I read many books in a year, but I still can’t claim an encyclopedic reading of the cozies that were published in 2021. These delicious morsels of storytelling are reason for joy, as the storytellers, even though they include murders, are in general optimistic. You like the characters in these books, and would love to be friends with them. These are my favorites this year. For a really deep dive, check out Dru Ann Love’s blog, Dru’s Book Musings, which tackles everything in the cozy universe. All of these titles are available on our website.
This is the second installment in the charming Island Sisters series, set in Britain’s Scilly Isles. Sisters Evie and Margot have taken over an old hotel and are managing it for the owner, though they are on the hook for repairs, which are turning out to be massive. As the book opens, they are a few days out from their grand re-opening, and they are working full tilt to get everything ready in time.
Because the books are set on the tiny island of Treggarick Rock, accessible only by boat and at certain times because of high or low tide, every story is going to be essentially a locked room mystery. Because the décor of the hotel calls back to the 30’s, this adds a decidedly golden age feel to the proceedings.
“Cozies certainly provide solace from many of the dark edges of the actual world.” — Edith Maxwell in Mystery Scene
I read a lot, and I read lots of cozies, partly thanks to my column in Mystery Scene. There I am restricted to reviewing mass market paperback originals, and I am generously showered with advance reading copies. I sort through them by reading the premise and a bit of the beginning. If the writing doesn’t hit me quite right, I skip that one, and check out another one. And while I certainly read many, many cozies, I am in no way claiming to have read even a comprehensive number of the books in this sub genre published this year. For that kind of scope, I highly recommend checking out Dru’s Book Musings, which is a comprehensive review blog of all things cozy. In addition, Dru has guest posts from authors and publishes a guide to what’s coming out, sometimes weekly.
This is an utterly charming series debut. Dennison has two other series, but I think this may be my favorite so far. The story opens as recently widowed Evie sits in her lawyer’s office and discovers that she’s basically broke. Luckily, the lawyer’s secretary discovers a secret letter from Evie’s dead husband, telling her that she now owns a hotel thanks to an unpaid debt. Her sister, Margot, who has flown in from LA to be with her in England, heads back to Evie’s now up-for-sale house where she hatches a plan. For a little restful getaway, they will visit the hotel in question.