Podcast: 8 Delicious Mysteries to Feast On
Laura: [00:00:00] Hi, everybody. Welcome to the Clermont County Public Library’s Booklovers Podcast. I’m your host, Laura. And today I’m joined by Shayna and Jordan.
Jordan: [00:00:12] hello.
8 delicious mysteries
Laura: [00:00:14] Today, we’re going to share some of our favorite cozy mysteries. And briefly, if you don’t know, cozies are a sub-genre of crime fiction. Cozies usually happen in a small town full of quirky people. The amateur sleuth is usually a woman and she usually has some type of a job where she comes into contact with a lot of people. So that might be a shop owner, bakery owner, caterer, or even, a librarian. They’re considered gentle reads because all of the violence and the murder take place off the page. So very much think Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote.
Shayna, get us started with our first delicious mystery?
Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates
Shayna: [00:01:06] Yes, I would. So, my first pick is, I love the title, It’s Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates by Kathy Aarons.
I’m a chocoholic. So, the summary – best friends, Michelle and Erica are celebrating the sweet rewards of their combined bookstore and chocolate shop by hosting the great fudge cook-off during the town’s Memorial Day weekend arts festival. But success turns bittersweet when the town’s portrait photographer turns up dead in their store, poisoned by Michelle’s signature truffles.
Together Michelle and Erica pick through an assortment of suspects before the future of their dream store melts away.
Laura: [00:01:55] That sounds perfect. I mean, not the murder part, but the chocolates.
Shayna: [00:02:01] To have a chocolate shop and a bookshop with your best friend. That would be like my dream, but I probably wouldn’t work. I’d just read and eat chocolate. Well, I’d be the worst store business owner partner.
Laura: [00:02:16] It should be more like a hobby. You need to be funded by somebody who has a lot of money so that you can read all of the great books while eating chocolate.
Shayna: [00:02:25] Exactly. So, it’s the first book in the Chocolate Covered Mystery Series.
I haven’t read the other books, but I really enjoyed this first one. It’s got friendship; it’s got the coziness of the bookstore and the chocolate shop. And just the way that the author describes the chocolate shop, it was almost like I could smell the chocolate. You know how when you walk into a candy store and you just smell the fudge and the chocolates, and you’re just like, ah, so she did a really good job at that.
I could almost like smell the chocolates through the book. And the plot was pretty intriguing too. Like I’ve found cozy mysteries before where I’m like, I figured it out in like the first few chapters and then I’m like, yeah, I was right. But this one, I was actually really surprised at who committed the crime.
So, it definitely keeps you going, and it shocked me, which I like in a book. I don’t like to figure it out all the time. it keeps it interesting. So, it was a good little cozy mystery.
Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates is available as:
Brownies and Broomsticks
Laura: [00:03:39] So Jordan, what’s your first delicious mystery?
Jordan: [00:03:42] Okay. All of the books that I picked out are the first books in the series.
The first one I have actually read. It’s called Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates. And it’s the first book in the Magical Bakery Mystery series. While working at the Honeybee Bakery, named after her aunt Lucy’s cat, in Savannah, Georgia, Katie Lightfoot notices that her aunt adds mysterious herbs to her recipes.
It turns out these herbal enhancements aren’t just tasty. Aunt Lucy is a witch and her recipes are actually spells.
When a customer is murdered outside the honeybee bakery, Katie’s uncle Ben becomes the prime suspect. With the help of handsome journalist, Steve Dawes, charming firefighter Declan McCarthy, – because there’s always a love triangle – and a few spells, Katie and Aunt Lucy stir up some toil and trouble to clear Ben’s name and find the real killer.
Laura: [00:04:47] That sounds fun.
Jordan: [00:04:49] I’m new to cozy mysteries. I just started reading them this year. This is just the second series that I’ve started and I’m currently on the fourth book. So, I really enjoy it. I feel like of the cozy mysteries I’ve read, these are probably the most intricately written.
They’re in the bakery and they talk about everything they make in the bakery and also their little extra ingredients, because they’re also witches. So, they make pastries that give people happiness or prosperity and stuff like that, just based on whatever it is they add.
It’s a really nice cozy mystery book series. And, it always blows my mind- like how many people get murdered in the small town.
Laura: [00:05:59] Right? The amateur sleuth is always the one finding the body and you just think, Oh my!
Shayna: [00:06:08] They have to have some serious PTSD. Authors need to incorporate that at some point, like when it’s book 12 and it’s the 18th murder, it needs to be addressed. The main character is having nightmares and cold sweats
Brownies and Broomsticks is available as:
And Then There Were Crumbs
Laura: [00:06:34] My first delicious mystery suggestion is the Cookie House Mysteries by Eve Calder, which is a relatively new series. The first book, And Then There Were Crumbs, came out in 2019. Sugar and Vice came out in 2020. And I believe that the third book is due out in 2021.
After losing her job at a Manhattan restaurant and breaking up with her fiance, Kate decides to start fresh. As one does. She moves to this coastal island town, small and quirky of course, because you need that for your cozy mystery, called Coral Cay, Florida.
She takes a job at the local bakery called The Cookie House, working for the crusty and curmudgeonly owner, Sam. It wouldn’t be a mystery without a murder. Stewart Lord is a real estate developer and he’s pressuring Sam to sell The Cookie House. Sam says absolutely not. And they have a big argument about it.
Later, Stewart turns up dead with a box of Sam’s cinnamon rolls that he was eating. So of course, Sam’s the prime suspect and the police arrest him. Now it’s up to Kate to rally support for Sam and figure out who the real killer is.
This one ticks all of the boxes – small town, quirky residents, amateur sleuth, plus bonus cookies.
Shayna: [00:08:03] You know, I get jealous of these books, sometimes the characters, because I’m like that town does not exist. And I want to find a quirky, little beachy town and work in a big shop and be happy.
I mean, I don’t want to find a murder,
Laura: [00:08:19] I love that she’s just moved to this town and already she has a new best friend who owns the shop next tour. And she’s meeting all these fabulous, quirky people. I just so want there to be a place like that in real life.
Shayna: [00:08:44] Yeah. I’ve always felt that way with Nicholas Sparks’ books because it’s always a town that’s like this, small coastal town. And the main character is always super poor yet they somehow managed to get this amazing house.
And Then There Were Crumbs is available as:
Here Today, Gone Tamale
Laura: [00:09:00] Shayna do you have another delicious mystery for us?
Shayna: [00:09:03] Yes. I really liked this series. I read the whole series. There are only three books, so it’s a short, cozy mystery series. A lot of cozy mysteries, I read they’ve always been like the baking, right? Like the chocolate or the cakes or the cookies. This one, I really liked it because it was different.
It’s Mexican themed. The main character works at her family’s Mexican restaurant. It’s called Here Today, Gone Tamale, fun pun. It’s by Rebecca Adler. The summary: After losing her newspaper job and having her former fiance unfriend her on Facebook, Josie Callahan scoops up her Chihuahua Lenny and goes back to her hometown, Broken Boot, Texas.
Maybe working as the head waitress at her aunt and uncle’s TexMex restaurant isn’t exactly living the dream, but it is a fresh start. Business is booming as tourists start arriving for the famous Wild West Festival. But when a local jewelry designer is found strangled outside of the restaurant, Josie’s reporter instincts kick in. Suspects begin to pile up and alibis begin to crack faster than taco shells. Another fun pun.
This book, like I said, had a fun mystery in a different cozy mystery setting rather than the sweet route. I really liked it because Josie, you know, she starting over. You know, she’s a waitress. If you’ve ever been a waitress, sometimes that that job is tough.
She’s got family, she’s got old friends in the town, and there is a bit of a love interest that starts to develop. I really liked Josie. I like how she’s thrown into this situation that she didn’t ask for and she just perseveres.
There’s even a part where her fiance ends up returning. I really recommend it. Definitely because of the Chihuahua Lenny; he’s an important part of the book.
Jordan: [00:11:36] Another thing I’ve noticed with cozy mysteries is they always seem to have a pet of some sort, at least in most of them. In the Magical Bakery series they’re the familiars. They have a pretty active role.
The pets are always good, especially when they feature them on the cover art.
Shayna: [00:11:55] Lenny is definitely on the cover of all three books in the series. Someone even kidnaps Lenny. You get very attached to Lenny from the first one.
So, it’s good. It’s cute. Definitely cozy, cozy mystery. And it’ll make you crave Mexican.
Jordan: [00:12:17] Oh yeah, I already am. Yeah, it was the title.
Shayna: [00:12:21] And it has recipes in it too. The first one I talked about Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates. It has some recipes too. So, I feel like that’s just a given.
Laura: [00:12:29] It’s definitely a prerequisite.
Here Today, Gone Tamale is available as:
Crepes of Wrath
Laura: All right, Jordan, your next delicious mystery?
Jordan: [00:12:36] All right. So, the second one I have not read yet, but I just thought it sounded interesting. Like something I might be interested in. it’s called the Crepes of Wrath by Sarah Fox. Sorry. I’m going to laugh at all the puns. it’s the first book in the Pancake House Mystery series.
So summary: When Marley McKinney’s aging cousin, Jimmy is hospitalized with pneumonia, she agrees to help run his pancake house while he recovers. With its rustic, interior and syrupy scent, The Flip Side Pancake House is just how she pictured it. And the surly chef is a wizard with crepes.
Marley expects to spend a leisurely week or two in Wildwood Cove, a quaint, coastal community, where she used to spend her summers.
But then cousin Jimmy is found murdered, sprawled on the rocks beneath the nearby cliff. After she stumbles across evidence of stolen goods in Jimmy’s workshop, Marley decides to find out what’s really going on in the not so quiet town of Wildwood Cove with help from her childhood crush.
Marley sinks her teeth into the investigation, but if she’s not careful, she’s going to get burned by a killer. Who’s only interested in serving up trouble.
Laura: [00:13:57] I like that description. It sounds good.
The Crepes of Wrath is available as:
Sprinkle with Murder
Laura: For my second delicious mystery, I chose the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries by Jenn McKinlay. She actually has a couple of other cozy mysteries. One is set in a hat shop in London, which isn’t that everybody’s dream to be a milliner in London?
And in her third series the amateur sleuth is a librarian.
In this series, the first book is Sprinkle With Murder. BFFs Melanie and Angie are finally living out their dream as the proud owners of the Fairytale Cupcake Bakery. And their first big order is for 500 cupcakes for a fashion designer’s wedding. So obviously they’re super excited about a high-profile job.
Except that the bridezilla wants all original and exclusive cupcake recipes. Which makes Mel crazy. And they have a big argument about it that people witnessed. So, when Mel finds the bride’s body and she’s dead because of a cupcake, obviously Mel is the prime suspect. It’s up to her and Angie to find the real killer to save Mel from jail and their business from crumbling.
There are several books in the series. The last one came out earlier this year, Pumpkin Spice Peril. The books are always full of delicious descriptions of cupcakes.
And they’re always lots and lots of recipes that I always swear someday I will make. And I don’t.
Shayna: [00:16:07] It takes a lot to make those cupcakes too.
Laura: [00:16:13] They’ve got fillings and frosting and decorations.
Shayna: [00:16:17] so I’m sure those are time consuming to make. Yeah. Oh, I love a good cupcake mystery book. They’re good. They’re fun.
I think I’ve seen Pumpkin Spice Peril. I think I had it on display here for fall. The cover was very cute and very fall. It was very pumpkin spice.
Sprinkle with Murder is available as:
Death in a Budapest Butterfly
Laura: [00:16:46] All right, Shayna, do you have another delicious mystery for us?
Shayna: [00:16:52] I do, so this one is a cozy mystery, but again, it’s another one that isn’t a bakery one, which I find interesting. This one is called Death in a Budapest Butterfly by Julia Buckley. The summary is: Diana and her family run Maggie’s Tea House, where they specialize in a European style, traditional tea service that is heavily influenced by the family’s Hungarian descent.
So that was another cool part of the book – you got to learn about Hungarian culture. It was neat.
What really draws in the customers is Hannah’s eccentric grandmother, who is known for her remarkable ability to read the future in the leaves at the bottom of their customers’ tea cups. Lately, her readings have become ominous.
Hannah is an avid tea cup collector and takes pride in a rare butterfly cup. A butterfly cup is a design for a tea cup. They’re really pretty if you ever Google them. So, she collects them and there’s this one cup that is her favorite cup and she takes pride in it.
But the exquisite cup soon becomes the center of a murder investigation. Of course, it does because it’s her favorite teacup. When it is suspected of delivering poison to one of the customers. Hannah decides to find the true killer, exonerate her family and reclaim her beautiful Budapest butterfly cup.
This book was really good. It’s the first in the Hungarian Tea House Mystery series. I just really liked it. I really liked the Hungarian folklore. It’s got some of the paranormal aspects to it with the grandmother being able to read tea leaves.
It was unique. The romance, there wasn’t a lot but I’ve read reviews for the other books in the series, and eventually they do end up being romantically involved. But the first book just gives you a peek at it. Sometimes I feel like books are very heavy on the romance and it starts too fast.
Hannah, the main character, she was just so much fun. She was very relatable. She’s young, she’s 26, single, which her family gives her tons of grief for. Like much to their dismay she’s still single. And in the Hungarian culture, it’s like, Oh no, you need a husband.
The main character is just very down to earth and she’s very cool. She lives alone with her two cats, Anthony, and Cleopatra. She was just a very relatable, very realistic character. I really liked her. So, it was a good one.
Death in a Budapest Butterfly is available as:
Apple Cider Slaying
Laura: [00:20:02] All right, Jordan, what’s your final delicious mystery pick?
Jordan: [00:20:05] I have one more. this one I’m currently reading, I’m just a few chapters in, I really like it so far.
Apple Cider Slaying by Julie Anne Lindsey. And it’s the first book of Cider Shop Mystery Series a, which is relatively new. Only two books published at this point. I’m really enjoying it so far. As soon as I saw apple cider, I was like, yep. This is one that I definitely want to read.
Because I could live off of apple cider. I love it.
Let’s see. For the first book, Blossom Valley, West Virginia, is home to Smythe Orchards, Winnie and her Granny’s beloved twenty-five-acre farm and family business.
But any way you slice it, it’s struggling. That’s why they’re trying to drum up business with the first annual Christmas at the Orchard, a good old-fashioned holiday festival with enough deliciousness to satisfy apple, picking locals and cider loving tourists alike.
Then the whole endeavor takes a sour turn when the body of Nadine Cooper, Granny’s longtime, grudge-holding nemesis is found lodged in the apple press. Now, with Granny the number one suspect, Winnie is hard-pressed to prove her innocence before the real killer delivers another murder.
Shayna: [00:21:40] I love it when they do like either grandma or grandpa and their nemesis. It’s just so funny to me. Oh, and that’s a brutal murder, the apple press. I expected the cider to be poisoned.
Jordan: [00:22:01] Yeah. It’s usually poison of some sort. The murder happens in the first or second chapter. I was like, Oh, okay, this is happening already. But they introduced the character and then she was gone.
Shayna: [00:22:17] Well, that’s bad for business to have a body in your apple press.
Jordan: [00:22:23] What happens is the main character is there with a banker visiting, because she wants to open an additional shop to sell cider year-round.
And then she’s like, Oh, the door to this building is open. I’m going to go close it. And then, that’s where the body is. And the banker sees that before she does.
Apple Cider Slaying is available as:
The conclusion to delicious mysteries
Laura: [00:23:03] What a fabulous group of delicious mysteries! Thank you, Shayna and Jordan for joining me today. And thank you to our listeners and viewers. Remember to subscribe to the Clermont County Public Library’s YouTube channel. Find the Booklovers Podcast wherever you get your podcasts, and hit that subscribe button so you don’t miss an episode.
Next time, we share our favorite reads of 2020. Don’t miss it!
And remember reader, read on.