5 Heartwarming And Suspenseful Cozy Mystery Series

Named for the warm, familiar feelings of their small-town locations, cozy mysteries feature amateur sleuths who must solve crimes in modest but creative ways. Encompassing a variety of charming, nonprofessional case-cracking adventures, the cozy series listed here are perfect for easygoing beach or rainy day reads. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

5 Cozy Mystery Series to Curl Up With

Series Author Other Books by Author
Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries Cynthia Kuhn Styling Texts: Dress and Fashion in Literature (co-editor)
Dulcie Schwartz Clea Simon Pru Marlowe series, Theda Krakow series
Shepherd Sisters Mysteries Tracy Gardner The Fall of Our Secrets
Clock Shop Mysteries Julianne Holmes N/A
Wine Country Mysteries Ellen Crosby Sophie Medina series

What is a Cozy Mystery?

The History of the Mystery Genre

Some of the world's oldest known stories used the same elements that make modern mysteries so enticing. Homer's famous epic poem The Odyssey is something of a prototype of the genre. The hero's life is in constant danger as he uses his cunning to solve problems and overcome his enemies. But the genre isn't exclusive to Western culture. One of the stories in One Thousand and One Nights (commonly known as Arabian Nights) is considered to be the oldest known murder mystery. This tale, The Three Apples, is full of plot twists and revolves around a mysterious death. Centuries later, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle popularized the genre with his stories about the now-famous Sherlock Holmes. Eventually, of course, mystery made its way from the pages of books to the big screen. Some of the most well-known of these movies were directed by Alfred Hitchcock, who worked on several classics throughout his career, including Psycho, Vertigo, and Rear Window.

Clea Simon Talks Cat Mysteries and Mental Health

In Depth

For bookworms who love mystery stories that are light on violence, and feature a rookie sleuth and gentle humor, cozies offer the ideal reading escapism. Whether you like cats, recipes, or wine with your crime solving, here, in no particular order, are some charming and engaging whodunit series to get lost in.

Starting off the list at #1 are the Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries by Cynthia Kuhn. The series focuses on a college professor turned amateur sleuth. The first title, The Semester of Our Discontent, follows the lead character as she works to solve the murder of a colleague. The book received an Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and author Catriona McPherson hails it as a box of delights.

Other entries in the series include The Art of Vanishing, The Spirit in Question, and The Subject of Malice, all Lefty Award nominees for best humorous mystery. Kuhn is a professor of English at Metropolitan State University of Denver, where she teaches literature, writing, and film. She is also a member of the International Thriller Writers.

Kuhn is a professor of English at Metropolitan State University of Denver, where she teaches literature, writing, and film.

At #2 is the Dulcie Schwartz Series. The stories feature a Harvard doctoral candidate who investigates murders with the help of the ghost of her deceased cat, Mr. Grey. In book number one, Shades of Grey, Dulcie must clear her name after her roommate is stabbed to death. Booklist calls it well paced and tightly plotted.

Additional titles include Grey Matters and Grey Expectations, which Publishers Weekly hails as enchanting. Series creator, author Clea Simon, is a regular contributor to the Boston Globe, with publications such as American Prospect, Ms., and the San Francisco Chronicle also publishing her work. She has penned new introductions for two Agatha Christie classics, The Mysterious Affair at Styles and The Secret Adversary.

The #3 entry on the list is Hallmark Publishing's Shepherd Sisters Mystery series by Tracy Gardner. The books follow the adventures of art authenticator turned elementary school teacher Savanna Shepherd and her sisters, as they solve mysteries in a small Lake Michigan town. Book one, Out of the Picture, features art forgeries, accidents, and murder.

Book one, Out of the Picture, features art forgeries, accidents, and murder.

In the followup, Behind the Frame, the sisters investigate a murder in the park with the help of Savanna's new love interest, Dr. Aidan Gallager. The novels also feature Hallmark original recipes, including Holy Yum Baked Chicken. Gardner, a Detroit native, has been featured in The Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

Entering the list at #4 is The Clock Shop Mystery Series, written by Julianne Holmes. The stories feature Ruth Clagan, who runs her late grandfather's clock shop while also solving murders. Titles include Chime and Punishment and Just Killing Time, which was nominated for an Agatha Award in the Best First Novel category.

Holmes contributes content to Wicked Authors, which features bestselling writers of traditional, cozy, and historical mystery novels. Topics include books, pets, recipes, and the writing life. Under the name Julie Hennrikus, she is the founder of Your Ladders, an arts administration school that offers webinars and coaching for creatives.

Topics include books, pets, recipes, and the writing life.

Wrapping up the list at #5 are The Wine Country Mysteries, by former journalist and economist Ellen Crosby. Set in a family winery at the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, the present-day mysteries intersect with different events in the state's history, such as the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and Prohibition.

The first entry, The Merlot Murders, was named Editor's Choice by Mystery Guild Magazine in 2006, and The Vineyard Victims was a finalist for an Edgar. The series has also been nominated for a Mary Higgins Clark Award. Crosby is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.