The best cozy mystery books to snuggle up with; now and then

Joan L. Kelly Author Of Notions of Murder
By Joan L. Kelly

The Books I Picked & Why

Blanche on the Lam: A Blanche White Mystery

By Barbara Neely

Book cover of Blanche on the Lam: A Blanche White Mystery

Why this book?

I get a kick out of a story that presents a main character who doesn’t fit the expected norms of a hero or heroine. A feisty, middle-aged African-American housekeeper/cook is not your typical amateur sleuth. When her checks bounce because her rich employer fails to pay her, Blanche goes on the lam. Hiding as a maid for a wealthy family, things look bleak when a murder occurs in the home.  Blanche calls on her savvy and wit to discover the truth. As the story unfolds, the author uses humor and biting sentences to present a glimpse into the foibles of southern society toward domestic help. This is the first of this cozy mystery series featuring a very memorable character, Balance White. An enjoyable read!  

Once you read Blanche on the Lam, I believe you won’t hesitate to search out book two of the series to see what further adventures Blanche may stumble into.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

By Joanne Fluke

Book cover of Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

Why this book?

I enjoy a book that immediately makes me feel like I’ve stepped into a welcoming setting. Joanne Fluke does this with her description of Lake Eden. Apparently, I’m not the only one who liked this book. Hallmark liked it enough to make it into a television series. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is the first in the Murder She Baked series. Hannah Swenson not only knows her way around the kitchen as she bakes up delectable cookie treats, but she also has a gift for solving crimes. In this story, the local delivery man is found murdered behind The Cookie Jar, Hannah’s popular bakery. This small-town sleuth works through the clues to track down a killer in between baking up sweets – keeping both the customers in Lake Eden and any interested reader happy.  If you are a cozy mystery fan, I recommend adding this series to your bookshelf for those times you want an enjoyable and relaxing read.  

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The Cat Who Played Post Office

By Lilian Jackson Braun

Book cover of The Cat Who Played Post Office

Why this book?

The best way I can recommend this book is by informing you that, over the years, I have purchased every book in the series and read them more than once. Between 1967 and 2007, Lillian Jackson Braun wrote twenty-nine Cat Who books. This prolific writer passed away in 2011, but her novels are still popular. Her cozy mysteries do not feature the usual female sleuth. Instead, the main character is a reporter named Jim Qwilleran and his two Siamese cats, Ko Ko and Yum Yum. The story I picked to feature is The Cat Who Played Post Office. After millions were bequeathed to Qwilleran from Francesca Klingerschoen, known to Qwilleran as Aunt Fanny, he moves himself and the cats to the enormous mansion he’d inherited. After hiring a staff of local servants, a shocking murder takes place. Qwill’s ability to listen to others and his desire to investigate, combined with Ko Ko’s sixth sense, leads to an unlikely suspect. I think you will find that Lilian Jackson Braun succeeded in keeping ‘Quill’ true to character throughout the series while updating the setting and mysteries. This makes a good series.  

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The Body in the Library: A Miss Marple Mystery

By Agatha Christie

Book cover of The Body in the Library: A Miss Marple Mystery

Why this book?

Long before series such as Murder She Wrote, or Mystery Woman became popular, Agatha Christie introduced Miss Marple. Jane Marple was the quintessential heroine of a cozy mystery. The white-haired, blue-eyed spinster accepting requests as an amateur consulting detective was sweet but cunningly intelligent. I enjoy that the players in these mystery stories don’t see Miss Marple as a threat to uncovering their various acts of chicanery and misdeeds. In the Miss Marple novel, The Body in the Library, the Bantry household gets a shocking start to their day when the body of a woman is found on the library floor. Hoping to avoid a scandal in the village of St. Mary Mead, Mrs. Bantry asks Miss Marple to come to their home to investigate. Can the elderly sleuth’s sharp mind sift through the clues to separate the truth from the lies and solve the case and catch the killer? As a reader, I think you will be caught up in the story as the elderly sleuth unfolds the clues for solving the mystery.

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Grey Mask: A Miss Silver Mystery

By Patricia Wentworth

Book cover of Grey Mask: A Miss Silver Mystery

Why this book?

Grey Mask is the first of the 32 Miss Silver mysteries. Patricia Wentworth was a master of the English style cozy mystery, writing back in the 1920s. I love that this early-twentieth-century series proves that cozy mysteries have been a favorite genre for decades. Wentworth’s character, Miss Maud Silver, whose little old lady with a passion for knitting persona has a keen intellect and penchant for details. 

Grey Mask begins with Charles Moray returning unexpectedly to his home in England after years overseas. Noticing a light on in his manor, he slips in quietly and eavesdrops on a group of intruders planning a crime. Recognizing one of the voices, Charles hesitates to call the police. Instead, he sneaks away and contacts Maud Silver. The matronly sleuth applies deductive reasoning to disrupt the diabolical plan. I recommend looking to the past and reading Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver series for an enjoyable read in the present.  

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