I enjoyed this cozy mystery, first in the new Booklovers B & B series, set in historic Beaufort, North Carolina. Chapters Bed & Breakfast comes complete with a well-stocked library and features several book related events each year. Charlotte is fairly new to running the inn, having inherited Chapters from her mysterious Great Aunt Isabella after years of teaching high school. A Josephine Tey mystery week starts off with a Richard III themed costume party and dinner, which ends with one guest murdered. Everyone is a suspect, from Charlotte, cook/housekeeper Alicia, the evening’s hotheaded chef Damian, local bookstore owner Julie, and all of the guests staying at Chapters. Charlotte finds unexpected help from elderly neighbor Ellen when she decides to investigate. The Beaufort setting is especially appealing, and my favorite character is Ellen, along with her dog, Shandy. The second book, Reserved for Murder, has just been published. Readalikes include mysteries by Ellery Adams, Eva Gates, Jenn McKinlay, and Tea and Treachery by Vicki Delany.
The gorgeous cover drew me to this book. While there are several other books in this mystery series, I was pleased that I could pick up this one and get immersed in the story without reading the earlier books. Set on the Atlantic coast of New Hampshire, the mystery is centered around an antique trunk containing the Egyptian box and cat statue pictured on the cover. Antique dealer Josie Prescott and her husband buy a house from Maudie Wilson, whose nieces have persuaded her to move to an assisted living apartment. When doing a walkthrough of the house before renovations, Josie finds the well-hidden trunk, which becomes an object of interest to many. Maudie, Josie, and Josie’s friend Zoe are memorable characters, and the antiques business is fascinatingly described. The setting is appealing, especially as Josie loves to go hiking on the dunes or in the woods. I plan to read the first book, Consigned to Death, and see if I enjoy it as much as Hidden Treasure. Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.
I quite enjoyed this first Mitten State cozy mystery, set in a small town on the coast of Lake Michigan. Isabel Puddles, a widow and empty nester, makes ends meet by working in her cousin Freddie’s hardware store and also by selling pies, pickles, and knitted scarves. When she has time, Isabel and her dog, Jackpot, enjoy the view from her lakeside deck. Isabel, as a local rather than a tourist, gets a discount on her daily breakfasts at the café with her outspoken friend Frances. On rare occasions, Isabel helps out at the funeral home, styling hair and makeup, which leads to evidence that her friend Meg’s elderly father didn’t die from natural causes. Isabel investigates, with the help of her friends, who add comic relief, though I would have liked a little less reckless driving. A potential wind farm, a hidden beaver dam, and some unexpectedly rickety steps add to the mystery, while the pacing and suspense increase as Isabel gets closer to the killer or killers. Readalike mysteries include The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree by Susan Wittig Albert, Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake by Sarah Graves, and A Crafter Knits a Clue by Holly Quinn. This was a pleasant read to start the new year.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the audio version of the latest Meg Langslow cozy mystery. There is a large cast of quirky characters, the mystery is fast-paced, and the tone is light and often humorous. Meg is a blacksmith who doesn’t often have much time to practice her craft, especially as she and her husband Michael, a drama teacher, are raising twin boys. This book is set at a renaissance fair in northern Virginia, where Meg is one of two blacksmiths putting on demonstrations every weekend. Everything is going well with the fair, except for prankster actor Terence, who annoys almost everyone, and a visiting director who wants to get too involved with the fair. An early morning owling walk led by Meg’s grandfather ends with discovering a body in the woods, and Meg, once again, turns amateur sleuth. Bernadette Dunne narrates expressively and the well-detailed fair setting is especially appealing. Well Played by Jen De Luca, a romantic comedy set at a renaissance fair, sounds like a good readalike. I’m looking forward to The Gift of the Magpie, to be published next month.
No worries; no one is harmed in this mystery by the doughnuts or other pastries sold at The Chocolate Moose in Eastport, Maine. There is a connection between Eastport’s Pirate Festival and a body found with a stuffed parrot on its shoulder in a downtown cellar. Bakers and amateur sleuths Jake and Ellie race to investigate, especially as Jake has been framed and is a murder suspect. Jake (short for Jacobia) has a number of close calls in this mystery, but also learns to drive a speed boat and enjoys time with all four generations of her expanding family. The coastal Maine setting is vividly drawn, the main characters are appealing, and the pacing is brisk; this is the perfect light mystery to read on Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19.
I picked this book because of the gorgeous cover. In reading the novel, I enjoyed a pleasant visit to a small Texas town with plenty of secrets, a possible ghost, and not quite enough descriptions of breakfast at the café. Sam Cassidy gets an unexpected request to be interim pastor in Honey Creek. Sam, while a seminary graduate, is a pilot and firefighter, but is drawn to Honey Creek for a personal reason. Mayor Piper Jane is late to welcome Sam and give him a tour of the town because she’s distracted by another newcomer, Colby McBride. Colby is undercover, investigating the disappearance of a man whose car was found in a nearby river. Two seniors graduating from the local high school are also drawn together; hardworking Pecos and sweet, popular Kerrie. In this contemporary novel, appealing characters, some humor, and a little romance make for a heartwarming story. More Honey Creek stories are planned.
These are novels set in small towns, usually with a contemporary setting, many featuring a woman coming home again to start over, often with strong female friendships, and a bit of romance. Character driven, these books are usually heartwarming or cheerful in tone. All of these titles are available at the library and at Media on Demand.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
The Happy Camper by Melody Carlson
Country Guesthouse by Robyn Carr
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck
Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber
Sisters by Choice by Susan Mallery
Herons Landing by JoAnn Ross
Almost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis
Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne
In Christmas from the Heart by Sheila Roberts, Livi Berg is stunned when her charity’s biggest sponsor sends a frosty email with the news that they’re not sending a donation to Christmas from the Heart. Guy Hightower, running a family business with his brothers, regrets the email, but not his lavish lifestyle. When his sports car breaks down outside Pine River, Washington, Livi gives him a ride to her friend’s auto repair shop. Guy gives a fake name and is absorbed into village life while his car is repaired, even helping to judge a fruitcake contest. Predictably, Guy falls for Livi and Pine River, but hesitates to reveal his true identity in this cozy, heartwarming romance.
In Christmas Cow Bells, the first in a new cozy mystery series by Mollie Cox Bryan, Brynn MacAlister is settling into Shenandoah Springs, Virginia, along with her three cows. Brynn is a cheesemaker, getting ready for the farm market shop set to open soon in an old church. When her neighbor Nancy is critically injured in a fire at the old church, Brynn is as uneasy as her cow Petunia, and starts investigating, with help from Nancy’s teen grandsons and other local farmers. This is an appealing, very gentle mystery just right for holiday reading, especially as another cow, Buttercup, is rehearsing for a holiday pageant.
For more holiday reads, see my December book display of heartwarming holiday stories. Up next in my to be read pile is Owl Be Home for Christmas by Donna Andrews, in which blacksmith Meg and her extended family get snowed in at a Virginia inn hosting an ornithology conference.
After widowed Mary Archer is killed in London in the summer of 1899, Frances mentions that her late husband’s cousin Charles had been courting Mary, making him a suspect. Frances teams up with handsome neighbor George and young family friend Lottie to investigate Mary’s death in this lively sequel to A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder. Frances, Lady Harleigh, is shocked to learn that Mary was a gossip columnist and possibly a blackmailer. The off season in London has rarely been so exciting. Suggested for Regency or Victorian romance readers who enjoy cozy mysteries, or fans of Elizabeth Peters or Deanna Raybourn. Witty and delightful, this is a charming Victorian mystery with some humor and a hint of romance.
A charming Scottish cozy mystery in which Fiona Knox, a florist from Tennessee, opens a flower shop in Duncreigan, a fishing village. After a violent thunderstorm the local minister, who was anything but welcoming to Fiona, is found dead on the beach. He disapproved of the magical garden Fiona inherited from her godfather. Fiona feels compelled to help Chief Inspector Neil Craig by investigating on her own, especially after a threatening note is left in her shop. Plenty of local color and appealing characters make for a very pleasant read. This is the sequel to Flowers and Foul Play, the first book in the Magic Garden series. Readalikes include Paige Shelton and Molly MacRae’s Scottish mysteries.