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Get 'Cozy' for a Good Read This Winter

Never hear of cozies? They're a crime fiction genre that's both tame and tantalizing

The Twelve Clues of Christmas 
by Rhys Bowen
$16.47 Hardcover, $11.99 e-book

Lady Georgiana Rannoch, 35th in line to the English throne, uses her position and pluck to unravel a series of murders in a quintessential snowy English village during Yule time in postwar England. (Picture Downton Abbey, slightly smaller). Combined with a sister plotline that involves the lady's object of affection, this charming and tastefully sexy romp is pitch-perfect for a good read on a cold winter's night.

Elegy for Eddie,
by Jacqueline Winspear
$10.87 Paperback, $9.99 e-book

Winspear sets her series in the same Downton Abbey period, but places her self-made, educated professional investigator, Maisie Dobbs, in London. In her latest mystery, Dobbs must use her trade-secret intuitive powers and return to her roots in working-class East End London, where she grew up, to unravel why a simple-minded horse whisperer was killed.

The Beautiful Mystery
by Louise Penny
$10.19 Paperback, $7.99 e-book

You could read the most recent Inspector Gamache mystery, in which the Montreal detective must determine how and why a monk in a secluded monastery was murdered, but once you do, you'll want to read everything Louise Penny has even written. Start with her first Gamache mystery, the multi-award-winning Still Life, and in it and each Gamache book, eight in total, prepare for some of the most revealing and often moving prose about the human condition you'll ever read — all wrapped in whodunit you likely won't guess until the final pages.

Some Like It Hawk 
by Donna Andrews
$13.58 Hardcover, $11.99 e-book

This installment of the bird-theme Meg Langslow series involves a pre-Civil War tunnel, a stubborn clerk who's barricaded himself in the courthouse basement, a tourist-luring country fair and, um, vultures. Andrews places the down-to-earth Meg in a classic small Southern town, Caerphilly, Va., where her eccentric characters, knee-slapping wisecracks and local dialect ring true. A child of the region, Andrews takes good care to make her heroine 3-D, and imbues her with a down-to-earth mission to right all wrongs.

The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries 
by Dorothy Sayers
$10.99 Paperback 

One of the best reasons to pick up a cozy now is that the erudite, wickedly funny works of the Cozy Grandmama herself, Dorothy Sayers, are now back in print, thanks to Bourbon Street Books. Think you like Christie? Sayers set the bar for whodunits but received much less recognition (at least in America). Read the farcical capers of her aristocratic detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, and his paramour, Harriet Vane, starting with Strong Poison, in which Lord Peter sets his sights on freeing Vane, who is on trial for murder. Then read every other one you can buy, steal or check out of the library through the latest, A Presumption of Death.

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