I enjoy a good murder mystery as much as the next gal, but life is dark enough without having to be constantly confronted with that fact in my reading, which is why I often choose to go the route of cozies. Cozy mysteries usually involve a novice sleuth having to solve a crime after getting caught up in a murder investigation (usually by being accused of murder). But there are some books that don’t quite fit into the cozy mystery genre that still have that feel: books that do feature professional investigators or focus on the murderers themselves. This list combines those books with a collection of good ole cozy mystery books for some truly lighthearted—and often hilariously eccentric—murder mysteries. Emphasis on the murder.
As for these ten lighthearted murder mysteries, the incorrigible characters at the heart of them are every bit as endearing as they are unable to extricate themselves from their crime-solving—or committing—ways. But despite their deeds and misdeeds, these books never go beyond just a little scary. The thrills are mild, and the chills are all but nonexistent. Instead, these murder mysteries keep you hooked with charm, humor, and a good, old-fashioned mystery. So, my dear faint-of-heart readers, these lighthearted murder mysteries are for you.
Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Jesse Q. Sutanto is the queen of cozy murder mysteries these days, which is why you’ll find not one but two books by her on this list. In this one, an elderly tea shop owner inserts herself into a police investigation when a dead man is discovered in her shop. The police dismiss it as a natural death, but Vera is certain it’s murder—and she’s about to find out who did it one way or another. Soon, Vera is befriending all of the suspects and doing her level best to solve the case.
The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan
Inspector Chopra may have to retire from the force due to his health, but that doesn’t mean he’s about to let go of the case of a drowned boy he doesn’t believe died by accident. What does that have to do with the baby elephant he’s also just inherited? Probably nothing, but figuring out how to care for an elephant when you live in a Mumbai apartment is still quite the challenge. Now, if he can just get a handle on his new ward and why no one wants to look into the suspicious circumstances around the boy’s death, maybe retirement wouldn’t be so bad.
Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon
An estranged mother and daughter are forced to move back in together when L.A. real estate tycoon Lana Rubicon is diagnosed with cancer. She’s not about to let that, or her daughter’s sleepy coastal town, slow her down, especially when her teenage granddaughter, Jack, gets caught up in a murder investigation. Lana knows the local police are going to bungle the case, especially after they throw suspicion on Jack, so she’ll just have to take matters into her own hands. As for her daughter and granddaughter? Well, they can help out, too, if they want.
An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten
Okay, calling this one a murder mystery may be a bit of a stretch. There’s murder, alright, but not much is a mystery about it unless you ask the police, who just can’t seem to figure out why people keep dying in Gothenburg, Sweden. As for 88-year-old Maud, well, she could tell you exactly what happened—if she wanted to.
Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
A car accident on a disastrous blind date sets off the hilarious hijinks of this mystery novel wherein a woman, her mother, and her three aunties attempt to keep a dead body hidden during a resort wedding. What could possibly go wrong other than everything? Prepare yourself for far more hilarity and family shenanigans than you would ever think a little murder could provide.
Against the Currant by Olivia Matthews
In the Little Caribbean community of Brooklyn, opening a new bakery shop causes a whole lot of trouble when Lyndsay Murray argues with a fellow bakery owner who doesn’t want any competition. That might not sound like such a big deal, but when he shows up dead the next day, Lyndsay becomes the prime suspect. Now, she has to prove her innocence by solving the murder, all while keeping her overprotective brother and anxious parents at bay and running a brand-new Grenadian bakery. Now, that’s a recipe for disaster—and good reading—if ever I heard one.
Murder Most Actual by Alexis Hall
A true crime podcaster and her wife are just trying to get away for the weekend to rekindle their relationship at a hotel in the Scottish Highlands. They weren’t expecting to get caught up in their own locked-room murder mystery. Hanna might want to keep the door locked and focus on getting out of this alive, but Liza knows a thing or two about crime-solving—and she’s not about to let what could be a career-making case pass her by. But can she solve the case and keep her marriage intact before the murderer catches up with them?
Peg and Rose Solve a Murder by Laurien Berenson
Septuagenarian sisters-in-law Rose and Peg get along like cats and dogs, but after decades of bickering, they decide to join the local bridge club together. It sounds like a wholesome pastime, especially for senior citizens, but when one of the club’s players is murdered, Rose and Peg discover a world of vice underpinning this group. In comparison, Rose and Peg’s disagreements seem like child’s play. But the closer they get to the truth, the more likely this calculating killer is to stop playing games.
The Sunset Years of Agnes Sharp by Leonie Swann
In a retirement home in the English Countryside, a group of elderly inhabitants are shocked when a police officer shows up one day with news of a dead body next door—shocked because they’re busy hiding a dead body of their own in the shed. Now, if they can find out the killer behind the murder next door, maybe they can pin Lillith’s death on them, too. It’s a brilliant plan—if they can somehow scramble together to make it work.
Death by Bubble Tea by Jennifer J. Chow
Starting up a food stall with a cousin she hasn’t met in 20-odd years isn’t exactly Yale Yee’s idea of a good time, but since she recently lost her job at the bookstore, she can’t figure out anything better to do, either. When one of their customers winds up dead after drinking their bubble tea, though, the two cousins, who couldn’t be more different, will have to work together to figure out what really happened before their time at the food stall—and as free citizens—is up.
Need even more cozy and lighthearted murder mysteries in your life? We’ve got you.