Dark, Light, and In-Between: Top 5 Mysteries Read During the Pandemic

Sep 23, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day

Here is the latest installment of our new column, Top 5 Mysteries I Have Read During the Pandemic, this one from mystery author Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day. As we continue to spend most of our time at home, we are all looking for book suggestions so we asked mystery authors and reviewers to share the top 5 mysteries they have read during this pandemic. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Candy Slain Murder and a link to purchase it.

Thanks for having me over at Kings River Life with my top-five pandemic reads. I’m celebrating the release of Candy Slain Murder, my eighth Country Store Murder, and I’ll give away a signed copy to one commenter.

So I’ve been reading a lot during the pandemic. More than usual. I know some friends lost their reading mojo, and some author pals found it hard to write. I’ve lost neither, thank goodness, and blessedly no one I am close to has gotten sick. My writing has actually been a respite, a way to shut out the messy scary world and lose myself in writing a story where I know things will turn out okay in the end.

But it’s been a tough six months, and it’s not over, not by a long shot. In the first few months, I picked up cozy mystery after cozy mystery – and put them down again. What? Shouldn’t I want to read something on the lighter end of the spectrum? Instead (and bear with me, I know I’m cheating), I binge-read all seven of Ann Cleeves’ Shetland books. Straight through. They are dark and atmospheric and completely absorbing.

Then I threw myself into 1929 Chicago with Susanna Calkins’ Fate of Flapper, the second Speakeasy Mystery. A bar server during Prohibition, Gina Ricci, is also a photographer and cares for her father. Gangs, cocktails, flappers, and murder make a perfect combination.

When Cate Conte’s first Full Moon Mystery came out, I had to dive in. I loved Witch Hunt and the complicated slightly paranormal world Cate, aka Liz Mugavero, set up. This is going to be a great series, people. (Full disclosure: she and I are Wicked Authors blogmates, and great friends.)

Similarly, Sherry Harris (whom I also blog and pal around with) started a new series this summer with From Beer to Eternity, the first Seaglass Saloon Mystery. The setting on the Florida Panhandle is sunny, salty, and full of intrigue, as is the cast of regulars. I can’t wait for the next one.

Finally, with possibly questionable judgment, I read The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman. It’s a richly researched, deeply drawn, and rather disturbing tale of a poor Philadelphia thirteen-year-old in the 1918 influenza pandemic. Pia’s mother dies, she loses track of her infant twin brothers, and she falls sick herself, ending up in an awful orphanage. The details of the disease are horrifying, and its waves of recurrence and how people dealt with it have way too many parallels with today. Still, it’s beautifully written. Things actually do turn out well in the end, which is why I included it in my top five list.

Readers: What are you reading? Dark, light, in between?

In Candy Slain Murder, Country Store owner Robbie Jordan’s life seems merry and as bright as the Christmas lights glistening around South Lick, Indiana, until a man claims to be the long-lost half-brother of Robbie’s assistant. A fire destroys the home of a controversial anesthesiologist, exposing skeletal remains in his attic. The twin of the long-dead woman is murdered. Unavoidably intrigued, all Robbie wants for Christmas is to stop her winter wonderland from becoming a real nightmare.

You can listen to the first chapter of one of the Country Store mysteries on Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast!

To enter to win a signed copy of Candy Slain Murder, simply comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 3, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. Please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

You can use this link to order this book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A new episode just went up this week!

You can use this link to purchase many of these books from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:

Maddie Day pens the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. Agatha Award winning Edith Maxwell writes the historical Quaker Midwife Mysteries and short crime fiction. With twenty-three mysteries in print and more underway, Day/Maxwell lives with her beau and their energizer kitten north of Boston, where she writes, gardens, cooks, and wastes time on Facebook. She hopes you’ll find her on social media under both names, on WickedAuthors.com and at her website.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Thank you for the information about the books in this article. I love historical mysteries. Your inclusion of Susanna Calkins book has introduced me to a new author and book. My fingers are crossed I am chosen for Maddie Day’s book.

    • You will love her Speakeasy Mysteries, Robin!

  2. Thank you for the opportunity!??

    • You are welcome!

  3. Love hearing what others are
    reading – gives me more titles
    to look for and gives me
    affirmation that I’m not the
    only eclectic reader. Thanks

    • You definitely aren’t alone, Mary!

  4. I’m reading light. I’m reading cozies and historical romance. I just won a copy of THE ORPHAN COLLECTOR. I want to read your book very badly, Maddie!!

  5. I have read a variety of mysteries during the pandemic including some of Edith Maxwell’s. My husband and daughter in law have challenged me to find more writers of color so I have just finished Secrets, Lies and Crawfish Pies by Abby L. Vandiver

  6. I’ve read previous Maddie Day books and they’re really great. I cant wait to read this book. I especially enjoy reading Christmas mysteries.

  7. Thank you for the info and chance to win.

  8. They all sound good, thanks for having the contest.

  9. Love knowing what to read! Thanks for a chance to win!

  10. I’ve read a lot of books this year, but none of those. Count me in!

  11. I read a little of most everything. Mysteries are my favorite, I’ve got some thrillers in my stack and non-fiction/biography/trivia/history.

  12. I am reading lots of light, cozy mysteries now, for the most part. Yesterday I finished reading Murder on Cape Cod!

  13. Lately, I’ve been reading more books that tend to fall in-between. Thanks for the giveaway!
    turtle6422 at gmail dot com

  14. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to win your book. I have read all your books and sherry harris. I love this series. I’m gonna check out the other authors you mentioned. I’m reading death by tea written by alex Erickson. I love my mystery books.

  15. I love your Country Store mysteries. thank you for the chance.

  16. Thank you for the chance to win Candy Slain Murder!!!!
    Love this series!!!!

  17. Thanks for the post today, count me in! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

  18. Thank you for sharing the books. They are sound like good reads. I am not sure I could read the pandemic one right now though. Maybe later this year. On the upside I do love Christmas cozies and would be thrilled to read yours. Thank you for the chance to win.

  19. Well there you go! I love mysteries primarily…..and read “dark, light, and in between.” Quite honestly, I read dark…and in between, I throughly enjoy the cozies! They are my “in between.” I read anything written by Maddie Day and under her other pen names.

  20. My reading time definitely increased during quarantine for the pandemic. As I am an eclectic reader, my reading choices have been a little bit of everything!

  21. Thank you for the suggestions. I think I will pass on The Orphan Collector though…


  22. I have the Cate Conte book and can’t wait for the next one. We spent 10 days on Cape Cod recently (best place to vacation with social distance). We visited at least three kitchen gadget stores and I spent a ton of money on new toys.

    I’d love to win Maddie’s new book for my library.

  23. Looks like a fun series!

  24. We have a winner!


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