If you fancy yourself as an amateur detective, these are the books for you. Cosy crime takes much from the Golden Age of crime and authors such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers: although there is often a (sometimes quite violent) murder, this isn’t lingered on and the focus is very much on the investigation, often led by an amateur with a talent for sleuthing.
They are often set in a quintessentially English setting, such as the (imagined) chocolate box village of St Mary’s Mead where Miss Marple kept a beady eye out for trouble, or the luxury Coopers Chase retirement home of Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series.
Denouements are often neatly resolved, with the murderer caught and punished, leaving the reader feeling like all is well in the world. If that all sounds appealing right now, read on…
The Christmas appeal by Janice Hallett
Fans of Hallett’s fiendish mysteries will love this festive offering that reunites readers with the Fairways Players am dram group who appeared in The Appeal. Plans are in progress for a special performance of Jack And The Beanstalk but not before murder, mayhem and a dead Santa.
A Death In The Parish by Reverend Richard Coles
Daniel Clement is back for the second in the brilliant Canon Clement Mystery series and he’s working again with detective sergeant Neil Vandaloo after a local teenage boy is killed in what appears to be a ritualistic murder. Again, there are brilliant characters (especially Daniel’s Mother Audrey who is up to no good) and a potent mix of poignancy and humour.
The Shell House Detectives by Emylia Hall
This cosy crime novel from the author of The Book Of Summers is set in a small Cornish town. Recently widowed Ally is walking her dog on the beach when she discovers a young man who’s fallen from the cliffs above – or was he pushed? When the police seem to be getting nowhere, Ally teams up with former policeman Jayden to investigate.
The Three Dahlias by Katy Watson
Fans of Golden Age crime novels will love this delightful country house mystery about three rival actors who team up to solve a murder. Fans and VIPs have gathered together at the home of legendary crime writer Lettice Davenport for a weekend of fun and games, but things take a sinister turn when a real murder happens during a re-enactment.
Over My Dead Body by Maz Evans
The hero of this hilarious murder mystery is feisty surgeon Dr Miriam Price, who turns detective in the afterlife to try to work out who killed her. The only person who can see her – and therefore help her – is her neighbour Winnie, who she has been in a feud with for years. A really entertaining read that will appeal to fans of Richard Osman.
The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
If your idea of a good read is a Miss Marple or a Poirot, you’ll love this. When a literary editor gets the latest manuscript from her best-selling crime writer she’s delighted – she knows fans love his detective, Atticus Pünd, a celebrated solver of crimes in the sleepy English villages of the 1950s. But all is not as it seems and within the pages of the book are clues about a real-life murder. This clever mystery-within-a-mystery hooks you in from the first page and is complex enough to hold you to the last.
Murder Under The Tuscan Sun by Rachel Rhys
An isolated castle in 1920s Italy is the setting for this engrossing historical mystery, which has shades of Agatha Christie about it. Recently widowed Connie starts a new life in Tuscany caring for an invalid – but strange goings-on soon make her begin to question her own sanity.
The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah
Nearly 40 years ago Agatha Christie killed off Hercule Poirot – but now he is back. For the first time Christie’s estate have given permission for the legendary Belgian detective to be – literally – brought back to life by another writer. It could easily have backfired but Sophie Hannah has done a terrific job. In The Monogram Murders, three bodies are found dead on the same day in a luxurious London hotel with a monogrammed cufflink in each of their mouths. Guaranteed to give ‘ze little grey cells’ a workout!
Agatha Raisin And The Quiche Of Death by MC Beaton
MC Beaton was one of the many pen names of the prolific Scottish author Marion Chesney, who died in 2019 having written 31 books about Agatha Raisin and 34 about Hamish Macbeth. Agatha is a brilliant character – difficult, fiery, rebellious, but also vulnerable. This first book in the series sees Agatha moving to a new town in the Cotswolds and in an effort to fit in she enters a (bought) quiche is a local baking competition – only for the judge to die after eating it. Agatha then turns detective to clear her name.
The Last Devil To Die by Richard Osman
No cosy crime round up is complete without a mention of the Thursday Murder Club series, credited with the recent interest in gentle murder mysteries. This is the fourth book in the series and sees the septugenarians facing their most dangerous case yet.
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