From festive specials and not-so-gruesome murders to character developments that made you laugh and/or cry, 2021 saw a lot of exciting installments to the cozy mystery series.
Best Cozy Mysteries (in a series) in the order of publication are:
Hop ‘Til You Drop by J.M. Griffin
This spring, rabbit farmer and rescuer Jules has decided to volunteer at the local egg-hunting contest. She’s asked to hide the painted eggs so that children can find them when the event starts. The egg-hiding is disrupted by a hare-raising experience when Bun finds the dead body of the supervisor, Della Meany. Della was rude to everyone and nobody liked her much. But who might have hated her so much that they wanted to kill her?
Legally Blind Luck by James J Cudney
Someone discovered Queen Tessa’s cursed talisman, and a rogue government agent will stop at nothing to retrieve the heirloom. Too bad it changed hands during an anonymous auction and found its way on campus. Moments before Braxton’s controversial art exhibition opens, Kellan stumbles upon another murder victim. It appears he might be next on the avenger’s list too.
Will Kellan protect Tessa’s true heir and prevent a killer’s nefarious plan from ending the curse?
Upstaged by Murder by Grace Topping
When professional home stager Laura Bishop enters a competition to become the next TV home staging star, she figures it will be murder—but she doesn’t expect it to include a body. As tensions rise and rivalries rage, a coded notebook flips the script and Laura’s on the case.
But she’s not alone. Her closest confidantes pitch in by sleuthing, eavesdropping, and even staging a sting to protect those near and dear. Yet she’s still corralling a runaway teen, sparring with a handsome detective, and handling the shock of her life with a blast from her past. All while creating a cozy cabin retreat fit for first place.
Amidst constant cameras and glaring lights, Laura tries to style the stage and pull back the curtain on a killer before her career—and her life—get cut.
Southern Sass and a Battered Bride by Kate Young
Marygene Brown always figured she’d marry her childhood sweetheart, Alex Myers, not cater his wedding. But the Peach Diner could use the exposure. Most of the island is showing up–although more for the role-playing murder game at the reception than for the widely loathed bridezilla, Lucy Carmichael. Marygene may have to smile through the festivities, but Mama doesn’t have to hold her peace–especially since only Marygene can hear her mother’s ghost. Mama says she sees an aura of darkness around the wedding.
So when Marygene finds Lucy lying beside the wedding cake, buried in batter, with no pulse, it looks like Mama called it. This is no game. And when the bride’s body simply vanishes, it’s up to Marygene and her best friend Betsy (cousin to the groom and no fan of the bride) to solve a real-life mystery–with a little help from Mama’s sassy spirit…
Read my review of Southern Sass and a Battered Bride by Kate Young.
Jackal and Hide by Victoria Tait
‛Mama Rose’ Hardie just wants to make her ailing husband comfortable. So she puts aside her dedication to wildlife and community and whisks him off to a luxury lodge for a breathtaking getaway. But when a guest enters the bush and never returns, Rose is torn between remaining at her partner’s side and her fears for the woman’s plight.
Shocked when the missing person is found strangled to death, Rose struggles to balance her priorities when her husband takes a serious fall and ends up in the hospital. And with her estranged son demanding she stay by her husband’s bedside, the anxious investigator worries the killer may escape into the grassland…
Can Mama Rose solve the murder before time is cut short?
Scones and Scandal by Agatha Frost
With Julia South-Brown enjoying her newborn daughter’s every milestone safe in her cozy cottage, and with maternity leave cutting her off from the rumor mill of her café, she doesn’t realize just how much local news and gossip she’s missed. Between a wave of break-ins and thefts, Peridale isn’t quite the safe little village she remembers.
But when the leader of Peridale’s Eyes, the local neighborhood watch group, meets her end on the same day Julia’s neighbor Leah’s house is broken into and robbed, Julia finds herself pulled back into the familiar world of clues, suspects, and motives – not to mention her gran’s rival neighborhood watch group.
Reserved for Murder by Victoria Gilbert
Beaufort, North Carolina, is home to Chapters Bed and Breakfast, owned and operated by former schoolteacher Charlotte Reed.
On this sunny July weekend, a renowned author visits the quaint coastal village. The author has agreed to a ‘tea and Talk’ with her fans followed by a quick book signing session at the local bookstore.
But when the president of the writer’s fan club is found dead in the harbor – blunt force trauma to the head, it is up to Charlotte to bring the killer to justice.
The Cluttered Corpse by Mary Jane Maffini
Charlotte Adams is on her first visit to a new client’s house. The client is a well-known businesswoman, Emma Lou. The house is immaculate so Charlotte wonders why was she called. Her doubts are cleared when the client takes her upstairs and shows Charlotte her outrageous collection of soft toys. Emma’s neighbor and his friend play a prank on Emma while she and Charlotte are in the bedroom, going through the endless pile of stuffed animals. Emma’s mood changes within a fraction of a second and she literally pushes Charlotte out of the house, promising to call later.
When Charlotte arrives at Emma Lou’s house the next time, she sees a commotion on the street. Emma Lou is on the street, screaming on top of her lungs that she’s killed him. When Charlotte enters the house, she sees the lad who played a prank on Emma previously lying dead at the bottom of the stairs.
Read my review of The Cluttered Corpse by Mary Jane Maffini.
Murder on Honky-Tonk Row by Rita Moreau
Despite their good deed in Savannah, Mabel Gold’s ghostly friend Irma remains stuck in Purgatory. So when the plucky sixty-something divorcée pulls her haunted vintage camper into a Nashville campground, she’s expecting Irma to accompany her on the tour of the Grand Ole Opry. But as they two-step into a honky-tonk for some live tunes, they’re shocked to encounter two lost spirits stranded there for the past twenty years after their double homicide.
Can Mabel collar the killer before she’s singing country-western with choirs of angels?
Grevy Danger by Victoria Tait
Mama Rose is mourning the death of her beloved husband Craig. Rose’s friends and well-wishers are doing their best to make sure Mama Rose doesn’t feel left out or all alone. She’s out meeting her friends at a local café when becomes a witness to a death – a young woman dies in her arms. The dead woman is none other than Rebecca, the resident of Roho estate. The estate is believed to be cursed. When Rebecca and her sister Eloise were teenagers, their parents meet with a freak plane accident. The remains of the plane were not found and the insurance people refused to settle claims and handover the estate to the daughters. Rebecca is in Nanyuki as her sister said there might be some progress in the case (the estate).
Rebecca’s demise is initially believed to be ‘death due to underlying (unidentified) health issues’. Mama Rose, Pearl and Chloe go on an endangered zebra expedition where another woman dies in Mama Rose’s arms under mysterious circumstances.
Murder by the Bookend by Laura Gail Black
It’s the reopening night of Jenna Quinn’s bookshop ‘Twice Upon a Time.’
Linus, the local library’s Director of Antique Books is one of the guests at the party. His dog Eddy comes tagging along and Jenna welcomes the duo to her bookshop. After the party is over and guests have retired to their homes, Jenna sees Eddy running away from the parking lot. Jenna and Keith see Linus’s car still parked in the parking lot and Linus dead in a pool of blood. Keith, Jenna’s boyfriend and a local detective cannot investigate the case but detective Sutter can. Sutter has a problem with Jenna – when her uncle was murdered, Sutter did not waste a minute in pointing fingers at Jenna. Like last time, he believes Jenna has something to do with Linus’ murder.
Read my review of Murder by the Bookend by Laura Gail Black.
The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder by Mary Jane Maffini
Charlotte Adams receives a call from Mona Pringle, the 911 operator whom Charlotte has called multiple times in the past (while solving case, that is). Mona tells Charlotte the mean girls who terrorized her and many other children at St Jude’s is back in town. Their leader, Serena, wants to make amends. But Mona does not believe her. Mona tells Charlotte if she sees Serena, she will kill her by running the car over her.
The next day, Charlotte wakes up to hearing about a hit-and-run case in town; the victim was run over by a car. Mona is worried – after all, she said she might do something similar to Serena and now, someone who looked like Serena is run over by a car. Charlotte thinks Mona is still traumatized by the bullying she went through in school and decides to investigate. Charlotte wants to do whatever it takes to save Mona – even when her ‘group of misfits’ friends ask her to stay away…
Read my review of The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder by Mary Jane Maffini.
Once Upon a Seaside Murder by Maggie Blackburn
Summer Merriweather has her hands full managing her late mother Hildy’s bookstore – Beach Reads in Brigid’s Island, NC. Summer and the book club members are geared up for a book event featuring a famous cozy mystery author Mimi. Mimi’s latest book is based on a murder that created shock waves in Brigid’s Island three decades ago.
Summer learns her mother was interested in the case and had stored newspaper clippings of the proceedings. But, the murder case was never solved. Mimi is threatened but she doesn’t want to be bogged down by it. The book event goes as planned but the next day, Mimi goes missing…
Read my review of Once Upon a Seaside Murder by Maggie Blackburn.
Slashing through the Snow by Jacqueline Frost
Reindeer Games Christmas Tree Farm is going into the B&B business, and Holly White is looking forward to her new role as innkeeper.
But a cold wind ruffles the cheery holiday decorations when a new guest checks in: Karen, a vicious B&B critic, who could make or break the new inn. And the short December days turn even darker when Evan and Libby find Karen’s dead body in the gift-wrapped toy donation box.
The suspect list is longer than Santa’s naughty list, and local resident Cookie is on it, since her fingerprints are all over the murder weapon, a metal nutcracker that she gave to Holly. It is up to Holly now to prove her friend’s innocence.
Read my review of Slashing through the Snow by Jacqueline Frost.
A Cornish Christmas Murder by Fiona Leitch
It’s three days before Christmas, and detective-turned-chef Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker is drafted in to cater a charity event run by a notorious millionaire at a 13th-century abbey on Bodmin Moor.
Things get more complicated when a snowstorm descends, stranding them all, and the next morning they find one of the guests has been gruesomely murdered in their bed…
Secrets mull in every corner – can Jodie solve the crime before the killer strikes again?
Read my review of A Cornish Christmas Murder by Fiona Leitch
Wow, that’s one heck of a list! I’m going to have to steal some of these, Rekha, thanks so much for sharing them!
Thank you, Sheri 🙂
My pleasure. ☺
I’m truly honored to be included here. Legally Blind Luck was so much fun to write. You’ve made my day. Thank you very much! Hugs!
I am lucky to know someone like you, James.🙂 It’s been a long time, hope you are doing good.🙂💖 Hugs!💖💖