Our monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite Valentine’s Day mysteries by indie and small press authors.
The holiday mysteries cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have plenty of cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, culinary mysteries, animal mysteries, paranormal mysteries, historical mysteries, jazz age mysteries, police procedurals, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, amateur sleuths, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting bakers, crime-fighting ghosts, crime-fighting dogs, masked vigilantes, missing children, kidnappings, sleazy lawyers, serial killers, assassins and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set on or around Valentine’s Day.
As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday mysteries is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.
As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.
And now on to the books without further ado:
Valentine’s Day is Murder by Carolyn Arnold:
Cupid’s arrow may have missed its mark…
Jimmy finally takes a vacation–and a chance on love–only to be abducted. His female companion originally thinks he had cold feet about their relationship, but Sean and Sara know there’s more to it. Jimmy isn’t the type to just up and disappear, let alone leave a lady stranded.
Setting out on their private jet, Sean and Sara reach the tropical paradise of Ocho Rios, Jamaica with sightseeing as the last thing on their minds.
With a gold coin being their initial tie to Jimmy’s kidnapper, Sean and Sara even speculate about the involvement of pirates. Yet as the hours pass, and there’s no word from Jimmy’s captors, Sean and Sara will need to figure out the real motive before it’s too late.
With help from their friend, Adam, back in Albany, the pieces come together and not a moment too soon.
A Valentine for the Silencer by Cora Buhlert:
Valentine’s Day 1938: All Richard Blakemore a.k.a. the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer wants is to have a romantic dinner with his beautiful fiancée Constance Allen.
But on his way to his date, Richard happens upon a mugging in progress. Can he save the victim and make sure that young Thomas Walden has the chance to propose to his girlfriend? And will he make it to dinner with Constance on time?
This is a short Valentine’s Day story of 7200 words or approx. 24 print pages in the Silencer series, but may be read as a standalone.
He never brings me flowers… by Cora Buhlert
He never brings me flowers…
Waiting for your boyfriend to finally come home from work can be hell, especially if it’s your anniversary and you suspect he forgot – again. But does the ringing of the doorbell promise roses and sex and the long overdue proposal or something far more sinister?
A foundling, a newborn, abandoned and left to die. But tonight, he will have his revenge on the parents who deserted him. Tonight, they will pay, at the very place where the story once began, at Lovers’ Ridge…
This is a bumper edition containing two short crime stories of 3200 words altogether. Both stories are also available as part of the collection Murder in the Family.
Valentine’s Madness: A 1920s Historical Mystery Anthology, edited by Beth Byers:
Welcome to a very flapper Valentine’s Day!
Are you ready for the roaring twenties? For spunky young women crafting their own lives? If so, you’ll love Violet, Julia, Abigail, Evelyn, and Rosemary.
Inside, you’ll find four short Valentine’s day adventures, 1920s style including roses, chocolates, kisses, and cocktails. With stories from The Violet Carlyle Mysteries, the Piccadilly Ladies Club Mysteries, the Abigail Dutcher Mysteries, the Jazz & Gin Cozy Mysteries, and The Lillywhite Mysteries.
Murder on Valentine’s Day by P. Creeden:
It’s Valentine’s Day and 20-year-old Emma Wright just wants her crush to take notice of her. But Colby Davidson, the K9 search and rescue deputy only thinks of her as a kid sister. How will she get him to take her seriously?
When her veterinarian boss calls her to pick up a cat at a potential crime scene, she finds herself at the house of the richest woman in Ridgeway. Her father—the sheriff—and Colby are there. They both dismiss the untimely death as a heart attack, but Emma finds clues that it might be something more. Did the software billionaire die of natural causes, or was it murder?
The Valentine Mystery by Kathi Daley:
If you love small towns, endearing relationships, food, animals, and a touch of murder, you will love this new mystery series by Kathi Daley, author of the popular Zoe Donovan Cozy Mystery Series.
It is Valentine’s Day in White Eagle Montana and Tess and Tilly are busier than ever delivering Valentine Cards along with the daily mail. Of course it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day in White Eagle without a mystery to solve or a holiday adoption party to prepare for.
When Tess happens upon a vehicle accident where one man dies, she gets pulled into a mystery with roots into the past. With Tony’s help she not only tracks down a killer but she looks into the occurrence of a missing person as well.
Tony is still looking into the case of Tess’s father’s disappearance, meanwhile Tess and Tilly team up with Brady to make sure that every animal shelter resident finds their perfect match in time for Valentine’s Day.
A Valentine Murder by Steven Demaree
In this delightful combination of a whodunit mixed with humor, a woman, who has been celebrating her birthday and Valentine’s Day, is rushed to the hospital complaining of stomach pains and nausea. She grabs the doctor and tells him she has been poisoned, but before she can tell him any more, she dies. When Lt. Dekker and Sgt. Murdock investigate, they find out that no one liked her, with the possible exception of her husband.
Corridor Man: Valentine by Mark Faricy:
BETTER CHANGE THE LOCKS. BOBBY DID.
Disbarred attorney Bobby Custer continues to use his main skill set; murder, treachery and perversion in an ongoing effort to increase his personal gains.
Ever the charmer, Bobby provides Emily with an unforgettable valentine that up until now she could only dream about . . . or maybe it was a nightmare. Together they forever mark the day with a memorable secret. Psychotic, sociopathic, always charming– and you thought he was here to help.
A respectable, middle-aged housewife. An ambitious young lawyer. A student burlesque dancer. Three women with nothing in common – except for the fact that someone has sent them a macabre Valentine’s Day gift; a pig’s heart pierced by an arrow.
Is this a case of serious harm intended? Or just a malicious prank? Detective Inspector Olbeck thinks there might be something more sinister behind it but his colleague Detective Sergeant Kate Redman is too busy mourning the departure of her partner Tin to New York to worry too much about the case. Until one of the women receives a death threat…
Valentine is a novella in the best-selling Kate Redman Mystery series by crime writer Celina Grace.
The Ghost of Valentine Past by Bobbi Holmes:
A romantic weekend at Marlow House Bed and Breakfast turns deadly when Earthbound Spirits founder, Peter Morris, is murdered. Plenty of people had a reason to want the man dead—especially Danielle’s current guests.
But it isn’t Morris’ ghost distracting Danielle on this deadly Valentine’s Day weekend, it’s her late husband Lucas. She has her hands full with suitors coming from all directions—both living and dead—while she tries to figure out if there’s a killer in Marlow House.
Ghoul You Be My Valentine? by Olivia Jaymes:
It’s time for another Ravenmist Whodunnit! A tiny Midwestern town with charming covered bridges, quirky residents, delightful antique shops, and more than their share of haunted activity.
Tedi has another packed inn of people for the Ravenmist Valentine’s Day Ball. The evening was a complete success until she and Jack find a dead body on the back patio with a Cupid’s arrow through his heart. There’s no shortage of suspects for his murder either. Jack will have his hands full paring down the list.
And Tedi? She’s staying out of this. No way is she going to be pulled into it. Not after last time. She has her own investigation. She and her friend Missy are trying to find why the town has suddenly been infused with paranormal energy. Ghosts are literally getting up and dancing around. It’s all going well too. That is until the investigation starts to hit just a little bit too close to home.
Hop into your ghostmobile and take a ride with Tedi as she meets a spirit who doesn’t think he’s dead, two ghosts in love, and a hard partying specter who just might have witnessed the murder. It’s a hauntingly good time in the little town of Ravenmist and you’re invited to the party.
Lady Rample and Cupid’s Kiss by Shéa MacLeod:
Just when Lady Rample has given up on love, a former flame reappears, bringing with him all sorts of emotions she thought buried. Unfortunately, that flame comes with one very aggressive and rather angry almost-ex-wife. The ensuing catfight is almost worth the price of admission.
When the ex-wife is found dead in Hyde Park, stabbed with a hatpin in the shape of a heart, the police naturally assume the killer is the husband. Our intrepid heroine is not about to allow her love to go down for a crime he didn’t commit. Unfortunately, proving him innocent may put her own neck on the line.
Never one to shirk from danger, Lady R—with the help of her eccentric Aunt Butty—will need all her wits about her if she’s to solve the crimes of the Cupid Killer.
Enjoy the glitz and glamor of the 1930s with the sixth book in the popular 1930s historical mystery series, Lady Rample Mysteries.
Moonshine Valentine by Tegan Maher:
It’s Valentine’s Day, and Noelle has no idea what to get for Hunter. While she’s getting her hair cut and tossing around gift ideas, Coralee’s long-term boyfriend pops in and declares his undying love via a marriage proposal, breaking rule numero uno of their relationship clause.
He’s only the first to fall, though. When the men of Keyhole Lake start acting like lovesick lunatics, Noelle and Rae have to put their heads together to figure out what happened before the whole town goes loopy in love, or someone ends up in jail.
This story falls in between book 4, Murder and Mayhem, and Book 5, Murder and Marinade, in the Witches of Keyhole Lake Mystery Series.
When Smelling Roses, Watch Out for the Thorns
Strange things are happening in Armstrong City right before St. Valentine’s Day. Several women who found roses on their doorstep passed out inexplicably. Carolyn and Mike must figure out how this happened, who is doing it, and why?
A fun little mystery for the holiday of love.
Sweet Heart by Connie Shelton:
Will there be Valentine wedding bells for Samantha Sweet and Beau Cardwell? (introduced in this mystery series opener Sweet Masterpiece) Sam’s bakery, Sweet’s Sweets is busier than ever this Valentine week, as she struggles to replicate the magical chocolate-making techniques of the enigmatic chocolatier who boosted her winter holiday sales into the stratosphere. However, candy classes take second place to a new mystery, when Sam meets a woman whose missing son’s case seems to have been dropped by the authorities. Marla Fresques learns that she is dying and needs for her son to come home and raise the daughter he left behind. Sam agrees to help, hoping that Sheriff Beau’s inside connections will bring about a quick and happy resolution.
But what about Sam’s and Beau’s own wedding plans? They may be in jeopardy when an entirely new development appears in the form of Beau’s ex-girlfriend who is determined to win him back.
With the familiar mix of mystery, romance and a touch of magic that has enchanted readers of this series, Sweet Hearts draws the reader even further into the captivating world of Samantha Sweet.
My Wicked Valentine by Lotta Smith:
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner… Love is in the air and so are the ghosts!
When Rick’s old friend, up-and-coming celeb psychic Brian Powers is accused of murdering an esthetician at a luxe gentlemen-only spa, Mandy’s cozy afternoon at home goes from cookie-baking to crime solving.
With baby Sophie and ghost-pal Jackie in tow, Mandy and Rick take to haunting the spa where the facials are fab and the intrigue is high-end.
Every suspect has a secret, but who’s willing to kill to keep theirs under wraps? [Seaweed wraps, that is.] Find out in this dangerously funny installment of the Manhattan Mystery series.
The Dread Arrow by Grigor Weeks:
Dark Space is strange, and so are the hitmen who live there. Strap in sweetheart. Love never hurt so good.
Valentine’s Bizzard Mystery by Linnea West:
When a minor celebrity staying at the Shady Lake Bed and Breakfast dies of an allergic reaction during a blizzard, it doesn’t seem like it could get much worse. But was it really an accident?
Jake Crawford is a D list celebrity who loves to come back to Shady Lake to be the big fish in a small pond. This time, he brought his new wife back to Shady Lake for his honeymoon and they are staying at the bed and breakfast that Tessa Schmidt helps her family run. Jake is kind of a jerk, but then a blizzard hits and he dies of an allergic reaction. It seems like things couldn’t get any worse for a Valentine’s Day weekend. But Tessa is starting to suspect that the allergic reaction isn’t the horrible accident she had assumed.
As the blizzard stretches on and on, secrets keep coming out. It seems like almost everyone has a motive to kill Jake. Can Tessa figure out who wanted to kill Jake Crawford before the killer strikes again?