If you’re like me, you like to have some palate cleanser books on hand after you finish a particularly disturbing, heavy or emotionally taxing read. For many, that’s YA or romance. Me? I like a good cozy mystery! (Or, as I explained to a coworker, some “good, lighthearted murder.” I might have a morbid sense of humor…)
I think there’s a cozy mystery out there for everyone – some are funnier than others. Some focus more on the small town setting or bakery/candle shop/bookstore, others focus more on the murder investigation. You may be wondering: what DEFINES a “cozy mystery?” Well, my friends at Kensington Books have a great definition on their cozy mystery website: “Comedic murder mysteries that show you what happens when you put a quilter, a candy shop owner, a baker, a pet sitter or some other wholly inappropriate sleuth on the case to solve a crime.”
Cozies are typically free from gory descriptions (barring very surface-level details), “safe for work” and pretty lighthearted. For a thriller/horror/mystery lover like me, they’re the perfect fluff reads when I need something easy and not-so-nightmare-inducing.
Another great thing about cozies? Most are part of a series, but the books stand on their own. If you want to jump in to the middle of a series, you won’t be too confused (you might read some callbacks to previous books, but most cozies are good at explaining the essential details each time around). Let’s move on to the recommendations! (Each title also includes a link to my review, if you want more in-depth information.)
The Book of Candlelight by Ellery Adams: This might be the PERFECT start for readers who are very much into thrillers and not-so-much into fluffy books. This is one of the heavier cozies i’ve read so far (but it’s still light and snuggly). It’s incredibly atmospheric and the friendships in this book are heartwarming and realistic.
Sealed Off by Barbara Ross: This is a short little book that packs a punch! Revolving around a family clambake business, this one is heavier on the mystery and a bit lighter on the cozy. Clocking in at less than 250 pages, it’s a great choice for a lazy afternoon.
Death Bee Comes Her by Nancy CoCo: Set in the Pacific Northwest, this cozy features Let It Bee, a shop specializing in beeswax and honey products (i’m honestly a little miffed it doesn’t exist in real life). This one also features a cozy mystery staple – a sleuthing pet.
Cobblered to Death by Rosemarie Ross: Any Food Network or Great British Baking Show fans? This is the cozy for you! When a cooking competition contestant is found dead, it creates a tense and eerie atmosphere on set. This is the first in a series, if you’d prefer to start from the beginning.
An Ale of Two Cities by Sarah Fox: Oh, how I LOVED this one! It strikes the perfect balance between light and dark. Our main character owns a book-themed pub (again, a little salty these places aren’t real!) Another great choice for readers looking to get into cozies, but want to avoid the sugary sweetness that some tend to have.
I have more cozy mystery reviews on the blog – just click the “cozy mystery” tag to find the rest.