Cozy vs. Hardboiled


Pam Recommends:  ***denotes favorites

  1. ***Louise Penny (Canadian); series character Chief Inspector Gamache. First book in series — Still Life, 2005; Surete du Quebec police force (Combination/ Soft-boiled)
  2. Julia Spencer-Fleming (US); series character Rev. Clare Fergusson. First book in series — In the Bleak Midwinter, 2002. Upstate NY; new priest just out of Army. (Combination/Soft-boiled)
  3. Miriam Grace Monfredo (US); series character Glynis Tryon. First book in series – Seneca Falls Inheritance, 1992. 1840-1860 women’s rights movement and underground railroad (Historical/Combination)
  4. ***Barbara Neely (US); series character Blanche White. First Book in series – Blanche on the Lam, 1992. Featured imageAfrican American house cleaner in South. (Combination)
  5. ***Sarah Caudwell (British); series character Hilary Tamar. First book in series – Thus Was Adonis Murdered, 1981. Reader can’t tell gender of main character! Hilary is medieval law specialist at Oxford and mentor to young lawyers. (Soft-boiled)
  6. Abigail Padgett (US); series character Bo Bradley. First book in series – Child of Silence, 1993. Child abuse investigator San Diego who is bi-polar (Combination)
  7. Janet Evanovich (US); series character Stephanie Plum. First Book — One for the Money, 1994. Humor; unqualified bounty hunter (Soft-boiled)
  8. Liza Cody (British); series character Eva Wylie. First book in series – Bucket Nut, 1992. Female professional wrestler and junkyard guard. (Combination)
  9. ***Peter Bowen (US); series character Gabriel Du Pre. First book in series –Coyote Wind, 1994. Montana cattle inspector who is French/Métis. (Combination/Soft-boiled)


Other Cozies….. Critic’s Recommendations: Repeated Agatha Award Nominee (Pam does not read many cozies)

Donna Andrews – humorous mysteries

Nancy Pickard – several series; MA Foundation Chair, FL true crime writer, Chef

Rhys Bowen – Irish Molly Murphy arrives at Ellis Island in early 1900’s

Carolyn Hart – features mystery bookstore Death on Demand

Earlene Fowler – features curator of folk art museum

Hank Phillippi Ryan – TV reporter

Heather Webber – garden landscaper

Jacqueline Winspear – PI Maise Dobbs in post WWI England

Cozy by Category—Animal, Culinary, Hobbies


Lillian Jackson Braun – Cat Who Series

Rita Mae Brown – Mrs. Murphy Series (cat)

Lydia Adamson– Alice Nestleton Series (cat)

Susan Conant – Dog Lover’s Series

Carol Lea Benjamin -Rachel Alexander Mystery Series (dogs)

Spencer Quinn – Chet and Bernie Mystery Series (dogs)

***David Rosenfelt – Andy Carpenter Mystery Series (dogs). Legal thrillers.

***Virginia Lanier – Jo Beth Sidden Mystery Series (dogs).  First book in series — Death in Bloodhound Red, 1995. Search and rescue in GA with bloodhounds. Lanier started writing in her 60’s.


Laura Childs –Cackleberry Club Mystery Series

Susan Conant — Gourmet Girl Mystery Series

Diane Mott Davidson — Goldy Bear Catering Mystery Series

Isis Crawford — Mystery with Recipes Series

Miranda Bliss — Cooking Class Mystery Series

Katherine Hall Page –The Faith Fairchild Cozy Mystery


Antiquing – 14 series; Mary Kay Andrews

Art Lovers – Hailey Lind

Beading – Barbara Burnett Smith

Candle/Soap Making – Cricket McRae

Gardening – 25 series; Susan Wittig Albert; Charlotte MacLeod

Glassblowing — Sarah Atwell

Golfing – Aaron and Charlotte Elkins

Quilting – 11 series; Earlene Fowler



Pam Recommends: ***denotes favoritesFeatured image

1.***Michael Connelly — Harry Bosch series of a modern-day Dark Knight with a badge. Nothing gets by Bosch, and his disdain for the LAPD’s bureaucracy makes him the ultimate rebel. There are 14 books in the series, but you can start anywhere. First book — The Black Echo (1992).

2.***Philip Kerr — Bernie Gunther series – Imagine if Philip Marlowe had lived in Nazi Germany. No one today writes as good as Philip Kerr does. There are six books in the series: Start with the Berlin Noir Trilogy (1994).

3.***Robert Parker – Spencer series – Parker deliberately mimicked Raymond Chandler’s hard-boil style but modernized it by creating a more real hero with friends and emotions. The sarcastic wit between Spencer and Hawk is the hardboiled standard. Parker died after 39 Spencer novels, but the series lives on with new writers. First book —The Godwulf Manuscript (1973).

4.*** Denise Mina (Scottish) — series character Maureen O’Donnell. First book in series – Garnethill (1999). Early 20’s character victim of sexual abuse with psychiatric problems. Mina writes several series all set in Glasgow; brilliant writer. Also Paddy Meehan series and Alex Morrow series.

5.***William Kent Krueger – MN Sheriff turned PI Cork O’Connor.Featured image First book — Iron Lake (1998). Lots of MN Northwoods action.

6. Ken Bruen — Jack Taylor series – Set in Ireland; Jack Taylor is a private investigator with a history of alcoholism. It’s dark and it’s raw, but it’s also about loss and suffering. Bruen is a true poet. There are eight books in the series: The Guards (2003) is the first.

7. James Lee Burke – Robicheaux series in NOLA. First book – The Neon Rain (1987)

8. Ian Rankin — Inspector Rebus from Edinburgh. First book – Knots and Crosses (1987)

9. Loren D Estleman — Amos Walker series. Detroit based P.I. First book – Motor City Blue (1980).

10. Sue Grafton – Kinsey Millhone alphabet series. First book – A is for Alibi (1982).

11. Sara Paretsky — V.I. Warshawski series in Chicago. First book – Indemnity Only (1982).

12. Tana French – Dublin Murder Squad series. Very dark. First book – In the Woods (2007).

13. O’Connell, Carol — series character Kathleen Mallory. First book in series – Mallory’s Oracle (1994). Rebel cop with psychological troubles in NY City.

14. Dennis Lehane — Kenzie and Gennaro PI series. First book– A Drink before the War (1994). Very dark but better writing than later more popular thrillers such as Mystic River.

15. Val McDermid – Lesbian reporter Lindsay Gordon series; PI Kate Brannigan series; Tony Hill series. Best known for her dark Tony Hill books. First in series —The Mermaids Singing (1995).

16. ***Harlan Coben – Sports agent Myron Bolitar series. First Book —Deal Breaker (1995); Latest: Live Wire (2011).


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