For me, it all started back in 1995 with Something's Cooking by Joanne Pence.
I was 17 years old and working part time at a second-hand bookstore in Northern Minnesota. I remember the rack it was sitting on and the original cover artwork - a photograph of a curvy brunette, her arms crossed holding a wooden spoon. It's still a part of my real life collection today. The synopsis on the back,
"For sassy food columnist, Angelina Amalfi, life's a banquet until the man who's been contributing unusual recipes for her column is found dead. Suddenly Angie's being stalked by a killer. Not one to simper in fear, instead she simmers over the delectable homicide cop assigned to the case. Then two more deaths follow, and Angie is on the run. She starts cooking up a scheme to catch the murderer. The stakes, are high, for she's up against deadly arms smugglers and lethal food fanatics. But the recipe calls for danger, and this sexy journalist might just find the missing ingredient."
My love affair with the culinary mystery was born.
Favorites over the years include the Laura Childs' Tea Shop Series, Jessica Conant-Park's Gourmet Girl Series, Cleo Coyle's Coffeehouse Series, Peter King's Gourmet Detective Series, Lou Jane Temple's Heaven Lee Culinary Series and Cecile Lamalle's Charly Poisson Series.
What exactly is a culinary mystery?
Simply this: mysteries with a food and/or beverage focus. Some contain recipes, some do not. This rapidly growing subgenre is also referred to as gourmet mysteries, cooking mysteries, cozy mysteries and food mysteries.
Main characters are known to be tea-shop owners, coffee shop proprietors, servers, butchers, caterers, chocoholics, dieters, chefs, restaurant managers, cooking class participants, wine lovers...
Books are set all over the world: at supper clubs, food festivals, farms, culinary competitions, restaurants, diners, vineyards, clambakes, farmers markets and health spas. They take place in bakeries, delis, pubs, cheese shops, bed and breakfasts, coffeehouses, cafes, tearooms, cooking classes, spice shops, candy shops, pizza parlors, food trucks, country stores, ethnic eateries, inns, kitchens, gourmet trains, gardens and greenhouses. They are written in a variety of languages by authors around the globe.
There are at a minimum approximately 3,500 books that makes up this subgenre. The oldest, according to our research, dates back to at least 1934 and possibly earlier. They generally fall into one of three categories. 1.) Culinary mystery series - an entire series devoted exclusively to the culinary mystery. 2.) A single culinary mystery (or two) within a series of a different theme. 3.) Stand alone culinary mysteries that are not a part of a series at all.
We are in the process of verifying that each and every book listed here is, in fact, a culinary mystery (as opposed to a culinary work of fiction, a culinary romance, etc.) but it is a meticulous process that takes time. We are also in the process of italicizing all book series that are likely complete and books that stand alone.
Noted contributors include Agatha Christie, Michael Bond (author of Paddington Bear) and the late, great Anthony Bourdain.
Our only purpose in maintaining this website is to give the lovers of this niche subgenre a starting point to discover other culinary mysteries and related material.
Our site has always been (since its humble origin in '10 as gourmetmysteries.com ), and will always be, a work in progress, a labor of love by one individual with a little free time and a big love for food, cooking and whodunits.
This collection is by no means perfectly accurate and feedback is not only welcome but encouraged. If you hear of a culinary mystery that isn't listed here, let us know. If you happen upon a book that’s listed here, that isn’t a culinary mystery, let us know. If you spot a typo or notice a book that isn't featured with the correct author, let us know.
Every effort is made to give credit where credit is due and to keep this site updated as new culinary mysteries are published and new authors are discovered.
Over time, we would like to organize this list not only alphabetically by author’s last name, but also in order of their publication date to provide a more complete history of the culinary mystery. Furthermore, it is our hope to expand the cookbook, anthology, non-fiction, kids', movie, show, game, puzzle, gift, recipe, graphic novel and podcast sections as time permits.
Please be patient with us while we grow our page but more importantly, enjoy, happy reading and Bon Appetit!