Three Colorado cozies offer welcome escapes

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Three just-released cozy mysteries by top notch Colorado authors offer a trio of exceptional reading escapes to those who like their diversions tinged with murder.

Denver author Cynthia’s Kuhn’s fifth Lila Maclean Academic Mystery, The Study of Secrets, finds effervescent English professor Lila on sabbatical in the intrigue-filled Colorado college town of Larkston, which bears numerous similarities to Durango. The story takes off when literary agent Gillian Shane is found strangled in the elegant lakeside mansion of Bibi Callahan, Lila’s wealthy patron. Gillian was a member of the Larks, a group of lifelong frenemies from Larkston whose intertwined backgrounds, and those of their husbands, makes each a prime suspect in the strangulation- by-fetching-scarf of their fellow Lark.

Kuhn won the vaunted Agatha Award for The Semester of Our Discontent, the first installment in the Lila Maclean series. Five years later, The Study of Secrets finds Kuhn in full command of her cozy genre, which eschews violence and brutality for murderous doings of more genteel nature. In Kuhn’s assured hands, Lila is a spunky, inquisitive, and relentless heroine who is more than happy to risk her life to solve a murder, or two or three, when the authorities aren’t up to the task. The result, with The Study of Secrets, is a satisfying midwinter’s tale set high in the frigid Colorado Rockies, perfect for a hot summer of sheltering in place.

Kate Lansing has written a tasty Colorado- based cozy with her debut Colorado Wine Mystery, Killer Chardonnay, set in Lansing’s hometown of Boulder. In the tony enclave outside of Denver, heroine Parker Valentine has poured herself into the creation of Vino Valentine, her dream winery, only to have food and wine blogger Gaskel Brown keel over in the guest bathroom during the winery’s grand opening. Gaskel was notorious for his ruthless reviews of local eateries and drinkeries, making his murder by poisoning plausible, if not laudable, by any number of aggrieved suspects.

Then again, Gaskel died after sipping Parker’s signature Chautauqua Chardonnay. Rather than murder, was Parker’s rookie winemaking attempt, possibly resulting in a cask of contaminated intoxicant, to blame? With her dream livelihood on the line, Parker must clear her name by putting a cork in the real killer’s getaway plans.

Colorado Springs author Nora Page’s third Bookmobile Mystery, Read or Alive, is yet another cozy gem, this one set in seemingly bucolic Catalpa Springs, Georgia, the hometown of the series’ spry, 70-something heroine, Cleo Watkins. In the midst of the Georgia Antiquarian Book Society’s annual fair, deceitful book dealer Hunter Fox is found with his throat slit behind the home of Henry Lafayette, Cleo’s beau and a book restorer of some renown.

The fair has brought to Catalpa Springs a wealth of suspects, many of whom, it transpires, harbor perfectly acceptable reasons to wish Hunter dead. But false evidence mounts against Henry instead, leading the local police to pursue the wrong plot line, and forcing the ever-intrepid Cleo to track down, and book, the real culprit.

All three of these fine, new Colorado cozies are available through Maria’s Bookshop, in-store or curbside in Durango, or online at mariasbookshop.com.

Scott Graham is the National Outdoor Book Award-winning author of the National Park Mystery Series for Torrey House Press. The sixth book in the series, Mesa Verde Victim, was released in ebook form May 15 and will be released in physical book form Aug. 25. Ordering information at scottfranklingraham.com.

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From Prose and Cons.