I need more mystery in my life.
June 3, 2016 9:06 AM   Subscribe

I love cozy mysteries, and I need more of them. Hit me, mefi.

I have specific tastes, but if you know something really excellent, then I'll probably read it, since all of you are such discerning readers and I trust you. I like crimes to be solved by the police, not owners of tea shops or bookstores or whatever. Police procedural cozies, if you will. I like them to be lightly humorous, and to stay away from the seamy underbelly of society and alcoholic, depressed detective angle. I've recently burned through all of Martha Grimes' Richard Jury series, so more in that vein would be great. I prefer more modern (post-1960's), since I've read a lot of the classics. Thanks in advance.
posted by backwards compatible to Society & Culture (32 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
 
Louise Penny!!! Best cosy mysteries.
posted by girlpublisher at 9:22 AM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


A cozy mystery almost never has a cop or other professional solving crimes, can you clarify what you are looking for? It is the lack of sex and violence/gore? Small community in which the crimes take place?
posted by jeather at 9:22 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hamish Macbeth.
posted by SemiSalt at 9:23 AM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


I also came here to suggest Louise Penny. Everything I was looking for in a good cozy mystery.
posted by lindseyg at 9:54 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I see someone has already mentioned Hamish Macbeth, but I will add that these are the perfect police procedural cozies. In terms of the tiny village millieu, Hamish's knowledge of human nature, lack of internalized trauma and desire not to be promoted or transferred, these novels are almost exactly like a world in which Jane Marple has been pressed into being a constable.

I will add that the TV series is quite different.
posted by ubiquity at 9:55 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Cozy" may not be quite the search term you need, because by definition it's amateur detective fiction, but you might enjoy the Miss Fisher series (the books, not the show, although I'd happily recommend both) - the eponymous detective does most of the legwork, but she works fairly closely and amiably with the police, who generally actually handle the arrests and such.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:00 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse books fit the bill, I think. Morse is a police officer in Oxford and the insular settings (colleges, academia in general, small communities) make them feel quite cosy. Morse is a little alcoholic and depressive but he's not hardboiled, just an older somewhat eccentric chap with particular tastes.
posted by goo at 10:14 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Mrs. Pollifax books? She's an amateur widow spy but she works with the CIA. Definitely cozy but also professional.
posted by alicat at 10:15 AM on June 3, 2016


I was hoping that the BBC's Death in Paradise series was based on books, but alas it is not. It's about a DI inspector, uptight British policeman, on assignment to a Caribbean island. Cozy, for sure. Professional. But not literary, dang it.
posted by aimedwander at 10:21 AM on June 3, 2016


I love Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers. She's a fabulous writer, they're set between WWI and WWII, and since he's rich you get some serious opulence. There are 4 books that feature a love interest, Harriett Vane, and that story is just as compelling a romance as you'd ever want to read.

Dorothy Sayers is a really interesting woman, plus she's a theology and Italian scholar, the woman can write, but she's so human too!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:32 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Many apologies for the confusion; I guess I had a much broader definition of cozy than many here. I meant something with a more gentle sensibility, no graphic sex or violence. It doesn't have to be set in a small town, but they usually revolve around a smallish cast of characters in a particular community.
posted by backwards compatible at 10:34 AM on June 3, 2016


I used to love the Jury/Plant series before it started getting increasingly ponderous (oh, ANOTHER Jury love interest dies and endless meditations on aging and death, great). Another series that I liked, at least until the latest couple of installments when it got a bit soapier/having cliffhangers, are the Duncan Kinkaid/Gemma James series by Deborah Crombie. They are two members of Scotland Yard who solve "whodunit" types of mysteries (rather than serial killer on the loose type) in various locales around the UK.
posted by HonoriaGlossop at 10:40 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Inspector Alleyn books by Ngaio Marsh meet all your criteria. Not all are top notch, but a few are excellent. My favorites are Artists in Crime and Spinsters in
Jeopordy.

posted by Malla at 11:07 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh, and I'm a broken record on this subject on Metafilter, the Inspector Appleby books by Michael Innes! Warning: can get strangely surreal.
posted by Malla at 11:08 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


A little gritty, but super fun: the Petronella books by Michael Gilbert. The short story collections are best. The novels get a little bogged down.
posted by Malla at 11:10 AM on June 3, 2016


I actually really like the Jesse Stone books by Robert B. Parker, too. NOT THE NEW FAKE ONES.
posted by Malla at 11:13 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Not sure if it counts as cozy, and the person solving the crimes is a private detective, not part of a police force, but may I suggest the The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series about Mma Precious Ramotswe by Alexander McCall Smith? It's got a smallish cast of characters, most cases are set in the town of Gaborone, and there are no graphic descriptions of violence, drugs etc.
posted by amf at 11:14 AM on June 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


I would look into Donna Leon's mysteries set in cozy old Venice. Protagonist is a cop, wife a professor as is/was Leon, and Leon is one hell of a sophisticated writer.
posted by Skipjack at 11:21 AM on June 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


Came in to ctrl-F "Penny"; I have mentioned her before!
posted by lalex at 11:35 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Janwillem van de Wetering’s Amsterdam Cops (aka Grijpstra and de Gier) books are fantastic.

They’re Dutch police procedurals from the 70s & 80s, with detectives who are intuitive & improvisational in a way that’s satisfying instead of sloppy. One of the cops is habitually grumpy but I wouldn’t put these on the “alcoholic, depressed detective” shelf. There are some explicitly Zen Buddhist themes and storylines in the books (van de Wetering studied Buddhism and wrote nonfiction about it too), and humor throughout.
posted by miles per flower at 12:20 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sharyn McCrumb books - especially The Ballad of Frankie Silver and She Walks These Hills.
posted by Sassyfras at 12:33 PM on June 3, 2016


I want to specifically warn you against the Sidney Chambers/Grantchester books/TV series, which you might otherwise unknowingly pick up--it looks like it's going to be a cozy (vicar with puppy solves crimes in semi-rural Cambridgeshire!), but it's so, so not.
posted by praemunire at 12:47 PM on June 3, 2016


I've only read one, and I'm not sure it was exactly cozy, but it was not-gory not-sexy but well written....so maybe try one? Laurie King's Kate Martinelli books are about a female homicide detective in contemporary San Francisco with a tight and consistent group of core characters.
posted by jrobin276 at 1:00 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Last Policeman

"What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?

Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact."


Procedural-ey, surprisingly not (too) depressing, and an interesting premise; why would you bother continuing to do your job when the world's about the end?
posted by porpoise at 1:13 PM on June 3, 2016


I am a huge fan of William Kent Krueger's Cork O'Connor series.
posted by BibiRose at 1:39 PM on June 3, 2016


Ann Cleeves is very good. She has two popular series: Shetland and Vera Stanhope. She also writes another series called Inspector Ramsey (?) but I've never read that so can't vouch for its quality.

Alan Bradley writes mystery novels featuring a precocious 11 year old girl who likes to study poisons. It's based in the 50s but has an "out of time" vibe. I really like them. They're not police procedurals, but they're not cutesy or romantic like a lot of cozy mystery novels are.

Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone series is well-written and fun. There are over 20 novels so far. It is sometimes violent at the climax of the story but it's never excessively violent or gory. Kinsey is a P.I. Another female P.I. series is Linda Barnes' Carlotta Carlyle series. Barnes is more violent than Grafton.

The Wallander series is excellent. There is also a television series based on the novels. It's in Sweden and a police procedural.

I am currently reading a series by Quentin Bates about an Icelandic police officer called Gunna Gisladottir. It's pretty good, mild on the violence, and has a lot of interesting information about Iceland.

If you like a bit of spy/political drama with your mysteries, Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith is a classic.
posted by Stonkle at 1:44 PM on June 3, 2016


You might like mysteries from an earlier period. The Alan Grant books by Josephine Tey are very low key.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:02 PM on June 3, 2016


Sorry, I see you said post 1960s.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:04 PM on June 3, 2016


Seconding Janwillem van de Wetering, sounds like he'd be perfect.

Also Donald E. Westlake's Dortmunder series (under the pen name Richard Stark, Westlake also wrote some of the least cozy crime novels ever.)

Charles Willeford's Miami/Hank Mosely series.

Nicholas Freeling's Castang series (and the Van der Valk ones, too), though his are maybe a bit heavy.

All the above vary in levels of violence/seriousness, (though nothing gratuitous in any of them); van de Wetering, Westlake and Willeford are often laugh-out-loud funny, and all of them are very urbane & very humane. Plus just really good writers, craft-wise.
posted by generalist at 7:27 PM on June 3, 2016


A lot of what's been recommended above are great mystery novels but not at all cozy in the sense of having a much higher violence level than a typical cozy. Good Reads has some great cozy recommendation lists to work through - decent cozies tend to come out in a series.

Personally read and recommended (I have a weakness for food/craft ones set in villages):
Hannah Swansen
Agatha Raisen
Coffeehouse Mystery
Aurora Teagarden
Teashop Mystery
Heather Wells
Amelia Peabody
Knitting Mystery
Needlecraft Mystery
Jane Austen Mysteries
Dorothy Martin

Also, highly recommended is the TV series Rosemary & Thyme which is basically cozy mysteries come to life.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 11:39 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love, love, love the Scumble River mystery series by Denise Swanson. The main character is a school psychologist who also works as a consultant with her local police department.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:09 AM on June 4, 2016


I saw this thread a few days ago and had never heard of Louise Penny. I just finished the first Inspector Gamache on audiobook and I have to agree with everyone who recommended her, especially lalex who I see has been recommending her for years. It's a murder mystery, investigated by the police, but the murder happens off page and the lead investigator is very humane and compassionate. I would absolutely call it a police procedural cozy, really enjoyed it and will pick up the next one.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:48 PM on June 12, 2016


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