If you were to make a study of my reading material, you would find that one of the genres that crops up the most is so-called “Cozy Crime”. I love me a murder mystery, but I don’t like too much gore, psychological stuff, horror etc. Basically what I’m saying is that I’m a golden age detective story fan and that’s the level of violence that I’m happy with. So here’s a few of my recent reads from cozy end of the genre.
Mrs Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death by Mark Reutlinger – I read this in the book marathon on holiday in October, but have waited until now to review it because it is out on the 18th (thank you NetGalley for my super-advance copy!). Rose Kaplan is a resident at an old people’s home who suspected of a murder after a fellow resident chokes to death on a Matzoh ball made by Mrs K for the Passover seder. Rose and her best friend Ida decide to investigate who really was responsible. I loved this book when I read it on the beach. It’s not challenging reading, it’s not reinventing the wheel, but it is a nice way to spend a few hours – it feels like an American cross between Agatha Raisin and Miss Marple. Definitely worth a look.
Also out in the next couple of weeks is Death Comes to London by Catherine Lloyd. Now this is the second in a series – but I don’t think it’s going to ruin your enjoyment if you haven’t read the first one. In Death Comes to London, Miss Lucy Harrington and her sister Anna make a trip to London for The Season and their friend from the village Major Robert Kurland is also summoned to town. When the grandmother of one of Robert’s friends drops dead in a ballroom, Lucy and Robert end up investigating what could have caused her deaths. I really enjoyed this during some of my nightshift commutes – it reminded me of the better end of the M C Beaton/Marion Chesney Regency mysteries. In fact I’ve already treated myself to the first in the series to help fill the gap before the next book arrives!
Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay – Having enjoyed McKinlay’s Death of a Mad Hatter earlier in the year (review) I ordered the first in her Library Lovers series to see if it was a flash in the pan. Lindsay is the director of Briar Creek Public Library – and ends up trying to solve a murder after one of her employees is accused of killing her boyfriend. I didn’t see all the twists coming and I liked the characters. It felt a little bit like a younger Jessica Fletcher-who-runs-a-library-and-solves-murders. And when you’ve wiled away as many afternoons to Murder, She Wrote repeats as I have, that can only be a good thing.
Breaking my usual rules about only reading series in order, on a trip to the library recently I picked up book 6 of Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Gilver series – Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for a Murder. I quite enjoyed the first in the series, but hadn’t read any more because of the huge to-read pile and because they broke my rules on how much I’ll spend on an ebook (I have them on my wish list so I check periodically if they’re on offer!). I liked this book more than book 1 and although I’m fairly sure there are a few plot developments that I’ve missed it didn’t impair my enjoyment of the book. I didn’t work out the solution – which I had to read several times to get straight in my head, although whether that is because the cast of characters was huge, because the solution was complicated or because I’d had a couple of glasses of wine, I’m not sure!
Not really cozy crime per se, but I read E C Bentley’s Trent’s Last Case – which popped up in my Goodreads recommendations as being the forerunner of Sayers et al. It’s an Edwardian set murder mystery where an investigator working for a newspaper tries to work out who killed a wealthy financier. Now I didn’t enjoy it as much as my normal Golden Age fare, but I did enjoy it mostly to see the parallels between the later books which I love so much. One to read more because of its influence and its reputation rather than because it stands up brilliantly in my opinion.