The cozy mystery series has been a favorite of readers for years. The genre was popularized in the 1930s and 1940s by Agatha Christie.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, and other writers also wanted to write stories that were more subtle than traditional detective fiction.
Cozy mysteries are also known as “domestic” or “country house” mysteries due to their emphasis on family life in addition to murder plots.
They typically have lighthearted dialogue and a gentle tone with little violence or gore.
These books are often set in small towns where everyone knows everyone else’s business and cares about whoever happens to be involved in the latest case—no matter how small-town drama it might be!
Though cozy mysteries are often thought of as having a “country-house” setting, they can be set in any type of location as long as it has the homey feel that these writers strive for.
They focus on amateur sleuths who usually get involved with murder investigations by accident—and stay involved due to their love of solving puzzles, making friends, finding romance, and just being plain nosey!
The main characters are usually female; though male amateur sleuths do appear as supporting characters.
Cozy mysteries are a great way to introduce readers to new authors. They’re short and fun, perfect for those who aren’t sure they’re ready to commit to a lengthy novel.
The following cozy mystery authors are some of the best-selling sleuths in the genre and come highly recommended for those who want a fun read:
1. Jill Churchill is one of the most popular writers of cozy mysteries on the market today. She writes traditional whodunits with amateur sleuth themes, and her books have been translated into a dozen languages.
2. Janet Chapman ‘s series, “The Cat Who” mysteries, has been on the market for more than twenty years. Set in Seattle, they follow James Qwilleran and his Siamese cats as they solve crimes and make new friends along the way!
3. Joan Hess is known for her series about The Maids, two women who are former spies and decide to use their skills for good by helping police solve crimes.
4. Victoria Thompson writes “Gaslight” mysteries set in turn-of-the-century New York City featuring housekeeper/sleuth Hannah Gruen as she solves murders with the help of her fiancé, the police detective.
5. Barbara Neely writes a series featuring former 911 operator Yumiko “Yummy” Ravensworth as she solves crimes with her friends from the neighborhood of Eastside Manhattan and Harlem.
6. Susan Wittig Albert has written a large number of mysteries under the pen name of “Qwilleran,” which is the name of her main character.
7. Ann B. Ross writes a series about Ms. Daisy Chain, a librarian who helps solve murders with her husband while keeping track of their seven children!
8. Denise Swanson has written more than one hundred novels as part of “The Library Lovers” series and also writes for the “Andi and Derek” cozy mystery series.
9. Diane Mott Davidson writes mysteries that are set in the food industry, following amateur sleuth Goldy as she uses her catering skills to find murderers!
10. Parnell Hall has written a series of books based around the theme “Murder with Memories”! While these books are not strictly cozy mysteries, they’re sure to be a hit with those who love the genre’s style.
With Cozy Mysteries, I don’t read them for the story. I read them to get lost in someone else’s world. Even if that world is as bumbling and overworked as Jessica Fletcher or Stephanie Plum, it’s fun.
So when I stumbled on Stealing Home by Sian Ann Bessey, I KNEW it would be one of my top cozies this year.
Jess Walker is a self-proclaimed bumbling amateur who loves to get caught up in everyone else’s drama and keep them all safe from harm. She works for her father at his newspaper, but she secretly wants to be a reporter. She also has the hots for Logan, who just so happens to be dating her best friend.
The problem is Jess’s family and friends think she doesn’t have the right stuff to be a journalist because she always seems to miss all of her “scoops” and find herself in the middle of dangerous situations.
But when her friend’s dad is killed, Jess knows she needs to prove that Logan and Logan’s family had something to do with it.
I loved the way the author told this story from different perspectives: Jess, Logan, even a disgruntled housekeeper. Each new chapter left me more intrigued than the last as I tried to figure out who was behind the suspicious death.
I found myself laughing at Jess and her unconventional antics, even when she felt like she was in over her head.
Did I mention that there is a love triangle involved? Yup. Logan’s aunt thinks of Jess as a daughter and the two have a close bond. This made Logan’s interest in Jess way too complicated for my taste.
I found the ending very satisfying. If you’re looking for a cozy that is full of bumbling mishaps, Witty dialogue and amusing characters, this book is for you.
If you love cozy mysteries, you might also enjoy watching TV shows that are similar to the genre. I’m not talking about detective series with strong female leads like “Law & Order” or movies that have a mystery that is solved in two hours (but make me feel good when I’m done).
The following TV shows are what I call cozy mystery series because they have the same feel as a typical cozy, but on TV.
Many times it’s set in a small town where everyone knows everyone and the main character has an uncanny ability to find herself in danger one way or another.
1. Murder She Wrote – Angela Lansbury stars as a writer named Jessica Fletcher who stumbles upon murders and helps solve them. The entire series is available to stream on Netflix or purchase online.
2. Monk – This show follows Adrian Monk, a Detective with the San Francisco Police Department but was recently fired because of his OCD compulsions that make him unable to solve crimes. The series follows him as he tries to return to his former glory by solving murders and other crimes.
3. Perry Mason – Raymond Burr stars as a fictional character who is the only crime-solver in Los Angeles who never loses a case and has no desire for money or fame, just the truth. This was a black and white TV show that is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
4. Castle – While this show isn’t set in a small town, I still think it’s cozy mystery worthy because the lead character, Richard Castle is a novelist whose books are inspired by real cases he helps solve with his gorgeous sidekick (read: girlfriend).
5. Thin Man – This one is also available to stream on Netflix and is set in New York City. It’s a black and white TV series that is inspired by marital problems but always has an underlying mystery to solve.
This year I have seen several new cozy mystery TV series that are worth checking out!
One of my favorites is the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel.
They run cozy mysteries all day long and they are almost always excellent! Currently, my favorite show on this channel is A Matter of Faith . It has an interesting plot about a new pastor in town trying to win over his congregation after a radical change.
Another fun channel that I found recently is the Acorn TV Channel, which runs British crime series that are available on their streaming service.
My favorite is DCI Banks , which is now up to season three!
It follows a Detective in Eastvale and the surrounding area as he solves cases. The best part about this series is that individually each episode can be watched without feeling lost if you miss an episode.
There also several BBC channel available to stream online through Roku or Amazon Prime, like BBC America and PBS. A few of my favorites are Inspector George Gently , Rosemary and Thyme , and Vera .
Watching TV shows are a great way to get your cozy mystery fix! I
know that I have mentioned a lot of TV series here, but there’s also plenty of movies available to watch online as well.
Most libraries also carry books about detectives or murder mysteries that would be a fun read to watch the corresponding TV show!
If you’d rather just read a cozy mystery series, there are plenty of them out there. You can search for one on your favorite book site or anywhere books are sold!
The “Cat in the Stacks” series by Leslie Langtry is my go-to recommendation whenever someone asks me about a good cozy mystery series.
The main character, Flora Banks, is a children’s librarian in London. She finds herself in the middle of several murder investigations while trying to keep her library running and out of financial trouble.
Another series I love is the “Garden District Mysteries” by Rita Mae Brown .
This series follows an amateur sleuth named Ruby Wilcox in a small town near New Orleans. While the first two books are set in Ohio, they move to Louisiana about halfway through the series after her father passes away.
The “Maggie Kinsale” series by Jennifer McQuiston is another cozy mystery series that I enjoy!
This one follows a woman who inherits a mansion in West Virginia and finds herself drawn into the mystery of her new town.
The “Tea Shop Mysteries” by Laura Childs is another great cozy mystery series! This one follows a woman in Charleston, South Carolina as she solves mysteries with the help of her BFF and mother.
I love this series by M.C. Beaton . It follows Hamish Macbeth as he solves murder mysteries in an area of Scotland that looks like it’s straight out of the movie Outlander. The main character is a police constable and I am always inspired by his way of thinking!
There’s also a ton of great culinary cozy mystery series available for you to read! These books are much more about the people, and often less about the murders.
The “Butterball Bakery Mysteries” by Laura Childs is one that I absolutely love!
This series follows a woman who has just opened her own bakery in the town of Cape Willington. Each book focuses on a different kind of person that has moved to this seaside cozy town, with delicious recipes listed at the end!
Another series I enjoy is “Troubleshooters” by Dana Stabenow .
The main character, Kate Shugak, is half-Inupiat and lives in a small village in Alaska. Each book follows her, as well as several other villagers, as they investigate mysteries that pop up in their little town.
I also recently found the “Cranberry Island” series by Aimee Thurlo . This one is set on Cranberry Island off of Maine, with a focus on the residents of this island and their tourism. I’ve only read the first book so far, but I enjoy it!
You can also read about delicious food while reading a mystery series that focuses on the person, not necessarily the murder.
Joanne Fluke’s “Cake Shop Mysteries” follows Annabelle who inherits her aunt’s bakery and is simultaneously getting over a divorce.
While she tries to get her life back together with help from the recipes of her aunt, she finds herself in the middle of several murder investigations.
Fluke’s “Hannah Swensen” series involves a woman who owns a bakery and is also an amateur sleuth.
Most of the books follow Hannah as she solves mysteries while also dealing with relationships, family, and delicious food!
Another favorite series of mine is the “Kate Mackenzi” series by C T Mitchell . The main character, Kate Mackenzi, owns a cupcake shop in the Tweed Coast and has a knack for getting herself into sticky situations.
You can also find tons of cozy mystery series that revolve around cats!
Josie Prescott and her cat Simpkin are two of the main characters in the “Cat in the Stacks” book series written by Leslie Langtry . Florence is a ginger tom who is featured heavily throughout the entire series.
There are also massive amounts of dog cozy mysteries to choose from! “The Sticky Note Murder Mystery” series by Victor Rosen involves two friends, one who is a vet and the other, whose husband owns a restaurant.
They decide to run the restaurant for a night at their home, leading to all sorts of problems!
Another series that I always suggest is “The Maggie Newberry” series by Susan Conant . This series follows a woman who can’t seem to escape trouble and involves her German Shepherd in most of her adventures.
Another great cozy mystery series that focuses more on the people than the murders is “The Ghost and Mrs. McClure” by Jennifer Ziegler .
A woman who is haunted by her ex-husband’s ghost moves into a new house with a strong séance background. As she tries to get over her ex-husband, she also works to solve a mystery involving her new home.
This is another wonderful book series! The main character of this cozy mystery series, Marcy Singer, has just temporarily moved to Maine with her cat and dog.
While attempting to write a book about the residents of her podunk town, she ends up getting wrapped up in several mysterious murders.
“Mainely Needlepoint Mystery” series by Jenn McKinlay is one I’d definitely suggest to those who enjoy a good mystery with animals!
A great way to connect yourself more deeply with the book you’re reading is to find the book series that was written by someone from the location where the mystery takes place.
“Sally Hunter Mystery” series by Alexia Gordon is one of my favorites, because it not only links the main character to the setting but alludes to actual events and locations in London!
An author who now lives in this cozy mystery’s setting is Cara King . All her books feature places that she’s visited in the past, so it makes them feel like they’re even more personalized for you!
C T Mitchell’s cozy mystery series are set in quint towns on the Tweed Coast like Bangalow, Pottsville, Hastings Point and Eweingsdale.
A lot of people have their own cozy mystery series that they love to follow.
They enjoy the process of reading about the adventures of a detective, amateur sleuth or other protagonist as he or she solves crimes and mysteries in an idyllic small town setting.
If you haven’t read any yet, check out our list below for some recommendations! We hope this inspires you to pick up one (or more) today so your next winter vacation can include hours upon hours with these great books.