Cozy mystery series is always on my to-read list because they make me oh so happy, and they are wonderfully magical doors to beautiful and fun settings. I never enjoyed reading hardboiled crime fiction or thrillers, but I always love a good detective story with fun characters. It makes me happy to know that there are lots of cozy mystery series out there waiting to be read.
When one thinks of cozy mystery books around the world, the first country that comes to mind is the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has many mystery authors, and cozy mystery is a highly popular and much-loved subgenre. But what exactly is a cozy mystery?
What is a cozy mystery?
From the cozy mystery Wikipedia page: Cozy mystery books, also referred to as “cozies”, are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence occur off stage, the detective is an amateur sleuth, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. Cozy mystery thus stands in contrast to hardboiled fiction, which features violence and sexuality more explicitly and centrally to the plot. The term “cozy” was first coined in the late 20th century when various writers produced work in an attempt to re-create the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.
I’m always willing to travel the world by reading books, and cozy mystery series are perfect for that matter. As you’ll see on the list, it is not easy to find cozy mystery series from each country; believe me, I searched the internet for hours and asked many mystery aficionados. On the way, I discovered lots of interesting cozy mystery series, and I’m so happy to share them with you. I didn’t include Agatha Christie on this list, because she is the queen of cozy mystery books, but if I did I would add the Miss Marple series.
If you want to travel back in time as well as to another country, you may want to check out Egypt, Greece and Turkey. And if you’re going to stick with the classics, check out the cozy mystery series from Canada and South Africa. You may feel a little more adventurous; in that case, I’d suggest you check out the cozy mystery series from Asia. And Europe is always a great idea. I’ve found exciting cozy mystery series from this beautiful continent.
I don’t know about you, but I want to read all of the cozy mystery series on this list and travel in the comfort of my chair. I’ve already started reading the excellent Amelia Peabody series, and I cannot wait to get my hands on more cozy mystery series. And I must add, some of the series on this list may not be a total cozy mystery but a rather light mystery, keep in mind. I hope you’ll find a fantastic cozy mystery series on this list as well. Enjoy!
15 Feel-Good Cozy Mystery Series From Around the World
THE UK: Flavia de Luce Series – Alan Bradley
It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.
For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”
MALAYSIA: Inspector Singh Investigates Series – Shamini Flint
Inspector Singh is in a bad mood. He’s been sent from his home in Singapore to Kuala Lumpur to solve a murder that has him stumped. Chelsea Liew – the famous Singaporean model – is on death row for the murder of her ex-husband. She swears she didn’t do it, he thinks she didn’t do it, but no matter how hard he tries to get to the bottom of things, he still arrives back at the same place – that Chelsea’s husband was shot at point-blank range, and that Chelsea had the best motivation to pull the trigger: he was taking her kids away from her.
Now Inspector Singh must pull out all the stops to crack a crime that could potentially free a beautiful and innocent woman and reunite a mother with her children. There’s just one problem – the Malaysian police refuse to play ball…
EGYPT: Amelia Peabody Series – Elizabeth Peters
Amelia Peabody is Elizabeth Peters’ most brilliant and best-loved creation, a thoroughly Victorian feminist who takes the stuffy world of archaeology by storm with her shocking men’s pants and no-nonsense attitude!
In this first adventure, our headstrong heroine decides to use her substantial inheritance to see the world. On her travels, she rescues a gentlewoman in distress – Evelyn Barton-Forbes – and the two become friends. The two companions continue to Egypt where they face mysteries, mummies and the redoubtable Radcliffe Emerson, an outspoken archaeologist, who doesn’t need women to help him solve mysteries — at least that’s what he thinks! This is one of the most popular cozy mystery series out there.
TURKEY: Yashim the Ottoman Detective Series – Jason Goodwin
If you want to travel back in time to Istanbul in the Ottoman Empire era, this cozy mystery series is right up your alley.
The Janissary Tree is the first in the series, and the year is 1836. Europe is modernizing, and the sultan of the Ottoman Empire feels he has no choice but to follow suit. But just as he’s poised to announce sweeping political change, a wave of murders threatens the fragile balance of power in his court. Who is behind the killings?
Deep in the Abode of Felicity, the most forbidden district of Topkapi Palace, the sultan – ruler of the Black Sea and the White, ruler of Rumelia and Mingrelia, lord of Anatolia and Ionia, Romania and Macedonia, Protector of the Holy Cities, steely rider through the realms of bliss – announces, “Send for Yashim.” Leading us through the palace’s luxurious seraglios and Istanbul’s teeming streets, Yashim places together the clues.
He is not alone. He depends on the wisdom of a dyspeptic Polish ambassador, a transsexual dancer, and the Creole-born queen mother. He manages to find sweet salvation in the arms of another man’s wife (this is not your everyday eunuch!). And he introduces us to the Janissaries.
For four hundred years, they were the empire’s elite soldiers. But they grew too powerful, and ten years earlier the sultan had them crushed. Are the Janissaries staging a brutal comeback? And if they are, how can they be stopped without throwing Istanbul into political chaos?
CANADA: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series – Louise Penny
The discovery of a dead body in the woods on Thanksgiving Weekend brings Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his colleagues from the Surete du Quebec to a small village in the Eastern Townships. Gamache cannot understand why anyone would want to deliberately kill well-loved artist Jane Neal, especially any of the residents of Three Pines – a place so free from crime it doesn’t even have its own police force.
But Gamache knows that evil is lurking somewhere behind the white picket fences and that, if he watches closely enough, Three Pines will start to give up its dark secrets… If you prefer a colder atmosphere for a cozy mystery series, this one is for you.
FRANCE: Victor Legris Series – Claude Izner
The brand-new, shiny Eiffel Tower is the pride and glory of the 1889 World Exposition. But one sunny afternoon, as visitors are crowding the viewing platforms, a woman collapses and dies on this great Paris landmark. Can a bee sting really be the cause of death? Or is there a more sinister explanation? Enter young bookseller Victor Legris. Present on the tower at the time of the incident, and appalled by the media coverage of the occurence, he is determined to find out what actually happened.
In this dazzling evocation of late nineteenth-century Paris, we follow Victor as his investigation takes him all over the city and he suspects an ever-changing list of possible perpetrators. Could mysterious Kenji Mori, his surrogate father and business partner at the bookstore Legris operates, be involved in the crime? Why are beautiful Russian illustrator Tasha and her colleagues at the newly launched sensationalist newspaper Passepartout always up-to-date in their reporting? And what will Legris do when the deaths begin to multiply and he is caught in a race against time?
Murder on the Eiffel Tower is painstakingly researched, an effortless evocation of the glorious City of Light, and an exciting opening to a promising series of eight books featuring Victor Legris. If you love Paris, you’ll enjoy reading this cozy mystery series.
THAILAND: Jimm Juree Series – Colin Cotterill
Jimm Juree was a crime reporter for the ‘Chiang Mai Daily Mail’ with a somewhat eccentric family—a mother who might be drifting mentally; a grandfather—a retired cop—who rarely talks; a younger brother obsessed with body-building, and a transgendered, former beauty pageant queen, former older brother. When Jimm is forced to follow her family to a rural village on the coast of Southern Thailand, she’s convinced her career—maybe her life—is over.
So when a van containing the skeletal remains of two hippies, one of them wearing a hat, is inexplicably unearthed in a local farmer’s field, Jimm is thrilled. Shortly thereafter an abbot at a local Buddhist temple is viciously murdered, with the temple’s monk and nun the only suspects.
Suddenly Jimm’s new life becomes somewhat more promising—and a lot more deadly. And if Jimm is to make the most of this opportunity, and unravel the mysteries that underlie these inexplicable events, it will take luck, perseverance, and the help of her entire family. If you like Thailand as a setting for a cozy mystery, you’ll love this series!
AUSTRALIA: Phryne Fisher Series – Kerry Greenwood
First in a series of delightful and adventurous cosy crime tales featuring the glamorous and feisty Phryne Fisher. Bored socialite Phryne Fisher leaves the tedium of the London season for adventure in Australia!
Tea-dances in West End hotels, weekends in the country with guns and dogs… Phryne Fisher – she of the grey-green eyes and diamante garters – is rapidly tiring of the boredom of chit-chatting with retired colonels and foxtrotting with weak-chinned wonders. Instead, Phryne decides it might be amusing to try her hand at being a lady detective – on the other side of the world!
As soon as she books into the Windsor Hotel in Melbourne, Phryne is embroiled in mystery: poisoned wives, drug smuggling rings and corrupt cops… not to mention erotic encounters with beautiful Russian ballet star Sasha de Lisse; England’s green and pleasant land just can’t compete with these new, exotic pleasures!
INDIA: Vish Puri Series – Tarquin Hall
The portly Vish Puri is India’s most accomplished detective, at least in his own estimation, and is also the hero of an irresistible new mystery series set in hot, dusty Delhi. Puri’s detective skills are old-fashioned in a Sherlock Holmesian way and a little out of sync with the tempo of the modern city, but Puri is clever and his methods work.
The Case of the Missing Servant shows Puri (“Chubby” to his friends) and his wonderfully nicknamed employees (among them, Handbrake, Flush, and Handcream) hired for two investigations. The first is into the background of a man surprisingly willing to wed a woman her father considers unmarriageable, and the second is into the disappearance six months earlier of a servant to a prominent Punjabi lawyer, a young woman known only as Mary.
The Most Private Investigator novels offer a delicious combination of ingenious stories, brilliant writing, sharp wit, and a vivid, unsentimental picture of contemporary India. And from the first to the last page run an affectionate humour and intelligent insights into both the subtleties of Indian culture and the mysteries of human behaviour. Vish Puri is one of the most loved detectives in cozy mystery genre.
ITALY: Inspector Montalbano Series – Andrea Camilleri
The Shape of Water is the first in Andrea Camilleri’s wry, brilliantly compelling Sicilian crime series, featuring Inspector Montalbano.
The goats of Vigàta once grazed on the trash-strewn site still known as the Pasture. Now local enterprise of a different sort flourishes: drug dealers and prostitutes of every flavour. But their discreet trade is upset when two employees of the Splendour Refuse Collection Company discover the body of engineer Silvio Luparello, one of the local movers and shakers, apparently deceased in flagrante at the Pasture. The coroner’s verdict is death from natural causes – refreshingly unusual for Sicily.
But Inspector Salvo Montalbano, as honest as he is streetwise and as scathing to fools and villains as he is compassionate to their victims, is not ready to close the case – even though he’s being pressured by Vigàta’s police chief, judge, and bishop.
Picking his way through a labyrinth of high-comedy corruption, delicious meals, vendetta firepower, and carefully planted false clues, Montalbano can be relied on, whatever the cost, to get to the heart of the matter.
The Shape of Water is followed by the second in this phenomenal series, The Terracotta Dog. If you like your cozy mystery set in a warm climate, you’ll love this.
GERMANY: Brothers Grimm Mystery Series – P. J. Brackston
From New York Times bestselling author P. J. Brackston comes the prequel to Gretel and the Case of the Missing Frog Prints, the new novel in the rollicking series featuring Gretel, all grown up and working as a private investigator in 18th century Bavaria.
Gretel (yes, that Gretel) is now 35, very large, still living with her brother Hans, and working as a private investigator. The small, sleepy town of Gesternstadt is shaken to its pretty foundations when the workshop of the local cart maker is burnt to the ground, and a body is discovered in the ashes. It is Gretel who notices that the cadaver is missing a finger.
At first she does not see this as significant, as her mind is fully focused on a new case. Not that she wouldn’t far rather be investigating an intriguing murder, but her client is willing to pay over the odds, so she must content herself with trying to trace three missing cats. It is not until she is further into her investigations that she realizes the two events are inextricably and dangerously connected, and that the mystery of the missing cats will lead her into perilous situations and frightening company.
Very soon Gretel finds herself accused of kidnapping Princess Charlotte, twice locked up in the cells at the Summer Schloss, repelling the advances of an amorous troll, strapped to a rack in Herr Schmerz’s torture chamber, and fleeing a murder charge. With dubious help from her brother (whose scant wits are habitually addled by drink), she must prove her innocence, solve the puzzle of the unidentified corpse, and find the stolen cats before they meet a grisly end.
A cozy mystery set in Germany and it is based on Hansel and Gretel; an interesting choice!
BOTSWANA: No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series – Alexander McCall Smith
Fans around the world adore the best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and its proprietor, Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. In the first book of the bestselling series, Mma Ramotswe – with help from her loyal associate, Grace Makutsi – navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, good humour and the occasional cup of tea.
Wayward daughters. Missing Husbands. Philandering partners. Curious conmen. If you’ve got a problem, and no one else can help you, then pay a visit to Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s only – and finest – female private detective.
Her methods may not be conventional, and her manner not exactly Miss Marple, but she’s got warmth, wit and canny intuition on her side, not to mention Mr J. L. B. Matekoni, the charming proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. And Precious is going to need them all as she sets out on the trail of a missing child, a case that tumbles our heroine into a hotbed of strange situations and more than a little danger . . .
Delightfully different, THE NO.1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY offers a captivating glimpse of an unusual world for the cozy mystery fans.
SINGAPORE: A Singaporean Mystery Series – Ovidia Yu
This delectable and witty mystery introduces Rosie “Aunty” Lee, feisty widow, amateur sleuth and proprietor of Singapore’s best-loved home-cooking restaurant.
After losing her husband, Rosie Lee could easily have become one of Singapore’s “tai tai,” an idle rich lady devoted to mah-jongg and luxury shopping. Instead she threw herself into building a culinary empire from her restaurant, Aunty Lee’s Delights, where spicy Singaporean home cooking is graciously served to locals and tourists alike. But when a body is found in one of Singapore’s beautiful tourist havens, and when one of her wealthy guests fails to show at a dinner party, Aunty Lee knows that the two are likely connected.
The murder and disappearance throws together Aunty Lee’s henpecked stepson Mark, his social-climbing wife Selina, a gay couple whose love is still illegal in Singapore, and an elderly Australian tourist couple whose visit-billed at first as a pleasure cruise-may mask a deeper purpose. Investigating the murder is rookie Police Commissioner Raja, who quickly discovers that the savvy and well-connected Aunty Lee can track down clues even better than local law enforcement.
Wise, witty and unusually charming, Aunty Lee’s Delights is a spicy cozy mystery about love, friendship and home cooking in Singapore, where money flows freely and people of many religions and ethnicities co-exist peacefully, but where tensions lurk just below the surface, sometimes with deadly results.
GREECE: The Athenian Mysteries – Gary Corby
Nicolaos walks the mean streets of Classical Athens as an agent for the promising young politician Pericles. His mission is to find the assassin of the statesman Ephialtes, the man who brought democracy to Athens and whose murder has thrown the city into uproar. It’s a job not made any easier by the depressingly increasing number of dead witnesses.
But murder and mayhem don’t bother Nico; what’s really on his mind is how to get closer (much closer) to Diotima, the intelligent and annoyingly virgin priestess of Artemis, and how to shake off his irritating twelve year-old brother Socrates.
The Pericles Commission is the first in an exciting new series by first-time novelist Gary Corby, who takes us to Ancient Greece at one of the most exciting times in history. In this wonderfully approachable, historically rich novel, Athens is brought vividly to life in a mystery engaging from the first page to last.
THE USA + WORLD: Mrs Pollifax Series – Dorothy Gilman
Mrs Virgil (Emily) Pollifax of New Brunswick, New Jersey, was a widow with grown, married children. She was tired of attending her Garden Club meetings. She wanted to do something good for her country. So, naturally, she became a CIA agent.
She takes on a “job” in Mexico City. The assignment doesn’t sound dangerous at first, but then, as often happens, something goes wrong. Now our dear Mrs Pollifax finds herself embroiled in quite a hot Cold War–and her country’s enemies find themselves entangled with one unbelievably feisty lady. An excellent choice among cozy mystery series if you want to travel around the world with an outstanding character.
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Is there any other cozy mystery series that you love and not on this list? Please share in the comments below.