For a bibliophile, there’s nothing better than curling up with a good book. The last place most booklovers want to be is stuck in the middle of a crowd. However, nothing can draw an introverted booklover into a crowd better than a book event. Book clubs, book conventions, book festivals, and author readings and signings can coax even the most reclusive readers out of their cozy reading lair, but when it comes to crime fiction, murder isn’t always contained within the pages of a book.
Often, murder can happen in the broad daylight of a literary event. In the newest book in my Mystery Bookshop Mystery series, Murder on Tour, mystery bookshop owner and cozy mystery writer Samantha Washington is finally realizing her dream of becoming a published author. Her British historical cozy mystery, Murder at Wickfield Lodge, is out in the world and she is tackling her first book tour.
Unfortunately, life for a debut cozy mystery author isn’t at all like J.B. Fletcher’s first book tour in Murder, She Wrote. When Sam is invited at the last minute to attend the prestigious North Harbor Book Festival, after another author is unable to attend, all of her insecurities rise to the surface. Sam isn’t writing great literature that will save the Amur leopard from extinction like some of the other highbrow authors in attendance. Even within the crime fiction community, cozies are treated like redheaded stepchildren. When someone close to the headliner, a controversial crime writer, exchanges drinks with the author and drops dead, Sam isn’t the only one who wonders if the killer got their intended victim. As an invited author, Sam has the inside track and is tasked with figuring out Whodunit before the killer strikes again.
Below are six cozy mysteries where murder didn’t just happen between the covers of the book. Each of these mysteries features a murder that occurred at a book event.
Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams
Murder in the Mystery Suite is the first book in The Book Retreat Mystery series. Tucked away in the rolling hills of rural western Virginia is the storybook resort of Storyton Hall, catering to book lovers who want to get away from it all. To increase her number of bookings, resort manager Jane Steward hosts a Murder and Mayhem week so that fans of the mystery genre can gather for some role-playing and fantasy crime-solving. When the winner of the scavenger hunt, Felix Hampden, is found dead in the Mystery Suite, and the valuable book he won as his prize is missing, Jane realizes one of her guests is an actual murderer. Amid a resort full of fake detectives, Jane is bound and determined to find a real-life killer. There’s no room for error as Jane tries to unlock this mystery before another vacancy opens up…
Caught Dead to Write by Lynn Cahoon
Former English professor and owner of a Colorado Victorian house where she hosts writers’ retreats, Cat Latimer found her author career and her love of writing in a paranormal academy series. In the eighth book of the Cat Latimer series, when her writers’ retreat gets a group of all paranormal authors visiting, she’s over the moon. However, a local professor is causing waves since she doesn’t think the retreat or the authors it hosts is literary enough to be sponsored by Covington College anymore. And she’s taken her complaints to the Dean of the English department.
Cat knows she’ll have to fight for Covington’s sponsorship, but this week, she’s going to enjoy her retreat and the quirky guests. Shauna’s put together a coz-play party for the guests in conjunction with a local writers’ group that meets at the local bookstore. However, the night is cut short when they find the literary professor dressed up as a zombie in the barn. But the professor isn’t just playing dead. Can Cat solve the mystery before she’s framed in the investigation and Uncle Pete has to arrest her for the murder?
A Trace of Poison by Colleen Cambridge
The second book in the Phyllida Bright Mystery series features the housekeeper of Mallowan Hall, the home of Dame Agatha Christie and her husband, Max Mallowan. When the neighboring village of Listleigh hosts a Murder Fête organized to benefit a local orphanage, things in the quiet village take a sinister turn. Members of The Detection Club, a group of celebrated authors such as G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Agatha herself, will congregate in support of the charity which includes a writing contest for aspiring authors. The stakes at the fete are high as the winner will get an international publishing contract. At a cocktail party, one of the entrants imbibes a poisoned cocktail intended for the president of the local writers’ club who was thought to be a shoo-in for the prize. It’s up to Phyllida to find a murderer among a group of guests who are experts in murder—and how to get away with it.
Bake Offed by Maya Corrigan
In the eighth book in the Five-Ingredient Mystery series, café manager Val Deniston and her grandfather plan to attend The Maryland Mystery Fan Fest. Granddad even competes in a dessert competition in which contestants assume the roles of cooks to famous fictional sleuths. Playing Nero Wolfe’s gourmet cook Fritz is an exciting challenge for Granddad. Granddad is steamed to learn his nemesis Cynthia Sweet will be playing Sherlock Holmes’s landlady, Mrs. Hudson. When Cynthia Sweet is found dead in her room, granddad is the number one suspect. Val must figure out which of the other festival goers killed the not-so-Sweet Cynthia before her grandfather’s goose is cooked.
Booked for Death by Victoria Gilbert
Booked for Death is the first book in the Booklovers B&B Mystery series which features a book-themed Bed and Breakfast. The newly renovated inn hosts a roster of special events celebrating books and authors. It’s the perfect literary retreat until a rare book dealer is found dead in the carriage house during a celebration of Golden Age mystery author, Josephine Tey. Former schoolteacher, Charlotte Reed inherited the B&B from her great-aunt Isabella and finds herself a suspect in the murder, and even great-aunt Isabella is accused of nefarious crimes. Charlotte is determined to prove her innocence, clear her great-aunt’s name, and catch a murderer.
The Festival Murders by Mark McCrum
This is the first book in the Francis Meadowes Mystery series. In this first book, Bryce Peabody, a book reviewer, known for his scathing reviews, is ready to give a scandalous talk at the annual literary festival in the pretty English town of Mold-on-Wold. Known to have many enemies, Bryce’s body is discovered in his hotel room. Mystery author, Francis Meadowes assumes the role of sleuth to catch the killer before more festival-goers meet a grisly end.