The most engaging page-turner novels with female-centered humorous plots

Who am I?

Enchanted by mysteries of the cozy, comic, or traditional sort, I was delighted to realize that they replay the holy grail myth. Here the Waste Land is the community paralyzed by the crime that cannot be undone, murder, the sleuth is the Grail Knight, and the Grail Cup is the restorative magic of the solution. Cozy or comic or traditional sleuths find the murderer by asking the right questions, so re-storying or restoring the fertility of the realm. Comedy is used for rebirth in the face of tragedy. I began to write cozies-with-an-edge, emphasizing women heroes who need each other as they face issues of today’s wasteland in climate change. 

I wrote...

The Sacred Well Murders

By Susan Rowland,

Book cover of The Sacred Well Murders

What is my book about?

After ex-archivist Mary Wandwalker starts her Enquiry Agency with the widow of her son and his ex-criminal girlfriend, they embark on a case that is far too dangerous for inexperienced sleuths. The ludicrous and tragic results push the new family to breaking point. For by infiltrating the Reborn Celts, Mary discovers that their respectable Oxford Summer School is a front for bloody and criminal initiations. To appease Celtic gods offended by the climate emergency, ritual sacrifices begin at a sacred well and travel down the Thames to one of the lost rivers of London. These flawed detectives can save the day only if they work together. As the local witch says to her mentee: “Time to get real, Sarah. No more human sacrifices, got it?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Wise Children

Susan Rowland Why did I love this book?

Embrace this beloved comic novel with seventy-five-year-old showgirl twins, Dora and Nora Chance. Dora recalls their bawdy existence of struggle and romance hours before partying with the toff side of the family, Shakespearean actor dynasty, the Hazards. The Chances grab life and joy from the wrong side of the tracks. Possibly fathered by actor, Sir Melchior, or his twin brother, the Chance twins struggled to make a living in the illegitimate theater of song and dance. Despite male lovers, their lives are shaped by women, like Hollywood starlet Delia, and the Lady A, both unfortunate wives of their putative father. Disabled and thrown out by cruel daughters, Lady A pops up as Wheelchair when taken in by the warm-hearted Chances. The kindness of women is what matters here.

By Angela Carter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wise Children as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Brixton, Nora and Dora Chance - twin chorus girls born and bred south of the river - are celebrating their 75th birthday. Over the river in Chelsea, their father and greatest actor of his generation Melchior Hazard turns 100 on the same day. As does his twin brother Peregrine. If, in fact, he's still alive. And if, in truth, Melchior is their real father after all...


Wise Children is adapted for the stage from Angela Carter's last novel about a theatrical family living in South London. It centres around twin chorus girls, Nora and Dora Chance, whose lives…

Book cover of Scot Free

Susan Rowland Why did I love this book?

I love comic worlds that make unlikely families from the impoverished, slightly crazy, and the unlucky. Here is a study of friendship, affection, suspects, and oddballs washed up at the well-named Last Ditch Motel. Scottish therapist Lexy Campbell is stranded in small-town California by a faithless husband. She won’t desert her one client accused of murder by exploding toilet. Flummoxed America and California, this fish-out-of-water hooks up with Kathi, the allergic laundry operator, and her wife, Noleen, the Motel receptionist who hates people. Add perfectionist gay Todd trying to get Lexy into California grooming while too phobic to live with his beloved, stir in single mother Della, tiny Diego, and nerd Devin. Lexy’s car crash detecting needs them all. Last Ditch is a surefire series. I pre-order every one.

By Catriona McPherson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Scot Free as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lexy Campbell fights to prove the innocence of a client she's been providing marriage guidance to after she is accused of murdering her husband.

It's the Fourth of July in California and Lexy Campbell is headed home to Scotland. But first she must deliver her final dose of marriage guidance to the elderly Bombarros. They don't turn up for the session, but the cops do. Turns out Mr Bombarro is in the morgue and Mrs Bombarro is in the jail, arrested for murder.

Certain of the old lady's innocence, Lexy decides to stay and clear her name. But after her…

Book cover of Catering to Nobody

Susan Rowland Why did I love this book?

What I love about the mysteries with professional caterer, Gold Bear, is that she creates a warmhearted family despite the real tragedy of spousal abuse. First in this beautifully plotted humorous series, Goldy dodges the blows of her ex-husband while struggling to support herself and her son. She cannot escape her ex because she will not deprive her son of his father. Fortunately, Goldy has Marla, her best friend, and another former wife of the same violent man. With the two of them in a mutual support group, Goldy finds the energy to care about other struggling inhabitants of her Colorado town. Yet, when her unkind ex-father-in-law is poisoned while eating Goldy’s food, she knows that she must become the hero of her own life. This makes her my choice. 

By Diane Mott Davidson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Catering to Nobody as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Diane Mott Davidson’s winning recipe of first-class suspense and five-star fare has won her and caterer Goldy critical raves and a regular place on major bestseller lists across the country. In Goldy’s tantalizing debut, she serves up a savory dish of secrets, suspicions, and murder....

Catering a wake is not Goldy’s idea of fun. Yet the Colorado caterer throws herself into preparing a savory feast including Poached Salmon and Strawberry Shortcake Buffet designed to soothe forty mourners. And her culinary efforts seem to be…

Book cover of Her Royal Spyness

Susan Rowland Why did I love this book?

This gloriously comic 1920s mystery series is a favorite because the endearing protagonist is in the ludicrous position of really poor little rich girl. Despite royal blood, Lady Georgiana Rannoch has no money. Being 34th in line to the throne means she is not allowed to get a job. With the only option of marrying a dreadful prince, she struggles in abject poverty in an unheated London mansion. A most unlikely person transforms her fate, the Queen of England. She engages Georgie to spy on her difficult son and heir. Meanwhile Georgie’s half-brother Binky might lose the family castle to a scam. Muddles multiply until the discovery of the family nemesis dead in the family bath. With Binky arrested only Georgie is rash and brave enough to save the day.

By Rhys Bowen,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Her Royal Spyness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The New York Times bestselling author of the Molly Murphy and Constable Evan Evans mysteries turns her attentions to "a feisty new heroine to delight a legion of Anglophile readers."*

London, 1932. Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, 34th in line for the English throne, is flat broke. She's bolted Scotland, her greedy brother, and her fish-faced betrothed. London is a place where she'll experience freedom, learn life lessons aplenty, do a bit of spying for HRH-oh, and find a dead Frenchman in her tub. Now her new job is to clear her long family name...

Book cover of Fearless Fourteen

Susan Rowland Why did I love this book?

For sheer delight, I give you mysteries featuring not-very-competent bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum, because they use comedy to portray as well as endure a world of endemic violence. Serious stuff like organized crime is made visible and bearable to the reader by foregrounding Stephanie’s chaos-strewn friendships with walking disasters like ex ‘ho Lula. The great comic creation, Grandma Mazur (aged 70, looks 90) also drags our beloved sleuth into peril that is hilarious as well as life-threatening. This time Grandma becomes a holy terror in online gaming, a change from geriatric sex-crazed boyfriends, falling into coffin caskets, or shooting the dinner chicken. Evanovich collides the crime caper with darker textures of urban suffering. Read for comedy as a survival skill with plenty of sex, death, and doughnuts. 

By Janet Evanovich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fearless Fourteen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sometimes fame can be fatal...

Personal vendettas. Hidden treasure. A monkey named Carl. Stephanie Plum is as fearless as ever in the fourteenth hilarious novel in Janet Evanovich's bestselling Stephanie Plum series. Fearless Fourteen is not to be missed by fans of Harlan Coben and JD Robb.

Raves for Evanovich's bestselling series: 'A laugh a minute against a background of dastardly crime with a ditzy heroine and two - yes TWO - of the hottest heroes ever created' (Woman's Weekly); 'A laugh-out-loud page-turner' (Heat).

Stephanie's desperate enough for a bit of extra cash that she's agreed to help run security…

You might also like...

Through Any Window

By Deb Richardson-Moore,

Book cover of Through Any Window

Deb Richardson-Moore Author Of Murder, Forgotten

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Mystery aficionado Beach lover Mother Gardener Housing advocate

Deb's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Riley Masterson has moved to Greenbrier, SC, anxious to escape the chaos that has overwhelmed her life.

Questioned in a murder in Alabama, she has spent eighteen months under suspicion by a sheriff’s office, unable to make an arrest. But things in gentrifying Greenbrier are not as they seem. As Riley struggles to forge a new life, forces are gathering in the tension-plagued neighborhood where glitzy new homes rise alongside crumbling mill houses, and everyone, it seems, can peer into a neighbor’s window.

When murder explodes, someone unexpected is caught in the crossfire. Detectives are left to ponder: Are the deaths personal or the result of rich and poor living in such close proximity? And will Riley take the blame as someone so meticulously planned?

Through Any Window

By Deb Richardson-Moore,

What is this book about?

After being questioned in a murder investigation, Riley Masterson has spent eighteen months under suspicion by the sheriff’s office. Anxious to escape accusing eyes, she finally decides to leave Alabama and move to South Carolina.

But Greenbrier isn’t the stabilizing influence she hopes for, as her neighborhood is slowly being gentrified, with homeless people living in the shadows of mansions. As Riley struggles to forge a new life, forces are gathering in the tension-plagued neighborhood as glitzy new homes rise beside crumbling mill houses, and everyone is able and willing to peer into a neighbor’s window.

When a ghastly crime…

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