The series I’m highlighting this month for my ongoing project to write something about the most popular and recommended Cozy Mystery Series is a more recent release, but is nevertheless highly popular if recommendations are any indication. This month we’re covering the first entry in Lynn Cahoon‘s Tourist Trap Mystery Series, Guidebook to Murder. Though Cahoon has only been writing since 2014 (with this book, actually), she’s already released many books over three series, and has several more already scheduled for release both this year and next.
This is one of the most “modern” Cozies I’ve covered for this series, and it’s definitely easy to see the modern Cozy influences. The sleuth, Jill Gardner, is a former lawyer from the big city who decided she needed a change of pace when her marriage and career had both hit low points – the marriage ended, the career stalled in a job she didn’t enjoy. Naturally (for a Cozy at least!) she decided to take this opportunity to follow up her long-running dream of opening a coffeeshop/bookshop in the small town of South Cove, California.
Unfortunately, where a new career goes, murder is sure to follow in a Cozy. In this case, the unfortunate victim is Jill’s elderly friend, Miss Emily, the woman who had originally convinced her to move down to South Cove. Miss Emily didn’t particularly care for her few living relatives, and as a result the death leaves her entire estate in Jill’s hands – much to the consternation of not only the jilted next of kin, but also a potential illegitimate descendant, a sleazy real estate developer, and the town’s unpleasant mayor, all of whom want Miss Emily’s house for its lucrative location. Fortunately, hunky local cop Greg is there for Jill as she endures first threats, then inevitable assaults and attempts on her life. And that’s not mentioning another of Jill’s friends going missing, a load of potentially valuable artwork in the barn, or the possibility of missing Spanish gold!
Though many of the elements of the novel are relatively common in modern Cozies, it’s definitely worth noting that Cahoon’s writing definitely elevates the book above many of the other novels with otherwise very similar themes that you might already have read. One specific element that definitely requires consideration is the romance element – for some readers this might be a plus, for others a negative, but it’s definitely more prominent than in many other similar series this early in. Either way, this is a very solid beginning to a conventional Cozy Mystery series with a lot of enjoyable modern trappings.
If you’re interested in seeing more highlights of some of the most recommended or popular Cozy Mystery authors/series, visit the Most Popular & Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on my site.