The best cozy mysteries—with a touch of romance—set in New York

Who am I?

I am a musician and writer who has always loved mysteries. Main character-sleuths who are likable and sometimes get in over their heads are my favorites, both as a reader and a writer, especially if they contribute something positive to their world in addition to solving the crime. If their careers or hobbiesanything from the arts to small customer-service businesses – offer joy to themselves and to others, so much the better. Since I grew up in the New York area, I like books that are set there, but am open to a good story set anywhere in the world.


I wrote...

To Sketch a Killer

By Caryl Janis,

Book cover of To Sketch a Killer

What is my book about?

Sarah Quinlee needed a change, but after accidentally stumbling on a murder victim near her new workplace, change proved incredibly risky, even for the crime-ridden 1970s. Sarah is quickly pulled into a tangle of neighborhood secrets involving everyone from coworkers and a homeless woman to quirky locals and a street punk. Her perceptive sketches of them raise serious questions – and serious danger. Unable to resist playing sleuth, despite the concern of an attractive police detective, Sarah is soon up against a desperate killer.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Murder in Fourth Position: An On Pointe Mystery

Caryl Janis Why did I love this book?

The latest in a series featuring an engaging New York City ballerina/amateur sleuth.

On hiatus from Lincoln Center while her ballet company is on tour, Leah goes undercover as a dancer on Broadway to keep her eyes open for clues into who is harassing the show’s leading lady online. It starts simply enough until murder enters the picture.

I loved the quirky backstage energy, the interplay between the colorful cast of characters, and the many absorbing plot twists. It’s easy to applaud as Leah keeps investigating despite mounting personal danger as well as the anxiety it causes in her romance with the appealing detective on the case.

By Lori Robbins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder in Fourth Position as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mad Music was the buzziest new show of the upcoming Broadway season, with a hot score, a cool director, and a deadly plot twist no one saw coming. When rumors of a behind-the-scenes disaster surface, ballerina Leah Siderova finds herself with the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to make her Broadway debut while playing a double role. The producers hope to capitalize on her talent, as well as her devoted fan base, to revive ticket sales. Leah's true reason for abandoning Lincoln Center for the Great White Way is her undercover investigation of online threats against Amber Castle, the…


Book cover of Ghostwriter Anonymous

Caryl Janis Why did I love this book?

First in a reissued series, this has a local 1990s Upper East Side vibe. “Jake” (short for Jacqueline) is part of a supportive group of ghostwriters who regularly meet to discuss the problems and pitfalls of their chosen career.

But she soon finds herself solving the murder of one of their own. I loved the uniquely detailed characters –the writers, Jake’s mother, her mom’s best friend, the neighbors. Enjoyable wit and humor prevail throughout, and the lively situations that lead Jake into both peril and perplexing romantic possibilities are enjoyable.

The ease with which older and younger generations blend is a definite asset to a plot with some real surprises.

By Noreen Wald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Murders multiply, but Jake proves up to the challenge. She sees through all the subterfuge and chicanery, solving a mind-boggling mystery in a burst of insight. All the characters are charmingly kooky and fun. This is a good beginning for a new series. We will be looking for more of Jake O'Hara." - TheMysteryReader.com "[Wald] writes with a light touch." - New York Daily News "The author keeps the plot airy and the characters outlandish." - South Florida Sun-Sentinel With her books sporting other people's names, ghostwriter Jake O'Hara works behind the scenes. But she never expected a séance at…


Book cover of Honey Roasted

Caryl Janis Why did I love this book?

Here is one of the latest in the popular books featuring Greenwich Village coffee house manager, Clare Cosi.

It is enormous fun to tag along on Clare’s most recent wild adventure as she investigates both murder and attempted murder while trying to plan her honeymoon with an overworked police detective, getting a quick education in beekeeping, and still overseeing the Village Blend and its loveable staff.

Despite numerous intriguing complications, I loved how Clare handles everything with great aplomb and integrity. The action, the wit, the appealing characters, and the evolving plot that kept me guessing until the end made this story a winner.

By Cleo Coyle,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Honey Roasted as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Coyle's latest Coffeehouse mystery is a honey of a tale....A primer on bees, coffee, and some of New York's most unusual and exciting areas make for a fascinating and mysterious read."—Kirkus Reviews

Clare Cosi is busy as a bee planning her honeymoon when murder buzzes into the Village Blend in this all-new mystery in the beloved New York Times bestselling Coffeehouse series by Cleo Coyle.

While struggling to find a romantic (and affordable) destination for her upcoming honeymoon, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi whips up a honey of a drink made from honey-processed coffee. Clare plans to serve her outstanding new…


Book cover of A Fatal Finale

Caryl Janis Why did I love this book?

I loved Ella Shane who rose from Lower East Side poverty to success.

She directs and performs in her own opera company – most unusual for a woman in 1899, even in New York. Never forgetting where she came from, she is grateful for all she’s achieved. In this first of a three-part series, Ella turns sleuth after one of her young singers dies mysteriously onstage.

When the singer’s cousin (a Duke, no less) arrives to investigate, the promise of romance is definitely in the air. The contrast between late 1890s protocols versus the changing attitudes of the coming new century is fascinating. The main characters are beautifully and compassionately drawn, and the story has an action-packed finale.

By Kathleen Marple Kalb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Fatal Finale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the cusp of the twentieth century, Manhattan is a lively metropolis buzzing with talent. But after a young soprano meets an untimely end on stage, can one go-getting leading lady hit the right notes in a case of murder?
 
New York City, 1899. When it comes to show business, Gilded Age opera singer Ella Shane wears the pants. The unconventional diva breaks the mold by assuming “trouser roles”—male characters played by women—and captivating audiences far and wide with her travelling theatre company. But Ella’s flair for the dramatic takes a terrifying turn when an overacting Juliet to her Romeo…


Book cover of Against the Currant: A Spice Isle Bakery Mystery

Caryl Janis Why did I love this book?

Lyndsay has strong ties with her family and, in the opening book of this series, I loved how all three generations, including her feisty grandmother, pitch in to help Lyndsay realize her dream of opening a Caribbean bakery and café in her local Brooklyn neighborhood.

And when a rival business owner is murdered, Lyndsay needs all the support she can get as the spotlight shines on her as a potential suspect. Despite any danger involved, she begins her own investigation. Things become further complicated when one of the detectives on the case turns out to be her high-school crush from the past.

With lots of determination, a warm heart, and an appreciation for what is important in life, I cheered her on right through the last page.

By Olivia Matthews,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Against the Currant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Little Caribbean, Brooklyn, New York: Lyndsay Murray is opening Spice Isle Bakery with her family, and it's everything she's ever wanted. The West Indian bakery is her way to give back to the community she loves, stay connected to her Grenadian roots, and work side-by-side with her family. The only thing getting a rise out of Lyndsay is Claudio Fabrizi, a disgruntled fellow bakery owner who does not want any competition. On opening day, he comes into the bakery threatening to shut them down. Fed up, Lyndsay takes him to task in front of what seems to be the whole…


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A Last Serenade for Billy Bonney

By Mark Warren,

Book cover of A Last Serenade for Billy Bonney

Mark Warren Author Of Indigo Heaven

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Composer Archer Teacher Grateful

Mark's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

In this deeply researched novel of America's most celebrated outlaw, Mark Warren sheds light on the human side of Billy the Kid and reveals the intimate stories of the lesser-known players in his legendary life of crime. Warren's fictional composer and Santa Fe journalist, John Blessing, is assigned to report on a jailed prisoner who calls himself "Willima H. Bonney," but what begins as a formal interview evolves into an unexpected relationship and a self-examination of Blessing's own cultured, city values.

After the Kid's death, Blessing embarks on a journey to find Billy's comrades and acquaintances - those who loved the Kid... and others who despised him. Ride along with John Blessing as he unravels one of Western history's most fascinating enigmas.

A Last Serenade for Billy Bonney

By Mark Warren,

What is this book about?

In this deeply researched novel of America's most celebrated outlaw, Mark Warren sheds light on the human side of Billy the Kid, and reveals the intimate stories of the lesser-known players in his legendary life of crime. Warren's fictional composer and Santa Fe journalist, John Blessing, is assigned to report on a jailed prisoner who calls himself "William H. Bonney," but what begins as a formal interview evolves into an unexpected relationship and a self-examination of Blessing's own cultured, city values.

After the Kid's death, Blessing embarks on a journey to find Billy's comrades and acquaintances - those who loved…


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