Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hamish MacBeth's Latest Case

M.C. Beaton's 24th Hamish MacBeth mystery, Death of a Witch, was just released. Fans of the Highland constable will find that the author of this cozy mystery series delivers an engrossing page-turner featuring all the local color fans love to read. MacBeth returns from a disappointing vacation in sunny Spain to find that his beloved Scottish village, the fictional Lochdubh, has its own resident witch who is brewing up trouble. The fiery-haired bachelor has two old girlfriends and one new one all vying for his attention in this outing. The path of true love is not smooth for Hamish as usual, partly because of his jealous pets, mongrel Lugs and scary wildcat, Sonsie, who do not easily welcome newcomers to the small police station.

If you enjoy cozy mysteries, this discussion on an Amazon group will be of interest. In the Cozy Mystery Forum, Amazon customers recommend mystery authors to each other. You can join the discussion to recommend your favorites. Or try the Fantastic Fiction website to find author read-a-likes. Search for any author you like and it will show which others might interest you. Fantastic Fiction is also useful for listing series in the order in which they were written.

I just finished two very light cozies: Laura Childs' Chamomile Mourning, a tea shop mystery set in Charleston, SC and Cleo Coyle's Through the Grinder, a coffeehouse mystery.
A "cozy" mystery features a detective who is often an amateur, usually female, and the setting is often in a village or small community within a city. In the U.S., cozies exist for many interests and geographical regions. For example, Childs' amateur detective owns a charming restaurant that serves tea and light meals. The books include tea lore and recipes with the backdrop of historic Charleston adding charm and interest to the series. Coyle's coffeehouse mysteries give lots of information about coffee beans and brewing and some background on the history and architecture of Greenwich Village and SoHo in New York City.

Cozies are the descendants of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, but generally any mystery which features brains over brawn, the cerebral solving of the murder rather than shoot 'em up as the method, can be called a cozy. A cozy can also be defined by what it is not: it is not a police procedural like Michael Connelly's books; it does not feature the smart-alec tough guy like Robert B. Parker's Spenser; it does not have the depressing pall like Raymond Chandler's classic noir mysteries and so on.

Related websites: Cozy Mystery

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