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The title pretty much says it all. I'm trying to find some new cozy authors to enjoy, but all of the ones I've sampled lately have seemed very predictable and/or very derivitive.Have you, personally, read any lately that were really different or had a strong plot? Please post the author and/or title! Knowing who did what and why within the first few chapters is getting old. I need something good to read--and the 8 gazillion books in Mount TBR don't count, lol.
If it matters, I typically prefer very lighthearted mysteries set in North America that are centered around a young-to-middle age protagonist. Favorite cozy authors include Joan Hess, Tamar Myers, L.J. Braun, Elizabeth Peters, Sarah Shaber, Susan Holtzer, older Rita Mae Brown (pre-ranting), Charlotte MacLeod, Alice Kimberly, Elaine Viets, and Kate Collins.
Recent disappointments include HANDBAGS AND HOMICIDE by Dorothy Howell, The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club by Susan McBride, and Cat of the Century by Rita Mae Brown.
Thank you in advance for your time and for any suggestions!
Edited for typos.
Last Edited on: 8/2/10 3:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
I will be watching this thread too. I *want* to like cozies, I really do. But the formulaic predictability (and the tendency of the female protagonist to do really stupid things) are what make me avoid them most of the time. I'm trying to think of some first in series cozies that meet your criteria that I actually enjoyed enough to look for the next one in the series...but none spring to mind. I'll check my book journal later and edit this post if I come up with any.
You might try the Vish Puri mysteries by Tarquin Hall. These are probably not true cozies but they are very fun and interesting. They take place in New Delhi and the main character is a private detective. There are two books in the series so far and the first is "The Case of the Missing Servant".
The Inspector Armand Gamache series (Three Pines series) by Louise Penny is also very, very good. I would describe them as "cozy plus" since the main character is a police detective. Not a lot of blood and gore though, and really good character development of secondary players.
Anything written by Susan Wittig Albert. She has one series starring China Bayles who lives in a small town in Texas. If you want to venture to England, she has written a historical cozy under the pseudonym Robin Paige, and a very cozy series with the main character being Beatrix Potter. Yes, that Beatrix Potter.
I have also really liked the White House Chef series by Julie Hyzy, she has also started another one that Adrianne referred to. I haven't read the new one yet, but the Chef series is quite unpredictable. Sheila Connelly has a series called the "Orchard Series" which is very good. I also enjoy Lee Anne Sweeney, John J. Lamb and Donna Andrews. Hope these suggestions help.
I just finished Masie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear and really like it so I'm continuing with the series.
Also, the Sarah Brandt Gaslight Mysteries by Victoria Thompson are very good. Both series take place in the early 1900's.
The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith is very good, Della Cooks series by Melinda Wells, the knitting mysteries by Maggie Sefton and Ministry is Murder series by Emilie Richards.
I second the recommendations for the Maddie Springer series by Gemma Halliday and the White House Chef series by Julie Hyzy.
These are just off the top of my head, I'm sure more will come to me later :)
Thank you all for the great leads! I can't wait to try a few new authors and revisit some old favorites. That said, right after my little rant here I started--and finished--one today that I really enjoyed: Ghost a la Mode by Sue Ann Jaffarian. It's WL here and mine has to go back to the library, but if you can get ahold of a copy, do! One of the best cozies I've read in some time, as long as you don't mind a streak of paranormal to your mystery.
Adrienne-- I've enjoyed Wendy Roberts, Victoria Laurie, Gemma Halliday, and the Bubbles books. I'll definitely check out the others you suggested. Thank you!
LeeAnne--Thank you for the ideas. I'll have to check those out.
Joy--Thank you for the suggestions! I know I have the first Donna Andrews book in my TBR, so I'll have to track it down. S.W. Albert and the White House Chef series sound good, too. I'll be adding all of the authors to my library list.
Carol--I've read and enjoyed a few of the early books by Victoria Thompson--thanks for reminding me of the series. It looks like there are several I've missed. I'll be looking into all of your suggestions the next time I hit the library.
Oh, I LOVE cozy mysteries!!! My current favs are Laura Childs and Victoria Thompson. There are also 2 by Elizabeth Lynn Casey - Sew Deadly and Death Threads that are really good. Even if you can't sew, they are her best yet. I love Sammi Carters candyshop mysteries too. I have a ton of cozies on my shelf if anyone is looking.
I second the recommendation of Susan Albert Wittig's China Bayles series. I've only read the first of Donna Andrews series, but I found it both charming and non-formulaic. I also have two other recommendations, both of them set in wineries. The first is a series by Ellen Crosby, set in VA wine country. The other is by Nadia Gordon and is set in Napa Valley. Both have amateur sleuths in small towns, but they are a bit more serious than, say, a Joanne Fluke or Cat Who . . . mystery.
I also really have enjoyed Daniel Hecht's Cree Black series. She is a paranormal investigator and the books are more serious, but they are very well written with a great sense of place and not at all formulaic.
Let us know what you end up liking!
I would recommend Bill Crider. His books aren't exactly cozy, but they include a great sense of place, interesting recurring characters and good humor. To my knowledge he has 4 different series. Two are about small town Texas professors, one is about a rural Texas sheriff and one (I think he has discontinued this series) is about a private investigator in the Galveston area. All are enjoyable and the violence isn't too violent, lol! The PI series (Truman Smith) is probably the most hard-boiled, but still not too bad.
These are three of my personal favorite new cozy series that I am enjoying. I wrote a review for the first listed book. I also agree with what others above have posted.
What I REALLY recommend is author Joanne Dobson. Her first novel is Quieter than Sleep It is a cozy in the sense it takes place in a small town with a likeable character. It is not graphic at all. You mentioned that you wanted something that you cannot predicte right away. This has a strong plot and a realistic female main character. These novels are a great read and keep you interested cover to cover. I kept my copies and found that a few years later I could read them again as a new novel. Most mysteries I can't do that.
On another note, I just finished reading Some Like It Hot-Buttered by Jeffrey Cohen. I figured out who did it by page 80, but kept going along. I know what you mean by predicitable novels. This one was posted on my bookshelf before I even finished it.
Last Edited on: 8/4/10 12:11 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
I am not a fan of contrived, insipid cozies, but do recommend some better ones with strong, smart women who have unusual interests:
I second and third Elaine Viets' Dead End Jobs series, Victoria Thompson's Gaslight Mysteries,, and Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles series.
Others not mentioned are:
Earlene Fowler's Benni Harper series (quilts)
Rett MacPherson (genaeology)
G.A. McKevevett's Savannah Reid series (ex police officer, sounds flighty, but it's not)
Margaret Maron's Judge Deborah Knott series set in North Carolina. She is a good storyteller.
Monica Ferris's Needlecraft mysteries set in Minnesota
I could not finish Donna Andrews series with the birds in the titles. Hate when main characters try to be "nice" and let people walk all over them.
Looking forward to some more suggestions to take a break from the "Scandinavians".
Last Edited on: 8/8/10 1:31 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
I must be the only odd ball that likes cozies for the reason that they ARE typically predictable in their formula. They're comfortable for me. LOL I will however quit a cozy series if the main character does incredibly stupid things repeatedly. That just annoys me.
Well I got one today that surely sounds unpredictable! Says it's a "British cozy" - but the main character is an American gay vampire! Posted to Death (Simon Kirby-Jones, Bk 1) by Dean James. It certainly doesn't sound cookie cutter.
Cozy Mystery authors I have enjoyed reading:
Susan Wittig Albert
Jane K. Cleland
Diane Mott Davidson
Katherine Hall Page
Last Edited on: 8/7/10 4:45 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Lou Allins Belle Palmer series.
H. Mel Melton's Polly Deacon series.
Victoria Houston's Llewellyn Ferris series.
Cynthia Rigg's Victoria Trumbull series
Fran Stewart's Biscuit McKee series
Deborah Sharps Mace Bauer series
just for starters!