While cozy mysteries are often underrated and written off as a genre, I think that there is a cozy mystery for everyone! At some point in their life, everyone gets busy and stressed out and anxious and worried, and you need something to take your mind off of it all and escape. I find that the mystery bit helps your mind focus on something other than what is going on in your life, and the cozy part takes the grit and grime out of everything. They also tend to be longer running series, so you get more from the authors that you love! These are my four favourite cozy mystery series to make you love mysteries!
For those new to the cozy mystery genre, here is a fast primer! Cozy mysteries, aka cozies, are typically mass paperback books that cost between $8-14 CAD (typically not cheaper in ebook format for some reason), and are known for: 1) having an amateur sleuth, 2) most if not all violence occurring off of the page, 3) little sex or raunch, and 4) lovable but wacky family and friends. You can find a cozy mystery that happens around pretty much any topic you could want- crafting, baking, cooking, travelling, books/libraries, sports, flowers, retirement, the list goes on and on. (For ones that involve food or crafting, it will often include a recipe or DIY instructions.)
These four series I think can appeal to a very wide variety of readers, and I always look forward to a new book in the series coming out! Some even have movie and TV series related, so you have an extra way to soak them up.
Aside from Agatha Christie, MC Beaton may just be the best known author in the mystery genre- she has written over 100 books under several different pseudonyms, but I would say she is best known for her Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin series! Hamish Macbeth is a slightly cranky police inspector in Lochdubh, a small town in the Scottish highlands, and despite his constant crankiness is much beloved by the town (probably due to the fact that he continually solves murders). More than any of the other series on the list, the setting plays a major role in these books. Lochdubh sounds like somewhere I could certainly spend my days, save for the murders, and the townspeople may be frustrating but are lovable. If you do end up falling in love with the Hamish Macbeth Mysteries, you are in for a treat- there are 33 books in the series and counting, so you won’t be running out of books soon. There is also a fantastic TV series from the mid-nineties with Robert Carlyle as the titular Hamish, if you are so interested in spending a weekend or two getting lost in classic TV mystery!
This is by far the shortest series on my list at only 5 books, but it is probably my favourite cozy series! Unfortunately the publisher cancelled the series after only 5 (but I keep mentioning it to the author, Jenn McKinlay on Twitter), but they are still fun, entertaining, and twisty cozies to read. In case you didn’t know of my love of millinery, I love hats. More than most people, I should think. This series follows American Scarlett Parker who has moved to London, after several disasters in her personal life, to run the hat shop she and her cousin inherited. Scarlett is the business brains behind the shop, while cousin Viv is the milliner. Throughout the series, you meet the most entertaining and ridiculous posh English people you could imagine, as well as what sound like absolutely gorgeous headpieces. Although they feature the same amount of death and intrigue as any other series, this particular series has a particular lightness to it that makes it incredibly enjoyable when you want to relax for a few hours. McKinlay has two other cozy mystery series currently, the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries and the Library Lovers Mysteries (as well as a new fiction series).
I randomly stumbled across this series at the library one day about 5 years ago- sidenote: does anyone else’s library have a section on unlogged mystery and romance books that just show as “paperback” when scanned??- and it’s the perfect for anyone who loves reading! Brooklyn Wainwright is a rare book expect in San Francisco who mainly deals in restoring and valuing antique books, while dealing with her hippie, commune-loving family and security detail boyfriend. Something that I love in particular about this series is that the books referenced are all real books; in one book she is restoring an antique copy of Beauty and the Beast, and in another A Journey to the Centre of the Earth. I also enjoy that Kate Carlisle gets into book binding and restoring tips and practices in these cozies; nothing too indepth but it gives you a sneak peak into those old books that so many of us love! There are currently 12 books in this series; although there are no screen versions of the Bibliophile Mysteries yet, one of Carlisle’s other series, Fixer Upper Mysteries, does have a few Hallmark movies made AND they feature a westie. The Fixer Upper Mysteries are on my summer reading list!
The Flower Shop Mysteries is one of my favourite series; Abby Knight owns a floral shop in her hometown, and while trying to balance her eccentric family of police officers and her Private Inspector boyfriend, she often finds herself at the middle of a murder whether she means to or not. She tends to get threatened personally more than most cozy sleuths, but it doesn’t escalate to the point of worry. As someone who truly enjoys puns, the titles of these books never fail to make me chuckle! I also enjoy the backdrop of the flower shop, as it provides an interesting and different backdrop to the books (that might be because I enjoy flowers, but who doesn’t??). Kate Collins slowly builds Abby’s world and personal history throughout the series, and you truly feel like you are getting to know Abby and her family. There are currently twenty books in this series, so you will be occupied for a while should you decide to take it up! If you are so interested, there are also Hallmark movies of some of the books (although I haven’t seen any, so I can’t recommend or discourage you from watching, either way).
Are you a fan of mysteries? And what do you plan on reading this summer?