Exactly What I Wanted: Cozy Mysteries

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.

trecherous teddy

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 glassGhastly 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.

chocolate cherry

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.

veiled deceptionA 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:

shallnotwantI 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.


About Phyllis Irene Radford

Irene Radford has been writing stories ever since she figured out what a pencil was for. A member of an endangered species—a native Oregonian who lives in Oregon—she and her husband make their home in Welches, Oregon where deer, bears, coyotes, hawks, owls, and woodpeckers feed regularly on their back deck. A museum trained historian, Irene has spent many hours prowling pioneer cemeteries deepening her connections to the past. Raised in a military family she grew up all over the US and learned early on that books are friends that don’t get left behind with a move. Her interests and reading range from ancient history, to spiritual meditations, to space stations, and a whole lot in between. Mostly Irene writes fantasy and historical fantasy including the best-selling Dragon Nimbus Series and the masterwork Merlin’s Descendants series. In other lifetimes she writes urban fantasy as P.R. Frost or Phyllis Ames, and space opera as C.F. Bentley. Later this year she ventures into Steampunk as someone else. If you wish information on the latest releases from Ms Radford, under any of her pen names, you can subscribe to her newsletter: www.ireneradford.net Promises of no spam, merely occasional updates and news of personal appearances.

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