Nicole J. Simms

Review of My Cozy Mystery Reading List

Post date: 26th November 2019
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Review of My Cozy Mystery Reading List

I recently shared my cozy mystery reading list, which followed my paranormal/supernatural cozy mystery series reading list. I have since finished reading the books in this reading list, so I will be sharing my thoughts on each book.

I planned to read the following books:

  • Cinnamon Roll Murder (from the Hannah Swensen Mysteries series) by Joanne Fluke
  • Real Murders (from the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries series) by Charlaine Harris
  • The Murder at the Vicarage (from the Miss Marple series) by Agatha Christie
  • Size 12 Is Not Fat (from Heather Wells Mysteries series) by Meg Cabot
  • Agatha Raisin and The Quiche of Death (from the Agatha Raisin Mysteries series) by M. C. Beaton

I couldn’t get some of the books on the list, so I had to make some changes to my list. These changes are as follows:

  • The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie instead of The Murder at the Vicarage
  • A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris instead of Real Murders
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley instead of Size 12 Is Not Fat

Okay, let’s get into the reviews.

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

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

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death is the first book in the Agatha Raisin series. The main character of the series is called Agatha Raisin, and she is a business owner of a successful PR (Public Relations) company.

The story starts with Agatha deciding to take early retirement from her career and business and move to the Cotswolds. Moving from London to the Cotswolds had been Agatha’s life ambition, but when she finally takes the plunge, she’s left feeling out of place.

So, to try to fit in with the community she is now part of, and to make her mark, she decides to enter a quiche competition. But she lacks the necessary baking skills, so she buys a quiche from a shop in London and enters it into the competition. However, things take a turn for the worse when one of the judges dies after eating the quiche.

The death is labelled an accident, but Agatha can’t shake the feeling that it was murder. And so she reluctantly decides to take on the case and solve the crime herself.

The main character, Agatha, is what I liked most about the book. While she didn’t help herself, and she often made situations worse, you couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. And feeling out of place is something many of us can relate to. The story itself was okay, but the ending wasn’t exciting, even when the truth was revealed—it was a little underwhelming.

However, because I liked Agatha so much, and the story was entertaining, I would be interested in reading the rest of the books in the series.

Cinnamon Roll Murder by Joanne Fluke

Cinnamon Roll Murder by Joanne Fluke

Cinnamon Roll Murder is book fifteen in the Hannah Swenson Mysteries—this was the only book from the series I could find in the library. I’ve not read any of these books before, but I have watched some of the television films based on this series, so I was keen to read the books.

Hannah Swenson is the main character of the series, and she is the owner of a bakery in Lake Eden, Minnesota, called The Cookie Jar. She is also the town’s amateur murder detective.

The story starts with the crash of the jazz band Cinnamon Rolls Six’s tour bus. One person dies in the crash, and one is injured. The injured person is believed to be okay—the injuries aren’t that serious—but he is sent to the hospital anyway. Delores (Hannah’s mom) then finds the injured person murdered. And, as always, Hannah takes it upon herself to solve the crime.

The story kept me guessing until the end. However, the recipes throughout the book distracted me from the story—I found myself thinking more about the recipes and food in general than the actual story. Food is also continually mentioned throughout the book, which left me feeling very hungry. It felt like food was the most important aspect rather than trying to solve the crime. I am a baker, so skipping past the recipes was something I couldn’t do. And, even though the recipes were for the food mentioned in the book, I would have preferred it if the recipes were at the end of the novel rather than throughout.

Even though this book was the fifteenth in the series, I didn’t feel lost or confused—it would work well as a standalone. However, more background information about the characters would give a reason for their behaviour.

I would like to read the other books in the series, so I could find out how Hannah started investigating murders in the first place.

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

The Body in the Library is the third book in the Miss Marple series—I couldn’t find any of the earlier books in the library, so I had to start with this one. I’ve not read an Agatha Christie novel before, but I have watched many film versions of her stories, so I was excited to read a Christie book—I know, it’s shocking, a cozy mystery fan not having read a Christie book.

Miss Marple is the heroine of the story, but she was mostly in the background of this book. This meant I didn’t connect with Miss Marple. I feel I would have been able to learn more about Miss Marple if I had started with book one.

The story starts with a blonde woman found dead in Colonel Bantry’s library. Colonel Bantry becomes the prime suspect, so his wife enlists the help of Miss Marple to prove her husband’s innocence and find the real murderer.

I found the story enjoyable, and I looked forward to reading it each night. It’s a good old fashioned cozy mystery, and I love it. The story kept me guessing until the end—I wasn’t able to predict the killer. However, I’m not sure how Miss Marple solved the case. Maybe I missed some of the clues, or maybe the clues weren’t there. However, I still enjoyed the book, and the red herrings did a great job of throwing me off the scent. So, I would gladly read another Agatha Christie novel.

A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris

A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris

A Bone to Pick is book two in the Aurora Teagarden Mystery series—I reserved book one from the library, but it took forever to arrive, so I skipped to book two. The main character in this series is called Aurora Teagarden (nickname Roe). Aurora is a part-time librarian and a resident manager of one of her mother’s apartment buildings. She is also a huge real murders mystery buff; she used to be part of the Real Murders club before they were disbanded.

This story starts with two weddings and a funeral. One wedding is that of her former lover’s and the second one is her mother’s. The funeral is that of her friend and Real Murders member, Jane Engle. After the funeral, Aurora finds out that Jane made her an heir to her estate, which includes life-changing money, a new house and a secret skull.

Aurora is certain that Jane wasn’t a killer, so she believes Jane had left her the skull as a clue for Aurora to solve the case. Aurora is left with two questions: whom does the skull belong to and who killed the person?

I have read many books written by Charlaine Harris, but this is the first Aurora Teagarden novel. I have, however, seen the television film versions of the books, so I was looking forward to reading the book.

While the book was an enjoyable read, the solving of the murder didn’t seem that important. And Aurora didn’t even try to solve the mystery. In any other genre, this would be okay, but a mystery novel should have some mystery solving. Instead, the story solved itself. While I didn’t guess the killer, the revealing of the killer baffled me—there didn’t seem to be any clues to the person being the killer.

Even though I was a little disappointed with this book, I won’t let this put me off reading the other books in this series. But I won’t be rushing to read them.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is the first book in the A Flavia de Luce Mysteries series. 11-year-old Flavia de Luce is the main character of this series. She is the youngest of three girls—Ophelia is the eldest and Daphne is the middle sister. She lives in a Georgian house called Buckshaw with her father (Colonel de Luce), her sisters and the factotum worker Dogger (he does all kinds of work in and around the house). Flavia’s mother, Harriet, died when Flavia was young.

Flavia is a typical youngest child that is picked on by her older sisters. However, she loves chemistry and even has her own laboratory. She also has a worrying obsession with poisons and getting revenge on her sisters—not a good combination.

In this story, Flavia finds a strange man, one who she had spotted arguing with her father, dying in the cucumber patch. He says, ‘Vale!’ and dies. Suspicion soon turns to her father, and he is arrested. Flavia decides to solve the mystery herself and save her father.

I enjoyed this book. Flavia is a brilliant character—she’s definitely not your average 11-year-old, and potentially a brilliant future scientist or a scary serial killer. I think it’s because I loved Flavia so much that’s why I loved the book—her liking for the darker side of life reminded me of myself at that age. Sadly, I was never skilled in making poisons, not that I would have use for that skill if I was.

The ending wasn’t predictable. Also, I didn’t feel cheated by the ending, which has happened before. I had an ‘oh, yeah, why didn’t I suspect that person’ moment. There is one issue I have with the story: how Flavia figured things out didn’t feel 100 per cent believable, but because it’s clear she isn’t your average child, you can allow yourself to suspend disbelief.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I would love to read the other books in the series.

Out of all the five books, I enjoyed The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie the most. The Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death book closely follow this. Both of these books have main characters that I liked, for different reasons. So one thing I can take from this reading list—there are many, but I’ll stick with the main one—is that if you have a main character that a reader can like and connect with, you’ll have a better chance of them enjoying your book, and forgiving any flaws.

So there you have it, my review of my cozy mystery series reading list. Have you read any of these books? If you have, or if you do, I would love to hear your views, so feel free to comment in the box below.

Keep writing, folks!

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