I recently read three cozy mysteries that I very much enjoyed. They were all so very different from each other, but good in different ways. All were provided by the publisher upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.

Verse and Vengeance (A Magical Bookshop Mystery #4) by Amanda Flower

Published December 10th 2019 by Crooked Lane Books

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Violet Waverly is the proprietor of Charming Books, a magical bookstore. When you enter its doors, you might think you know what you are looking for, but the book you need will miraculously appear to you. In this fourth book in the series, Cascade Springs is holding a bicycle-race called the Tour de Cascade to raise money to build an Underground Railroad Museum. Violet and her boyfriend, police chief David Rainwater plan to participate, but a dead body derails that plan. The victim is private investigator Joel Redding, who has been snooping around Charming Books to try and discover the shop’s magical essence. After the murder, the shop guides Violet to Walt Whitman’s books to find clues to who the culprit is.

I enjoy this series with all its literary references, the shop mascots Emerson the tuxedo cat and Faulkner, the resident crow as well as the familiar characters. The mystery is not as simple as it seems, as soon there is another body that is identified as Rainwater’s brother-in-law. I was not sure how all this would work out and come together, but I had some ideas. Violet is a great, yet reluctant sleuth. Grandma Daisy is a wonderful character who supports and encourages Daisy. She is a force to be reckoned with, being the mayor who usually gets what she wants. We also meet Richard, a former professor of Violet’s who plays a part in solving the mystery. The mystery is well-plotted with interesting clues, a few suspects (Violet and Daisy at one point) and characters that we learn about their pasts. I did not suspect the person who was the killer, but it fit well and the motive was interesting. Verse and Vengeance can be read as a standalone, but it is an enjoyable series, so I recommend you read the series from the beginning.

Death by Chocolate Chip Cupcake (Death by Chocolate Mystery #5) by Sarah Graves

Published March 29th 2022 by Kensington Cozies

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In Death by Chocolate Chip Cupcake we once again find Jake Tiptree and Ellie White struggling to keep their business afloat during the off season. They take on a catering job that is paying a generous amount for their services. The even is hosted by movie icon Ingrid Merryfield, at her new home, Cliff House, which has a reputation for being haunted. The upstairs rooms where Jake and Ellie are supposed to stay are full of cobwebs and spooky vibrations. That is not the worst though, an unexpected storm takes down a huge tree and traps them all in the mansion until the tree can be cleared. As the story progresses, there is more than one murder and some harrowing events that keep everyone on their toes.

I am used to seeing Jake and Ellie in more sedate situations, but this one was full of action. The setting of Cliff House gave it a creepy vibe from the start and it ratcheted up as the story progressed. Jake and Ellie need to get out before they end up joining the victim list, but that is easier said than done with a cliffside home. With Jake’s dad and his housekeeper/partner also on the property, she needs to make sure they are also safe. This book has a lot of twists and turns that kept me guessing. I didn’t figure out the murderer or the motive, but Sarah Graves does a great job of wrapping up all the loose ends with a satisfying conclusion. I’m not sure what is next for this group, but it will take something exciting to top this latest Death by Chocolate Mystery. If you are a cozy mystery lover, I definitely recommend this book and series.

Fifty-Four Pigs: A Dr. Bannerman Vet Mystery by Philipp Schott, Miles Meili (Narrator)

Published April 19th 2022 by ECW Press

3.5 Stars:

When I saw this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I liked the setting of Manitoba and the idea of a veterinarian being an amateur sleuth, so I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did, because I enjoyed this cozy mystery. The book opens with a swine barn exploding, witnessed by Dr. Peter Bannerman. It belongs to his friend and client Tom. Found in the barn after the blast are 54 Pigs and 1 human. Who is the victim? Where is Tom? Peter decides to help prove Tom has nothing to do with the murder, so uses his logic and reasoning as well as his dog Pippin to find clues to the killer.

This was an enjoyable book. Peter is such a quirky character. He is obsessed with logic and measurable facts which serves him well in his veterinary practice as well as helping solve the mystery. Pippin is a great canine companion, with great sniffing prowess. Peter is happily married, with a wife who has her own knitting business. Her brother is the local RCMP officer, who wants Peter to be careful and not take chances. His wife agrees with her brother. He does take some chances, not always realizing he is in danger. I loved the chilly, atmospheric setting of a small community along a lake in Manitoba. I will say there were some slow parts to the story, but overall, it was an enjoyable mystery. Miles Meili narrates this story and does a good job. As it is told by a male POV, the choice of performer worked well.