There’s just something about a nice cozy mystery. If you’ve read one, or two or three, you know what I mean. They are a bit addictive with the cute town, eccentric cast of characters and mysteries you want to solve for yourself. And let’s not forget the themes! It’s so entertaining to read a story that incorporates something you’re really interested in, whether it’s cooking, knitting or woodworking, there’s a cozy mystery for every reader. And there’s nothing we love more than to find a really good cozy mystery set in the south.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite cozy mystery series set in the southern USA.
Live And Let Chai by Bree Baker
Life hasn’t been so sweet for Everly Swan over the past couple of years, but now she’s back in her seaside hometown and the proud owner of a little iced tea shop and café right on the beach. Things are finally starting to look up – until a curmudgeonly customer turns up dead on the boardwalk. With one of her hallmark iced tea jars lying right next to him and an autopsy that reports poison in his system, it doesn’t look good for Everly or her brand-new business.
As the townspeople of Charm turn their backs on Everly, she fights to dig up clues about who could’ve had it in for the former town councilman. With a maddeningly handsome detective discouraging her from uncovering leads and a series of anonymous attacks on Everly and her business, it will take everything she’s got to keep this mystery from boiling over.
- Setting – The beach, A fictional town in the Outer Banks near Duck, NC
- Themes – Coastal community, tea, witches
- Occupation – Herbal tea shop owner
We love this book, not just because it’s very well-written and evokes a nice sunny vacation at the beach, but Walker is such a funny writer. This is a light-hearted reach that will have you laughing out loud. By the way, the audiobook of No Good Tea Goes Unpunished is one of the best audiobooks we’ve ever heard. Lots to love and laugh about with this great debut. We can’t wait to read Baker’s follow-up, No Good Tea Goes Unpunished.
Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates
Next up is The Magical Bakeshop series set in Georgia. The first story is Brownies and Broomsticks.
Katie Lightfoot’s tired of loafing around as the assistant manager of an Ohio bakery. So when her aunt Lucy and uncle Ben open a bakery in Savannah’s quaint downtown district and ask Katie to join them, she enthusiastically agrees.
While working at the Honeybee Bakery—named after Lucy’s cat—Katie notices that her aunt is adding mysterious herbs to her recipes. Turns out these herbal enhancements aren’t just tasty—Aunt Lucy is a witch and her recipes are actually spells.
When a curmudgeonly customer is murdered outside the Honeybee Bakery, Uncle Ben becomes the prime suspect. With the help of handsome journalist Steve Dawes, charming firefighter Declan McCarthy, and a few spells, Katie and Aunt Lucy stir up some toil and trouble to clear Ben’s name and find the real killer.
- Setting – Savannah, GA
- Themes – Bakeries, witches
- Occupation – Baker
A Killer Plot by Ellery Adams
In the small coastal town of Oyster Bay, North Carolina, you’ll find plenty of characters, ne’er-do-wells, and even a few celebs trying to duck the paparazzi. But when murder joins this curious community, the Bayside Book Writers are there to get the story.
Olivia Limoges is the subject of constant gossip. Ever since she came back to town-a return as mysterious as her departure-Olivia has kept to herself, her dog, and her unfinished novel. With a little cajoling from the eminently charming writer Camden Ford, she agrees to join the Bayside Book Writers, break her writer’s block, and even make a few friends…
But when townspeople start turning up dead with haiku poems left by the bodies, anyone with a flair for language is suddenly suspect. And it’s up to Olivia to catch the killer before she meets her own surprise ending.
- Setting – The beach, Fictional town on the North Carolina coast.
- Themes – Restaurants, writing
- Occupation – Restaurateur
We love this series because the author masterfully incorporates interesting North Carolina history and culture into each mystery. After you’ve read one of the stories in this series, you’ll be compelled to research what you’ve just read and discover the facts behind the fiction.
The Merlot Murders by Ellen Crosby
Wine Country Mysteries set in Virginia begins with The Merlot Murders and provides an in-depth look at the wine industry and Virginia’s horse country while offering a complex mystery for the reader to solve.
A phone call at two thirty in the morning is never good news. Lucie Montgomery’s semi-estranged brother, Eli, calls her in France to tell her their father, Leland, has been killed in a hunting accident on the family’s five-hundred-acre Virginia vineyard just as the fall harvest is about to begin. By the time he calls, Eli has already made funeral arrangements with what Lucie argues is indecent haste.
It is an emotional trip home — the first since an automobile accident two years ago, which left Lucie disabled and dependent on a cane. Her family’s once elegant home and winery are now shabby and run-down, thanks to her father’s penchant for fringy business deals. Eli, also cash-strapped and desperate to support his new wife’s extravagant lifestyle, has already convinced their rebellious younger sister, Mia, to sell the debt-ridden estate and reap the profits from the valuable land it sits on, overruling Lucie’s protests.
On the eve of the funeral Lucie’s godfather, Fitz, a partner in the family business, tells her Leland’s death was no accident. Whoever killed him was motivated by the potential sale of the vineyard. It is the last conversation she will have with Fitz. Now the lone holdout preventing the vineyard sale, Lucie realizes she’s next in line for another “accident.” With her greedy brother, hell-raising sister, and a seemingly cut-rate vintner hired by Leland just before he died, all the suspects are disturbingly close to home. Unsure whom she can trust, Lucie must uncover the truth about the deaths of her father and godfather — and oversee a successful harvest to save the vineyard she loves.
- Setting – Horse country, Atoka, VA
- Themes – Wineries
- Occupation – Vineyard owner
This is one of our favorite cozy mystery series because we love wine… drinking it, learning about how it is made or visiting vineyards, and this series provides detailed information on the winemaking process while using the beautiful Virginia countryside as a backdrop.
Asking For Truffle by Dorothy St. James
South Carolina native, Dorothy St. James’ Southern Chocolate Shop series takes the reader to a fictitious island off the coast of her home state with an interesting look at the world of chocolate making. With a multi-layered heroine, a quirky multi-racial cast of characters and surprisingly robust plotting, cozy lovers wind the series very satisfying. The first story in the series is Asking For Truffle.
When Charity Penn receives a letter saying she won a trip to Camellia Beach, South Carolina complete with free cooking lessons at the town’s seaside chocolate shop, The Chocolate Box, she’s immediately skeptical. She never entered any contest. Her former prep school friend offers to look into the phony prize–only to end up drowned in a vat of chocolate.
Struck with guilt, Penn heads to the southern beach town to investigate why he was killed. But as wary as she is of the locals, she finds herself lured into their eccentric vibe, letting her defenses melt away and even learning the art of crafting delicious chocolates. That is, until delight turns bittersweet as she steps straight into the midst of a deadly plot to destroy the seaside town. Now, only Penn’s quick thinking and a mysterious cask of rare chocolate can save the town she’s learning to love.
- Setting – The beach, fictional island off the coast of South Carolina
- Themes – Coastal communities, island life
- Occupation – Chocolate shop owner/chocolatier
Just a few pages into the series, and you’ll be wondering where the best chocolate shop is in your area. Try eating a few chocolate truffles or sipping a decadent hot chocolate as you read the stories for a truly immersive experience.
By Book Or By Crook by Eva Gates
Author Eva Gates does not live in the south, but it’s clear from her writing that she’s spent a lot of time in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. We love A Lighthouse Library Mystery series when we’re driving to the beach, sitting on the beach or during the winter with a cup of coffee, dreaming of warmer weather.
This fun book-lovers cozy is full of eccentric characters, a quaint lighthouse library and local lore. The first story in the series is By Book Or By Crook.
For ten years Lucy has enjoyed her job poring over rare tomes of literature for the Harvard Library, but she has not enjoyed the demands of her family’s social whorl or her sort-of-engagement to the staid son of her father’s law partner. But when her ten-year relationship implodes, Lucy realizes that the plot of her life is in need of a serious rewrite.
Calling on her aunt Ellen, Lucy hopes that a little fun in the Outer Banks sun—and some confections from her cousin Josie’s bakery—will help clear her head. But her retreat quickly turns into an unexpected opportunity when Aunt Ellen gets her involved in the lighthouse library tucked away on Bodie Island.
Lucy is thrilled to land a librarian job in her favorite place in the world. But when a priceless first edition Jane Austen novel is stolen and the chair of the library board is murdered, Lucy suddenly finds herself ensnared in a real-life mystery—and she’s not so sure there’s going to be a happy ending….
- Setting – The beach, The Outerbanks, NC
- Themes – Books, libraries, book clubs, coastal communities, island life
- Occupation – Librarian
There are many other great cozy mysteries set in the south, these are just six of our very favorites. You can get started on a series by purchasing the first books below!
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