20 Best Cozy Mysteries to Curl Up with Right Now
Settle in, amateur sleuths! These heartwarming cozy mysteries will keep you guessing until the very last page.
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Cozy up to a good mystery
Do you love a good detective story but hate feeling too scared to sleep? Try cozy mysteries. While thrillers and straight-up mystery books entertain us with adrenaline-laced anticipation, there’s something so delicious about lighter, whimsical whodunits. A dash of wholesome romance or kinship can make even crime feel, well, cozy.
This collection of cozy mysteries includes book recommendations from Reader’s Digest book editors (noted by the “Reader’s Digest Editor’s Pick” seal), beloved fan favorites, critically acclaimed series with stellar reader reviews and even award-winning mystery bestsellers. Once you’ve exhausted this list, don’t forget to browse our handpicked selections of the best fiction books of the year, romance novels to swoon over and the best books for both a summer reading list and winter escape.
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What is considered a cozy mystery?
The cozy mystery category, like any other book genre, is not one size fits all. Some readers love “cozies” set in the kitchen, while others prefer cats to culinary misadventures. But the work of Agatha Christie—the Queen Mother of the genre and perhaps the best cozy mystery author of all time—can be seen as a template for what is considered a cozy mystery. For example:
- The book must unfold as a puzzle that allows the reader to play detective (with a few red herrings here or there).
- The murder victims must not be pivotal or even highly likable characters.
- The story must be infused with humor, wit and good cheer. In other words: peak coziness!
- And, of course, the hero or heroine must solve the mystery in the end, bringing the criminal mastermind to (not-too-violent) justice.
What is the difference between mysteries and cozy mysteries?
Some call cozies “feel-good murders,” which seems like the most blatant of oxymorons. But indeed, unlike standard mysteries, cozy mystery books are written with comfort and warmth in mind. These whodunits are warm and winsome, full of witty banter, optimistic protagonists and villains who always meet their rightful end. Unlike many modern mystery novels, cozies aren’t graphic or gory. Rather than dwelling on the crime, cozy mysteries sweep us up into the charming, ordinary life of the main character—usually an amateur detective of sorts.
1. The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman
This 2022 installation of Richard Osman’s wildly popular Thursday Murder Club cozy mystery series revives beloved sleuths Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim, along with a 10-year-old cold case. But of course, even cold cases can awaken new, red-hot danger. Fans of mysteries series and strong friendship themes will love this fun romp with the quick-witted foursome through lavish settings like a luxury spa and lofty penthouse.
2. A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette
An LGBTQ+ book that’s also a cozy mystery? You’ll find it in A Killing in Costumes. The story centers on fading TV stars Jay Allan and Cindy Cooper, who were once married. That ended when their sexual orientations came to light, but they’ve stayed friends for decades. Now they’re opening a Hollywood-themed store together in Palm Springs. All’s well until a nasty rival businessman winds up dead and police set their sights on Jay and Cindy as prime suspects. To keep their biz afloat and themselves out of jail, they need to find the real killer—and fast!
3. Arya Winters and the Tiramisu of Death by Amita Murray
Meet Arya Winters, the delightfully awkward baker living in a charming English village full of nosy neighbors. Despite social anxiety, Arya is no shut-in spinster. She’s got the hots for the sexy writer next door and above-average observation skills, giving her the courage to get out of the house and start investigating a recent death by poisonous tiramisu. Hungry for more? Reviewers say this 2021 cozy mystery title has all the comforting elements of the genre but with a touch of modern irreverence and macabre. And if you love quirky Arya, you’ll be delighted to know this is the first in a new series by Amita Murray. While you wait for the next installment, enjoy a few more feel-good books.
4. Disaster at the Vendome Theater by M.L. Longworth
Fancy a holiday in the south of France? The tenth book in M.L. Longworth’s Provençal Mystery series delivers with murder in the village of Aix-en-Provence. Lawyer Jean-Marc Sauvet simply wanted to enjoy a summer on stage at the theater. But when two famous actors are added to the cast list—and, against all odds, show up for rehearsals!—and a dead body appears, he knows there’s something strange afoot. Aside from an action-packed plot, this 2022 cozy mystery includes drool-worthy descriptions of French foods and wine. It’s the perfect armchair travel antidote to a winter weekend at home. Next, check out more of the most anticipated books of the year.
5. A Deadly Bone to Pick by Peggy Rothschild
Friends of Fido, gather ’round. The heroine of 2022’s A Deadly Bone to Pick solves crime with the help of her two pups, a loyal golden retriever and a rambunctious Saint Berdoodle. Ex-cop Molly Madison has moved to a small beachside town to lick her wounds after the tragic death of her husband. But then one of her dogs unearths a human hand on the beach. Can Molly leave the investigation to the pros, or will her old career instincts kick in to help her hunt down the killer? Despite heavy themes of murder and grief, this cozy mystery ends as warmly and tidily as any other.
6. Reserved for Murder by Victoria Gilbert
Book club fans, grab a lemonade, take a seat in an Adirondack chair and settle in for a delightful cozy mystery set in coastal North Carolina. Set at a charming bed and breakfast, Reserved for Murder kicks off when the president of a writer’s fan club is found murdered. Who among the bibliophile group could be responsible? It’s up to the inn’s owner, Charlotte Reed, to piece together the puzzle to save the rest of the group—and the famous author—from a similar fate.
7. The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood
Judith Potts, the protagonist of The Marlow Murder Club, might be 77 years young, but that doesn’t mean she can’t fend for herself. Her life is the epitome of independence, with regular scotch drinking, bike riding and even skinny-dipping in the Thames. After witnessing a crime and growing impatient with the police’s incompetence, she also takes to amateur sleuthing. Joined by dog-walker friend Suzie and clergyman’s wife Becks, feisty Judith falls headlong into a murder mystery that is more complicated and dangerous than she ever dreamed. After devouring this 2021 cozy mystery, try something different with one of the best scary books ever written.
8. Ruby Roy and the Murder in the Falls by Rima Ray
This 2022 release (available for free on Kindle Unlimited!) is the first in a cozy mystery series about Dr. Ruby Roy, a young, eccentric professor at Baron University. Though Ruby tries to fit in, she feels like her wild imagination, plus-size body and mix of Indian and Canadian heritage doom her to forever stand apart. When she becomes the unfortunate discoverer of a dead body on campus, Ruby chucks the pretense and decides to let her quick wits and imagination run amok in a cat-and-mouse hunt for the killer.
9. Nonna Maria and the Case of the Missing Bride by Lorenzo Carcaterra
Most cozy mysteries are part of a series. Like beloved crime shows, they’re tailor-made for bingeing. That’s not the case with Lorenzo Carcaterra’s 2022 cozy mystery, Nonna Maria and the Case of the Missing Bride. Its rareness as a standalone cozy makes it all the more special. So settle in with Nonna Maria, a sassy Italian grandma who can’t seem to stop fixing other people’s troubles. And now that a bride’s gone missing and a seasoned sailor has drowned, it’s time for her to push up her sleeves, pour another glass of wine and solve a real, live mystery.
10. The Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton
The Quiche of Death may be just one of many delightful cozy mysteries by M.C. Beaton, but it’s a significant one: The 1992 release kicks off the New York Times bestselling Agatha Raisin book series. The iconic collection of cozies has even been made into a British television series. You’ll fall head over heels for new retiree Agatha Raisin in this first installment. She enters a baking contest to pass the time, even though she’s never baked before. When a judge dies of poisoning after eating her store-bought quiche, Agatha must find the real culprit to clear her name.
11. The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton
Jump into Paige Shelton’s Scottish Bookshop Mysteries series with 2016’s The Cracked Spine. It’s a lighthearted story about a woman named Delaney Nichols, who moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, to work at a bookshop called The Cracked Spine—talk about the perfect scene for a bookish romantic comedy. You’ll read about rows and rows of books, of course, plus a madcap cast of lovable locals and a handsome Scotsman who works at the pub across the street. But this is a mystery, too, complete with theft, murder and danger that compels Delaney to leave the comforts of the shop to stop tragedy from striking again.
12. Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala
Mia P. Manansala describes herself as a queer Filipino American author, and her 2021 book, Arsenic and Adobo, reflects her distinct viewpoint in cozy culinary form. Lila Macapagal has just gone through a devastating breakup. She’s returned home to spend time with her lovable yet meddling aunties. Together, they’re working hard to keep Tita Rosie’s restaurant alive. Sounds like the makings of a breezy mother-daughter book or beach read, right? But there’s a dead body to be found and a case to be solved before Lila, one of the last people to see the victim, goes from prime suspect to jailed restaurateur.
13. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
Like M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series, Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen series has graced mystery lovers’ nightstands for years. But where Beaton presents British “cottagecore,” Fluke offers a delectable collection of culinary cozies. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (published in 2000) introduces Hannah, a firecracker of a baker whose amateur detective work has riled up some Minnesota locals. But when a dead body is found surrounded by Hannah’s famous chocolate chip cookies, she can’t help but get involved in the case.
14. A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver
Fancy a little historical fiction with your cozy mysteries? Then you’ll love this 2021 kickoff to the Electra McDonnell series, set in World War II–era England. This rollicking read features themes of loyalty and espionage. Ellie is used to flying under the radar. She steals from the rich to put bread on her family’s table. But when she’s recruited to steal precious blueprints that will help England’s war effort, she falls into a plot that involves a dead German spy, an empty safe and a race to catch a double agent.
15. Killer Content by Olivia Blacke
This quirky 2021 cozy mystery from Olivia Blacke mixes up a diverse cast, social media theme and classic country-to-city trope. What’s not to love? When Louisiana girl Odessa Dean moves to Brooklyn to sling beers and live rent-free by cat-sitting, she knows she’s in for a learning curve. But she’s not prepared for the death of a co-worker who had also been rising in the ranks as a YouTube influencer. Odessa suspects the death was not as innocuous as it seemed, so she takes to the internet to hunt for a killer among the YouTube fans.
16. Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins
This 2019 Agatha Award Nominee for Best Historical Mystery immerses readers in a story thick with smoke and mirrors in 1920s Chicago. Gina Ricci, a new hire at the Third Door speakeasy, is enamored by the glamorous world behind the back room curtains. But then she learns that her predecessor was murdered. When she witnesses a second murder, Gina feels compelled to track down the villain and bring the shadows of the Third Door to light. Looking for more great reads? Check out these upcoming book-to-screen adaptations.
17. Mango, Mambo, and Murder by Raquel V. Reyes
Grab 2021’s Mango, Mambo, and Murder for a feel-good mystery with culinary and multicultural themes from a Latina author. Cuban American foodie Miriam Quiñones-Smith is in a funk. Her career is at a standstill, and her marriage seems to be headed for disaster. So when Detective Pullman ropes her into a murder investigation within Spanish-speaking high society, she dives right in. But could her undercover involvement become a recipe for disaster?
18. The Socialite’s Guide to Murder by S.K. Golden
Welcome to the Pinnacle Hotel, home of glamorous parties, glamorous artwork and the ghosts of past guests. It’s also where Evelyn Elizabeth Grace Murphy, the protagonist of The Socialite’s Guide to Murder, hides away, replaying the 1945 death of her mother. It’s now 1958, and Evelyn has found another dead body. To solve the murder, she must overcome her anxiety, team up with sexy hotel employee Mac Cooper and throw a party full of high-society suspects. The game’s afoot in this lighthearted 2022 page-turner by S.K. Golden.
19. Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian
Gigi Pandian has won multiple awards for her cozy mysteries and urban fantasy novels, and she’s back with a 2022 title that kicks off a new must-read series. In Under Lock & Skeleton Key, she offers a classic locked-room mystery (think Clue). When Tempest Raj retreats home to California for the comfort of family and home-cooked Indian food after a tragic accident, she doesn’t expect to face even more disasters. But that’s precisely what happens when she finds a dead body inside the wall of a recent renovation project. Themes of family and mouthwatering Indian food pervade this delightful cozy mystery.
20. Murder in an Irish Cottage by Carlene O’Connor
As the title implies, this 2016 mystery is the first in a good old-fashioned Irish cozy collection. Murder in an Irish Village centers on 20-something Siobhán, who is raising her younger siblings while running her late mother’s bistro in Kilbane, Ireland. But when the spunky Irishwoman finds a dead man seated at the restaurant—with a pair of garish pink scissors in his chest—her quiet life is upended. It’s time to suss out a murderer and save the bistro from a dwindling customer base that’s growing too scared to come and dine. Want more guaranteed good books? Try one of these time-travel novels.
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