By Valerie Khoo.
In the cold weather, is anything better than curling up with a nice cosy mystery? If you’re not sure what a cosy mystery is, it’s a subgenre of crime fiction where the main character is often an amateur sleuth. There is minimal graphic violence or explicit sex and it’s a great way to immerse yourself in a page-turning mystery without the gore. You can be sure that you’ll get great characters, a puzzle to solve, and no horrible scenes to put you off your hot chocolate.
The great thing about cosies is that they usually come in series. Finish one, you can start another straight away! So here are my six favourite cosy series, to keep you snug and happy through winter, plus an extra for good luck.
1. Poppy McGowan Mysteries by Pamela Hart
I love the contemporary Australian vibe in these books, where Poppy McGowan, children’s television researcher, investigates murders. The series started with Digging Up Dirt and Pamela Hart has recently published the second, An A-List for Death. Smart, sassy and funny, this series is great for people who like Janet Evanovich. A bit like the Miss Fisher mysteries, brought up to date.
First book: Digging Up Dirt
Well, we all love Miss Fisher, don’t we? The clothes, the jewels, the cars…and the terrific mysteries, all set in the 1920s in Melbourne. What’s not to love? Reading the books gives you a whole different understanding of the TV series and the movies.
First book: Cocaine Blues
3. Dog Detective series by Louisa Bennet
Louisa Bennet also writes thrillers as LA Larkin, but this series, with alternate chapters swapping from Monty, the Golden Retriever, to his mistress Detective Constable Rose Sidebottom, is much gentler. A police sleuth would usually put this series into the ‘police procedurals’ basket, but Monty and his animal friends are definitely cosy! Lots of fun and animal shenanigans. Great for loves of Grantchester or Agatha Raisin.
First book: Monty and Me
Kellie McCourt says that her heroine’s superpower is money. In this series, our amateur sleuth, Indigo Hasluck-Royce-Jones-Bomberg, is rich. Like, VERY rich. Soooo rich. But her life explodes (literally) in the first book, and the series follows her attempts to put it back together, despite murder and mayhem. Very funny, and if you like slapstick, you’ll love these books.
First book: Heiress on Fire
5. Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews
Set in the US, this series is up to something like 30 books now, so if you love a looooong series, this is the one for you! Blacksmith Meg Langslow has an extraordinary habit of finding bodies, and a family which gets bigger and whackier as the series goes on. Funny, fast and with a great cast of characters.
First book: Murder with Peacocks
6. Max Tudor series by GM Malliet
Unusually for a cosy series, this one has a male protagonist – but he is a vicar and all-round nice guy, especially since he used to be a secret agent! Set in a classic English village (Nethet Monkslip – isn’t that great!), this series will please anyone who likes Agatha Christie or Midsommer Murders.
First book: Wicked Autumn
Honestly, I’m not sure this is a cosy mystery…someone is killed, yes, but it’s not so much a ‘whodunnit?’ as a ‘will they get away with it?’. I’m including Dial A for Aunties because it’s screamingly funny. The main character is Meddelin (the family was aiming for Madeline but spelt it wrongly), an American young woman of Chinese-Indonesian family. When she accidentally kills her date, who should she call but her aunties to get her out of trouble? There’s no great puzzle here, but if you don’t laugh out loud at least once, I’ll be astonished! There is a sequel, Four Aunties and a Wedding, but I’m not sure if it’s going to be a series.
Once you get hooked on cosy mysteries, you’ll never look back! And, unlike with serial killer books, you’ll never look up and think that the house is quiet…too quiet. You’ll be too busy solving the mystery and chuckling to yourself!