Ten Southern Cozy Mysteries We Can’t Wait To Read
by Staff Writer
We love when our favorite cozy mystery series just keep going. This year we’re sharing the continuation of six series and the first books in two new series. Our list covers the beaches of North Carolina down to South Carolina and Georgia, then all the way to Louisiana. Our satisfyingly cozy list of mysteries features librarians, B&B owners, bakers and more.
Do you have a favorite southern cozy? Tell us which ones in the comments.
The Cider Shop Rules by Julie Anne Lindsey
The Fall Festival is in full swing. Civil War reenactors from three counties are partaking in Blossom Valley’s tribute to John Brown. Blue Ridge Mountain foliage is in full bloom. And best of all is Jacob Potter’s pumpkin farm where his hay rides, piglet races, pumpkin picking and corn maze are time-honored draws for locals and tourists alike. That’s why it’s such a shock when Mr. Potter is found dead, hidden under a tarp in the back of Winnie’s pickup truck. This certainly betrays Potter’s reputation as one of the town’s most popular citizens. Fortunately, when it comes to solving a murder, no one has a patch on Winnie. Now, all eyes are on her to do it. Unfortunately, that includes those of the killer who’ll do anything to keep an orchard full of secrets buried.
The Cider Shop Rules is set in West Virginia. We know this is technically not the south, but the book has a small town rural feeling we love that gives it an honorary cozy southern status. Buy the book.
Deadly Ever After by Eva Gates
They’re getting married! Lucy Richardson and Connor McNeil have announced their engagement. Their friends throw a party for the couple at Coquina Beach, close to Lucy’s beloved Bodie Island Lighthouse Library.
As they’re packing up the presents and the (few) leftovers from Josie’s Cozy Bakery, who should arrive, but Richard Eric Lewiston III, Lucy’s former almost-fiancé and his overbearing mother Evangeline. Push comes to love when Evangeline makes no secret of why she’s here: to get Lucy and Ricky back together.
Lucy isn’t tempted in the least, and Ricky is nothing but embarrassed at his mother’s desperate ploy. Before returning to Boston Evangeline throws a dinner party at Jake’s Seafood Bar for a reluctant Lucy and her family. Lucy hopes to get the dinner over with and see Evangeline and Ricky returning to Boson. But when a body is found at the restaurant’s kitchen door, Lucy is again forced to unwillingly put on her detective’s hat and do what she can to save her family and her engagement. Meanwhile, the classic novel reading club is reading The Hound of the Baskervilles, and open war breaks out in the Lighthouse Library when Lucy agrees to temporarily take care of a dog named Fluffy, but Charles the library cat has other ideas.
Deadly Ever After is set in North Carolina. Buy the book.
A Hex For Danger by Esme Addison
The small town of Bellamy Bay has its share of skeletons in its closet, but it isn’t used to bodies turning up in the local history museum. After all, this coastal North Carolina town is much like any other…except, of course, for the mermaids.
Helping to run the family business, an herbal apothecary while keeping her supernatural secret hidden is no easy feat for water witch Aleksandra Daniels. But somehow she’s still found time to help her friend Celeste, who has her own Caribbean mermaid heritage plan the annual Mermaid Festival. As fun-seekers throng the beaches, Alex gets to know and is intrigued by renowned artist Neve Ryland, who’s in town to decorate the local park with a mermaid-themed mural. Celeste, however, is less enamored with the artist, as Neve has been spending entirely too much one-on-one time with her boyfriend Jasper, director of Bellamy Bay’s history museum. Then, a reception for Neve ends abruptly when the artist is found dead in his office.
The police investigation nets Celeste who asks Alex to find the true culprit. With the help of her magically-inclined aunt and cousins, Alex dives in to clear her friend’s name. But there was more to Neve Ryland than met the eye…and Alex fears she may be in way too deep. Will she catch the crook or be next on the hook?
A Hex For Danger is set on coastal North Carolina. Buy the book.
Murder By Page One by Olivia Matthews
Marvey, a librarian, has moved from Brooklyn to a quirky small town in Georgia. When she’s not at the library organizing events for readers, she’s handcrafting book-themed jewelry and looking after her cranky cat. At times, her new life in the South still feels strange…and that’s before the discovery of the dead body in the bookstore.
After one of her friends becomes a suspect, Marvey sets out to solve the murder mystery. She even convinces Spence, the wealthy and charming newspaper owner, to help. With his ties to the community, her talents for research, and her fellow librarians’ knowledge, Marvey pursues the truth. But as she gets closer to it, could she be facing a deadly plot twist?
Murder By Page One is set in Georgia. Buy the book.
Murder In the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen Byron
Maggie Crozat, proprietor of a historic Cajun Country B&B, prefers to let the good times roll. But hard times rock her hostelry when a new cell phone app makes it easy for locals to rent their spare rooms to tourists. With October–and Halloween–approaching, she conjures up a witch-crafty marketing scheme to draw visitors to Pelican, Louisiana.
Five local plantation B&Bs host “Pelican’s Spooky Past” packages, featuring regional crafts, unique menus, and a pet costume parade. Topping it off, the derelict Dupois cemetery is the suitably sepulchral setting for the spine-chilling play Resurrection of a Spirit. But all the witchcraft has inevitably conjured something: her B&B guests are being terrified out of town by sightings of the legendary rougarou, a cross between a werewolf and vampire.
When, in the Dupois cemetery, someone costumed as a rougarou stumbles onstage during the play–and promptly gives up the ghost, the rougarou mask having been poisoned with strychnine, Maggie is on the case. But as more murders stack up, Maggie fears that Pelican’s spooky past has nothing on its bloodcurdling present.
Murder In the Bayou Boneyard is set in Louisiana. Buy the book.
Partners In Lime by Bree Baker
It all seems to be smooth sailing for Everly Swan. The island of Charm, North Carolina is hosting tons of fun summer events, her iced tea shop is a hit, and best of all, she’s finally dating the handsome Detective Grady Hays. But their romantic bubble bursts when tragedy strikes: a surf-pro is found murdered on the beach, killed with a theater prop.
Grady follows the evidence, all of which points to Matt, Everly’s friend and one-time fling. As Grady does his job, so does Everly—her unofficial chef-turned-sleuth-job, that is. She’s determined to clear her friend’s name but the arrival of a fancy new teashop and The Town Charmer, a gossip blog determined to rock the boat, complicates things. As Everly tries to keep rumors at bay and investigate the murder (and her new tea rival), the killer leaves a message in the sand…
Partners In Lime is set in the Outer Banks North Carolina. Buy the book.
A Perfect Bind by Dorothy St. James
Tru Beckett succeeded in building a secret book room in her now bookless library, where book lovers from lovely Cypress, South Carolina, can rejoice in the printed word. Now she’s working hard to maintain the little library downstairs while keeping her “real job” upstairs in the bookless technology center. The last thing she needs is a mysterious vandal who seems intent on breaking into her secret book-filled sanctuary and creating chaos. The nasty interloper doesn’t steal anything, but brutalizes the books, damaging them and knocking them off shelves.
A patron of the secret book room tells Tru that there have been creepy goings-on at the library for years, especially in the basement where the secret book room is located. He’s heard rumors of a poltergeist that haunts the library, determined to scare off readers. Tru is certain it’s hogwash, but she’s at a loss to think of who might be vandalizing the beautiful books she fought so hard to protect. And when a dead body shows up right behind the library, Tru is certain that it’s not a ghost but a cold-blooded killer that she and her trusty tabby Dewey Decimal will need to uncover.
A Perfect Bind is set in South Carolina. Buy the book.
What better time than Halloween to dig into a bracing discussion of a diabolical murder mystery? And what better choice for the Jane Doe Book Club than Agatha Christie’s Crooked House? Lyla Moody and her friends are soon embroiled in debate over whether the heroine’s actions are particularly believable. But not long after the meeting, sleepy Sweet Mountain, Georgia, is rocked by a murder that uncannily echoes the novel in question.
When Lyla and her grandmother arrive at the charity event that Lyla’s mother is hosting, they barely have time to hang up their fall jackets before they stumble upon a body in the library. Leonard Richardson, it seems, was robbed and then hit over the head with a brass candlestick–which throws suspicion on Harper Richardson, his young widow and a friend of the Jane Does.
Lyla and the rest of the Jane Does pool their prodigious intellects to clear Harper’s name. Peculiarly, all of the clues seem to have been lifted directly from the plot of Crooked House. But as Lyla probes the pages of Christie’s classic whodunnit for hints on catching the killer, she uncovers secrets from her mother’s past–secrets that suggest that Lyla’s own house may be crooked as well.
Reading Between The Crimes is set in Georgia. Buy the book.
Reserved For Murder by Victoria Gilbert
Beaufort, North Carolina, is home to Chapters Bed and Breakfast, owned and operated by former schoolteacher Charlotte Reed. This historic 18th-century inn draws in voracious readers from far and wide with its lovingly curated special events celebrating a host of genres and authors.
On this sunny July weekend, a visit by one of the biggest names in romantic fantasy attracts throngs of admirers to the quaint coastal village. That’s not ideal, as the author retreated to Chapters to get away from it all for a while. No matter–she’ll appease her fans with a “Tea and Talk” meet-and-greet at the B&B celebrating her bestselling series (starring a devilishly dashing, time-traveling pirate), follow that up with a quick book signing at Bookwaves, the hip indie bookstore across town, and spend the remainder of the weekend in delightful repose.
But when the president of the reclusive writer’s fan club is found dead in the harbor by the Beaufort docks–done in by a blunt-force blow to the head–it’s up to Charlotte Reed, her neighbor Ellen, and Ellen’s trusty Yorkshire terrier to sniff out the killer. Because if they can’t, a spectacularly successful book series–and its author–may come to a sudden, lethal conclusion.
Reserved For Murder is located in North Carolina. Buy the book.
Spirits and Sourdough by Bailey Cates
Hedgewitch Katie Lightfoot works at the Honeybee Bakery in Savannah, and she’s always up for investigating her adopted home’s rich supernatural history. That’s why she’s taking a ghost tour for the very first time. But when the psychic tour guide tells Katie that she’s being followed by the ghost of a recently murdered woman, Katie realizes she met the victim earlier that day, just before she died. She knows she must bring the killer to justice.
And this murder isn’t the only mystery Katie needs to solve. Her new husband, Declan McCarthy, is missing the guardian spirit who always watched over him, and she’s concerned that Deck’s life could be at risk if they can’t find him. Under pressure from the living and the dead, Katie will have to use all of her magical skills to start an investigation from scratch and avoid half-baked alibis, because this baker kneads to find a killer.
Spirits and Sourdough is set in Georgia. Buy the book.