Oh, February — the month of hearts, cards, and romance… where you can light some scented candles, snuggle under a blanket next to a huge bouquet of flowers and get completely immersed in a juicy murder mystery. Hold on — murder?
Even crime fiction has a lighter side in the form of the cosy crime novel. No other genre can successfully combine the excitement of sleuthing, secrets, and scandal with the joy of cake-baking, cocktail mixing and antiquing. So put your feet up and relax with some light-hearted cosy crime, from the past month and upcoming soon!
Jane And The Year Without A Summer by Stephanie Barron
Soho Press, 9781641294096, PB, £9.99, 19/01/2023
With the recent Regency revival in films such as Emma (Netflix, 2019) and shows like Bridgerton (Netflix), we just can’t get enough of ostentatious characters from early 1800s England. And no-one is more Austen-tatious than the writer herself in this charming historical crime fiction featuring Austen as the sleuthing protagonist. Jane is recovering from illness in Cheltenham Spa when she discovers that her fellow guests have deadly undercurrents that are threatening to erupt. Yet a potential murderer amidst the guests isn’t the only alarming aspect of this novel — a major plot involving shocking Victorian medical advice for women is almost, if not just as, unsettling.
Wined and Died in New Orleans by Ellen Byron
Berkley, 9780593437636, PB, £8.99, 09/02/2023
Gift shop owner Ricki James stumbles upon a murder in the midst of her place of work’s seasonal autumn decorations. Oh, and her discovery of a valuable French wine accidentally brings greedy and annoying distant Charbonnet family members out of the woodwork. And, as if that all isn’t dramatic enough, its hurricane season in New Orleans. In this second instalment of the Vintage Cookbook Mysteries, Ricki has to help solve a murder, untangle family secrets, and grow her business, all while living under the threat of a hurricane that could wipe out everything from her home to Bon Vee.
A Good Die To Pie by Misha Popp
Crooked Lane Books, 9781639102327, HB, £28.99, 09/02/2023
In a surprising fresh twist on the classic cosy, the sleuth is the murderer in this enthralling novel (don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler). Protagonist pie-maker Daisy perfectly encapsulates the concept of cosy crime by baking a seasoning of murder into each pie she makes. In her trusty RV with her dog, Zoe, she delivers her deadly pies to the town’s worst cads. After entering a baking competition worth £100k prize money, Daisy is shocked to discover her next victim is one of the judges… that is, until he is murdered before she can deliver. Perfect for fans of The Great British Bake Off (with a lethal twist), this edgy yet utterly charming novel takes the idea of ‘a dessert to die for’ to a whole new level.
Three Can Keep a Secret by M. E. Hilliard
Crooked Lane Books, 9781639102365, HB, £27.99, 09/02/2023
When a local professor is murdered in Raven Hill, the fingerprints of a dead woman are found on a poisoned bottle of wine that killed him. Librarian Greer Hogan has the uncanny skill of being able to deduce with extraordinary accuracy, and finding herself drawn to this bizarre case, clues take her to the old manor cemetery where some shockingly dark secrets are buried. Yet she must tread lightly in her investigations, as those who come close to the truth keep turning up dead. Hilliard’s deft references to Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier within the murder mystery will thrill fans of these classic authors, making this novel a delightfully dark read.
Till Death Do Us Port by Kate Lansing
Berkley, 9780593546277, PB, £8.99, 09/03/2023
If there is one thing expected on wedding days, it’s heightened emotions running among the wedding party, guests and staff. Yet, nobody expects to take the phrase ‘til death do us part’ so literally on the actual day of the wedding, until a dead body shows up in the middle of the ceremony. To save her cousin’s wedding, Parker Valentine is determined to unveil a murderer from a crowd of high tension and hot tempers. With recipes that come with suggested wine pairings at the back, may I recommend taking this humorous yet suspenseful cosy with a light white as the book provides the body.
Barking Up The Right Tree by Leigh Russell
Crime & Mystery Club, 9780857305435, PB, £9.99, 23/03/2023
Whilst known for her popular DI Geraldine Steel detective thriller novels, award-winning author Leigh Russell has released a page-turning and heart-warming cosy crime mystery series. The first in the brand new Poppy Mystery Tales series, Barking Up The Right Tree introduces us to Emily, who inherits her aunt’s country cottage and her feisty and energetic dog Poppy. Moving to the pretty and quaint village of Ashton Mead, Emily soon finds herself entangled in the mysterious disappearance of her neighbour, unaware she is becoming more of a target the closer to the truth she gets. This lively title is certainly not lacking in twists, suspense and unexpected turns from a million-copy bestselling author.