Eight Cozy Mysteries Set In The South We Love
by Staff Writer
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 cozy 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 mysteries set in the southern USA. We’re sharing the first book in each cozy mystery series to get you started.
Live And Let Chai by Bree Baker
Set in North Carolina, A Seaside Cafe Mystery series begins with Live And Let Chai.
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.
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.
A Killer Plot by Ellery Adams
Ellery Adams’ The Books By the Bay series in set in North Carolina. The first story in the series is A Killer Plot.
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.
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.
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.
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…
Dead As A Door Knocker by Diane Kelly
Diane Kelly, the author of A House Flipper Mystery series nails the southern voice just right in this cozy mystery. We love the main character, a feisty downhome southern girl surrounded by loving family and friends. This mystery also serves up a nice helping of racial diversity and provides the true feel of a small southern town.
Meet Whitney Whitaker. A hopeless romantic when it comes to real estate, she knows what it takes to find—and flip—the home of one’s dreams. A fixer-upper is like catnip to Whitney: she can’t resist the challenge of turning an eyesore into a priceless work of art. So when one of her clients decides to liquidate a crumbling property, Whitney seizes the opportunity to purchase it for a song. But soon a curious incident of the cat in the night-time leads to a change in tune. . .
Sawdust is the name of Whitney’s cat—of course. Whitney’s passion for gut-renovation may be a mystery to him but one thing Sawdust knows for sure is this: Dead bodies don’t belong in flower beds. So why is there one in this new, albeit old, house? Now it’s up to Whitney, along with the help of hot-and-cold Nashville Police Detective Collin Flynn, to find the truth about what happened before the mortgaged property forecloses and Whitney loses her investment… and maybe her own life.
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!
A Spell For Trouble by Esme Addison
Aleksandra Daniels hasn’t set foot in the quiet seaside town of Bellamy Bay, North Carolina, in over 20 years. Ever since her mother’s tragic death, her father has mysteriously forbidden her from visiting her aunt and cousins. But on a whim, Alex accepts an invitation to visit her estranged relatives and to help them in their family business: an herbal apothecary known for its remarkably potent teas, salves, and folk remedies.
Bellamy Bay doesn’t look like trouble, but this is a town that harbors dark secrets. Alex discovers that her own family is at the center of salacious town gossip and that they are rumored to be magical healers descended from mermaids. She brushes this off as nonsense until a local is poisoned and her aunt Lidia is arrested for the crime. Alex is certain Lidia is being framed, and she resolves to find out why.
Alex’s investigation unearths stories that some have gone to desperate lengths to conceal: forbidden affairs, family rivalries, and the truth about Alex’s own ancestry. And when the case turns deadly, Alex learns that not only are these secrets worth hiding, but they may even be worth killing for.