Since it’s starting to freeze where I live, I’ve been reaching for books that make me feel warm inside while I try to keep warm on the outside. In the past, I’ve for my childhood favorites to avoid ice and snow. But these last few years, I’ve been gravitating to cozy mysteries.
Now you’re probably wondering what a “cozy mystery” is compared to other mysteries. This sub-genre typically consists of light-hearted stories without the gore and darkness of other mysteries. The books are usually set in a small town or insular community–or, most classically, an isolated country house with a limited number of suspects. Most of those stories follow women starting their detective journey. That’s not to say men can’t be the protagonists of cozy mysteries; it’s just less common. And most of these books include cute pets, fun hobbies like cooking or shopping, and crime-fighting love interests for the main character.
‘Sarah Booth Delaney’ by Carolyn Haines
I’ll be honest: I was on the fence about this series because of the covers. Yes, I judge books on the cover sometimes, but it hasn’t led me wrong so far. Anyway, I’m glad I went against my initial judgment because I love Sarah Booth Delaney.
I haven’t managed to finish the series yet, but so far, I’m loving it. The series starts with Sarah being hired to solve a decades-old murder but ends up discovering a new body. Each book takes you on a twisty journey with a paranormal touch.
‘Country Store Mystery’ by Maddie Day and Edith Maxwell
For those who want a taste of country cooking, check out the Country Store Mystery series. Set in a small town in Indiana, you get to follow along as Robbie Jordan balances crime-solving and running a restaurant. In addition to the novels, there are three short stories in this series.
After Robbie visits her aunt, she packs up her life and moves from the West Coast to South Lick. As she starts up her own country store and restaurant, Pans ‘N Pancakes, she has to solve a murder to save her restaurant’s reputation and clear her name. The tenth book will be out in late February.
‘A House-Flipped Mystery’ by Diane Kelly
Do you love HGTV and mysteries? Well then, I’ve got the best series for you to read. A House-Flipped Mystery has three books so far, but the fourth is coming out on the same day as the Country Store Mystery‘s tenth book. You’ll feel like you’re reading about Joanna Gaines stuck in a mystery novel.
Kelly’s series follows Whitney Whitaker trying to flip houses in Nashville when murders keep throwing her plans off-kilter. In the first book, her cat finds a dead body in the flower beds; in the second, she finds a dead body in her dream home; and in the third, she finds a newly famous singer dead on her new property.
‘Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mysteries’ by Vicki Delany
I only picked up this series because it had “Sherlock” in the series name. And I’m so glad I did because I found a new favorite character in Gemma Doyle, Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional niece that takes over his bookshop. There are also only seven books, and I want more.
The first book, Elementary, She Read, follows Gemma trying to clear her name after the owner of the neighboring tearoom dies. For the rest of the series, she solves mysteries involving the people in the community (except book five when she’s in London for a Sherlock Holmes convention).
‘High Society Lady Detective’ by Sara Rosett
What better time to read a book series set in the 1920s than the 2020s? Olive Belgrave takes up the job of investigating her cousin’s fiancé in Murder at Archly Manor. From there, she comes across a murder and is sucked into the detective lifestyle.
Each book takes Olive to a new murder or conspiracy that she has to solve. My favorite of the series so far is the third book because I love Egyptian history and mythology. You’ll love this seven-book (and one novella) series.
‘Magical Bookshop Mysteries’ by Amanda Flower
After reading this series, I want to live in a bookstore like the one Violet Waverly works at with her grandmother. Speaking of her grandmother, Violet is tricked into visiting her because “she’s dying,” but she’s perfectly fine. She just wanted to see her granddaughter again.
As Violet is leaving, her grandmother needs her to clear her name in the first book. Each book’s plot is triggered by a dead body popping up around Violet, and she’s dragged into the mystery once again. Even better, there’s a cute cat, Emerson, who helps Violet along the way.
‘Witchcraft Mysteries’ by Juliet Blackwell
Starting with Secondhand Spirits, we meet Lily Ivory, a witch with a penchant for finding vintage fashion. In the first book, a client of hers is murdered and then children start disappearing in her community. It’s up to Lily to stop it.
I found it hard to put down each of the eleven books and two novellas. I loved the fun magic, fashion, and mysteries in each. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll wish you had her powers just to know the stories behind the vintage and secondhand pieces in your possession.
‘Secrets and Scrabble’ by Josh Lanyon
Secrets and Scrabble is the only series with a male protagonist on this list. It also just so happens to feature a gay protagonist. So, if you’re looking for more diverse reads, pick up this mystery series now! You won’t regret it.
The series follows Ellery Page, a writer and Scrabble aficionado, solving mysteries to clear his and his friends’ names. Throughout the series, he has a few love interests, one of which is accused of murdering his stepfather. It’ll keep you on your toes.
‘Enchanted Bay Mysteries’ by Esme Addison
Do you love mermaids and mysteries? Then Enchanted Bay Mysteries is the perfect series for you. So far, there are only two books, but I’m expecting another book one day because it can’t be over after just two.
Alexandra Daniels returns to her mother’s hometown, Bellamy Bay, and starts to discover family secrets. While she does all of that, she also has to investigate crimes and help her family and friends hide their mermaid side and clear their names.
The first book, A Spell for Trouble, sees Alexandra’s aunt framed for murder, and Alexandra decides to stick around a little longer to save her. Alexandra’s friend is also accused the next book when a visiting artist ends up dead during the Mermaid Festival.
‘Grilled Cheese Mysteries’ by Linda Reilly
The author knew what they were doing when they put “grilled cheese” in the series title; it called me to devour these books as fast as possible. There are currently two books out in the Grilled Cheese Mysteries, but a third is coming out July 26 this year.
After her husband dies, Carly Hale comes back to her high school hometown to open a grilled cheese restaurant. After seeing her high school ex one day, he ends up dead in her restaurant’s dumpster, and her employee is the prime suspect. She must find the killer before she’s the next body in the trash.
The second book has even more suspects when a much-hated chef dies during a Halloween food competition. She’s a suspect, but she’s also on the chopping block when she gets too close to the truth. I can’t wait to see what mystery the third book centers on.
‘Ice Cream Parlor Mysteries’ by Abby Collette
We’ve got another food-based mystery series in Ice Cream Parlor Mysteries. There are three books out right now, but I’m expecting more (hopefully next year) since the third was released just earlier this year.
The series follows Bronwyn Crewse (also called Win) as she takes over her family’s ice cream parlor and solves crime in her downtime. She has to clear her father’s name in the first book. However, in the second, she has to help her friend be exonerated while her aunt tries to take over the parlor.
The third book takes place during the annual festival with a former Harvest Time Festival Queen being poisoned. And Bronwyn is the prime suspect since the dead woman had eaten ice cream earlier that day. Each book had me second-guessing what I thought I knew.
‘Hannah Swensen Mysteries’ by Joanne Fluke
Like the last two series, Hannah Swensen Mysteries centers on a foodie solving mysteries. It’s a long series with 29 books, four novellas, and a cookbook. Even if you don’t want to pick up the series, at least grab the recipe book because everything in it is delicious.
The series follows Hannah, the owner of The Cookie Jar bakery. She solves murders in her town before she’s next on the menu. Each of the books is addicting and will keep you up late reading. Trust me, you’ll be devouring these books one after the other.
‘Noodle Shop Mysteries’ by Vivien Chien
The latest book in the Noodle Shop Mysteries series came out at the end of January, so I’m hoping I get to read more mysteries around this Chinese restaurant. There are eight books out right now, and before you pick up the first book, let me warn you: you will want takeout after reading just one chapter.
The first book, Death by Dumpling, sees Lana return to her family’s restaurant after a breakup and quitting her job. However, soon after she gets home, the property manager, Mr. Feng, dies. She must solve the mystery before she’s next on the killer’s list.
Lana solves more mysteries throughout the rest of the series. The sixth book is my favorite because it had me second-guessing my suspects every twist and turn. And you’re going to want to re-read the seventh book multiple times because Lana is the prime suspect in it.
‘Miss Marple’ by Agatha Christie
I couldn’t finish this list without including the start of the cozy genre, the Miss Marple series by the queen of mystery herself, Agatha Christie. There are far fewer books (twelve novels and five novellas) than Christie’s other popular mystery series, Hercule Poirot, and it’s a bit easier to figure out which book to read next.
The series follows Miss Marple as she solves various mysteries throughout her life. It has a much lighter tone than Hercule Poirot. However, it still has that urgency that mysteries need to be great. I love the female detective so much I can’t help but pick up this series every so often.