Mystery food for thought

Like many cooks, I enjoy curling up with a new cookbook and reading it like a novel. Snuggled up on the sofa, I pore through each recipe as though it were a spellbinding mystery. I enjoy reading mystery novels too, and recently learned about a genre of culinary-themed mysteries that not only offer intriguing plot twists but also include recipes! How did I not discover this before?

Book covers

Many of these mysteries are volumes in a series. Riley Adams (aka Elizabeth Craig) writes the Memphis BBQ Mystery series, including titles such as Hickory-Smoked Homicide and Delicious & Suspicious. These tales revolve around Lulu Taylor, owner of a Memphis barbeque joint. The Cheese Shop Mystery series, written by Avery Aames (aka Daryl Wood Gerber), follows the story of Charlotte, co-owner of a cheese shop, and her ragdoll cat. Books in this series include The Long Quiche Goodbye, and To Brie or Not To Brie.

All of these books belong to the crime drama subgenre known as “cozy mysteries.” This subgenre mainly features small-town amateur sleuths who doggedly pursue a dastardly killer. Perhaps the most well-known cozy mysteries are the Agatha Christie novels featuring Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

There are dozens of authors who write culinary crime novels. Given my penchant for cocktails, I’m keen to delve into the Mack’s Bar Mystery series by Allison Abbott (aka Annelise Ryan & Beth Amos), which opens with Murder on the Rocks. Jessica Beck’s Donut Shop Mysteries sound delicious too. Who can resist a title like Assault and Batter? Another treat is the Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery series by Ellery Adams, which offers tomes like Pies and Prejudice. Joanne Fluke dishes up sweet surprise in her Hannah Swenson mystery series, which includes Strawberry Shortcake Murder. If those are making your teeth ache from too much sugar, a relative newcomer to the genre, Jeanne Cooney, released the savory Hot Dish Heaven last year. (Full disclosure: Jeanne is my former coworker, and the reason I discovered this subgenre.)

Have you read any books like these? If so, what is your favorite? I need to know which books to add to my shopping cart first. 

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  • hillsboroks  on  February 11, 2014

    In years past I got hooked on the culinary mysteries by Diane Mott Davidson. Her main character runs a catering business. Diane has a nice witty style and puts a few recipes in the books too. My friends and I have also enjoyed a series by Laura Childs set in a tea shop in Charleston, South Carolina. The beauty of all of these type of books is that they are light and fun and great to read when you are tired just before bed.

  • Christine  on  February 11, 2014

    Joanna Fluke published an actual cookbook based on her mystery series as well ( know this because my mother-in-law loves the series and bought a copy for both herself and me, knowing how much I love cookbooks — I must admit I haven't made anything from it yet though (probably because it's not indexed!) I also know of a yearly Foodies Read challenge where book bloggers link up their reviews of all different kinds of food-related books, including novels ( & — there are quite a lot of ideas on those two sites as well!

  • Cubangirl  on  February 11, 2014

    I agree with the ladies above, I love Diane Mott Davidson and Joanna Fluke. Way before I read CI, I learned about brining pork chops from Davidson and still use that brine. I also love Julie Hyzy White House Chef culinary mysteries, Jenn McKinlay cupcake mysteries, and Michelle Scott Wine mysteries with paired recipes. I read mainly female authors with female protagonists and a good number of those are cooking related, so I have a whole bunch of other series I've not entered to Book Collector yet.

  • boardingace  on  February 11, 2014

    I love culinary mysteries too!!! Baking ones are my favorites; Joanna Fluke is my all-time favorite, and I'm nearly caught up with Diane Mott Davidson – just finished one of her books today ๐Ÿ™‚ I think it's funny that the two authors who first came to mind are already mentioned here; obviously they are good ones to start with ๐Ÿ™‚ I also like Joanna Carl's series about a chocolate shop. And I found many good cozy mysteries from this website, which makes it easy to search by topic (or awards won):

    I've found that they are best started at the beginning of the series, because they almost all have a romance going through them that makes more sense read in order. Older series are great because you can read through 10 or 12 books from the library or amazon before catching up with the author (they seem to write about 1 per year) and then you get to wait for the newest book with everyone else ๐Ÿ™‚

    Aside from that, it's just really fun to find a theme that you like (catering/desserts/coffee) and then hopefully the authors writing on that theme have a writing style that is appealing to you ๐Ÿ™‚

    I've read quite a few series, but those are the three authors I remember off hand.

  • boardingace  on  February 13, 2014

    By the way, the covers in your post were so appealing that I will soon be reading Jeanne Cooney and also the cheese shop mystery series ๐Ÿ™‚

  • susan g  on  February 15, 2014

    There's a wonderful list of readers choices of books related to food at Some of them are mysteries (I contributed a list), but all of them would probably be on the to-read list for Eat Your Books members.

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