Cozy

2021 Valentine’s Day Mysteries and Fiction

Are you a fan of holiday themed reading? Published between 2016 and 2021, here is an updated  list of twenty-six novels, novellas, and short stories centered around Valentine’s Day. Be prepared to swoon, or laugh, or be delighted by the selection. Click on the titles to discover more about the books and enjoy!

 

Jennifer S. Alderson  Death by Baguette

Carolyn Arnold  Valentine’s Day is Murder

Patti Benning  Tall, Dark, and Deadly

Bellamy Bloom & Addison Moore  Murder Bites

Franky A. Brown  What Happened to Romance?

Susan Carroll The Valentine’s Day Ball

Cherry Christensen  Secret Valentine

Sylvia Damsell  A Valentine Wish

Steve Demaree A Valentine Murder

Liz Dodwell Valentine’s Day: a Polly Parrett Pet-Sitter Cozy

Jessica L. Elliott Operation: Romance

Tammy Falkner A Valentine’s Day Miracle

Deborah Garner  A Flair for Truffles

Patricia Gligor Marnie Malone

Holly Hepburn Valentine’s Day at the Star and Sixpence

Liwen Y. Ho Romantically Ever After

June McCrary Jacobs Handmade Hearts

Libby Klein  Theater Nights Are Murder

Jackie Lau  A Big Surprise for Valentine’s Day

Lia London Love from A to Z

Ava Mallory & nine more authors Stirring Up Love & Mystery

Leslie Meier  Valentine Candy Murder

Mobile Writers Guild Valentine’s Day Pieces (Anthology)

Addison Moore & Bellamy Bloom  Sealed with a Hiss

Summer Prescott A Blossom of Murder

Amy M. Reade  Be My Valencrime

 

Happy Reading!

 

2021 Left Coast Crime Awards

The pandemic continues to affect conferences. The 2021 Left Coast Crime convention has been cancelled, but you’ll be happy to note that the Lefties will still be awarded for the great mysteries  produced in 2020. Congratulations to all the nominees.

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel
  °  Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard
  °  Jennifer J. Chow, Mimi Lee Gets a Clue
  °  Carl Hiaasen, Squeeze Me
  °  Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets
  °  J. Michael Orenduff, The Pot Thief Who Studied the Woman at Otowi Crossing
  °  Sung J. Woo, Skin Deep

 

Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel (events before 1970)
  °  Susanna Calkins, The Fate of a Flapper
  °  Dianne Freeman, A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder
  °  Laurie R. King, Riviera Gold
  °  Catriona McPherson, The Turning Tide
  °  Ann Parker, Mortal Music
  °  James W. Ziskin, Turn to Stone

 

Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel
  °  Daisy Bateman, Murder Goes to Market
  °  Mary Keliikoa, Derailed
  °  Erica Ruth Neubauer, Murder at the Mena House
  °  Richard Osman, The Thursday Murder Club
  °  Halley Sutton, The Lady Upstairs
  °  David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Winter Counts

 

Lefty for Best Mystery Novel
  °  Tracy Clark, What You Don’t See
  °  S.A. Cosby, Blacktop Wasteland
  °  Matt Coyle, Blind Vigil
  °  Rachel Howzell Hall, And Now She’s Gone
  °  Louise Penny, All the Devils Are Here

January Reviews – Four Genres

COZY

“Tilling the Truth” by Julia Henry

The feisty Garden Squad is back with a new set of projects, some aboveboard, some clandestine, and always chosen with the intent to spruce up the town and bring smiles to both residents and visitors. I opened “Tilling the Truth” to check a detail for the review, got caught up in the storyline again, and re-read the book because of its delightfully dedicated crew and their mission.

 

Small towns are a microcosm of society, with nice and not-so-nice residents living next door to one another. Everybody knows what you’re up to, or will find out as soon as the nosy neighbor texts her friends. Henry captures that perfectly with her charming mix of senior citizens and assorted helpful younger generation characters. The main characters are well-rounded, each with their own quirks and endearing qualities, and oh, my word, the unpleasant ones should be stripped of their gardening tools and run out of town in a wheelbarrow.

“Tilling the Truth” has a tightly layered plot, with our heroine, Lilly Jayne, dealing with the estate of a good friend, disgruntled beneficiaries, her best friend accused of murder, zoning laws, a bird sanctuary, and an impending lifestyle change for Lilly. Henry weaves it all together in a way that sounds just like a story you could tell to spellbound dinner guests if it happened in your own neighborhood.

 

THRILLER

“Dead Man Running” by Steve Hamilton

This is the ninth book in the top-notch Alex McKnight series. A serial killer has been arrested, but will talk to no one except retired police officer, Alex McKnight. Except that McKnight knows nothing about the man and has no idea why the killer thinks there is a connection between them.

 

What’s at stake is a missing woman that may still be alive. The FBI will do anything to save the woman and stop the murders, including hauling McKnight cross country to meet with the depraved Livermore. The story is told through McKnight’s point-of-view as well as the serial killer’s twisted mind. There are graphic discussions about the killer’s crimes, so if you’re looking for a light read, this is not for you. Instead, it will give some insight into an evil, manipulative thought process. There are surprises at every turn that keep McKnight pushing forward and the FBI in pursuit – each matching wits with Livermore. Chilling to the core, Hamilton has delivered another masterfully plotted page-turner in “Dead Man Running.”

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL SUSPENSE

The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides

“Silent Patient” is an intense read, centered around a successful artist who shoots her husband in the face and never says a word after the deed, not to explain herself, not to save herself from prosecution. The criminal psychotherapist who tells the tale is obsessed by the case and works his way onto the staff at her psychiatric institute so that he can solve the mystery of her silence. Michaelides delivers shocking revelations, clever twists in the plot, and characters so well-drawn that they could be people we know. Don’t read “The Silent Patient” before bed, because you won’t get a wink of sleep as the pages fly by.

 

NONFICTION

“The Hot Zone” by Richard Preston

I wish “The Hot Zone” was a thriller, a work of fiction, but it is completely true. An ordinary guy in 1970s Africa dies several days after spending time off trekking through a jungle. He ends life  horribly in a Nairobi hospital, infecting and killing others splattered by his blood; his companion on the outing with him doesn’t get sick. Blood samples are sent to the CDC in Atlanta, GA for testing, confirming the Ebola virus as the cause of death, and then are locked away in their secure facility. A few years later, the deadly Ebola virus arrives in a suburb of Washington, D.C. via monkeys tagged for research. The monkeys already in residence at this top-secret building set in an unsuspecting neighborhood, quickly start dying.

 

This hair-raising tale written in the 1990s, describes the rigorous protocols to keep the military personnel safe, the race to dispose of the infected monkey bodies while keeping the public from learning the truth, and the high personal cost of working in the field of infectious diseases. Preston includes a telling look at how the military and the world perceived a dedicated woman’s role in both the military and her ability to work with a killer virus in the 1980s. A television series based on “The Hot Zone” aired in 2020 and scared me silly, but the thoroughly researched book even more so.

 

 

 

Book List: Author Sherry Harris

 

Sherry Harris writes the Agatha nominated, wonderful Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries and the brand new Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon series.
 

Sarah Winston is a military spouse who must transition to being on her own. Her emotional struggles to make her own way as a newly single woman are realistic, and her scenes detailing military life ring true. Harris’ storylines peel back the layers of Winston’s battle with feelings about her ex in each book, while delivering great mysteries.

Have you read all the books in this marvelous series? Take a look at the book list below, listed in order, with links included.

 

 

“Tagged for Death”   read review here.

 

 

“The Longest Yard Sale”  read review here.  

 

All Murders Final

 

 

 

“A Good Day to Buy”   read review here.

 

I Know What You Bid Last Summer

 

 

The Gun Also Rises” read review here.

 

and…. “Let’s Fake A Deal”  read review here.
Sell Low, Sweet Harriet

Absence of Alice” is out now!

 

Good news for Mrs. Harris’ fans: the first book of her Chloe Jackson Sand Dollar Saloon mysteries, “From Beer to Eternity,” is out and it’s a hit. ‘Chloe Jackson’ was a Visiting Detective over at Kerrian’s Notebook recently and shared her experience about the murder with the Kerrians. Read ‘Murder at the Sea Glass Saloon’ here.

Sherry’s other writing includes:

A short story called “Country Song Gone Wrong” in the Deadly Southern Charm anthology from the Central VA chapter of Sisters in Crime. It’s a Sarah Winston story — She goes to Virginia.

 

The Sherry Harris Author Profile can be read here.

Please visit https://sherryharrisauthor.com to see what else Sherry is up to.  🙂
 

(Photos courtesy of Sherry Harris)

 

 

Christmas Themed Mysteries – 2020

Christmas seems to be the most popular holiday topic for mysteries. Surprising to me at least, there were hundreds to choose from. Yes, hundreds. Do the writers deliver a way for us to fantasize about doing in the dastardly boyfriend/cousin/landlord? Or do they have a secret, but sweet, way to resolve a pesky problem? Only you and your active imagination know for sure.  😉

 

If you are a fan of Christmas themed fiction, then this updated 2020 list of forty-seven novels, novellas, and short stories is for you. The books were recommended by avid cozy booksellers, as well as NBR subscribers. Click on the titles to find out more about the books, then snuggle up with a great Christmas read.

 

Susan Wittig Albert: “The Darling Dahlias & the Poinsettia Puzzle

Gretchen Archer:  “Double Deck the Halls

Donna Andrews: “The Gift of the Magpie”  

Mary Angela: “Very Merry Murder”

Joy Avon: “In Peppermint Peril”

 

Laurien Berenson “Here Comes Santa Paws

Laura Bradford “A Killer Carol

Leslie Budewitz “As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles”

Ellen Byron “A Cajun Christmas Killing”

 

Lynn Cahoon “A Stocking Full of Murder

Nancy Coco “Have Yourself a Fudgy Little Christmas

Cate Conte “A Whisker of a Doubt

Maya Corrigan “Gingerdead Man

 

Maddie Day “Candy Slain Murder

Vicki Delany “Dying in a Winter Wonderland

Leighann Dobbs “Grievance in Gingerbread Alley

 

Barbara Early “Murder on the Toy Town Express”

Peggy Ehrhart “Silent Knit, Deadly Knit

 

Morris Fenris: “Christmas Angel Charity

Beatrice Fishback “Winter Writerland

Amanda Flower “Candy Cane Crime

Joanne Fluke “Christmas Cake Murder

Jacqueline Frost “Twas the Knife Before Christmas

 

Daryl Wood Gerber “Wreath between the Lines

Patrice Greenwood “As Red as Any Blood

 

Carolyn Haines “A Garland of Bones

Victoria Hamilton “Breaking the Mould”

Jo A Heistand “A Recipe for Murder

Julie Hennrikus “A Christmas Peril”

 

Liz Ireland “Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings

CeeCee James “The Frosty Taste of Scandal

Miranda James “Six Cats a Slayin”

Tina Kashian “Mistletoe, Moussaka, and Murder

 

Laura Levine: “Death of a Neighborhood Scrooge”

Leslie Meier “Tis the Season Murder

Nancy Naigle “Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy

Carlene O’Connor “Murder at an Irish Christmas

Gail Oust: “The Twelve Dice of Christmas”

 

James Patterson, Maxine Paetro: “The 19th Christmas

Anne Perry “A Christmas Resolution

Summer Prescott and others “Cozy Christmas Reunion: Holiday Cozy Mysteries

 

Heather Redmond “A Christmas Carol Murder

Barbara Ross “Nogged Off

 

Karen Schaler “Finding Christmas

Julie Seedorf:  “The Discombobulated Decipherers”

Jane Willan:  “The Hour of Death”

Sherryl Woods: “Christmas at White Pines

 

Happy Choosing!

 

Book List: Author Barbara Ross

 

Author Barbara Ross’ Maine Clambake Mysteries series is thoroughly entertaining with terrific writing, an engaging cast of core characters, intriguing murders, and the Maine setting that is a personality in itself. It is no wonder that the series has been nominated so often for top mystery awards. Our own NBR readers chose “Clammed Up” as a Top Ten read for that year. I have tried several of the delicious recipes in the books and can report that they are tasty and easy to make.

 

Click on the titles and check out the books:

Maine Clambake Mysteries:

Clammed Up”   (review here)

Boiled Over

Musseled Out”  (review here)

Fogged Inn”     (review here)

Iced Under

Stowed Away”  (It won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. Truly an excellent read.)

Steamed Open” (review here)

Sealed Off

Shucked Apart” (coming in February, 2021)


Jane Darrowfield Mysteries:

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody” (First in new series, review here, part of the ‘Four Books, Four Genres’ post)

Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door


Shorter Stories:

Nogged Off” – part of the Christmas collection, “Eggnog Murder”

Logged On” – novella in the Christmas collection, “Yule Log Murder”

“Hallowed Out” – novella in the Halloween collection, “Haunted House Murder


Stand Alone:
The Death of an Ambitious Woman


Buy them all and Enjoy!  🙂

 

 

Book List: Julie Hennrikus

New England author, Julie Hennrikus, has been entertaining us with three quite different mystery series, written under three different names, for several years. In honor of her most recent book launch, “Digging Up the Remains,” a Halloween themed mystery, here’s a list of all her books. Enjoy!

 

Click on the book titles to learn more about the books.

 

The Clock Shop Mystery Series by Julianne Holmes, features expert clockmaker Ruth Clagan who inherits the clock shop, Cog & Sprocket, from her Grandfather. The bells toll for more than one body in this lovely town of Orchard, Massachusetts, and Ruth must get herself in gear to outsmart the killers. The first book in the trilogy received an Agatha nomination for Best First Mystery. If you like clocks and/or are fascinated by the history and how they work, you’ll love this series.

 

 

 

Read the review for Agatha nominated “Just Killing Timehere.

                 

Clock and Dagger

Chime and Punishment

 

The Theater Cop series by J.A. Hennrikus is actually the first series that Ms. Hennrikus worked on, but as happens with many writers, was not her first series published. She has been active in the arts field for a lot of her professional life and theater was a big part of that involvement. The drama of life in and around the stage are a focal point of this entertaining mystery series, featuring a diverse set of characters, and former cop, now theater manager, Edwina Sullivan.

 

 

Read my review of “A Christmas Perilhere.

 


With A Kiss I Die

 

The Garden Squad Mysteries, by Julia Henry, centers around a stealthy group of crime-solving, garden loving residents that fixes up neglected gardens and pathways. After dark. When nobody can see them or protest. Have digger, will weed. There are murders of course, but there are also great gardening tips, and (from the readers’ point of view) hilarious situations in which Henry places these midnight gardeners led by 65 year old Lilly Jayne. I wonder if I can hire them to take care of my neighbor’s scruffy looking sideyard….All kidding aside, the series is great.

Read my review of “Pruning the Deadhere.

Tilling the Truth

Her most recent book, “Digging up the Remains,” has a Halloween theme.

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

 

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