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November 9, 2019

2 Mysteries For Cozy Reading

by MK French

Mysteries are by definition difficulties that need to be solved. Not all of them are terribly intense, though they will definitely capture your imagination and make you think. If these stories take place in a small town with people that know everything about everyone else around them, that's the very definition of a cozy mystery. So pull up a comfortable armchair, brew a big mug of tea, and settle in with these books and a fluffy fleece blanket.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Plotting For Murder by Tamra Baumann

March 2019; 978-1947591080
audio, ebook, print (226 pages); cozy mystery
Sawyer Davis returned to her hometown after her mother's death. She received the old Victorian home that was in desperate need of repair, the bookshop her mother had run, as well as the hassles of dealing with the trust fund her uncle the mayor wants her to abandon so that he can take it over. As if this wasn't stressful enough, her ex boyfriend is the sheriff and still has feelings for her, the lawyer is cute and also has a crush, and one of the customers at the book club died in the store.

This is the start of a series of cozy mystery novels, and there are a lot of fun characters in it. In addition to the mystery of the death in Sawyer's store, there are the items her mother had hidden for her, someone that seems to want her out of town, and trying to juggle a lot of mixed emotions. Having so many plot threads is very ambitious for the start of a series, but it never feels overwhelming as I read this novel. Sawyer is a great character to follow through this book, and the relationships she has with all of the characters unfold naturally. Even those that she doesn't like, who had been mean to her since high school, have a personality all their own and really shines through as individuals.

Because Sawyer had given up life as a chef in Chicago, there is a lot of talk about food and the restaurant she would love to build in town. This aspect may also be a fun set of details for foodies to enjoy as they go through this story. There are just enough dangling plot threads at the end of this story to draw in the reader for future volumes in this series, and it's not a cliffhanger ending at all. I'm sure future novels will be just as much fun as this one!

Buy Plotting for Murder at Amazon

The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

May 2019; Hard Case Crime; 978-1789091557
audio, ebook, print (208 pages); hard-boiled mystery
When a body is found in Maine, a local journalist and forensics student are the ones to help identify him. Even then, his actual identity is discovered a year later, which only deepens the mystery. The circumstances around his death were baffling and seems like an impossible crime. This drives them to try to solve it, but that might be impossible as well.

Stephen King had always been a fan of pulp detective stories, even as he has become synonymous with eerie and creepy stories. When asked to help the Hard Case Crime Book series, he set to write "an unusual and ambitious book, a tale about frustration that some readers have found frustrating." Based on Amazon reviews already left on this book, he certainly succeeded on that point! It's even explicitly stated within the text by the characters themselves: "the number of actual stories—those with beginnings, middles, and ends—are slim and none."   This was originally published in 2006, and meant to be something of a reminder that ordinary lives can be disrupted so quickly, and without warning. This story also got recycled and reinterpreted into the TV series Haven, though the forward acknowledges that a lot of the novel didn't really translate into the show. Since it's gone off the air, this book is now re-released for a new audience.

The story is written as a conversation between Stephanie, an intern at The Weekly Islander, and Vince and Dave, two older gentlemen and long-time residents of Moose-Lookit Island, Maine. Because it's meant to be a conversational kind of story, we start out with more slice of life talk in the beginning, giving us more of an idea of what island life is like. The illustrations throughout the book also add to that atmosphere, as do the frequent asides. We do eventually get to the story of the dead man on the beach, and everyone has a lot of different theories as to how it happened. Details come out slowly so that the story changes shape the further we get into the telling of it. From the beginning, Vince and Dave tell Stephanie that it was never solved, and reading it you can't help but hope that's incorrect. It isn't, because this book is more about the characters and how they tell the story, and leaving you to wonder about the mystery for yourself.

Buy The Colorado King at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband and three young children.

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