The best cozy mystery novels for readers who love culinary crimes

Why am I passionate about this?

Cozy mysteries are one of the most misunderstood subgenres in fiction, so I’ve been advocating for their promotion for nearly a decade. Even going to far as getting my M.F.A. in the subject and writing a book, How to Craft a Killer Cozy Mystery. These stories focus on the puzzle or whodunit aspect of mystery and present any deaths in a bloodless manner. The focus typically centers on an amateur sleuth and their community rather than law enforcement or villains. My picks are all by female authors of color and have heroines whose culinary inclinations not only help them solve the crime but also leave audiences hungry for another helping.  

I wrote...

Poetic Justice

By Andrea J. Johnson,

Book cover of Poetic Justice

What is my book about?

Twenty-five-year-old Victoria Justice has never gotten over a near drowning at the hands of her high school bully and has attempted to build her confidence and career as a court stenographer under the mentorship of The Honorable Frederica Scott Wannamaker, the county's first African-American Superior Court judge. But when Victoria’s old nemesis appears on the court docket, her carefully crafted world implodes—evidence goes missing, a potential mistrial abounds, and the judge winds up drowned in the courthouse bathroom. Victoria soon realizes her transcript of the proceedings unlocks everyone's secrets...including the murderer's. Can our heroine suppress her fears long enough to crack the code, find her voice, and avoid the crosshairs of the killer?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder

Andrea J. Johnson Why did I love this book?

Valerie Burns has quickly become a staple in the cozy mystery world having penned three successful series in less than five years. She’s recently created a fourth with the Baker Street Mysteries, which focuses on former social media influencer, Maddy Montgomery. In Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder, we find Maddy humiliated after she gets dumped during a live stream of her wedding. Fortunately, fate intervenes with an inheritance, which stipulates that she must operate her family’s bakery for a year before she’s entitled to any money. Due to her circumstances, Maddy accepts the challenge only to become the target of an unruly businessman who is later found dead on the premises. Determined not to fail, Maddy endeavors to uncover whodunit to clear her name and protect her new business.

By Valerie Burns,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Snappy dialogue, a well-drawn supporting cast and an irresistible canine companion all add delicious flavor. Gulp this book down or savor it, but consuming it will guarantee a sustained sugar high.”– The New York Times Book Review

In a brand-new culinary cozy series with a fresh edge and a delightful small-town setting, the acclaimed author introduces Maddy Montgomery, a social media expert who’s #StartingOver in small town Michigan after inheriting her great-aunt’s bakery…and a 200-pound English Mastiff named Baby.

A CrimeReads Most Anticipated Book Of 2022

When Maddy Montgomery’s groom is a no-show to their livestream wedding, it’s a disaster…

Book cover of A Deadly Inside Scoop

Andrea J. Johnson Why did I love this book?

If you love creamy desserts, downhome recipes, and close-knit communities, you’ll love the first entry in Abby Collette’s Ice Cream Parlor Mystery Series. Like all of the protagonists on this list, the story centers on a woman who has inherited a family eatery. In this instance, recent MBA grad Bronwyn Crewse isn’t able to get her new business off the ground when an early snow and a deadly confrontation with a family adversary put her plans in cold storage and her life in jeopardy.

By Abby Collette,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Deadly Inside Scoop as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book kicks off a charming cozy mystery series set in an ice cream shop—with a fabulous cast of quirky characters.

Recent MBA grad Bronwyn Crewse has just taken over her family's ice cream shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and she's going back to basics. Win is renovating Crewse Creamery to restore its former glory, and filling the menu with delicious, homemade ice cream flavors—many from her grandmother’s original recipes. But unexpected construction delays mean she misses the summer season, and the shop has a literal cold opening: the day she opens her doors an early first snow descends on…

Book cover of Arsenic and Adobo

Andrea J. Johnson Why did I love this book?

As winner of the 2021 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, you can’t deny that Arsenic and Adobo is a perfect read for anyone who wants a heaping helping of mystery, a cup of family conflict, and a liberal dash of comedy. Join protagonist Lila Macapagal as she moves back home after a disastrous breakup. While there, she’s enlisted by her aunts to help with the family restaurant only to be almost immediately saddled with the death of an obnoxious food critic, who just happens to be her ex-boyfriend! The atrocity puts the business in further jeopardy and leads the landlord to threaten the Macapagals with eviction. Determined to take charge of her life, Lila starts an investigation to clear her family name.

By Mia P. Manansala,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Arsenic and Adobo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A RUSA Award-winning novel!

The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer....

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She's tasked with saving her Tita Rosie's failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves…

Book cover of Death by Bubble Tea

Andrea J. Johnson Why did I love this book?

Unlike some of the more male-dominated genres, cozies have become more diverse in recent years. So if you’re interested in sampling something new, I highly recommend the first installment in the new L.A. Night Market Mysteries Series, Death by Bubble Tea. Author Jennifer J. Chow does an amazing job of providing mouth-watering descriptions of Cantonese and Taiwanese foods while at the same time delivering a twisty murder investigation as undertaken by cousins Yale Yee and Celine, whose family runs a food stand in Los Angeles’s Eastwood Village Night Market. You can’t go wrong with any of Chow’s books, but this one is a delightful departure for those who only know her for her feline-centric stories.

By Jennifer J. Chow,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Death by Bubble Tea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two cousins who start a food stall at their local night market get a serving of murder in this first novel of a delicious new cozy mystery series by Jennifer J. Chow, bestselling author of Mimi Lee Gets a Clue.

When Yale Yee discovers her cousin Celine is visiting from Hong Kong, she is obliged to play tour guide to a relative she hasn’t seen in twenty years. Not only that, but her father thinks it’s a wonderful idea for them to bond by running a food stall together at the Eastwood Village Night Market. Yale hasn’t cooked in years,…

Book cover of Hot and Sour Suspects

Andrea J. Johnson Why did I love this book?

In the early entries of Vivien Chien’s beloved Noodle Shop Mysteries, the focus is on protagonist’s Lana Lee’s failed love life, her mother’s determination to find her a husband, the family restaurant, and murder, of course. But Hot and Sour Suspects focuses more on the dating trials and tribulations of Lana’s friend and local shop owner, Rina Su, who attends a speed dating contest at Lana’s Ho-Lee Noodle House. It isn’t long before Rina’s date is found murdered and Lana takes up the responsibility of uncovering the truth before the situation and subsequent deaths threaten to sour the reputations and businesses of her fellow restaurant owners. 

By Vivien Chien,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hot and Sour Suspects as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lana Lee returns for another delectable cozy set in a Chinese restaurant in Vivien Chien's Hot and Sour Suspects.

"Pair your noodles with this steaming mystery, and you have the perfect chilly night combination!”—PopSugar

At the Ho-Lee Noodle House, murder is on the menu.

When Lana Lee’s best friend, Megan Riley, asks her to help host a speed dating contest at Ho-Lee Noodle House, she doesn’t see the harm in lending a hand. The night goes better than anticipated, and both Lana and Megan are beyond thrilled with the results. But before they can break out the champagne, Rina Su,…

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Thorn City

By Pamela Statz,

Book cover of Thorn City

Pamela Statz

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Dressed to kill and ready to make rent, best friends Lisa and Jamie work as “paid to party” girls at the Rose City Ripe for Disruption gala, a gathering of Portland's elite.

Their evening is derailed when Lisa stumbles across Ellen, a ruthless politician and Lisa’s estranged mother. And to make matters worse, Lisa’s boyfriend, Patrick, crashes the party to meet his new boss, Portland's food cart drug kingpin. Lisa makes a fateful choice that traps her, Jamie, and Patrick in Ellen’s web. In this gripping thriller, Lisa must reconcile a painful past and perilous present.

Thorn City

By Pamela Statz,

What is this book about?

Suspected murder, eclectic food trucks, and artisanal cocaine: just another day in Thorn City.

It’s the night of the Rose City Ripe for Disruption gala—a gathering of Portland’s elite. Dressed to kill in sparkling minidresses, best friends Lisa and Jamie attend as “paid to party” girls. They plan an evening of fake flirtations, karaoke playlists, and of course, grazing the catering.

Past and present collide when Lisa stumbles across Ellen, a ruthless politician who also happens to be Lisa’s estranged mother. Awkward . . . When Lisa was sixteen, Ellen had her kidnapped and taken to the Lost Lake Academy—a…

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