Fauquier County Public Library

Staff Picks: Cozy Mysteries for Chilly Nights

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Winter is upon us, the season of cold, bleak days and long nights. What could be better than to settling into a comfy chair by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate and a cozy mystery? But just what is a cozy mystery?  Cozy mysteries are light, gentle crime stories, meaning no graphic violence or sexual situations. There usually is a female as the sleuthing lead character, someone who is likeable and has an assortment of friends and acquaintances to call upon for advice and help. The setting for a cozy mystery is often a small town or village, where neighbors and small business owners all know one another – think of the TV series, “Murder She Wrote.” All in all, the setting is one that that you could picture yourself a part of. Cozy mysteries are easy and fun to read, quite humorous and charming, with a variety of quirky characters.

Here are some recommendations to keep you warm, from the Circulation Staff at the Warrenton central library.

On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle

Curl up with a hot cup of joe and dive into “On What Grounds.” In this story, the first in A Coffeehouse Mystery series, Clare Cosi, the new manager of The Village Blend coffee shop, finds her star employee in a heap at the bottom to the stairs.  The police suspect it was all an accident but Clare can’t shake the feeling that something is amiss. Determined to find out the truth, Clare teams up with her ex-husband Matt and detective Quinn to do a little of her own investigating, and she gets more than she bargained for. Not only was the mystery and investigation full of interesting twists and turns, but I also really liked the characters.  Clare Cosi is a no-nonsense, take charge woman and the interplay between her and her ex-husband, who she’s not thrilled to have back in her life, is comical.  Throw in a good looking, socially awkward detective and you got some funny situations. The best part of this book, however, is all the detailed information about coffee and the recipes included in the back. As an avid coffee drinker, it was really interesting to learn so much about my favorite drinks. I am already planning to read the second book in the series – how’s that for a recommendation?

~Lindsey, Circulation, Warrenton central library

Jane and the Waterloo Map by Stephanie Barron

“Jane and the Waterloo Map” is part of the Jane Austen Mystery series, in which the eighteenth century writer Jane Austen is amateur sleuth extraordinaire.  Jane is visiting her ill brother in London, and while there she is asked by the Prince Regent to use his library to create her next masterpiece (“Emma”), which he is hoping she will dedicate to him.  (However, he does not realize that she despises him.)  While there, she is left alone for a moment and, hearing a sound, stumbles upon a body in the library.  The dying man, Colonel MacFarland, is a war hero and a friend of Wellington.  He utters the phrase “Waterloo Map,” which starts Jane on a treasure hunt to find out who killed the Colonel and why.

~Maria, Circulation, Warrenton central library

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton

After a successful career in public relations in London, Agatha Raisin sets her sights on a satisfying retirement in the tiny English village of Carsley. She buys a cozy cottage and sets about establishing herself in the community, but mastering the nuances of life in a little town is a much more difficult task than this hardened executive imagined. Determined to make her mark, domestically-challenged Agatha enters Carsley’s acclaimed quiche competition with a store-bought quiche that doesn’t win the prize but does become the focal point of a villager’s mysterious death. Suddenly Agatha finds herself immersed in a police investigation and the target of locals’ scrutiny, leaving her weighing London’s anonymity against the understated joys and small circle of friends she finds in Carsley. “Quiche of Death” is the first in Beaton’s prolific Agatha Raisin stories, which has also recently inspired a TV series.

~Emily, Circulation, Warrenton central library

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

This is the first book in the Her Royal Spyness series, light-hearted mysteries about British royals during the 1930s. It’s 1932, and Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie is 34th in line to the English throne. She is a penniless royal, but very head-strong and independent, and her attempt at working to make ends meet by starting a housecleaning business is quite amusing. A comedy of errors ensues as Lady Georgiana (“Georgie”) tries to clear her family name after she finds a Frenchman, who was trying to steal her family’s estate, dead in her bathtub. She soon puts her sleuthing skills to work to solve the murder. It is an old-fashioned whodunit complete with funny, colorful characters with names like Binky and Fishface. Rhys Bowen writes with wry humor and satirically presents the noble class, foibles and all. Reading this book was great fun, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys mysteries with some historical backdrop.

~Cheryl, Circulation, Warrenton central library

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