For the reader of Cozy Crimes. Members of this club will receive books published in the US or the UK. One Unsigned hardcover or paperback per month.
March: Gigi Pandian. Under Lock & Skeleton Key (St Martins Press, $26.99).
Known for her wonderfully addictive characters, multiple award-winning author Gigi Pandian introduces her newest heroine in this heartfelt series debut. Under Lock & Skeleton Key layers stunning architecture with mouthwatering food in an ode to classic locked-room mysteries that will leave readers enchanted.
An impossible crime. A family legacy. The intrigue of hidden rooms and secret staircases.
After a disastrous accident derails Tempest Raj’s career, and life, she heads back to her childhood home in California to comfort herself with her grandfather’s Indian home-cooked meals. Though she resists, every day brings her closer to the inevitable: working for her father’s company. Secret Staircase Construction specializes in bringing the magic of childhood to all by transforming clients’ homes with sliding bookcases, intricate locks, backyard treehouses, and hidden reading nooks.
When Tempest visits her dad’s latest renovation project, her former stage double is discovered dead inside a wall that’s supposedly been sealed for more than a century. Fearing she was the intended victim, it’s up to Tempest to solve this seemingly impossible crime. But as she delves further into the mystery, Tempest can’t help but wonder if the Raj family curse that’s plagued her family for generations—something she used to swear didn’t exist—has finally come for her.
February: Eva Juczyk. The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections (Sourcebooks, $26.99)
Anxious People meets the delights of bookish fiction in a stunning debut following a librarian whose quiet life is turned upside down when a priceless manuscript goes missing. Soon she has to ask: what holds more secrets in the library—the ancient books shelved in the stacks, or the people who preserve them?
Liesl Weiss long ago learned to be content working behind the scenes in the distinguished rare books department of a large university, managing details and working behind the scenes to make the head of the department look good. But when her boss has a stroke and she’s left to run things, she discovers that the library’s most prized manuscript is missing.
Liesl tries to sound the alarm and inform the police about the missing priceless book, but is told repeatedly to keep quiet, to keep the doors open and the donors happy. But then a librarian unexpectedly stops showing up to work. Liesl must investigate both disappearances, unspooling her colleagues’ pasts like the threads of a rare book binding as it becomes clear that someone in the department must be responsible for the theft. What Liesl discovers about the dusty manuscripts she has worked among for so long—and about the people who care for and revere them—shakes the very foundation on which she has built her life.
The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is a sparkling book-club read about a woman struggling to step out from behind the shadows of powerful and unreliable men, and reveals the dark edge of obsession running through the most devoted bookworms.
January: Prose, Nita. The Maid (Random House, $27.00)
Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.
Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.
But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?
A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.
November: Amita Murray. Arya Winters and the Tiramisu of Death (Polis, $16.99).
Arya Winters is your typical cozy heroine. She lives in a cottage in a small English village, and bakes for a living – well, she specializes in macabre desserts. She has nosy neighbors, who she avoids ruthlessly due to her social anxiety. And she has a keen interest in all things sexy, especially Branwell Beam, the writer next door.
When her neighbor Tobias Yards turns up dead after eating poisoned tiramisu (definitely not poisoned when she baked it), no one seems to connect it to Arya’s Auntie Meera’s recent death. Instead, they blame her excruciatingly average ex-boyfriend—and Tobias’s nephew—and so she takes matters into her own hands. Now all she has to do to uncover the truth is to get over her aversion to Other People. Besides that, it’s just a matter of getting beyond some yellow tape, dodgingher former BFF Tallulah from secondary school, and getting into Branwell’s pants—he seems strangely reluctant.
What Arya doesn’t realize is that the murderer is dangerous, preying on lonely people who’ve experienced trauma, and that she might have to do all she can not to become the next victim.
October: Raquel Reyes. Mango, Mambo and Murder (Crooked Lane, $26.99)
Cuban-American cooking show star Miriam Quiñones-Smith becomes a seasoned sleuth in Raquel V. Reyes’s Caribbean Kitchen Mystery debut, a savory treat for fans of Joanne Fluke and Jenn McKinlay.
Food anthropologist Miriam Quiñones-Smith’s move from New York to Coral Shores, Miami, puts her academic career on hold to stay at home with her young son. Adding to her funk is an opinionated mother-in-law and a husband rekindling a friendship with his ex. Gracias to her best friend, Alma, she gets a short-term job as a Caribbean cooking expert on a Spanish-language morning TV show. But when the newly minted star attends a Women’s Club luncheon, a socialite sitting at her table suddenly falls face-first into the chicken salad, never to nibble again.
When a second woman dies soon after, suspicions coalesce around a controversial Cuban herbalist, Dr. Fuentes–especially after the morning show’s host collapses while interviewing him. Detective Pullman is not happy to find Miriam at every turn. After he catches her breaking into the doctor’s apothecary, he enlists her help as eyes and ears to the places he can’t access, namely the Spanish-speaking community and the tawny Coral Shores social scene.
As the ingredients to the deadly scheme begin blending together, Miriam is on the verge of learning how and why the women died. But her snooping may turn out to be a recipe for her own murder.
September: Carol J Perry. Be My Ghost (Kensington, $15.95).
Maureen Doherty and her golden retriever Finn have taken possession of a charming old inn—only to discover that it’s already possessed by tenants whose lease on life already ran out . . .
Maureen’s career as a sportswear buyer hits a snag just before Halloween, when the department store declares bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Finn’s lost his way as a guide dog after flunking his test for being too friendly and easily distracted. Sadly, only one of them can earn unemployment, so Maureen’s facing a winter of discontent in Boston–when she realizes she can’t afford her apartment.
Salvation comes when she receives a mysterious inheritance: an inn in Haven, Florida. A quaint, scenic town on the Gulf of Mexico hidden away from the theme parks, Maureen believes it’s a good place to make a fresh start with a new business venture. But she gets more than she bargained for when she finds a dead body on her property–and meets some of the inn’s everlasting tenants in the form of ghosts who offer their otherworldly talents in order to help her solve the mystery…
August: Elizabeth Blake. Death and Sensibility (Crooked Lane, $26.99).
Bookstore owner Erin Coleridge seeks the scoundrel who silenced a conference’s keynote speaker in Elizabeth Blake’s second charming Jane Austen Society mystery.
When the quaint English town of York hosts a Jane Austen Society conference, bookseller Erin Coleridge is glad to get out of Kirkbymoorside for a while–until featured speaker Barry Wolf suddenly perishes from what appears to be a heart attack.
Erin is suspicious, since Barry had no history of heart disease. But who did him in? Was it the decedent’s assistant, Stephen, who was observed chatting to Barry’s young wife Luca earlier that night? Might it have been Barry’s ex-wife Judith, who was seen arguing with her erstwhile betrothed at the bar? Meanwhile, conference co-chairs Hetty and Prudence have been at one another’s throat since the conference. Is one of them the culprit?
Matters of the heart are putting Erin off her guard. Both Detective Inspector Peter Hemming and schoolteacher Jonathan Alder have made gestures of romantic interest, but Erin isn’t sure who is her Willoughby and who is her Colonel Brandon. DI Hemming tries to persuade Erin that her entanglement in the murder investigation is far from sensible, but his entreaties come to naught. Dauntlessly, Erin joins forces with Kirkbymoorside’s cat lady, Farnsworth, to ferret out the guilty party.
July: S.C. Perkins. Fatal Family Ties
S.C. Perkins’s Fatal Family Ties is the captivating third mystery in the Ancestry Detective series, in which Texas genealogist Lucy Lancaster deals with murders in both the past and present.
Lucy is just about to tuck into a plate of tacos at her favorite Austin joint, Big Flaco’s, when she gets an unexpected visit from her former—and least-favorite—co-worker. Camilla Braithwaite hasn’t gotten much friendlier since the last time Lucy saw her, but that doesn’t stop her from asking a favor. In her hand is a newspaper feature on an ancestor, a civil war corporal—and a liar, according to the article. Charles Braithwaite is depicted as a phony and a deserter, and Camilla wants Lucy’s help clearing his name.
Lucy would prefer to spend her free time with her new beau, special agent Ben Turner, but takes the case, making no promises that Camilla will like the outcome of her investigation. Camilla leads Lucy to the Texas History Museum, where their first clue is a triptych painting, passed down in the Braithwaite family for generations, one panel of which has disappeared. But before Lucy can get much further, a member of the Braithwaite family is murdered in his own bed, and another panel of the painting found missing.
There are no shortage of suspects among the Braithwaite clan—including Camilla herself. This case will take Lucy to Houston and back again as she works to find the truth, and catch an elusive killer.
June: Tracy Gardner. Ruby Red Herring (Crooked Lane, $26.99)
In this Avery Ayers Antique Mystery series debut, perfect for fans of Ellery Adams and Jane K. Cleland, an antiques appraiser hunts a missing gem while probing her parents’ deaths.
After her parents’ deaths, Avery Ayers takes over the family business, Antiquities & Artifacts Appraised, from the home office in Lilac Grove and a branch in Manhattan. Now living back at home with her younger sister Tilly and their newly moved-in, eccentric Aunt Midge and her Afghan hound, Avery’s life is filled with jewels, tapestries, paintings, and rare finds. But their world is rocked when Avery learns that the theft of a priceless ruby may be connected to her parents’ demise.
The trouble starts when the Museum of Antiquities hires Avery to appraise a rare, resplendent ruby. It bears a striking similarity to a solitary stone in the museum’s prized Xiang Dynasty bejeweled dragon medallion exhibit, which has long been missing one of its ruby eyes. Now, Avery and her colleagues–ostentatious Sir Robert Lane and fatherly Micah Abbott–suspect they may have the missing gem. But facets of the case remain cloudy. Security guard Art Smith is always underfoot but is not what he appears. Another body turns up connected to the appraisal. And Avery receives mysterious notes that begin to put her life in danger.
Avery enlists possible ally Art’s help in cutting the list of suspects who might have polished off her parents and swiped the jewel. Was it art collector Oliver Renell? Curator Nate Brennan? Acquisitions Liaison Francesca Giolitti? Actor Tyler Chadwick? Was the crime impersonal or perpetrated by someone all too close to Avery? If she can’t find the culprit, lovely Lilac Grove may be the setting for Avery’s own death.
May: Mia P Manansala. Arsenic and Adobo (Berkley, $16.00).
One of BuzzFeed’s Highly Anticipated Mystery Novels of 2021!
The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer….
When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.
With the cops treating her like she’s the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila’s left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…
April: Jesse Q Sutanto. Dial A for Aunties (Berkley, $16.00).
What happens when you mix 1 (accidental) murder with 2 thousand wedding guests, and then toss in a possible curse on 3 generations of an immigrant Chinese-Indonesian family?
You get 4 meddling Asian aunties coming to the rescue!
When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is inadvertently shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for the family wedding business—”Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!”—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream flowers.
But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?
March: S.J. Bennett. The Windsor Knot (Harper Collins, $27.99).
The first book in a highly original and delightfully clever crime series in which Queen Elizabeth II secretly solves crimes while carrying out her royal duties.
It is the early spring of 2016 and Queen Elizabeth is at Windsor Castle in advance of her 90th birthday celebrations. But the preparations are interrupted when a guest is found dead in one of the Castle bedrooms. The scene suggests the young Russian pianist strangled himself, but a badly tied knot leads MI5 to suspect foul play was involved. The Queen leaves the investigation to the professionals—until their suspicions point them in the wrong direction.
Unhappy at the mishandling of the case and concerned for her staff’s morale, the monarch decides to discreetly take matters into her own hands. With help from her Assistant Private Secretary, Rozie Oshodi, a British Nigerian and recent officer in the Royal Horse Artillery, the Queen secretly begins making inquiries. As she carries out her royal duties with her usual aplomb, no one in the Royal Household, the government, or the public knows that the resolute Elizabeth will use her keen eye, quick mind, and steady nerve to bring a murderer to justice.
SJ Bennett captures Queen Elizabeth’s voice with skill, nuance, wit, and genuine charm in this imaginative and engaging mystery that portrays Her Majesty as she’s rarely seen: kind yet worldly, decisive, shrewd, and most importantly a great judge of character.
February: Cosimano, Elle. Finlay Donovan is Killing It
Finlay Donovan is killing it . . . except, she’s really not. She’s a stressed-out single-mom of two and struggling novelist, Finlay’s life is in chaos: the new book she promised her literary agent isn’t written, her ex-husband fired the nanny without telling her, and this morning she had to send her four-year-old to school with hair duct-taped to her head after an incident with scissors.
When Finlay is overheard discussing the plot of her new suspense novel with her agent over lunch, she’s mistaken for a contract killer, and inadvertently accepts an offer to dispose of a problem husband in order to make ends meet . . . Soon, Finlay discovers that crime in real life is a lot more difficult than its fictional counterpart, as she becomes tangled in a real-life murder investigation.
Fast-paced, deliciously witty, and wholeheartedly authentic in depicting the frustrations and triumphs of motherhood in all its messiness, hilarity, and heartfelt moment, Finlay Donovan Is Killing It is the first in a brilliant new series from YA Edgar Award nominee Elle Cosimano.
January: Walker, Laura Jensen. Hope, Faith and a Corpse
In the tradition of M. C. Beaton, Hope Taylor, pastor of a small-town California church, tries to find out who sent a church elder to Heaven.
Hope Taylor arrives in Apple Springs to start her new life as the first female pastor of Faith Chapel Episcopal Church. The northern California town’s quaint cottages, bungalows, and shops promise a fresh start for the 42-year-old widow and Bogie, her scruffy black Labrador. But where is Father Christopher? The kindly old rector who hired Pastor Hope was supposed to meet her upon her arrival, but he’s nowhere to be seen. Hope’s faith springs eternal, so she explores the little white church hoping to find Father Christopher. But when she enters the columbarium, she instead finds church elder Stanley King–his skull crushed by a fallen burial urn.
Hope had made Stanley’s acquaintance before, and had struggled to take a charitable view of his character. Stanley was as wicked as he was wealthy, as petty as he was pious. His soul may have been holy, but his behavior was wholly rotten. The last time Hope had seen him, he had shouted drunkenly that she would preach at Faith Chapel over his dead body.
Many of the townsfolk witnessed the altercation, so Hope finds herself as the prime suspect in Stanley’s murder. With Bogie’s four-footed assistance, Hope is determined to find the real killer and clear her name…even if it will require a bit of divine intervention.