I like mysteries, and I like spunky heroines – particularly the kind that never quite go looking for trouble, but always seem to fall face down into it as sure as the buttered side of your bread will hit the floor.
Even more fun are those trouble magnets that just have to solve the mystery they’ve stumbled into despite the admonitions of the local police to just stay away. (Seriously…who can stay away?)
Enter the “Cozy Mystery”. I confess, I’m relatively new to the term but not the genre. A “cozy mystery” falls under the heading of crime fiction; they take place in a small community, the detectives are almost always women, amateurs, and considered busybodies by the local police (but of course, they have some sort of connection to them even if it is to be told to “stay out of it”). They are also generally pretty clean books – no lusty sex scenes here, nor are the murders graphically depicted. The culprits are usually local members of the community with the cause of the crime being along the lines of greed, jealousy or revenge. Oh, and the heroine is surrounded by quirky characters.
This week I have two books that are perfect cozy mysteries for a read on the beach or pool-side – and you’ll be happy to learn that they are both part of a series, so if you like them, you can go back to the beginning and read through them all.
And, ok, granted, it is barely Wednesday, but I’m sure it is Wednesday SOMEWHERE, so just look away from your calendar while I say that it is time for What I’m Reading Wednesday!
My first book is an older release from Elaine Orr titled Behind the Walls (Jolie Gentil Cozy Mystery Series Book 6)
When Jolie, a real estate appraiser on the Jersey Shore, in the process of renovating the little house she’s recently purchased, she finds a bag of jewelry and diamonds hidden in her walls. For most of us, this would signal a windfall – but for Jolie, it means she is launched in the middle of a mystery, and murders ensue. Of course, her help is unwelcome by the police and she finds herself the center of unwanted attention and many unhappy people who want her treasure or think there may be more.
I’ll admit, I fell for the plot and quickly downloaded the first books in the series because wanted more of this cast of quirky characters. (I do like my quirky characters, y’all.) I will admit, the reasoning for the jewels hidden in the walls of this particular house is still a wee murky, even at the end of the book, but I’m willing to overlook it because the story was fun. The writing is first-person, familiar and casual. While some of the characters feel familiar, her cat Jazz’s newest friend is definitely not, and was an interesting new addition. There are currently a total of eight books in this series – I’m quickly working my way through them.
Behind the Walls (Jolie Gentil Cozy Mystery Series Book 6) was released December 123, 2013 by Lifelong Dreams Publishing and is currently in ebooks and paperback. Elaine Orr can be found on Twitter at @ElaineOrr55.
The other book that would be a great late summer beach read – because of its August 18 release date – is Lynn Cahoon’s Killer Run (A Tourist Trap Mystery Book 5).
This story is Cahoon’s most recent installment of her “Tourist Trap” series. (And because of the late release date, that will give you plenty of time to go back to book one in the series and bring yourself up to speed – although, like Behind the Walls, this book also works fine as a standalone, if it needed to. But it shouldn’t because you should go read the first books, because they are fun.)
But enough about that.
I think Jill Gardner could be my alter ego: owner of a bookstore/coffee shop in coastal California who spends her days “researching” for work (a.k.a. curled up in a bookshop chair, reading new releases.) If only she wasn’t finding herself in the midst of a murder mystery….
With delightful characters, a (okay, slightly obvious) mystery and a laid-back writing style, Lynn Cahoon brings a great story that will have you laughing one minute and trying to figure out “who dunnit” the next.
This is a light, easy read with (of course) the requisite quirky characters. During the town’s 5k run, the wife in the husband-and-wife professional promotions team brought on by the non-profit backing the race is found dead. Murder or accident? Meanwhile, a neighboring model train shop is repeatedly vandalized, and the owner asks Jill to help him find out who is responsible. Jill should keep her nose out of it – her detective boyfriend tells her so at every available opportunity – but of course, she finds herself caught in the middle of it all.
I confess: the woman killed off was done in early in the story, almost too quickly to really know much about her other than she seems unpleasant and she and her husband didn’t work well together. Jill’s relationship with hunky detective boyfriend Greg seemed a bit tepid given the marriage talk that was bantered about – which made me want to learn more about the relationship and where they are both coming from. The book had a few unexpected turns and clever twists that meant I did not see the ending and the culprit.
I enjoyed the book so much so that I quickly downloaded ALL the previous books in the series and read them over the weekend. I’m trying to save the JUST released fourth book Dressed To Kill (A Tourist Trap Mystery Book 4) for our upcoming beach vacation, but I don’t know if I’ll quite make it that long.
This post contains affiliate links which, if used, help a teeny bit offset my web hosting expenses but won’t cost you anything. Advanced reader copies were provided to me by NetGalley from both BookBuzz.net and Kensington Books in exchange for my honest reviews. All opinions found here are mine alone.