Reading is probably my favorite thing in the world to do, preferably with a cup of coffee or glass of wine. It’s not often that I find the time for it, so when I do I’m escapist reader. I read mostly fiction, and I’m crazy addicted to those cozy mystery series. You know, the ones that all have a cute little theme and a lady sleuth that would be better off keeping her nose out of things. Since it’s October, what better way is there to spend some free time than curled up next to a window with a good mystery? I’ve compiled for you a list of my top mystery series. Some of them are the cozy mysteries, some of them are darker and more serious. But I’m sure there’s a series here that you could love.
In no particular order:
Coffeehouse Mystery Series, by Cleo Coyle I think this might have been the very first cozy mystery that got me hooked. I discovered it at work one day when I was a barista. A book about a little coffee shop? How perfect. The main character, Claire, is a single mother who runs a coffee shop in New York. Her ex-husband is in and out of the picture. Add to the mix the love-interest detective. I actually learned a lot about coffee reading these, and she gives great recipes at the end of each book.
Psychic Eye Mysteries, by Victoria Laurie I have been reading these since the very first book released. She’s always at the top of my to-read list. The main character, Abby, is a psychic. Some might not believe in that sort of thing, but she deals with that well. Abby makes her living doing readings for clients, but after the first book she also uses her unique skills to help the police solve the unsolvable cases. She is a strong female character with a potty mouth (and a swear jar), and this series always makes me laugh. Out of all the books in this series, I think I’ve only figured out who the bad guy was once.
Vintage Magic Mysteries, by Annette Blair This is also themed with a psychic, but a different kind. Madeira owns a vintage clothing store, but when she touches the clothing, she can get a sense of what happened while a person was wearing it. Seems a little odd, which is why I was hesitant to read it, but I’m so glad I did. I always enjoy these. Maddy is cute and spunky. If you like fashion, you’ll be jealous of all her neat finds.
Cupcake Bakery Mysteries, by Jenn McKinlay How much do you love baking? Read these books, and that’s all you’ll want to do. The recipes included in the books are just as good as they sound; I’ve actually made a few of them. Two best friends opened their own cupcake shop. One comes from a smaller, quieter family; the other has a large and noisy family. What adds a special touch to this series is their rival, another baker. Things always get hilarious when she turns up!
Key West Food Critic Mysteries, by Lucy Burdette This series is a little newer. It’s the ultimate escapist reading. If you love food and tropical places, read these! In the first book Hayley applies to be a food critic for a magazine in Key West. Unfortunately, the boss is the woman Hayley just found in bed with her boyfriend. Soon after her interview, Hayley is a suspect in the woman’s untimely demise. These are well written, the food descriptions will make you drool, and the scenery will make you want to run away to Key West. (Thanks to this series, Key West is now near the top of my places to visit list.)
Nikki Heat Series, by Richard Castle Does that name sound familiar to you? Yes, these are the books mentioned in the TV show Castle. I read the first one thinking it wouldn’t be anything extraordinary, but I loved the show so much I had to try. They’re all very good, so much better than I was expecting. These are a bit more serious than the show, but it still feels like Castle. You don’t need to watch the show to follow the books, but both are so great that I recommend them all!
Kay Scarpetta Series, by Patricia Cornwell The Coffeehouse Mysteries might be the first cozy mysteries I read, but this was the first real mystery series I read. They’re dark and twisty. If you want a series with more meat and less fluff, then these are for you. Kay Scarpetta is a medical examiner. She uses the latest skills in forensic sciences to solve gruesome crimes with her parter, Detective Marino. This series is full of technical details and suspense.
Stephanie Plum Series, by Janet Evanovich No top mystery series list could be complete without the Stephanie Plum series. These are the books that get you strange looks from people who think you’re crazy because you’re laughing hysterically for apparently no reason. Stephanie’s a bounty hunter, but she’s not so great at it. She is constantly torn between two men: Detective Morelli (who handcuffed her to the shower!) and Ranger, her mentor. Plus, in almost every book her “new” car explodes. This series has it all: mystery, humor, and love.
There were a few more series I wanted to include in this list, but I feel like I haven’t read enough of their books yet, so I’ll call those honorable mentions.
Hannah Swenson Series, by Joanne Fluke The first book in this series (Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder) was so good that I read it in a day. It was well-written, had great characters, and the recipes made me want to bake.
Booktown Mysteries, by Lorna Barrett I love these because it’s set in a town where the shops are themed bookstores! The main character runs the mystery bookstore, but there are also stores for cookbooks, romance novels, biographies, history books, etc. I want to jump inside these books and spend all my money shopping there.
Wine Lover’s Mysteries, by Michele Scott Wine + mystery. What else do you need? These books feature Nikki, an actress/waitress that gets the opportunity of a lifetime to go work at a winery in Napa Valley. Beautiful scenery, yummy food (and recipes), and a behind-the-scenes of wine-making.
Do you know the worst part about making this list? Now I just want to grab a book and go sit outside in this gorgeous weather with a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine), and some baked goods. Only I don’t know which book to read now, because after writing about them and remembering how good they are, I want to read them all again! I hope there are some books here you’d love to read. It’s impossible to include all of the series on this list, so tell me below in the comments if I left off your favorite!