Shelving books here at the Co-op grants me the opportunity to give each new publication a quick once-over. Though I don’t often pick up genre fiction to read cover to cover, I love the immense creativity and often punny wordplay that goes into the concepts and titles for much of our mystery section. Cozy mysteries in particular, those red-headed stepchildren of Miss Marple, easily catch my eye with their unlikely settings and heroines: everything from a knitting circle to a mathematics classroom can become the scene of a grisly crime, if their authors are to be believed. They also tempt readers with text that goes above and beyond anything provided in the latest John Grisham–recipes, sewing patterns and more slip in alongside depictions of decapitated bodies and purloined jewels.
Occasionally, a long weekend at work prompts me to come up with scenarios for further cozy adventures. We’ve already got Strawberry Shortcake Murder (a Hannah Swenson mystery with recipes!), The Diva Digs Up the Dirt (entertaining tips included!), and You Might As Well Die (an Algonquin Round Table mystery starring a sleuthing Dorothy Parker) on our shelves, so what imaginary titles could possibly measure up? Well… how about a series centered around home canning and preserving? Olive or Die introduces the heroine, a lover of all things brined and salted, who stumbles across a human ear in her latest batch of kalamatas. The sequel, A Caper Non Pareil, takes our bemused briner all the way to Capri to investigate the disappearance of of a master chef known for his spaghetti alla puttanesca con troppo sangue… And so on.