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 socialites, crime-fighting ghosts, crime-fighting dogs, masked vigilantes, missing children, kidnappings, jewel thefts, 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:
Paris—the city of love, lights … and murder? Join tour guide Lana Hansen as she escorts five couples on an unforgettable Valentine-themed vacation to France! Unfortunately it will be the last trip for one passenger…
Lana Hansen’s future is looking bright. She has money in her bank account, a babysitter for her cat, and even a boyfriend. Regrettably she won’t get to celebrate Valentine’s Day with her new beau, Chad. Instead, she will be leading a lovers-only tour in France. Luckily for Lana, her best friend, Willow, and her partner, Jane, will be joining her.
Things go downhill when Lana’s new boyfriend shows up in Paris for her tour—with his wife. Chad is not the website developer he claimed to be, but a famous restaurant critic whose love of women rivals his passion for food.
After Chad drops dead during a picnic under the Eiffel Tower, a persistent French detective becomes convinced that he was poisoned. And the inspector’s sights are set on several members of the tour—including Lana!
While escorting her group through the cobblestone streets of Montmartre, the grand gardens of Versailles, and the historic Marché des Enfants Rouges market, Lana must figure out who really killed Chad before she has to say bonjour to prison and adieu to her freedom.
Introducing Lana Hansen, tour guide, reluctant amateur sleuth, and star of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series. Join Lana as she leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly.
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.
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…
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.
Anjali and Mikhail go on a Valentine’s Day date. Trouble ensues.
Once, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.
Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.
It’s Valentine’s Day and so Mikhail and Anjali enjoy a well-deserved romantic dinner. But their date is rudely interrupted, when they find themselves caught in the crossfire of a turf war between two rival gangsters.
This is a Valentine’s Day novella of 23200 words or approximately 78 print pages in the “In Love and War” series by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert, but may be read as a standalone.
Tuesday, February 13, 1951
What does the man who can buy anything get the man who doesn’t want anything?
That’s the mystery Nick Williams is trying to solve.
He’s a small-time private dick in San Francisco with a big-time trust he inherited from a rich uncle during the war.
With the help of his new secretary, Marnie Wilson, Nick is hoping he can come up with something that will let Carter Jones, the fireman he shares a house and a bed with, know how much he really loves him.
With a little luck, and some help from both friends and family, Valentine’s Day of 1951 might just be one they’ll both remember for a long, long time.
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.
The worlds of Ginger Gold and Violet Carlyle collide in this fun Valentine Mystery short story by bestselling authors Lee Strauss and Beth Byers.
While both Ginger and Violet had plans for a romantic evening of dinner and dancing to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their husbands, something goes terribly awry. One by one, female patrons discover that they are missing jewelry.
In this closed room mystery filled with a brigade of colorful characters, Violet and Ginger join forces to put their skills of deduction to work. Can they unveil the culprit and solve the mystery in time for dessert?
Don’t miss this delectable bite-sized tale. Pairs perfectly with a box of chocolate and a comfy chair!
It’s Valentine’s Day in quiet, cozy Hatter’s Cove, Florida and food columnist, Kat Archer, has been assigned the event of the year, the grand opening of Miss Dolly’s Cookie Jar and Sweets Emporium.
What begins as a run of the mill, albeit tasty, assignment turns into something much more dangerous when one of the Cookie Jar’s employees is poisoned.
Now Kat is chasing the biggest story of her life, while trying to catch the eye of her handsome editor and avoid becoming the killer’s next victim.
A cozy novella: approximately 44,000 words
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?
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.
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.
Valentine’s Day, a pet pig and smugglers just don’t go together
It’s happened again, pet-sitter Polly Parrett is embroiled in another mystery. The romantic Valentine’s Day weekend she’s been looking forward to with her number one guy turns into a fiasco. There’s a body of course, characters who may or may not be trusted, danger and snow – lots of snow.
Then something happens that causes the usually mild-mannered Polly to find her inner tigress, and woe betide the person she turns her claws on.
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.
Roses are red; violets are blue
Is a lover from the dead here to kill you?
Valentine’s Day. 2020. Middlebridge, Wisconsin. When the quick-witted second grade teacher and amateur sleuth, Jennifer Hunter, receives a gift from a secret admirer on Valentine’s Day, she heartily investigates who her cupid could be. When she opens the box, though, she doesn’t find chocolates; she finds a human heart wrapped in red tissue paper.
And that’s not all. Her admirer has written a note confessing their desire to watch Jennifer die. That’s when Jennifer’s best friend and Middlebridge’s Police Lieutenant, Jake Hollow, steps in.
Jake and Jennifer put their dynamic duo focus on finding Jennifer’s deranged valentine, and that leads them to the recently deceased body of David Bird IV. He looks like an average dead guy except for one fact — his heart has been removed. Jennifer must investigate this heartless valencrime; otherwise, she fears she’ll be the next victim. Yet, her attempt to protect her own heart leads her to a set of love letters that tell the story of broken hearts from the past.
Valentine’s Day. 1910. Salem, Massachusetts. Clay Trunkett, a twenty year old hard-working journalist, is scheduled to hang for assaulting a man. His accuser? David Bird II, son of the wealthiest man in Salem. Clay’s true crime? Falling in love with Meghan White, the woman David has his heart set on marrying.
The love triangle of 1910 holds the clues Jennifer needs to find the heart snatcher of 2020, but with her own crazed valentine delivering threatening messages and bits of heart like they’re candy, Jennifer struggles to piece together this crime of passion from 1910.
And, Jennifer’s own passions get in the way when she discovers that her best friend, Jake, has a girlfriend — one that he’s been hiding from Jennifer for months. Betrayal runs high as masquerade parties, craft sales, murder mystery dinners, and a strange encounter at the local diner all distract Jennifer from her one mission: To find out who’s making her Valentine’s Day the most horrifyingly heart-filled in history. The problem is, Jennifer’s discoveries may end her friendship with Jake, and that’s a heartbreak she can’t take.
This clean cozy mystery will keep reader’s hearts pounding as they flip through love letters from the past and the alternating stories of Jennifer Hunter and Clay Trunkett. Jennifer’s down-to-earth and lovable personality plunges into new territory as she must assess her relationship with Jake and the type of love she wants in her life. She goes on crochet benders; she attends parties where she gets to be someone other than herself; and all the time she’s piecing together a crime that makes this Valentine’s Day anything but sweet.
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.
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.
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.
The quintessentially English Professor Elizabeth Green is not herself, shut in her bedroom she doesn’t even have time for her grandson, Godric, whom she adores. As the director of the student play, Godric, meanwhile, attends a College Valentine’s Banquet with some of his troupe. Soon after, he is one actor down, a body is found.
Meanwhile, Inspector Abley’s messy divorce has brought him alone up to Grantchester, as Sergeant Lemon steps in to lend support. With mystery after mystery building up, will Professor Green open her door to help?
Hugely popular author makes this beautiful historic city of Cambridge, England, leap off the page, with the eccentric Professor of poisons. Join the fast-growing number of readers of these page-turning whodunnits in the tradition of Agatha Christie, Colin Dexter, and grab a murder mystery fuelled by poison in the dark alleys of Cambridge!
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.
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.
After being snowbound for much of the winter, amateur detective duo Geneva Pomolo and Iris Reeves are looking forward to a Valentine’s Day getaway with a few older friends at Bittersweet Lodge, a ski resort in the chilly foothills of southern Indiana. Both women are looking forward to a weekend of dance contests, luaus, roasted pigs, and toboggan scavenger hunts. Tensions mount when one of their friends comes down with a sudden illness. Geneva fears the worst: someone is poisoning the lodge’s guests.
The case takes a deadly swerve when Horace Weatherspoon—millionaire head of a railroad empire—dies in a toboggan accident. The old man had been deathly afraid of toboggans and Geneva knows there is malice at work: one of their fellow guests is a murderer. As Iris and Geneva begin to investigate, they uncover a trail of secrets leading back more than thirty years, and one person will kill again to keep those secrets buried.
It’s Valentine’s Day in Juniper Junction and love is in the air. Or is that just a dark cloud?
Lilly’s shop assistant, Harry, is about to pop the question to his girlfriend, Alice Davenport. He’s got the ring, he’s planned a romantic dinner, and he’s even thought of a gracious escape if Alice says no.
The only thing missing is…Alice.
Lilly wants to do all she can to help find Alice, even if that means interfering with a police investigation. But as she begins to learn more about Harry’s sweet, unassuming girlfriend, she discovers that Alice is hiding a shocking secret that will complicate everything.
And when Lilly suffers a lapse in judgment, the consequences are swift and painful. Can she pull herself together enough to help her daughter through a tunnel of teenage angst, deal with her mother’s dementia-related wanderings, and still help Harry find his Happily Ever After?
It has been nine months since Constance Aberfield “retired” from her crime solving ways and she is loving every minute of it. That’s what she is telling herself anyway. Besides, with Valentine’s Day week descending upon the small town of Modest Peak, Constance is flat out too busy to even think of doing anything non-hotel related. Even if she wanted to work a case, she would not have the time.
Constance is so dedicated to her retirement in fact, that when she is alerted to a serial killer known as the St. Valentine Killer, operating in Denver, she refuses to take the case. Even Sheriff Nevil, begging for her help for a change, isn’t enough to get her back in the game. She really is done with that life.
But when the St. Valentine Killer makes his way to Modest Peak, and begins to target people close to Constance, she will have to ask herself if her self-imposed retirement is worth it. This is especially true when it becomes increasingly clear that only she possesses the skills required to put the killer behind bars once and for all.
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.
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.
Admiral Charles Shackleford’s retirement isn’t going quite according to plan. Having been instrumental in improving the lives of so many (his words – others might be inclined to call it something slightly different), he’s struggling to reignite the spark in his own love life with the feisty Mabel.
Short on ideas, he decides to gatecrash his much put upon best friend Jimmy Noon’s Valentine idea and ends up in the middle of a murder mystery weekend where real murder is on someone else’s script.
As the weather closes in, the guests are stranded in a hotel harbouring an unknown killer. With no possibility of the police arriving any time soon, the Admiral and Jimmy have no option but to join forces in an attempt to uncover the Murderous Valentine.
The unstoppable duo may be not quite be Holmes and Watson, but can they catch a murderer…?
This humorous cozy mystery is the first in The Admiral Shackleford Mysteries.
Dark Space is strange, and so are the hitmen who live there. Strap in sweetheart. Love never hurt so good.
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?