Cozy mysteries are the perfect pick-me-up because they provide a safe haven from the rest of the world’s unpredictability. Subtle mood enhancers, they provide the same sense of mystery, emotional payoff, and puzzle-solving delight as a meaty murder mystery, but without the customary blood and gore. A good sense of humor, eccentric individuals, and a commitment to law and order are only the beginning of the advantages. Being able to see right from wrong gives one peace of mind. The victims of crimes in cozy mysteries are typically unpleasant people who deserved what happened to them. Also, even if the opposite is true in the outset, the situation will undoubtedly even out by the conclusion.
Since the protagonists in these stories are amateurs, they are also accessible and relatable. When reading a cozy mystery, you might easily imagine yourself as one of the main characters. Any basic knowledge of forensics will do. The greatest tools for the job are a chat with a local and some familiarity with the area (some good old-fashioned gossip). It’s no surprise that the coziness industry is booming after the year we’ve all experienced. It’s the best of both worlds, providing a way to escape reality while still providing comfort in uncertain times. The colorful, hand-made covers and cleverly titled subtitles are just as much a part of the package’s charm as the rest of it.
Traditional (and frequently modern) cozy mysteries take place in very static settings, such as tiny towns with similar demographics and socioeconomic statuses. They are pleasant and generally secure if you belong, but brutally insular otherwise, much like the English rural villages in Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple novels. They don’t have a stellar reputation for cultural diversity. However, in recent years, a new breed of multicultural and multiracial cozy mysteries have emerged, bringing fresh ideas to the genre. Cozy mysteries are becoming more varied as a result of the work of authors like Barbara Neely, who have introduced novel locales and layers of meaning to the genre. In addition, there is a vast variety of contemporary cozy mysteries to suit a variety of reader interests, dispositions, and reading preferences.
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MURDER BY PAGE ONE
BY OLIVIA MATTHEWS
“I was promised chocolate” is a terrific beginning line for a classic cozy. Clusters of chocolate-covered nuts are the precise item in question here. The allure isn’t limited to the tasty homemade goodies, though. This perfect southern cozy has lots to recommend it: a brilliantly particular African American librarian lead, authentically eccentric local atmosphere, engaging writing and a satisfying mystery.
Marvella Harris is barely 28 years old, but she has an ancient spirit. She had her reasons for relocating to Georgia’s southern coast. In New York, Marvey had problems obtaining momentum in her profession, but in the Peach Coast, she effortlessly makes her mark. After only a short time on the job, she has already grown attached to her coworkers and the residents of her new community. As the library’s new director of community engagement, she’s launched a book group and scheduled a book signing. Moreover, she recently made a new closest friend: Jolene Gomez, the proprietor of a small bookshop. Both are immigrants and outsiders to Camden County. Jolene (Jo) is originally from Florida, whereas Marvey has made Brooklyn his home.
All seems perfect until a controversial local author shows found dead in the bookstore’s back room. The situation quickly devolves into anarchy, with Jo, the protagonist’s best friend, being the primary focus of a dull inquiry. As a Gator supporter in Georgia Bulldog territory, plainly justice is not assured. So Marvey plunges headfirst into the inquiry, aided by the gorgeous and helpful local scion and journalist.
MANGO, MAMBO, AND MURDER
BY RAQUEL V. REYES
In this fascinating Caribbean multicultural book, the mysteries of family life and death are equally compelling. This book is for you if you enjoy a captivating plot, a genuine portrayal of a cross-cultural family, and insightful societal criticism.
Miriam Quinones-Smith, a Cuban American culinary anthropologist and television celebrity chef who grew up in Miami, is relocating to the region. Miriam’s life seems like it’s finally starting to look up: she has a good-looking environmentalist husband, a freshly minted PhD, a lovely multilingual kid, and her closest friend is back in the neighborhood. The return home is tempered by the husband’s coldness and her in-laws’ open antagonism. Then, when a woman dies next to Miriam at a country club luncheon, things get complicated and, frankly, more intriguing for the defiant and self-reliant scholar. Raquel Reyes’s skillful balancing of serious themes with lighthearted mystery, as well as the cast’s energy, diversity, and acceptance of LGBTQ identities, make this a memorable work.
MURDER IN G MAJOR
BY ALEXIA GORDON
This series stands out from the crowd because to its fantastic original characters, groundbreaking storyline, and otherworldly twist. Gethsemane Brown, a classical musician, is talented in many areas. She is a gifted musician, but she also possesses a mystical sixth sense. When her poor luck spirals out of control, though, none of it seems to matter. She had left her career and boyfriend in the U.S. to pursue a once-in-a-lifetime chance, but now it had all gone wrong. It seems that Gethsemane has been abandoned in Ireland. It’s quite unlikely that she’ll give up and head back to her old life with nothing to show for it.
She decides to teach music in a rural Irish all-boys’ school because she has nowhere else to turn. Housing is provided in the form of a historic cottage, and the employment comes with a famous, unhappy ghost of a musical legend. The two of them are able to have a meaningful conversation, and she offers to look into his wife’s death to clear his name of murder and suicide.
DIAL A FOR AUNTIES BY
JESSE Q. SUTANTO
Dial A for Aunties is the genre-bending cozy mystery for you if you’re in the mood for a little of everything and a lot of fun. A tightly coiled, volatile familial atmosphere permeates this unique mystery with a romantic comedy undertone. Imagine if Weekend at Bernie’s was set in Singapore and starred Crazy Rich Asians. Meddy Chan, a wedding photographer, has a disastrous blind date set up by her mother, who is catfishing her. Even though they love her dearly, her aunts are more difficult to corral than a pack of animals. In addition to trying to get rid of the body, the whole family is also attending a huge wedding. The fact that the wedding location is owned by Meddy’s one true love makes everything much more awkward.
AUNTY LEE’S DELIGHTS
BY OVIDIA YU
When it comes to cozy mystery series, Yu’s Singaporean Mystery Series is definitely closer to the sour side than the sweet. The sociological observations are as acute as the upper classes’ obsession with their own social standing in this novel set in Singapore. If you’ve ever read a British Regency romance, the viciousness of the class warfare and jockeying for status will be familiar. But Rose Lee, the series’ unapologetic heroine, always comes out on top. As a widowed restaurant owner and a Singaporean Miss Marple, her bite is more dangerous than it seems. She’s “a fat Peranakan supercook who split her energy between making meals for people and helping them mend their lives (whether they liked it or not).”
Though she’s widely known in local society, Rose’s circumstances closer to home may use better. Her ambitious daughter-in-law claims she robbed her stepson out of his due fortune yet all the law companies she hired to contest the will disagree. But what’s fascinating is that Aunty Lee manages those opposing interests with compassion and elegance, just like she moves the cops. When a body is discovered and two local women go missing in the first novel, Rose Lee is able to assist in solving the case—not because the police are inept, but because she is extremely bright. A delightful combination of interpersonal difficulties and more serious subplots including homophobia and other entrenched concerns, the case packs a tremendous punch, exposing much about Singaporean culture along with who did it and why.
ARSENIC AND ADOBO
BY MIA MANANSALA
This quaint Midwest setting is made all the more interesting by the clash of cultures and generations. Lila Macapagal has chafed against her stifling small-town upbringing and her close-knit Filipino American family for a long time. After finishing high school, she was eager to get out of Shady Palms. Then, when she caught her fiancé in the act with their neighbors, she felt her world had come to an end. The lowest moment, the perfect storm of family disappointment, for Lila was when she was told she had to move back in with her parents despite her lack of a fiancé, a job, and a degree.
Sadly, she was completely incorrect. Lila returns to Shady Palms and is met with a barrage of unsolicited criticism from her overbearing Filipina aunties. In addition, the kid she once loved but now despises frequently visits the family restaurant, where he writes critical reviews on his culinary blog. That’s already very horrible. It gets even worse! If you haven’t seen the bottom yet, you won’t until your ex-boyfriend dies in the meal you gave him at your family restaurant and you’re the number one suspect. It was revealed that Derek was harboring secrets that may have led to his death. Lila, however, has her own set of hidden information that clearly establishes her as a player in the plot.
DEATH BY DUMPLING
BY VIVIEN CHIEN
Although she loves Chinese food, Lana Lee feels like she’s taking a step back by working at her family’s Chinese restaurant after she was let off. Because of her financial situation, she and her closest friend can no longer afford to move out of their shared residence. When Lana Lee’s family restaurant is implicated in the death of the proprietor of a popular Asian shopping mall, she finds herself at the heart of a murder investigation. The cops, as is customary in such works, spend their time looking in the wrong places. When Lana’s beloved coworker is suddenly suspected in a murder, she resolves to uncover the truth.
GAME OF CONES
BY ABBY COLLETTE
Returning to her hometown of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Bronwyn Crewse quickly found that she had a lot on her plate. She has an MBA and worked for several years in corporate marketing in the city, and now she is putting her skills to use at home. Her primary goal is to save the family ice cream shop from the fate of another distant relative. Then, a fight is brewing over a plan to “gentrify” their gorgeous town square by building a mall there. After a violent altercation in front of city hall, all company owners are on edge after the body of the project’s head developer is discovered. As you might expect from having a best buddy and sidekick who is so quick to draw assumptions, shenanigans are certain to occur.
MIMI LEE GETS A CLUE
BY JENNIFER J. CHOW
This pet-focused cozies to your roster of different cozy mysteries with a spooky twist was the ideal fluffy pandemic surprise. In spite of being the series’ main character, Mimi Lee’s fluffy and lovably cranky best friend wins the award for most valuable player. Mimi Lee, the owner of a new pet grooming salon, is taken aback when she learns that her rescued cat, Marshmallow, not only speaks English but also canine. I enjoy mysteries that can be solved with the assistance of a furry companion. Thanks to Marshmallow’s acid wit and swaggering demeanor, this is a top-notch offering.
This unfortunate victim is a typical example of a vile person. In his puppy mill, which Russ Nolan operates, canines are subjected to neglect, abuse, and unhealthy surroundings. Nearly everyone would be relieved to see garbage bins empty once and for all. To put it bluntly, nobody cares that much that he’s leaving. The only problem is that Mimi is a suspect because of a very loud confrontation they had just before he died.
BY KELLYE GARRETT
In general, crime books don’t make me chuckle as much as this one did, so that was a pleasant change of pace. Dayna is a temp worker, an amateur detective, and a former actress whose only claim to fame is a corny catch phrase from a fast food commercial. She is trying to solve the murder of a friend so that she may collect the reward money and keep her parents’ home from going into foreclosure. Her caustic first-person narration, jokes, and criticism were some of my favorites parts of the book. Everyone was completely spot-on in their analysis. It’s not like she’s good at solving mysteries.
If you’re in the mood for a light read, cozy mysteries are always a great option. And with so many different authors and settings to choose from, there’s something for everyone. Have you tried any of the multicultural cozies recently? I’d love to hear what you think about them. In the meantime, I’ll be checking out some more of Vivien Chien’s work – her books sound amazing!