I had never heard the term “cozy mystery” until a few months back. I have made my love for mysteries fairly apparent on the site, but I always lumped them into one category.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that within the mystery genre sits a small, adorable category described by Wikipedia as: “a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, intimate village.” Et voilà! A cozy mystery. Exactly what you’d expect it to be.
My thriller picks over the past year have not reflected an inclination towards the “cozy”, from the alarming Maestra to the cold English classic Rebecca. After all the literary darkness, I was certainly ready for something cozy and light—which is why I was thrilled when I received the first two installments of The Hamptons Murder Mystery Series: Death on Windmill Way and Death on Lily Pond Lane [sidenote: I just started working part-time for Dunemere Books, the amazing curated, boutique Fiction publisher responsible for HMM and a ton of other incredible books—learn more here], two cozy mysteries perfect to warm up chilly winter days.
Death on Windmill Way follows Antonia Bingham, who, flees a life in California tinged by the death of her father and the end to an abusive marriage, and heads to the picture-perfect town of East Hampton, New York. An exceptional chef, Antonia sinks her savings and inheritance into the purchase of the Windmill Inn, which she ably converts from a disorganized B&B operation into a classic hotel with a fully-functioning restaurant. Antonia is thrilled with her success in turning the Inn around…until a guest off-handedly mentions a “curse.” After some digging, Antonia is alarmed to discover that the all the previous Windmill Innkeepers have died…under suspicious circumstances.
Antonia is determined to solve Gordon, the previous Innkeeper’s murder to prevent her own. However, between the former Innkeeper’s bitter sister, trashy ex-girlfriend, and disgruntled former employees, the suspects are endless, and Antonia isn’t quite sure where to begin. With the help of Joseph, a kind, elderly academic and East Hampton old-timer, Antonia chips away slowly at the stories of each of the suspects…and arrives at a result the reader will never expect. This book kept me turning the pages to the very end, and, unlike many mysteries, the ending was both unpredictable and entirely satisfying.
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I wasted no time in moving directly onto the sequel, Death on Lily Pond Lane. So many sequels of great books fall short of the first, but Death on Lily Pond Lane had no such problems. In fact, I can’t quite decide which one I liked better.
In Death on Lily Pond Lane, Antonia Bingham is back, and she’s taken up a side job house-sitting for East Hampton’s wealthiest to cover some of the Inn’s expenses. The job is a cushy, easy way to make some extra cash…until Antonia discovers a body in the bathtub of one of her employers’ and suddenly finds herself at the center of a murder investigation.
Much like in Death on Windmill Way, almost everyone in Death on Lily Pond Lane is a feasible suspect. It just so happens that the deceased, Warner Caruthers, was a documentary filmmaker producing an exposé on East Hampton’s rich and famous. The better question in Lily Pond Lane is, “who doesn’t want Warner dead?” With Joseph’s help once again, Antonia embarks on a wild ride of an investigation with a jaw-dropping ending. I can’t think of a better book series to settle into a cold afternoon with. I promise you’ll polish them off in a single winter weekend. Nick & Toni’s take-out not included.