Must-Read Culinary Cozies
By Jennifer J. ChowJuly 19, 2022
A cozy mystery offers a comfort read that allows you to tap into your inner sleuth. It also includes a close (and usually quirky) community. Is there anything better than a pleasant whodunit? Yes, a cozy with a food theme.
Culinary cozies, as they’re known, have mouthwatering descriptions and sometimes include tantalizing recipes in the back of the books. Foodie mysteries are frequently on my to-read list because I like indulging both my taste buds and my brain cells. I’m excited about several recently released and upcoming culinary cozies. Warning: the following mysteries may leave you hungry for more…
Mint Chocolate Murder by Meri Allen (July 26, 2022)
The cover of this book enticed me. Mint chocolate chip is one of my favorite ice cream flavors, so I can’t wait to dive into this treat of a book. In the novel, previous CIA librarian and current ice cream shop manager Riley Rhodes must figure out who killed a talented but obnoxious photographer. (Note: Meri Allen is the pen name of Shari Randall, who writes the tasty Lobster Shack Mysteries.)
Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder by Valerie Burns (August 30, 2022)
Social media maven Maddy Montgomery must move to a tiny town to start over. Not only does she have to adjust to a new way of living (including learning to bake her late, great-aunt’s yummy cakes), but she also finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. She has to clear her name when the mayor gets stabbed by a knife—with Maddy’s fingerprints on it. I love all the charming details in this novel, including a group of friends known as the Baker Street Irregulars and a giant English mastiff called Baby. This promises to be a sweet read.
Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron
I luckily got an advance reading copy of this novel. The protagonist, Ricki James, moves from Los Angeles to Louisiana, and I resonated with her L.A. ways. Through armchair traveling, I loved getting to know the New Orleans area with its unique atmosphere. With a fascinating vintage cookbook theme, a pair of peacocks, and a dead body arriving in a box, it’s a fun and funny ride of a mystery.
Hot and Sour Suspects by Vivien Chien
When main character Lana Lee agrees to a speed dating contest hosted at her family’s restaurant, the Ho-Lee Noodle House, she doesn’t realize that it’ll eventually end in murder. Lana, as always, is an intrepid investigator, and it’s exhilarating having her figure out the victim’s unsavory past. (Extra kudos to Vivien Chien for writing this book during a tough time in her life, which she shares about in her author’s note.)
Soul of a Killer by Abby Collette (October 4, 2022)
A bookstore combined with a soul food café run by fraternal twins is a brilliant concept. The theme of family is always a draw for me, so I love how the series presents a devoted foster mom. In fact, it’s Mama Zola (bringing a lovely peach cobbler) who soon discovers a dead body. Twins Keaton and Koby must team up again to solve the case.
Honey Roasted by Cleo Coyle
Cleo Coyle’s long-running coffeehouse series is popular for a good reason. It combines entertainment and education in a stellar literary package. This particular novel is fascinating because it dives into urban beekeeping and the art of making honey. When Queen “Bea” Hastings, who produces prize-winning nectar, is found unconscious after what appears to be a serious fall, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi is off to investigate. If you’re into recipes, this book has a ton of them! (Special note: I’m in awe of co-authors, and the husband-and-wife team behind Cleo Coyle work extremely well together.)
Caramel Pecan Roll Murder by Joanne Fluke
Joanne Fluke is the queen of culinary cozies, so this list wouldn’t be complete without her most recent book. I can’t remember the first Hannah Swensen mystery I read, but I do remember there was a giant scrumptious dessert on the cover. In her latest novel, a celebrity TV show host goes belly up. With over a dozen cookie and dessert recipes, Caramel Pecan Roll Murder is bound to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.
The Fragrance of Death by Leslie Karst (August 2, 2022)
Restaurateur Sally Solari is on the case again. I love how each book in the series highlights one of the five senses. This time, it’s about fragrances, and poor Sally has just lost her sense of smell. Thankfully, she hasn’t lost her thirst for investigating, especially when an old acquaintance gets murdered at the annual Santa Cruz Artichoke Cook-Off. Author Leslie Karst has a degree in the Culinary Arts, so the professional-level recipes found at the back of the novel will be sure to please.
Homicide and Halo-Halo by Mia P. Manansala
This refreshing series features Lila Macapagal and is infused with Filipino food and culture. When a local beauty pageant turns deadly, Lila must start sleuthing. Homicide and Halo-Halo is a cozy mystery with some darker, serious themes (please read the author’s note). Don’t forget to check out the book’s distinctive recipes, including halo-halo ice candy.