signed. She’s a very nice person as well as being a talented writer.

  10. Janie says

    When I first moved to AZ a few years ago, our new house had a problem and we ended up staying for a while in a furnished condo in Tucson. Included in the furnishings, was the first 3 of JA Jance’s Joanna Brady series. Since I love mysteries, I started reading – and got to know (and love) AZ in the process!

    Jance’s Ali Reynolds books, based in Sedona, aren’t as good, imo, but just “okay.”

    One thing I like about the Joanna Brady series is that you don’t just get to know Sheriff Brady as a sheriff – you also get to know her as a mom, a daughter, a widow, a newlywed, etc. That’s not what each book is about, yet you see the change and progression over time. For the same reason, I loved Dorothy Simpson’s Luke Thanot series. Neither are “cozies,” really, but they are more personal than, say, a police procedural.

    Can anyone recommend other mysteries that do this?

    Also, thanks, Sandra, for your review – I will try Webb, too.

  11. Stacy H says

    Why haven’t any of you included Jon Talton’s David Mapstone mysteries. They are such great reads and he weaves Arizona history into them so well.

  12. Gloria says

    You must try Twist Phelan who writes legal-themed mysteries using the fictional town of Pinnacle Peak, AZ. Although it is a fictional town, it will be very familar to anyone knowledgeable about AZ.

  13. linda says

    Danna, Nothing else to do today. Just going through some of these old postings. No need for you or anyone else to respond, unless you want to of course.

    I am just a retired woman with nothing else to do, no place to go, no one to see.

    I too love to read novels with Arizona as the setting. I love these books so much that I even try to root for their pro sports teams—- unless of course these teams are playing the Reds!

  14. Joyce says

    Need someone to refresh my memory.
    Novel started out with a retired female college professor driving her old school bus from the northwest to Arizona. She was retained to go undercover in order to investigate activity by a “cult” group living in a grouping of dome building located in Sedona, Az. I do remember the author was a female. It has been several years since I read it. The author had written several books.

  15. says

    10-10-12 — I am a writer and publisher of cozy mysteries and romantic mysteries set in Tucson, Arizona. I am or have been a member of Arizona Mystery Writers, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America and the Society of Southwestern Authors.

  16. says

    I’d like to mention my cozy series set in Scottsdale, AZ. The St. Rose Quilting Bee series features a group of senior women who quilt together at their church and solve mysteries over the quilt frame. Latest entry is St. Rose Goes Hawaiian, where the group travels to Hawai`i for a quilt seminar.

    • linda c says

      Annette, I just clicked on your web page to see what your collection of books had to offer. These look like the kind of books that I enjoy reading. I will be looking for these.

  17. linda c says

    I just finished reading “Judgement Call”, a Joanna Brady novel by J. A. Jance that, I believe is set in Arizona. What a good book!! One of the reasons that I like books that are set in different areas of the country is because from time to time the author gives attention to some of the history of the area or maybe some mention of interesting places in the particular area. This particular book really didn’t do that. But previous books in the series has.

    I was particularly interested in the story of Joanna’s father, who was killed early in Joanna’s childhood. As I read the story, I got the feeling that the story was maybe leading to a conclusion for this series. I sure hope not. I don’t really care as much for the “Beaumount” series but I do like this one. I certainly hope more Joanna series will be on the way.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Linda C, I really enjoy mystery series that are set in the northeastern states, for the same reason. I especially enjoy it when the books are set in the fall and winter. Since we don’t have real seasons down here in San Antonio, it’s fun to enjoy those seasons vicariously.

  18. Beverly says

    I was just curious why no one mentioned Sylvia Nobel, the Kendall O’Dell series. I am not sure but if my memory serves me right I believe they take pace in Arizona.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *