The most outrageous cozy mysteries

Judy Alter Author Of Saving Irene: A Culinary Mystery
By Judy Alter

Who am I?

I am a lifelong fan of cozy mysteries, starting with Nancy Drew. Although I have written primarily about women of the 19th-century American West, I always longed to write mysteries. The Irene in Chicago Culinary Mysteries is my fourth series but the first outrageous one. The books combine my love of all things culinary (I’ve even written cookbooks) and my love of Chicago, my hometown. What makes them outrageous? Irene’s diva-like deceptions and Henny’s snarky commentary.


I wrote...

Saving Irene: A Culinary Mystery

By Judy Alter,

Book cover of Saving Irene: A Culinary Mystery

What is my book about?

Irene Foxglove wishes she were a French chef. Henrietta James, her assistant, knows she is nothing more than a small-time TV chef on a local Chicago channel. And yet when Irene is threatened, Henny tries desperately to save her, wishing always that “Madame” would tell her the truth—about her marriage, her spoiled daughter, her days in France, the man who threatens her. Henny’s best friend, the gay guy who lives next door, teases her, encourages her, and shares meals with her, even as she wishes for more. Murder, kidnapping, and some French gossip complicate this mystery, set in Chicago and temptingly full of the aroma of fine food.

The books I picked & why

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Evil Woman

By Julie Mulhern,

Book cover of Evil Woman

Why this book?

In this fourteenth book in the Country Club Murders series, Ellison Russell returns from a long honeymoon to find an older woman has been murdered in her bed. With a new husband, her mother in the hospital (targeted by the murderer?), her difficult sister as a houseguest, one too many animals, and a full social calendar, Ellison can’t catch a break. Ellison is smart and funny, and she’s found herself a new, inappropriate, and wonderful husband. The spoof of the 1980s country club society is spot on.

Evil Woman

By Julie Mulhern,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Ellison Russell Jones returns from her honeymoon, she’s ready for a restful summer.

But while she was away, an older woman was murdered in her bed. And the police have questions only Ellison and her friends can answer.

She gets to be a sleuth. A real one! But with a new husband, her mother in the hospital (targeted by the murderer?), her sister as a house guest, one too many animals, and a full social calendar, Ellison can’t catch a break, much less a killer.

She’d better focus, or she may be the next victim.


Finlay Donovan Is Killing It

By Elle Cosimano,

Book cover of Finlay Donovan Is Killing It

Why this book?

Finlay is a struggling novelist and always-broke single mom, at the mercy of her smarmy ex. Overheard talking about the plot of the novel that’s stalled on her computer, she is mistaken for a hit woman. Lured by an enormous payout, she goes along with the charade, thinking she can bow out at any time. Of course consequences are everywhere as Finlay finds a sidekick and together, they masquerade in a shady bar, find themselves at a grave site, and come too close to crime for comfort. The second book in the series is Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead. You want to cheer for Finlay and strangle the ex. It’s all hilariously improbable.

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It

By Elle Cosimano,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Finlay Donovan Is Killing It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Getting the job done" for one single mom takes on a whole new meaning in Finlay Donovan is Killing It.

One of Suspense Magazine's "Best Thrillers of 2021"
One of New York Public Library's Best Books of 2021
Nominated for the Left Coast Crime 2022 Lefty Award for the Best Humorous Mystery

“Funny and smart, twisty and surprising.”—Megan Miranda

Finlay Donovan is killing it . . . except, she’s really not. She’s a stressed-out single-mom of two and struggling novelist, Finlay’s life is in chaos: the new book she promised her literary agent isn’t written, her ex-husband fired the nanny…


Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder

By Valerie Burns,

Book cover of Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder

Why this book?

Social media expert Maddy Montgomery, left standing at the altar, is #StartingOver in small-town Michigan after inheriting her great-aunt’s bakery and a 200-pound English Mastiff named Baby. Her plan to sell the bakery and go back to her sophisticated life is spoiled by a restriction in the will requiring her to spend a year in New Bison. Maddy doesn’t bake, and her Louboutins aren’t made for walking giant dogs, but the locals are friendly, and Lake Michigan is beautiful. Maddy feels ready to take on the challenge—until New Bison’s mayor is fatally stabbed, and her fingerprints are on the knife. When there’s another murder, she even begins to suspect the one person she has trusted. Maddy’s snarky dialog and clever use of hashtags, along with the irresistible Baby, make this a stand-out.

Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder

By Valerie Burns,

Why should I read it?

3 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…


Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun

By Lois Winston,

Book cover of Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun

Why this book?

Anastasia Pollock is caught in an outrageous situation. Husband, Karl, is at a sales meeting in Harrisburg. No, wait! He drops dead in Las Vegas where he has gambled away their nest egg, tuition for their sons’ college, and $50,000 he owes a loan shark. Lucille, Anastasia’s hateful mother-in-law, an outspoken eighty-something card-carrying Communist, has moved in with Anastasia because she’s broke and has nowhere to go. Anastasia designs projects for a craft magazine, and Marlys, her self-centered fashion editor, is found dead, glued to Anastasia’s office chair. When it turns out that Karl and Marlys were having an affair, Anastasia is the prime suspect in the murder. Anastasia survives all this with sarcastic humor, deadpan comments, and a parrot who quotes Shakespeare. First in a highly successful series.

Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun

By Lois Winston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Anastasia Pollack’s husband permanently cashes in his chips at a roulette table in Vegas, her comfortable middle-class life in New Jersey craps out. She’s left with two teenage sons, a mountain of debt, and her hateful, cane-wielding Communist mother-in-law. Not to mention stunned disbelief over her late husband’s secret gambling addiction, and the loan shark who’s demanding fifty thousand dollars.

Anastasia’s job as crafts editor at American Woman magazine proves no respite when she discovers a dead body glued to her desk chair. The victim, fashion editor Marlys Vandenburg, collected enemies and ex-lovers like Jimmy Choos on her ruthless…


The Ex Who Wouldn't Die

By Sally Berneathy,

Book cover of The Ex Who Wouldn't Die

Why this book?

When her scam-artist almost-ex-husband, Charley, saves her life after a motorcycle accident, Amanda almost forgives him. Then she discovers he was murdered hours before the crash. And he never went into the light—he’s been rejected. As a ghost, he cannot lie, and he cannot leave Amanda’s side. She’s stuck with him.

Amanda is desperate to solve the murder, clear herself as prime suspect, and get rid of Charley. Digging deep exposes more of Charley’s lies—the family he claimed died is loving and alive in a tiny Texas town; he was blackmailing both his killer and Amanda’s father the judge. Amanda not only traps the killer but discovers new relationships that change her life forever. Charley still doesn’t go into the light—he’s around for four sequels.

Some scary scenes, Amanda’s dry wit, and a ghost no one else can see or hear makes this fun to read.

The Ex Who Wouldn't Die

By Sally Berneathy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ex Who Wouldn't Die as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book 1, Charley's Ghost series
USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR
When Amanda's lying, cheating, scam-artist husband, Charley, saves her life in a near-fatal motorcycle accident, she can almost forgive him for dragging his feet on their divorce. Then she discovers he'd been dead for several hours at the time she thought he rescued her. And not just dead…murdered.

On the good side, at least they are no longer married.

But she's the primary suspect in Charley's murder and, as if that isn't bad enough, Charley's ghost shows up in her apartment. He was rejected, kicked back, not allowed to go into…


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