While many of our favorite mysteries have humor in them (thank you Agatha Christie, Craig Johnson, Nevada Barr…I could go on for hours here), sometimes we need a little more humor to get us through the day. To let what hair we have left down. To tear up with laughter, preferably with a furry friend nearby. Or a glass of wine. Either way. Here are some stories where laugh-out-loud humor is a must, yet they still manage to deliver that soul-filling mystery we all crave like a carb addict craves pasta.
Louisiana Longshot by Jana Deleon
There’s a reason Jana’s books are beloved by thousands. Her character, CIA assassin Fortune Redding, is hilarious. The first book in the long-running series has Fortune in hiding thanks to a leak in the CIA and a subsequent price placed on her head. Fortune has to pose as a former beauty queen turned librarian in a small bayou town, a fate worse than death in Fortune’s opinion. And it only gets funnier from there. Now twenty books in, there is plenty to savor in this much-beloved, laugh-out-loud series.
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
#1 NY Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich has been called brilliant and I have to agree. Her books are funny and sexy and downright addictive. Jobless in Jersey, Stephanie Plum is forced to blackmail her bail-bondsman cousin Vinney into giving her a shot at becoming a bounty hunter. Hilarity ensues. And ensues. And ensues some more. This is another long-running series for new readers to savor with twenty-eight books and counting. I suggest beginning with the book that started it all: One for the Money.
Plotting for Murder by Tamra Baumann
Tamra writes sexy humor like nobody’s business and nowhere is this more apparent than in her first humorous mystery, Plotting for Murder. Sawyer Davis’ new life in picturesque Sunset Cove is crumbling around her as fast as the old Victorian house she lives in. She’s a chef whose matchmaking mother has left her a puppy, a bevy of single men to choose from, and a bookshop dedicated to whodunnits. Complete with a book club of amateur sleuths who live for death. When one of the members dies after eating Sawyer’s amazing truffle mac and cheese, Sawyer is immersed in an even bigger soup pot of trouble. There are three books and counting in this fun, popular series.
Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen
Carl Hiaasen is a master of comedy with a deft hand and honed sense of humor, and his latest book, Squeeze Me, proves that the guy’s still got it. Squeeze Me is set in Florida’s glittering gold coast at the height of Palm Beach’s charity ball season where Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons, a prominent member of geriatric high society, suddenly vanishes during a swank gala. This brilliantly-penned book is said to, “perfectly capture the absurdity of our times,” and I couldn’t agree more.
Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano
This is a delicious, funny, and smart story where our protagonist is overheard telling her agent the plot of her new book and is mistaken for a real contract killer. As if Finlay’s life isn’t enough of a train wreck, she inadvertently accepts an offer to dispose of a problem husband to make ends meet and becomes entangled in a real murder investigation. I loved this book and can’t wait for more from Ms. Cosimano.
The Hot Rock by Donald Westlake
If you like old-fashioned heist capers with lots of humor, this is the series for you. John Archibald Dortmunder is a recently-released convict whose capers never quite go as planned. Talented enough, Dortmunder is a guy with brains aplenty but not a lot of luck. This is a light-hearted tale of criminal hijinks gone awry and makes for a fun afternoon of chuckles and escapism with fourteen more binge-worthy books in the series.
Wish you were Here by Rita Mae Brown
Rita Mae Brown’s Mrs. Murphy series features furry friends as well as human ones. Crozet, Virginia, is a typical small town, until its secrets explode into murder. Crozet’s thirty-something post-mistress has a tiger cat (Mrs. Murphy) and a Welsh Corgi (Tucker), a pending divorce, and a bad habit of reading postcards not addressed to her. When Crozet’s citizens start turning up murdered, Mary Haristeen—Harry to her friends—remembers that each received a card with a tombstone on the front and the message “Wish you were here” on the back. When things get dicey for Harry, it’s up to Mrs. Murphy and Tucker to save their human friend. This series has 30 books so far to bring readers many hours of sleuthing enjoyment.
Bobbie Faye’s Very (very, very, very) Bad Day by Toni McGee Causey
I love these books and laughed out loud quite often while reading them. Toni’s voice is fresh and fun and you will fall in love with Bobbie Faye. In this, the first book of the trilogy, Bobbie Faye wakes up on the morning of the Lake Charles Contraband Days Festival, looking forward to balloons, booze, and babies in pirate costumes. Instead, she discovers that her trailer’s flooded, her no-good brother’s been kidnapped, and the criminals are demanding her mom’s tiara as ransom. This trilogy packs a punch and the humor hits never stop coming.
Eat, Pray, Die by Chelsea Field
This book series has been called unique and clever by its plethora of fans. Isobel Avery is in personal security…with a twist. She is an undercover poison taster for the rich and famous. It might sound glamorous, but for Izzy, it means stomaching bad clients and even worse coffee. Still, the money’s good and it comes in handy when dealing with her scoundrel ex-husband. But she has a new client who is competent, condescending and annoyingly attractive and Izzy can’t decide if she should sleep with him or poison him herself. This series is 6 books strong and fans are waiting with bated breath for more.
Nearly Departed in Deadwood by Ann Charles
Multi-award-winning author Ann Charles has penned a series with everything a reader could want: mystery, romance, comedy, suspense, and even elements of the supernatural. Little girls are vanishing from Deadwood, South Dakota. Fearing her daughter might be next, single mom, Violet Parker, is desperate to find the monster behind the abductions. But with a malicious coworker trying to get her fired, a secret admirer sending her creepy messages, and a sexy stranger hiding skeletons in his closet, will Violet end up as one of Deadwood’s dearly departed? There are 11 books in this series with more laughs on the way.
Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure by Diane Kelly
I have been in love with this series since the first book won an RWA Golden Heart in 2009. The premise is fun and the writing is delightful. Tax cheats, beware: The Treasury Department’s Criminal Investigations Division has a new special agent on its payroll. A recovering tomboy with a head for numbers, Tara’s fast becoming the Annie Oakley of the IRS—kicking ass, taking social security numbers, and keeping the world safe for honest taxpayers. Or else. With twelve books in the series, expect many hours of enjoyment.
The Deep End by Julie Mulhern
As one reader stated, “If Agatha Christie had decided to write something akin to Fifty Shades of Grey, she might have ended up with The Deep End by Julie Mulhern.” Swimming into the lifeless body of her husband’s mistress tends to ruin a woman’s day, but becoming a murder suspect can ruin her whole life. This is not your average cozy. It’s fun and sexy with twists you will not see coming. Set in the 1070s, this is the first in the Country Club Murders and Ms. Mulhern does not seem to be slowing down any time soon, so lots to look forward to.
Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
What happens when you mix 1 (accidental) murder with 2 thousand wedding guests, and then toss in a possible curse on 3 generations of an immigrant Chinese-Indonesian family? You get 4 meddling Asian aunties coming to the rescue!
In Jesse Q. Sutanto’s bestselling Dial A for Aunties, Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, and her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. This has been compared to Crazy Rich Asians with all the comedic family drama, but it stands firmly on its own as a reader favorite with its hilarious antics, cultural richness, and dark humor.
Did your favorites make the list? What are your most cherished laugh-out-loud mysteries? Enquiring minds want to know!