Cozy Mystery Reads: Ice Cream Parlor Mystery series by Abby Collette

Abby ColletteAbby Collette is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Abby can be found writing, facilitating writing workshops at libraries, and spending time with her grandchildren.  Abby Collette is a pseudonym used by Abby L. Vandiver.  Under both names, the author writes cozy mysteries.

As Abby L Vandiver, she has written the following series: Mars Origin, Logan Dickerson Cozy Mystery, Normal Junction, Tiny House Cozy Mystery, and the Romaine Wilder Mystery series. The Logan Dickerson series features a second-generation archaeologist and a nonagenarian. The Romaine Wilder series tells the story of an East Texas medical examiner and her funeral-home-owning aunt.

As Abby Collette, the author writes two cozy mystery series: Ice Cream Parlor Mystery series and Books & Biscuit Mystery series. The Books & Biscuits mystery series is about a set of fraternal twins who reunite and open a bookstore and soul food cafe.

The cozy mystery series that first introduced me to this author was the Ice Cream Parlor Mystery series. I adore cozy mysteries set in restaurants and especially those that involve many generations of family.

The first book in this series is A Deadly Inside Scoop. This book tells the story of a millennial granddaughter who is now in charge of running the family-owned ice cream shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Bronwyn Crewse is an MBA grad recently moved back home to Chagrin Falls. Once her grandfather gives her the family’s ice cream shop to run, Win decides that it’s her time to restore the shop to its former glory. Win plans to do some major construction in the shop, as well as crafting homemade ice cream flavors based on her grandmother’s original recipes and on her own new recipes.

Win’s plans are waylaid by construction delays. She misses the summer season and instead opens it later in the year. The day she opens the shop, an early first snow hits the town and keeps customers away from purchasing ice cream. Desperate to improve the day, Win decides to make ice cream from snow, a treat her grandma used to make, and heads out into the storm searching for fresh snow. Her innocent exploration takes a turn when she finds a dead body in the snow. Win soon learns that the body belongs to a man who had a feud with the Crewse family, amongst others in Chagrin Falls. Win’s father is soon implicated in the murder. On top of running the ice-cream shop, Win also needs to find time to clear her father’s name. Win’s friends and family jump in to help her though, lightening her load as she works to find answers.

Ice Cream Parlor Mystery Series

  1. A Deadly Inside Scoop (2020)
  2. A Game of Cones (2021)
  3. A Killer Sundae (2022)

Cozy Mystery Reads: Magic Garden Mystery series by Amanda Flower

Amanda Flower has a clear grip on the cozy mystery genre, having published many different cozy series covering Amish mysteries, magical mysteries, and contemporary mysteries. She is a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author with over thirty-five mystery novels published. Besides being a writer, Amanda was a librarian for fifteen years. She currently lives with her husband and their cats in Ohio where they own a farm and recording studio.

(Also of note, Michelle wrote a blog post about Farm to Trouble, the first book in the Farm to Table Mystery series by this same author that you should check out!)

Today I am going to be talking about a cozy mysteries series by Amanda Flower called the Magic Garden Mystery series. The first book in the Magic Garden Mystery series is Flowers and Foul Play. This book introduces readers to the beautiful Scottish countryside and the people who call it home.

Fiona Knox has lost everything. Her fiance left her for their cake decorator and not far after that, her flower shop closed. When she found out that her godfather Ian MacCallister had died and left her his cottage in Scotland, Fiona jumped on the first flight out of Nashville to restart her life. When Fiona arrives at the cottage, she is greeted by Hamish MacGregor, the cottage’s elderly caretaker. He walks her to the property’s garden and they find that it is almost completely dead with the exception of a lone blooming rose and ivy that seems to come to life in front of their eyes. As they are walking around the garden however, the two find a dead body splayed on the ground.

Police are called. Fiona finds herself being questions by Chief Inspector Neil Craig who also seizes her passport. Craig is convinced that Hamish is the killer, which worries Fiona. The more Fiona explores the town, the more she realizes just how many enemies the victim actually had. Hamish isn’t the only one who had reason to want the victim dead, but it’s up to Fiona to prove he couldn’t have done it.

Magic Garden Mystery series

  1. Flowers and Foul Play (2018)
  2. Death and Daisies (2018)
  3. Mums and Mayhem (2020)

Cozy Mystery Reads: Caribbean Kitchen Mystery series by Raquel V Reyes

Raquel V. Reyes is an accomplished writer who has had many short stories published in various anthologies. Latina characters are the main subjects of her stories. Her own Cuban-American heritage features strongly in her writing, as do the locations of Miami and the Caribbean. Reyes is also the co-chair for SleuthFest, a writing craft conference. Her debut novel is Mango, Mambo, and Murder, the first book in the Caribbean Kitchen Mystery series.

Mango, Mambo, and Murder is a delight, not just because of the recipes that are featured at the end of the book! In this kickoff to a new series, food anthropologist Miriam Quinones-Smith and her family have moved from New York to Coral Shores, Miami, Florida. It isn’t exactly the move that she wanted. She was promised actual Miami, not a rich elite subdivision with her opinionated (and honestly racist) mother-in-law living just a couple houses down. Her husband was offered a very good, well-paying job and with her in-laws helping to buy them a house, moving out of their cramped New York apartment seemed like a good idea at the time. Only now, Miriam is forced to put her academic career on hold to stay at home with her young son while her mother-in-law pops in whenever she feels and her husband stays out all day and night rekindling a friendship (and maybe a romance?) with his ex.

The bright spot? Miriam’s best friend, Alma, a local realtor who knows all the best spots to go and has all the connections Miriam could need. Soon enough Alma has hooked Miriam up with a job as a Caribbean cooking expert on a Spanish-language mornng show. Despite her reservations, the job ends up being something she enjoys.

When Miriam and Alma attend a Women’s Club luncheon as a way to network, things go astray. A socialite sitting at their table falls face-first into her lunch. She’s dead. Rumors start flying, especially when a second woman dies soon after. Suspicions swirl around town that maybe the deaths are connected. Cuban herbalist, Dr. Fuentes, is thrust into the spotlight when the morning show’s host collapses while interviewing him live on air. His methods are controversial after all.

When detectives learn that the first woman died as a result of a drug overdose though, Alma finds herself a suspect when an anonymous tip points to her. Detective Pullman turns to Miriam to help him solve the crime since she has an in with the Coral Shores community. She starts poking around to find the killer and to clear Alma’s name. The closer she get to the truth, the more Miriam learns that Coral Shores is full of secrets. People are not what they seem.

This book is also available in the following format:

Caribbean Kitchen Mystery series

  1. Mango, Mambo, and Murder (2021)
  2. Calypso, Corpses, and Cooking (set to be published in November 2022)

Cozy Mystery Reads: Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series by Vicki Delany

Vicki Delany is a crime writer. She has written more than forty books, ranging from cozies, Gothic thrillers, police procedurals, historical fiction, to novellas to help with adult literacy. Delany is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea by the Sea mysteries, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series, the Catskill Resort mysteries, and the Lighthouse Library series (as pen name Eva Gates). Her previous works include The Year Round Christmas series, Constable Molly Smith series, Klondike Mystery series, Ray Robertson series, Ashley Grant Mystery series, and several stand alone titles.

Vicki Delany is considered one of Canada’s most prolific crime writers. She is also a national bestseller in the US. Delany is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada as well as the co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It Crime Writing Festival.  Her work has been nominated for the Derringer, the Bony Blithe, the Ontario Library Association Golden Oak, and the Arthur Ellis Awards. Vicki was the recipient of the 2019 Derrick Murdoch Award for contributions to Canadian crime writing. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada.

Delany’s Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series caught my eye on the new shelves, so I decided to give it a try. I enjoy the original Sherlock Holmes novels written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, so I wanted to see how Delany tackled this popular fandom. Elementary, She Read is the first book in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery series.

Gemma Doyle has returned to West London from England to help manage her Great Uncle Arthur’s Sherlock Holmes Bookshop & Emporium. When Gemma finds an incredibly rare and valuable magazine that contains the first Sherlock Holmes story hidden on one of the store’s bookshelves, she is immediately concerned. You see, Gemma is highly perceptive and knows her entire store’s inventory off the top of her head. Gemma and her friend Jayne, who runs Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room, begin searching for answers. What they find instead is a dead body. Gemma is the police’s first suspect, which confounds her. She begins her investigation and what she finds leads her into a confusing world full of people with concealed motives and greed. Add in a second murder scene and Gemma and Jayne must search for any clues to clear their names.

This title can be found in the following format:

A list of the books in this series can be found at the end of this blog. Many of these titles can be found in another format: large print.

Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series

  1. Elementary, She Read (2017)
  2. Body on Baker Street (2017)
  3. The Cat of the Baskervilles (2018)
  4. A Scandal in Scarlet (2018)
  5. There’s a Murder Afoot (2020)
  6. A Curious Incident (2021)
  7. A Three Book Problem (2022)

Cozy Mystery Reads: Finlay Donovan series by Elle Cosimano

Elle Cosimano is an Edgar-nominated and award-winning author of four young adult novels. Her debut adult novel is the first in the Finlay Donovan series, Finlay Donovan is Killing It, which has been described as a contemporary mystery series. This first title was featured in People Magazine and was also highlighted as one of the New York Public Library’s Best Books of 2021. The second book in this series Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead will be released in February 2022.

The first in the Finlay Donovan series, Finlay Donovan is Killing It, introduces Finlay, her family, and her life to readers in a funny, engaging manner unlike anything I had read before. The premise was entertaining from page 1, plus Finlay read as a relatable character just trying to make it through the day alive and mostly unscathed. This novel is fast-paced and portrays a mother who doesn’t have it all together, yet her kids end up surviving. Finlay is an authentic character living in a messy life just trying to make it through motherhood one day at a time.

Finlay Donovan has it under control – well, for the most part. Her life has changed drastically from where she imagined herself to be, but she’s managed to keep her two kids alive and fed. Recently divorced, Finlay is a stressed out mom of two and a struggling novelist. Her writing isn’t going well, her ex-husband has fired their nanny (WITHOUT telling her), and her kids seem determined to cause as much chaos as possible. Case in point: her four-year-old daughter decided to give herself a haircut and had a meltdown that was only solved when Finlay duct-taped her hair back onto her head(because that’s what daddy would have done and he can fix anything). She may look ridiculous, but hey, the kid stopped screaming.

At a meeting with her agent over lunch, Finlay discusses the plot of the new suspense novel she has been working on and how bad writing is going so far. She just can’t seem to find a way to write yet another book about a murder, even though she has already been given (and spent) part of her advance. As she is preparing to leave, Finlay realizes that another lunch-goer has misheard her and has assumed that she is a contract killer. Finlay inadvertently accepts the offer to get rid of this woman’s problem husband. The money she offers certainly can help her pay some of her bills. What follows is a series of mishaps, bungles, and wrong place/wrong time situations that show Finlay that real life crime is way more complicated that just writing about it ever will be. Finlay finds herself entangled in a murder investigation and the money quickly becomes not worth it if it means she will be in prison, separated from her kids for good.

Finlay Donovan series:

  1. Is Killing It (2021)
  2. Knocks ‘Em Dead (2022)

Cozy Mystery Reads: Noodle Shop Mystery series by Vivien Chien

Cozy mysteries have become one of my comfort reads in the last couple months. One of my favorite series that I have been reading is the Noodle Shop Mystery Series by Vivien Chien. Chien was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio where she grew up in a mixed-race home. She first started writing adventure stories in elementary school. Her love of writing and books only increased in the coming years. She attempted her first novel when she was 16. Now she is the author of the Noodle Shop Mystery series, which has seven published novels and an eighth scheduled to be published in January 2022.

All of the Noodle Shop Mystery series books can be found at one of the Davenport Public Libraries. A complete list of the books in this series can be found at the end of this blog post.

The first book in the Noodle Shop Mystery series is Death by Dumpling. Lana Lee never thought that she would end up back working at her family’s restuarant, Ho-Lee Noodle House. After a bad break-up and a dramatic walk-out from her last job, Lana’s life is in tatters. Not sure what to do, she decides to head back home and start waitressing at the restaurant as a way to begin putting her life back together. The downside: her mother. She wants to find Lana a husband and has been hinting towards various men around Asia Village that they would be perfect for her.

All thoughts of finding Lana a husband are put on the back burner after Asia Village’s property manager is found dead in his office. The restaurant is in the hot seat after it becomes known that an order of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee is found next to the body. Mr. Feng had a severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy that everyone in Asia Village knew about, so the discovery of the shrimp dumplings causes major concern. The whole restaurant is under suspicion and that of course causes the local media to descend upon the plaza searching for clues. Lana must find a way to clear the family and their employees, and restore the restaurant’s name.

Noodle Shop Mystery series

  1. Death By Dumpling (2018)
  2. Dim Sum of All Fears (2018)
  3. Murder Lo Mein (2019)
  4. Wonton Terror (2019)
  5. Egg Drop Dead (2020)
  6. Killer Kung Pao (2020)
  7. Fatal Fried Rice (2021)
  8. Hot and Sour Suspects (2022)

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

In November every year, I try to read as many mysteries as I can. This November, I decided to focus on cozy mysteries partly because Checked In: A Davenport Library Podcast, hosted by three DPL librarians, will be talking about cozy mysteries, amongst other things, in our November episode. (You should check it out to hear myself and two other librarians talk about all things library). Cozy mysteries are considered the gentle reads of the mystery genre. They generally avoid graphic violence, sexual content, and profanity, but feature instead unlikely detectives. Right up my alley!

On my quest to read more cozy mysteries, I discovered Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala. This book is the first in a brand new series called Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery. (The second title Homicide and Halo-Halo is set to come out in February 2022.)This culturally diverse title is full of sharp humor and delicious food. The author even includes a list of recipes at the end of the novel. The end of this book clearly sets you up for a sequel. You even get to read a snippet of the next book in the series.

Lila Macapagal has moved back home. This was not what she wanted to do, but after a nasty breakup and not having completed college, Lila doesn’t really have any other options. Now living back home with her grandmother and aunt, Lila must figure out ways to help save her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant. In addition to that huge task, Lila is also dealing with her big group of matchmaking aunties/godmothers who want her to settle down and be happy. They love her, but that love is tinged with judgment.

Lil’s ex-boyfriend also keeps popping up in her life too. He is a food critic that has been targeting all the local restaurants for the last couple years and is destroying businesses through his reviews. He has become increasingly nasty and has set his sights on Tita Rosie’s restaurant. While eating one day at the restaurant, he drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila. The aftermath of that has drastic consequences for the family. The local police treat Lila like she is their only suspect, their landlord wants to use the death as an excuse to kick the family out of the restaurant, and Lila’s best friend has started acting weird. Refusing to let her family be persecuted for something that they didn’t do, Lila decides to start investigating herself with the help of her family and friends. What she discovers is more complicated than she ever could have imagined.