Holiday celebrations throughout the world are beginning to kick up in full swing and depending on where you live, it’s pretty likely that cooler weather and snow flurries are coming along soon. Though unlike years past— when we drank hot chocolate around the fire with all of our closest friends and family to celebrate the changing of the seasons and relish in the coziness— some of us will spend the holidays in isolation due to the current circumstances brought on by the pandemic.
But just because winter is looking a little lonely this year doesn’t mean we can’t find other ways to cozy up at home. In fact, curling up with a cozy mystery this winter might be just the thing to get you through the season. Coined an official genre in the late 20th century in an effort to revamp detective fiction, cozy mysteries or “cozies” often share some of the same plot points as each other, but are rich in mystery, intrigue, and drama. And what more could you need, besides a blanket, to feel cozy?
The sleuths in this story are typically women (and usually amateurs) who live in some sort of small, tight-knit community. More often than not, the murder takes place in a non-violent manner (poisionings are quite popular) and the sleuth is never really in danger. Even better, most cozy mysteries come as part of a long, in-depth series that also revolves around a specific hobby, like reading, cooking, or art, that the sleuth is an expert in and can use their skills from to crack the case. Some cozies even come complete with cookbooks so that you can eat and read along with the main characters, making it easy to fully immerse yourself into the story line.
Everything about a cozy mystery is sure to make you feel like you just spent a thrilling evening with friends, all while you stay curled up and comfortable on the couch. Writer Paul Auster once said “Reading was my escape and my comfort, my stimulant of choice,” and a good cozy can be the perfect way to escape without actually leaving your home to go out into the world at all.
If you’re eager to snuggle up with a good read when things get chilly this winter, take a look at some favorite cozy mysteries below. Many of them are part of a series, so you’ll have plenty to keep you busy (and content!) all winter long.
The Hannah Swensen Series by Joanne Funke
A great introduction to the cozies genre, follow Hannah Swensen, a baker in the small town of Lake Eden, as she gets swept up into many a murder that somehow always involves her recipes. Each book in the series comes with 3-4 tasty recipes so that you can cook alongside Hannah and eat something delicious while you read.
The Miss Marple Series by Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie is one of the most well-known crime novelists, and Miss Marple has been portrayed on TV and in books for decades. Marple is an elderly spinster who, though she appears frail, has a mind capable of solving crimes that have even the experts baffled. Though you can begin anywhere in the series, we recommend checking out the first book, Murder at the Vicarge to become familiar with the characters.
The Donut Shop Mystery Series by Jessica Beck
The Glazed Murder marks the first read in this delightful series with Suzanne Heart, the owner of a local donut shop in a small North Carolina town. With all the elements of a great cozy mystery (an illusive ex-husband, a hunky police chief, and whacky town citizens) this series will warm your heart. Plus, it has great donut recipes, so it’ll warm your belly too.
The Lady Hardcastle Series by TE Kinsey
It’s 1908 and Lady Hardcastle, often described as an eccentric widow, has just moved away from London and into the countryside. She’s hoping for a quiet retirement, but when a body is discovered just feet from her property, she’s thrown into a world of sleuthing time and time again.
Whether you share the books on this list with the members of your book club, or hang on to them for your personal collection, these feel-good stories will make anyone happy and content. We hope one of these books will help you stay a little warmer this winter.