Last week I admitted that I read cozy mysteries for fun. Here are some of my favorites from recent years. I’ve chosen series that have engaged me through repeated volumes. The characters, their predicaments, and their love lives kept me coming back to find out what happens as much as the puzzle of how they find the solution to the murder, more from quirky obsessions than true forensic evidence. The evidence is important, but the characters and their interactions are more so. Call them popcorn books. When I go on a cozy binge I gobble them by the handful.
The Treacherous Teddy A Bear Collector’s Mystery by John J. Lamb. In this series, Brad Lyon is a retired San Francisco police detective, suffering from a bullet wound that left him with a badly mangled leg. He and his wife make finely detailed collectible teddy bears, attend craft shows, and solve mysteries. I love the bears as much as the mystery. The author includes many police procedural references but keeps the tone light and doesn’t overwhelm the reader with particulars while imparting a sense of verisimilitude.
Ghastly Glass A Renaissance Faire Mystery by Joyce & Jim Lavene. I’ve been to Renn Faires and Highland Games and Science Fiction Conventions. They all have a similar feel of unreality that is much more interesting than life outside the event—so much so that the faire takes on a life of its own. Add some sort-of grounded characters among those that would rather live full time at the faire and you have a quirky setting that will bring me back time and again.
Murder of a Chocolate-Covered Cherry A Scrumble River Mystery by Denise Swanson. Scrumble River is a small farm town on the edge of becoming a Chicago bedroom community. The preposterous titles hint at the subtle humor and very real problems.
A Veiled Deception A Vintage Magic Mystery by Annette Blair. Vintage fashions, ghosts, and a hint of magic sucked me in. I just finished reading this first in (I hope)the series. I figured out the mystery fairly early, but again the characters drew me in and I needed to know how they discovered the culprit and why the mystery occurred. Tight communities where everyone knows everyone else’s business leads to deep secrets and elaborate schemes to keep them secret.
And lastly, the only series I buy in hardcover:
I Shall Not Want A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Myster by Julia Spencer-Fleming. These books are darker than most cozies, filled with danger and tension. Clare is a former army pilot turned Episcopal priest in a small upstate New York parish. Russ is the local police chief. He’s married to someone else. Their love is deep and forbidden. Publication of the next volume is too slow to satisfy me or my need to know what happens to these two people. The mysteries hold my attention and I rarely figure them out too early.