By Jake K. (he/him)

Last year, I read a blog from the New York Public Library about mysteries and how they can get you through any crisis. The reasoning was that most mysteries have a resolution. In 2020, we wanted nothing more than a resolution to so many things – all stemming from our many, mutual feelings about the pandemic. 

In this blog, we’re going to explore some of the mysteries in our collection, specifically paperback mysteries; those small, convenient page turners that accompany us on airliners and trains, at the doctor’s office, in our homes, and anywhere in between. They are great companions for any event – good or bad. Some of these titles are food-related and some feature crimes and adventures, and even more feature pets, especially cats. And there are no frills of dust jackets or the weight of the hardback book to hold you back if you’re already hauling a lot around with you. Some titles are also available through EVPL as eBooks so you can read on the go.


Let’s take a look at some current new titles on our shelves. Some might even fit well with your participation in Our Summer: Reading is Delicious.

Click on the book titles below to access the records in our catalog and place a hold for pick up at one of our EVPL locations.

Crime of the Ancient Marinara (A Tuscan Cooking School Mystery) by Stephanie Cole

Synopsis from Goodreads: American chef Nell Valenti’s high hopes for a successful Tuscan farm-to-table cooking school are in danger of withering on the vine in this delectable cozy mystery.

Nell Valenti is settling into her role of transforming the Villa Orlandini into a superb farm-to-table cooking school, and the time has finally come for a full taste test run. But when Chef Orlandini prepares to reveal his top secret marinara recipe for the first time to a group of American gastro-tourists, Nell realizes she might have bitten off more than she can chew.

Nell begins to suspect that one of the tourists is actually a private detective sent to spy on her by her overprotective father, and the fussy foodies are noisy and disrespectful from the very start of the Marinara Mysteriosa workshop. Even worse, when one visitor appears to be poisoned by the famous marinara recipe, Nell will have to work fast to uncover a killer and keep a lid on bad press before her fresh start is spoiled for good.

This is the sequel to the first Tuscan Cooking School Mystery, Al Dente’s Inferno. A sequel and third part to the series is due out next year: Evil Under the Tuscan Sun.

Farm to Trouble by Amanda Flower

Synopsis from Goodreads: Coming home to a run-down farm, gossipy neighbors, and a shady investor is a lot to handle… but a murderer on the loose is the final straw!

Shiloh Bellamy cashed in her big-city job and 401K to return home to Michigan to save the family farm, but turning Bellamy Farms into a sustainable, organic operation – complete with a farm-to-table café – is no small feat. Especially when her new investor is found dead among the flowers just hours after the contract is signed. Everyone knows her father had a grudge against the investor, and word travels fast in a small town…

Now, Shiloh must clear her family’s name and track down the real killer before her organic farm dreams wilt before her very eyes. But with her father trying to stop any progress on his land, her cousin belittling her every effort, the farmhouse falling down around her, and the whole town believing her family at fault, Shiloh’s small-town troubles are growing much faster than her crops. She’ll have to trust her own investigation or risk all her dreams drying up before they begin. 

This is the first book in a new series from Amanda Flower.

Knitty Gritty Murder by Peggy Ehrhart

Synopsis from Goodreads: Pamela Paterson and the Knit and Nibble ladies have plenty of talents that don’t revolve around yarn. But their penchant for patterns has led to a dangerous hobby they just can’t quit–unraveling murders.

Most times of the year, the tight-knit community gardens in quaint Arborville, New Jersey, overflow with seasonal vegetables and herbs. But who planted the dead body? Farm-to-table enthusiast Jenny Miller had a cookbook in the works when she was suddenly found strangled by a circular knitting needle in her own plot. Now, the pressure is on Pamela and her neighbor Bettina as they weave together clues in search of the person who kept Jenny’s renowned heirloom plants–and budding career–from growing. With suspects and victims cropping up like weeds, it’ll take a whole lot more than green thumbs and creative minds this spring to entangle the crafty culprit…

This is book 7 by Ehrhart in her Knit & Nibble series.

A Tale of Two Cookies by Eve Calder

Synopsis from Goodreads: Pastry chef Kate McGuire is loving life on the laid-back island of Coral Cay, Florida. As junior partner in a bakery renowned for luscious desserts–especially her cookies–life is pretty sweet. So when an old friend arrives and announces a spur-of-the-moment beach wedding, that’s just the icing on the wedding cake.

But the groom vanishes right as a television crew descends on the town to film a hot, new reality show. Is there a connection? Is her friend Desiree somehow involved? Or did groom Judson simply get cold feet? The bride and groom were paired better than warm cookies and cold milk, so Kate doesn’t buy it.

As the show’s cast runs amok on the island and the investigation into Judson’s disappearance heats up, Kate and her pal Maxi, along with town dog Oliver, will brave the rambunctious world of reality TV and a wedding weekend gone awry, in an all-out effort to find the missing groom.

This is book 3 by Calder in the Cookie House Mystery series.

And last, but not least, another first in a new series:

Pint of No Return by Dana Mentink

Synopsis from Goodreads: After her divorce from her thrice-married embezzler husband, Trinidad Jones is finally ready for a fresh start. So when she’s left one of ex’s businesses in Upper Sprocket, Oregon, she decides to pack up her dog, cash in her settlement, and open her dream business: the Shimmy and Shake Shop, introducing the world to her monster milkshakes. And even with a couple sticky situations underway, namely that the other two ex-wives also call Sprocket home, Trinidad’s life seems to be churning along smoothly.

That is, until she discovers her neighbor, the Popcorn King, head down in his giant popcorn kettle. When one of Trinidad’s fellow ex-wives is accused of the murder and Upper Sprocket descends into mayhem, it’s going to take a supersized scoop of courage to flush out the killer.


In surveying the EVPL team about their favorite reads, some staff members gave their reasons for liking these small but mighty mysteries:

From Helen A.:

“I love paperback mysteries because they are entertaining, and an enjoyable and relaxing read. They also give me an incentive to ride my stationary bike: I can read while exercising! I have most recently enjoyed cozy mysteries by Krista Davis, who has three concurrent series: Domestic Diva, Paws and Claws, and Pen & Ink. Fun characters and interesting plot lines.”

From Linda B.:

“I love paperback cozy mysteries because they provide an entertaining escape with interesting, sometimes fun and quirky characters without graphic violence and sex. Most are in series so I can follow the characters and their community. Paperbacks are convenient and I can take them everywhere in my purse (along with the ones that are digital). Many cozy authors write under more than one name, so if you’re looking for new reads it can help to check and see what other names your favorites have used. Lesa’s Book Critiques, is a good place to get ideas for cozies and new authors and titles and read reviews.”

From Mary H.:

“My favorite mysteries are when villains are caught and punished, unlike what happens in reality. I also enjoy the characters in these cozies. I have noticed that the murderers sometimes appear in first chapters and that the book focuses on a theme throughout the chapters, like family maturation and development of relationships. I recommend Joanne Fluke and Traci Wilton. Wilton uses a ghost in some stories who helps the protagonist investigate.”

From Nancy H.:

“I love paperback mysteries [in general] because the mystery keeps my mind engaged, I generally enjoy the character development, and I’m pretty sure justice will be served in the end. I like series, as well, for the story arcs, and the character development as the series continues.  If the author is too slow with character growth, though, I will stop reading.”

Need help finding your next great read? Check out Book-A-Librarian or EVPL Recommends, or come visit your nearest library location.

Note: External links are not necessarily the beliefs or views of the author or the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library and are provided as context to the reader.

Jake K. (he/him)

Jake K. (he/him)

Jake is a Reference Librarian at EVPL Central. He loves discovering answers to life’s pressing questions and helping people explore the amazing powers of the library.

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All EVPL locations are closed Wednesday, February 1st due to the inclement weather.Our digital resources are available 24/7.