Saturday, September 3, 2022

Food and Murder by Valerie Burns

Cozy mysteries are often themed and include everything from cleaning tips to travel advice. Culinary cozies are popular with readers for a variety of reasons. First, well, there’s food. It’s something that unites people from all different countries, cultures, and classes. Whether it’s a historic, contemporary, or paranormal cozy, one thing that the characters and the readers have in common, is that we all must eat to fuel our bodies. Cozy mysteries have taken that basic necessity to a completely new level. Through food themed mysteries, readers can experience a wide range of cultures by reading (and hopefully trying) different types of food.

When I first started reading cozy mysteries, I read a lot of Agatha Christie and other British historic mysteries. Agatha Christie never included recipes in her books, but there were definitely a lot of passages about food that were unfamiliar to me, as an American teen. Scones, clotted cream, treacle tarts, and lemon curd were common in British mysteries, but not things you would see in a typical Midwestern grocery store. Later, I stumbled across culinary cozies by Diane Mott Davidson, Laura Childs, and Joanne Fluke. These cozies by American authors contained a lot more familiar foods, although the recipes took those foods to another level. In Diane Mott Davidson’s The Last Supper, there weren’t just muffins, there were Almond, Poppy Seed Muffins. Stuffed mushrooms were elevated to Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Grilled Chicken, Pesto, and Sun Dried Tomatoes. Of course, Davidson’s sleuth, Goldy Schulz is a caterer. So, readers would expect a professional caterer to take fish and veggies to the next level by serving Chilean Sea Bass with Garlic, Basil, and Vegetables. These books didn’t disappoint. But, there wasn’t a lot of diversity where the characters were concerned. 


Traditional publishing moves at glacial speeds, however it’s finally moving into the twenty-first century by providing culinary cozy mysteries for and about people that more accurately reflect the real world. Books by marginalized authors give readers a glimpse into diverse cultures. Titles like Mango, Mambo, and Murder (Raquel Reyes), Killer Kung Pao (Vivien Chien), and Slayed by Souvlaki (Jenny Kales) are fun in keeping with the cozy tradition, but these books are serving up something different. These are food cozies with an ethnic twist. A quick glance at a few covers (including my own new cozy) further emphasize that the cozy genre is expanding. 
But don’t just glance at the titles and the covers. Read the books. Modern culinary cozies can provide insight into diverse cultures and fill a void. No Armenian restaurants in your area? Check out Tina Kashian’s Kebob Kitchen series. Want Chinese without the delivery fees? Try Jennifer Chow’s L.A. Night Market series. Or, curious about soul food, but not sure where to go? Try Tyora Moody's Eugeena Patterson Mystery series. Culinary cozies will whet your appetite for good food, while engaging your mind as you figure out whodunit.


About the Author

Valerie (V. M.) Burns is an Agatha, Anthony, and Edgar Award-nominated author. She is the author of the Mystery Bookshop, Dog Club, RJ Franklin, and her new Baker Street Mystery series. Valerie is on the national board of Sisters in Crime and the Southeastern Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. She is also an adjunct professor in the Writing Popular Fiction Program at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. Born and raised in northwestern Indiana, Valerie now lives in Eastern Tennessee with her two poodles. Connect with Valerie at



Baker Street Mystery Series

 by Valerie Burns

When Maddy Montgomery’s groom is a no-show to their livestream wedding, it’s a disaster that no amount of filtering can fix. But a surprise inheritance offers a chance to regroup and rebrand—as long as Maddy is willing to live in her late, great-aunt Octavia’s house in New Bison, Michigan, for a year, running her bakery and caring for a 250-pound English mastiff named Baby.

Maddy doesn’t bake, and her Louboutins aren’t made for walking giant dogs around Lake Michigan, but the locals are friendly and the scenery is beautiful. With help from her aunt’s loyal friends, aka the Baker Street Irregulars, Maddy feels ready to tackle any challenge, including Octavia’s award-winning cake recipes. That is, until New Bison’s mayor is fatally stabbed, and Maddy’s fingerprints are found on the knife . . .

Something strange is going on in New Bison. It seems Aunt Octavia had her suspicions, too. But Maddy’s going to need a whole lot more than a trending hashtag to save her reputation—and her life.



  1. Congratulations on a killer new book, Valerie, and thanks for the reading and eating suggestions!

  2. Fantastic! Some of my best recipes – ethnic and otherwise – have come from the backs of cozy mysteries.

  3. Great article. Found several new authors to add to my TBR. Thanks, Valerie.

  4. Recipes and dogs and mysteries! Great post.