Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Genre Reading Group recap - cozy mysteries
For everyone not able to attend this meeting, you missed a truly entertaining genre discussion! I admit, this was my first experience with cozy mysteries, but I was delighted with the variety our members brought to the table. From cute and cuddly canines, steaming cups of tea, and homemade beauty products to Sherlockian herbalists, cozies are a great way to indulge your inner investigator while bypassing the gore and violence!
If you or someone you know is a mystery lover, try these websites to find your next great read:
Stop, You’re Killing Me! is a resource for lovers of mystery, crime, thriller, spy, and suspense books. The website lists over 3,400 authors, with chronological lists of their books (over 38,000 titles), both series (3,800+) and non-series. Use the alphabetical author and character links or the special indexes in the left column to start searching. And it’s perfectly fine if you print pages for your private use, especially for a trip to your local library or bookstore.
Helpful author and theme indexes to start your search
Lye In Wait: A Home Crafting Mystery by Crickett McRea
Cocoa butter soap, check. Lemon lip balm, check. A dead body? That's just what Sophie Mae Reynolds finds in her workroom: the corpse of Walter Hanover, the neighborhood handyman. He died from drinking lye, something she has in good supply. But the police don't suspect Sophie Mae, a thirty-something widow who makes and sells beauty products. Instead they call it a suicide. But why would a man with lottery cash and a loving fiancee kill himself? No one can stop the impulsive Sophie Mae from answering this riddle, not her sensible best friend Meghan or Detective Ambrose, who incites annoyance as well as stomach flutters. Sophie Mae's big mouth and sharp nose lead her to a peppermint-scented trail of arson, bigamy, and a shocking family secret that reveals a personal connection to Walter . . . and his killer. This crafty new series features real recipes and a blundering, yet lovable, amateur sleuth who brings a fresh face to cozy mysteries.
Heaven Preserve Us: A Home Crafting Mystery by Crickett McRea
Wine jelly. Watermelon pickles. And a suicidal stalker? Great. Thirty-something crafter extraordinaire Sophie Mae Reynolds makes preserves by day and answers a crisis center help referral line by night. What better way to help people while still keeping a low profile? But on her very first night, she gets a call from a man who is threatening suicide . . . and her. Angrily deeming the caller a crank, her boss, Philip Heaven, disconnects the line. Days later, Philip dies from a nasty case of botulism. Now, as a stalker singles out Sophie Mae, Philip's eerie last words keep coming back to haunt her: Threat. Meant it. Stirring up the town with talk of murder by preserves, can Sophie Mae and her handsome boyfriend Detective Barr Ambrose spoil a mad murderer's poisonous plans?This dangerously delicious second book in the Home Crafting Mystery series also includes recipes for preserves and beauty products!
A Clue for the Puzzle Lady: A Puzzle Lady Mystery by Parnell Hall
Cruciverbalists, rejoice! Pick up a pencil and get ready to solve a puzzling murder-and an actual crossword puzzle-in this sparkling debut of a unique amateur detective: Miss Cora Felton, an eccentric old lady with a syndicated puzzle column, an irresistible urge to poke into unsettling events, and a niece who's determined to keep her out of trouble. When the body of an unknown teenage girl turns up in the cemetery in the quiet town of Bakerhaven, Police Chief Dale Harper finds himself investigating his first homicide. A baffling clue leads him to consult Bakerhaven's resident puzzle expert-his first big mistake. Soon Cora's meddling, mischief-making behavior drives Chief Harper to distraction and inspires many cross words from her long-suffering niece, Sherry. But when another body turns up in a murder that hits much closer to home, Cora must find a killer-before she winds up in a wooden box three feet across...and six down.
Death by Darjeeling: A Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Child
When a man is poisoned by tea, Theo is the prime suspect. Now she has to prove her innocence and track down the real killer-before someone else takes their last sip. Just the right blend of cozy fun and clever plotting. Tea lovers, mystery lovers, this is for you.
The reader who brought this book also brought in the autumn issue of Tea Time magazine, which featured an article on Laura Child's Tea Shop Mysteries.
Murder with Peacocks: A Meg Langslow Mystery by Donna Andrews
Three Weddings...And a Murder So far Meg Langslow's summer is not going swimmingly. Down in her small Virginia hometown, she's maid of honor at the nuptials of three loved ones--each of whom has dumped the planning in her capable hands. One bride is set on including a Native American herbal purification ceremony, while another wants live peacocks on the law. Only help from the town's drop-dead gorgeous hunk, disappointingly rumored to be gay, keeps Meg afloat in a sea of dotty relatives and outrageous neighbors. And, in whirl of summer parties and picnics, Southernn hospitality is strained to the limit by an offensive newcomer who hints at skeletons in the guests' closets. But it seems this lady has offended one too many when she's found dead in suspicious circumstances, followed by a string of accidents--some fatal. Soon, level-headed Meg's to-do list extends from flower arrangements and bridal registries to catching a killer--before the next catered event is her own funeral...
One reader shared a lovely poem by Rose Fyleman with the group:
Peacocks sweep the fairies' rooms
They use their folded tails for brooms
But fairy dust is brighter far
Than any mortal colours are
And all about their tails it clings
In strange designs of rounds and rings
And that is why they strut about
And proudly spread their feathers out.
This Dog for Hire: A Rachel Alexander and Dash Mystery by Carol Lea Benjamin
She gets top billing. But he's the real teeth of the operation. In the search for a killer, they make the perfect team....She's thirty-eight, too independent for most men's taste, and too suspicious for her own good. In her back-alley Greenwich Village cottage, private investigator Rachel Alexander has one ace in the hole: Dash, the devoted, barrel-chested pit bull terrier she once saved from certain death, and who is now about to return the favor. Dash and Rachel are looking for a missing barkless champion Basenji named Magritte, and for a killer. The Basenji belonged to a struggling artist found dead on a downtown pier near a sign that said "don't be caught alone." As Rachel pursues a string of clues that take her from the SoHo art scene to the world of Manhattan's homeless to the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, those words echo in her mind. For in an urban landscape where good friends are hard to come by and true lovers even harder, Rachel soon discovers how dangerous it can be to trust the wrong person. Unless, of course, that person is a dog...
No discussion of cozy mysteries would be complete without mentioning Anne George's Southern Sisters Mysteries. So, even though none of the evening's participants happened to bring in her books, here's a list if you're looking for a rockin' good Southern time:
Murder on a Girls' Night Out
Murder on a Bad Hair Day
Murder Runs in the Family
Murder Makes Waves
Murder Gets a Life
Murder Shoots the Bull
Murder Carries a Torch
Murder Boogies with Elvis
The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree: A Darling Dahlias Mystery by Susan Wittig Albert
The country may be struggling through the Great Depression, but the good ladies of Darling, Alabama, are determined to keep their chins up and their town beautiful. Their garden club, the Darling Dahlias, has just inherited a new clubhouse and garden, complete with two beautiful cucumber trees in full bloom. But life in Darling is not all garden parties and rosemary lemonade. When local blond bombshell Bunny Scott is found in a suspicious car wreck, the Dahlias decide to dig into the town's buried secrets, and club members Lizzy, Ophelia, and Verna soon find leads sprouting up faster than weeds. The town is all abuzz with news of an escaped convict from the prison farm, rumors of trouble at the bank, and tales of a ghost heard digging around the cucumber tree. If anyone can get to the root of these mysteries, it's the Darling Dahlias.
Dead Head: A Dirty Business Mystery by Rosemary Harris
Fugitive Mom. That’s the tabloid headline that rocks Springfield, Connecticut when one of the town’s favorite ladies is discovered to be an escaped convict. With a little help from the always game Lucy Cavanaugh, Paula, amateur sleuth and gardening professional of Springfield, Conn., is hired to find out which of her neighbors is a fugitive from the law and why the long-kept secret has finally come out.
Sweet Misfortune by Kevin Alan Milne
Sophie owns a chocolate shop where she sells Misfortune Cookies-dipped in bitter chocolate they contain messages she handwrites each day such as "Your car seems fine now, but just wait...it will eventually be a source of frustration and unexpected delay."What starts as a gimmick, turns into a surprise hit with customers. But when her ex-fiance moves back to their small Washington town, he is surprised at how bitter and unhappy Sophie has become. He proposes a bet--she must place an ad in the paper that simply states "Wanted: Happiness." If at least 100 people respond, proving happiness isn't a myth, she agrees to a date with him. If not, he'll leave her alone forever. Sophie is convinced she'll win, but fate has other ideas when a reporter at the paper is intrigued by the ad as a story and posts it in newspapers across the country.
The reader mentioned that while Sweet Misfortune is not a traditional mystery, there is a mysterious secret surrounding the main character, Sophie's, life that threads throughout the novel.
Rosemary Remembered: A China Bayles Mystery by Susan Wittig Albert
When her accountant, Rosemary, is killed, ex-lawyer and herb-shop proprietor China Bayles finds a host of suspects that includes an abusive ex-husband and several former clients.
Scratch the Surface: A Cat Lover's Mystery by Susan Conant
Introducing a great new series and a terrific new sleuth in Felicity Pride, (herself an author of a series of popular cat mysteries). Now Felicity's facing a real mystery when she finds a cat-and a corpse-on her doorstep. Who was he? Who killed him? And what publicity value could it all have for her newest novel? The answers may lie with an avid pet-hater; a highbrow professor who's read every cat mystery ever written; or perhaps with Felicity's own number-one rival in the field, a reclusive, bestselling author. With a burly, kilt-wearing detective on her side, Felicity must sort out a case more puzzling than any she's ever plotted on paper.
Antiques Roadkill: A Trash 'n' Treasures Mystery by Barbara Allan
Determined to make a new start in her quaint hometown on the banks of the Mississippi, Brandy Borne never dreams she'll become the prime suspect in a murder case...Moving back in with her eccentric, larger-than-life mother, Brandy Borne finds small-town Serenity anything but serene. It seems an unscrupulous antiques dealer has swindled Vivian out of the family's heirlooms. But when he is found run over in a country lane, Brandy becomes Murder Suspect Number One - with her mother coming in a very close second...The list of other suspects is impressive - the victim's business seems to have been based on bilking seniors out of their possessions. And when the Borne "girls" uncover a few very unsavoury Serenity secrets, they become targets for a murderer whose favourite hobby seems to be collecting victims.
I gave away a door prize copy of C. Alan Bradley's The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery:
It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.
For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”
What is YOUR favorite cozy mystery?