There are few things I enjoy more than the changing of the seasons. When the leaves start to turn, I dream of roaring fires and snowflakes falling from the sky. I make sure my favorite blanket is within reach of my armchair and that the reading lamp is in working order. My fireplace may be gas, but I use my imagination to hear the crackling of the logs as I sit snuggly and warm, and reach for my book.
Whether or not snowfall is in your future, there is nothing like a cozy mystery to keep you warm and toasty. As much as I love to read all cozies, I have to admit that I do have my favorites. I find that a good series with memorable characters can make me feel like I’m visiting old friends each time I pick up a book.
To help fill the fall and winter months with great reading, I’ve put together a list of my top ten coziest cozies:
10. Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple series. If you’re a fan of historical mysteries, you’ll love these books set in England circa the 1920s. Daisy is a member of high society who finds herself in the middle of some tight situations. She is frequently able to help Scotland Yard Detective Alec Fletcher solve cases, using not only her intelligence, but her society connections as well.
9. Carolyn Hart’s Death on Demand series featuring Annie Laurance. These books take place on the fictional island of Broward’s Rock, off the coast of South Carolina. Annie is the owner of Death on Demand, a mystery bookstore that was passed down to her by her uncle. The island’s quirky residents make for great intrigue, and the recurring characters keep you coming back for more.
8. Lillian Jackson Braun’s Cat Who series. If the word cat in the title of this series brings to mind little old ladies and knitting, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Braun’s cat owner is Jim Qwilleran, a former newspaper reporter living in the small town of Pickax in Moose County. Jim is able to solve an array of crimes with the help of his two Siamese cats, KoKo and Yum-Yum.
7. Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple series. No top ten cozy list would be complete without the most famous resident of St. Mary Mead. Don’t let the fact that Jane Marple is an elderly spinster fool you, her mind is as sharp as a tack and her knowledge of human nature—learned solely, it seems, from her life in a small English village—is second to none. I find myself rereading books in this series on a regular basis.
6. M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series. Middle-aged private detective Agatha Raisin is as frustrating as she is endearing. She is stubborn and selfish, but has a kind heart that makes it hard not to love her. Set in the Cotswolds, the books are full of small town British country life, with supporting characters that keep Agatha on her toes.
5. Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy (Bear) Schultz series. For those who love food as much as I do, these books will satisfy your mystery cravings as well as your culinary ones. Goldy is a caterer in the fictional small town of Aspen Meadow, Colorado. You wouldn’t really think that a caterer would find herself caught up in so many murders, but then who would have thought Jessica Fletcher would have fallen over so many dead bodies?
4. Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen series. If you read these culinary cozies on an empty stomach, you will soon be searching the pantry for sweets. Hannah is the owner of a bakery in Minnesota called The Cookie Jar. She successfully puzzles through murder mysteries, yet still finds it hard to choose between her two male suitors. Dessert recipes are always included in each book.
3. M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth series. Yes, M.C. Beaton deserves to be on the list twice because she has a second series featuring a lovable constable in the Scottish Highlands. The Hamish Macbeth series is very different from Agatha Raisin, but just as enjoyable. Hamish is responsible for the town of Lochdubh, where he lives at the police station and handles everything from poachers to murderers.
2. Blaize Clement’s Dixie Hemingway series. The fact that Dixie lives in Florida doesn’t make this series less of a warm fuzzy for your winter reading list. Running a pet sitting business can apparently be dangerous, and Dixie gets herself into quite a few compromising situations. (Sadly, Blaize Clement passed away in July of last year. However, her work lives on and her son John Clement is taking over her series to continue bringing us new installments in Dixie’s life.)
1. Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity series. I have to admit that I started reading this series reluctantly. It was recommended by a friend and I knew that it contained a bit of what mystery readers like to call “woo-woo” (which is code for paranormal). I was expecting ghosts and psychics, but what I got wasn’t at all what I expected. American Lori Shepherd learns she has received an inheritance from her Aunt Dimity before she even knew she had an Aunt Dimity. It turns out that Aunt Dimity was a friend of her mother’s who left everything to Lori in her will. Lori moves to the Cotswolds of England where she frequently communicates with Dimity through a mysterious blue journal. Whenever I am looking for a warm fuzzy, I go straight to Aunt Dimity.
If you’re looking for a great book to curl up with on a cold evening, you can’t go wrong with any one of these ten great cozy series.
Tea image via crystalmarten's Flickr stream.
Kerry Hammond has been an avid mystery reader ever since she discovered Nancy Drew at the age of 8. She enjoys all types of stories, from thrillers to cozies to historical mysteries.
See all of Kerry Hammond’s posts on Criminal Element.