Here are my 10 favorite cozy mysteries published in 2021, listed alphabetically by author
Murder in the Cookbook Nook (Book Retreat #7) by Ellery Adams. Kensington paperback, 27 April 2021.
Six chefs are preparing to compete in an outdoor tent at Storyton Hall in Virginia for prizes that will boost their careers—but is there someone who can't stand the heat? It looks that way when one of the contestants is found dead in a pantry packed with two centuries' worth of cookbooks, among other treasures and rarities.
Could there be a connection to other recent events in town, like tampering with the costume of a local mascot? Jane isn't sure, but after someone serves a second course of murder, the kitchen must be closed and the killer must be found . .
Meg Langslow’s in for a busy summer. Her husband is directing a production of Macbeth, and most of the cast and crew are occupying spare bedrooms in their house. She also has to keep an eye on Camp Birnam, where a group of medieval reenactors are commemorating the real-life Macbeth by setting up what they fondly believe is an authentic medieval Scottish military camp.
And then there’s Damien Goodwin, a filmmaker who has been hanging around, trying to document the production. When Goodwin hosts a showing of some of the footage he’s taken, he manages to embarrass or offend just about everyone. The next morning Meg isn’t exactly surprised to find that someone has murdered him.
But who? Unfortunately, whoever murdered Goodwin also destroyed all the electronic devices on which his video was stored. So Caerphilly’s chief of police—and Meg—must rediscover the same secrets the filmmaker did if they want to catch a killer.
Murder by the Bookend (Antique Bookshop #2) by Laura Gail Black. Crooked Lane Books, 7 September 2021.
The quaint warehouse district of Hokes Folly, NC, is hopping despite the drizzly November chill. The occasion? The mountain town’s beloved antiquarian bookstore, Twice Upon a Time, is throwing a bash for its grand reopening. But bookseller Jenna Quinn’s peace of mind is shattered when the local library’s Director of Antique Books turns up dead in the parking lot–his head bashed in by a glittering pair of vintage glass bookends.
Alas, finding the killer won’t be so easy, even though this is not Jenna’s first murder investigation–indeed, she inherited Twice Upon a Time from her slain uncle. The suspect list is voluminous–the late librarian had not-so-friendly run-ins with numerous guests–but suspicion eventually centers on three unsavory individuals who left the party shortly before the victim did.
God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen (Her Royal Spyness #15) by Rhys Bowen. Berkely, 12 October 2021.
Georgie is excited for her first Christmas as a married woman in her lovely new home. She suggests to her dashing husband, Darcy, that they have a little house party, but when Darcy receives a letter from his Aunt Ermintrude, there is an abrupt change in plans.
Aunt Ermintrude hints that the queen would like Georgie nearby. Georgie had not known that Aunt Ermintrude was a former lady-in-waiting and close confidante of her royal highness. The letter is therefore almost a royal request, so Georgie, Darcy, and their Christmas guests all head to Sandringham.
Little Black Book (Bibliophile #15) by Kate Carlisle. Berkley, 29 June 2021.
Brooklyn and her hunky husband, security expert Derek Stone, have just returned from a delightful trip to Dharma, where the construction of their new home away from home is well underway, when a little black book arrives in the mail from Scotland. The book is a rare British first edition of Rebecca, and there’s no return address on the package. The day after the book arrives, Claire Quinn shows up at Brooklyn and Derek’s home. Brooklyn met Claire when the two women worked as expert appraisers on the television show This Old Attic.
Claire reveals that during a recent trip to Scotland she discovered her beloved aunt was missing and her home had been ransacked. Among her aunt’s belongings, Claire found the receipt for the package that wound up with Brooklyn and Derek. Claire believes both her own life and her aunt’s are in danger.
But just as Brooklyn and Derek begin to investigate, a man who Claire thinks was following her is found murdered, stabbed with a priceless jeweled dagger. With a death on their doorstep, Brooklyn and Derek page through the little black book, where they discover clues that will take them to the shadows of a medieval Scottish castle on the shores of Loch Ness.
Deadly Ever After (Lighthouse Library #8) by Eva Gates. Crooked Lane Books, 11 May 2021.
They’re getting married! Lucy Richardson and Connor McNeil have announced their engagement. Their friends throw a party for the couple at Coquina Beach, close to Lucy’s beloved Bodie Island Lighthouse Library.
As they’re packing up the presents and the (few) leftovers from Josie’s Cozy Bakery, who should arrive, but Richard Eric Lewiston III, Lucy’s former almost-fiancé and his overbearing mother Evangeline. Push comes to love when Evangeline makes no secret of why she’s here: to get Lucy and Ricky back together.
Lucy isn’t temped in the least, and Ricky is nothing but embarrassed at his mother’s desperate ploy. Before returning to Boston Evangeline throws a dinner party at Jake’s Seafood Bar for a reluctant Lucy and her family. Lucy hopes to get the dinner over with and see Evangeline and Ricky returning to Boson. But when a body is found at the restaurant’s kitchen door, Lucy is again forced to unwillingly put on her detective’s hat and do what she can to save her family and her engagement.
A Fatal Footnote (The Open Book #2) by Margaret Loudon. Berkley, 6 July 2021.
The wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Upper Chumley-on Stoke has all the makings of a fairy tale, complete with a glowing bride and horse-drawn carriage. But it wouldn't be much of a story without a villain, and as American Gothic novelist Penelope Parish is coming to learn, happy-ever-afters are as fraught in this charming British town as they are in her books.
When the Duke's former girlfriend is found murdered at the reception it's up to Penelope and her newfound family at the Open Book bookshop to catch the killer before they strike again.
Killer Research (Library Lover's Mystery #12) by Jenn McKinlay. Berkely, 2 November 2021.
Ms. Cole, a librarian and current candidate for town mayor, is shocked when she opens her trunk to discover a murder victim who just so happens to be a guy she dated forty years ago and the founder of the baking empire Nana's Cookies. As the town gossip mill turns, a batch of rumors begins to circulate about Ms. Cole's rebellious youth, which--along with being a murder suspect--threatens to ruin her life and her budding political career. But Ms. Cole is one tough cookie who will not go down without a fight.
Has the campaign for mayor turned deadly? It is up to Lindsey, Sully, and the rest of the crafternoon pals to see how the cookie crumbles and figure out who is trying to frame Ms. Cole for murder and why.
The Broken Spine (Beloved Bookroom #1) by Dorothy St. James. Berkley, 19 January 2021.
Trudell Becket, book-loving librarian, finds herself in a bind when the library where she works is turned into a state-of-the-art bookless library. In a rare move of rebellion, Trudell rescues hundreds of her library's beloved books slated for the recycle center. She sets up a secret book room in the library's basement and opens it to anyone who shares her love of the printed book.
When the town councilman, who was the vocal proponent of the library's transformation into a "futuristic technological center," is crushed under an overturned shelf of DVDs, Trudell becomes the police's prime suspect for his murder. She was the only person in the library at the time of his death, or so the police believe. But that's not true. For the past month, Trudell had been letting a few dozen residents into the building through the basement entrance so they could read and check out the printed books.
But if she tells the police about the backdoor patrons who were in the library at the time of the murder, she'd have to explain about the secret book room and risk losing the books. In order to protect herself from being arrested for a murder she didn't commit, Trudell--with the help of a group of dedicated readers--decides to investigate. She quickly discovers you can't always judge a book by its cover.