What exactly is a cozy mystery? It is a mystery that contains little violence, sex or bad language. The setting is normally a small town or village; the detective usually a woman. An amateur, the first crime she solves is one she stumbles across by accident.
Cozy mysteries are great sellers, so there are several authors to choose from. They include Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Kathleen Taylor and Dorothy Cannell. Murder, She Wrote is an example of a cozy mystery on television. So are the Agatha Christie novels that have been made into movies.
Since I already own all of the books Agatha Christie has written, I decided it was time to find another cozy mystery author to enjoy. Dorothy Cannell, like Agatha Christie, was born in England. Now she lives in Maine. Currently I am reading the Ellie Haskell series, book 14 of which is due out in March 2010.
The Thin Woman is book 1 in the series. It is about Ellie Simons, an overweight young lady who does not look forward to attending a family reunion without a boyfriend in tow. She is afraid the rest of the family will feel sorry for her because she can’t get a boyfriend, so she hires an escort, a writer of smutty novels who also cooks like a dream, to pose as her boyfriend. Her jealousy gets the better of her when her cousin Vanessa appears on the scene and she blurts out that he is her fiancée. The family reunion would have been the end of it, but when her uncle dies, he leaves her and Bentley (her escort) his estate on the following conditions: Ellie must lose weight and Bentley must write a book that contains no smut. There is someone, though, who does not want Ellie and Bentley to fulfill those conditions. Many traps and temptations are put in their path to ensure their failure. Who is behind them?
The book is both gripping and hilarious. Dorothy Cannell combines both humor and mystery in an engaging manner that makes her books hard to put down.
Down the Garden Path is book 2 in the series. It is the one I am currently reading. The Flowers Detection Agency, who plays a big part in the next book, are introduced.
The Widow’s Club was actually the first book in the series I read. Years ago I bought a copy of it from a book club and enjoyed it so much that I can’t count how many times I have read it. In this amusing and delightfully wicked book, Ellie has successfully lost more weight than required and Bentley has written a book that isn’t smutty so they can receive their inheritance of Uncle Merlin’s estate and money. They move to Chitterton Fells. Hyacinth and Primrose Tramwell (The Flowers Detection Agency) are called in to investigate and abnormal amount of deaths of the married men in that same village. Newly married Ellie Haskell, busy helping her husband start his new restaurant while desperately trying not to eat, is unwittingly drawn into helping them solve the mystery. A mysterious women’s organization, one that chooses widowhood over divorce, targets Ellie’s new husband for elimination. If you can figure out who is the head of the mysterious women’s organization and behind the murders of the married men, you are doing better than I did. The story is crafted so well that it is next to impossible to figure out.
As stated previously, I bought The Widow’s Club from a book club. The rest of her books I have bought online. If you would like to read
The Thin Woman
The Widow's Club