You’re the Top!…You’re a Waldorf Salad! My Best From 2022

By Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a $3 Amazon gift card!

In 2022, I reviewed 165 books, and like a Waldorf Salad, my list is a mixture of genres, settings, eras, and characters. From new-to-me and new-to-writing authors and, of course, some longtime favorites, these talented writers added some enjoyable, often informative, moments. It’s again a difficult task to choose my annual “Top” since every book and television show provided me with hours of entertainment. Be sure to check out the Kings River Life review links as well as links to Amazon.

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Top 2022 Authors! 

H.Y. Hanna is again my top all-time favorite author bringing me infused tea and sushi as well as trowels and murderous thumbs. The year started off with January’s release of Wrongfully Infused, eleventh in her OxfordTearoom Mystery series, with fascinating insights into Taiwanese culture, family, and tea eggs. Gemma Rose finds herself in competition with a new tearoom and a karmic murder. In June, Too Mulch to Handle, sixth in her EnglishCottage Garden Mystery, has Poppy Lancaster continuing to improve her inherited garden shop, but “all work and no play” leads her to reevaluate her personal life which, unfortunately, sprouts murder. Clever. Compelling. Must reads … or listen! Shout out to Pearl Hewitt who performs the brilliant narration for all of HY. Hanna’s books including these two series on Audible: Oxford Tearoom Mystery and English Cottage Garden Mysteries. As I always say, “She proves murder is better with an English accent!”

Kanga Press
Victoria Tait made my “Top” list with a clever six-book series set in the Cotswolds, DottySayers Mystery. She released five books in 2022 starting with Fake Death, which captured my interest immediately. Dotty Sayers, a young widow, said “goodbye” to the military community, “no” to returning to her parents’ home, and “yes” to working at Akemans Antique Center. She found herself fascinated with antiques, auctions, and acquisitions, but she didn’t expect the trade to be murderous. With four books already reviewed HERE, the final book, PricelessBetrayal, is set to release in March, 2023, which is plenty of time to catch up on all the forgeries, frauds, and felonious shenanigans. Engaging mystery entangles the lead character. Insights into the world of antiques. A must read series!

Abigail Keam has always been a favorite author, and in 2022, she shot into my “Top” with two books in her MonaMoon Mystery series. In July, she sent Mona to England, the home of her fiancé, the Duke of Brynelleth Robert Farley, for introductions and finalization of wedding plans, but a Murder Under a British Moon put doubts on the marriage. November had a wedding from hell with a Murder Under a Bridal Moon plaguing the festivities. True love comes with truly murderous obstacles. Thoroughly enjoyable. Historical figures make cameos. Strong female lead. Highly recommend! I can’t overlook Keam’s other series, Josiah Reynolds Mysteries, with the April, 2022, release of the seventeen book, Death by Poison. It’s a fun mystery with horses, a horse whisperer, and a clever murder. Entertaining writing. Engaging banter. Don’t miss! This year in June, Deathby Greed is set to release.

Melissa Bourbon released the last two books in her PippinLane Hawthorne Mystery series, Murder Through an Open Door and Murder and the Irish Curse. The series is best read in order since the curse, the deaths, missing artifacts, and the imperative nature to save one’s life builds throughout the books. Start at the beginning with Murder in Devil’s Cove. Pippin and her twin brother Grey lost their parents when they were young due to a curse that had been placed on their family centuries before: the women die in childbirth and the men die at sea. Each book is rich in Irish mythology as well as incorporating classic literature. Pippin is a bioliomancer, a unique ability where books provide the answers she needs, Fascinating curse. Intriguing mythology. Epic series. Don’t miss!

Judy Penz Sheluk continued her AMarketville Mystery series with Before There Were Skeletons. Calamity Barnstable’s Past & Present Investigations business is “snooping” into the past to help her clients in the present. She had been inspired by investigating her own mother’s disappearance which provided her with closure, so when she’s steered toward Kathleen Goodman wanting the same closure, Callie accepts the case. Through online searches, official missing persons’ data bases, and a new, energetic assistant, she uncovers more than one missing woman, eerie connections, and her mother’s past a key element. Although all of the books delve into cold cases, rarely a dead body popping up, the intrigue, the clever connections, and the final closure had me hooked! Engaging. Must read gem!

Top 2022 Pleasant Surprises!

Rhino Publishing
Kathleen Bailey hooked me with the second book in her OliviaPenn Mystery series with Silence Says the Most. Olivia is enjoying a picnic lunch with her friend, but a noxious algae bloom, wayward autistic child, and a dead body make for a compelling murder mystery. Olivia is just visiting, heading off to a New York job, but the local newspaper wants her to delve into the incident which reveals environmental issues, organic farming, and a troubled vet. Compelling crime. Diverse characters. Don’t miss book one, Where the Light Shines Through! Engaging mystery. Strong female lead.

Avery Daniels introduced a new series in May, 2022, with everything I love … a strong female lead, clever cozy mystery, a bit of romance, and … vampires! Yes, First Bite: Accidental Vampire P.I. has an entertaining premise: Misty Summers was attacked and wakes up to discover she’s a vampire. Of course, her attack was unsanctioned and illegal and under investigation by the Meta Mundane Council, however learning the nuances of such a lifestyle requires help. Her life-saver is the handsome witch, Rowan Donovan, and although against the rules, dispensation has been given for a witch to mentor a vampire. Brilliant fun. Fish out of water theme. Spooky evil element. Don’t miss!

Poisoned Pen Press
Sulari Gentill wrote a complex story within a story with an author, a fan, a critic, and a slow journey into creepy-ville. A June release, The Woman in the Library, has Aussie writer Hannah Tigone writing a murder mystery and sharing it with Leo, a long-distance fan, from whom she asks for and accepts constructive criticism. One part of the story is her intriguing manuscript about a murder in a library; the other part is the email communications between Hannah and Leo that go from collegial to threatening. Brilliant premise. Nail-biting to the end.

Pegasus Crime

Harini Nagendra
transports readers to 1920s India in the first book in her Bangalore Detectives Mystery series, The Bangalore Detective Club, Kaveri Murthy, the young wife of Dr. Ramu, is disappointed by the changes and restrictions for married women. She’s unable to publicly pursue her academic studies, choose what to wear, like a bathing costume, and help people in trouble, like the young milk boy whose brother is in trouble … real trouble, like murder trouble! Exciting. Clever. Informative. Eager for more! Book two, MurderUnder a Red Moon is set to release in late March, 2023.

Ann Dávila Cardinal created an engaging mystery with a fascinating paranormal twist in The Storyteller’s Death. Isla Sanchez travels to Puerto Rico, as she often did, but this trip is due to the death of her Abuela, a belligerence and verbal abusive woman who made life difficult for her and her mother. While there, she begins to see shadowy images playing out in front of her and learns about the unique second sight in her family. These images resemble the stories her Abuela told, but, of course, she’d left out the gunshot, a death, and several secrets. Isla discovers a renewed connection to her roots, her family, and herself while learning the truth of long ago. Compelling second sight.


Top “Streaming” British Invasion!

AcornTV and BritBox streaming memberships, and even PBS, continue to provide hours of entertainment with several new and returning series to keep me engaged, inspired, and having me answer “Plenty” when asked “What’s on Telly?” Many of the shows are actually based on novels offering me a way to explore the author’s original vision and how it was translated into a movie.

AcornOriginal Recipes for Love and Murder is set in South Africa and based on TheTannie Maria Mystery books by Sally Andrew. Tannie Maria takes on the challenge of writing an advice column for the Karoo Gazette, and since her real focus had been sharing recipes, she uses her favorites to impart helpful advice to those with problems from dangerous relationships to unrequited relationships, from hard to keep secrets to need for connections. One advice seeker, unfortunately, is found murdered which is more complicated by another death, and Maria is compelled to uncover the why and the who, even if it puts her and her friends in danger. Clever use of food to heal the soul. Delicious regional recipes. Diverse cast. Don’t miss!

BritBoxOriginal introduced Murder in Provence based on the Verlaque andBonnet Provençal Mystery series written by Canadian author ML Longworth. Antoine Verlaque (Roger Allam) is an investigating judge, and his romantic partner Marine Bonnet (Nancy Carroll) is a well-respected university professor who accepts a consultant role as a criminal psychologist. Together they investigate a series of crimes that at times put each other in danger, but that’s nothing in comparison to dealing with Marine’s combative mother Florence Bonnet (Patricia Hodge).

PBS introduced two Masterpiece Mystery gems (KRL Review HERE) that top my list! First: Magpie Murders is based on the Susan Reyland novel by Anthony Horowitz. Editor Reyland is surprised the latest manuscript by popular mystery writer Alan Conway is missing the last chapter, but before she can retrieve it, Conway is murdered. The show cleverly entwines together Conway’s book and his iconic detective Atticus Pünd with Reyland’s investigation to find the missing chapter and solve the murder. Brilliant! The next installment is based on Horowitz’s book Moonflower Murder. Next: Annika, starring Nicola Walker, is based on the BBC Radio Drama: Annika Stranded (Don’t miss these!). It’s Glasgow, and DI Annika Strandhed heads up the Marine Homicide Unit with murders in someway connected to water. The actress cleverly breaks the “fourth wall” reeling in viewers as she uses literature, mythology, or bridges as insights into the investigation. Personal connections are key, and in the final episode, Annika reveals a “Wow” that makes a second season imperative. Outstanding!  

Happy Shout Out to …!

Historical Fiction in all its forms is a favorite, and in 2022, I enjoyed several different eras. There’s Jeri Westerson’s medieval mystery Oswald the Thief with an eclectic group of misfits coerced into stealing the royal jewels. Will it be riches beyond imagination or the gallows? The Gallery of Beauties by Nina Wachsman transports readers to seventeenth century Venice with beautiful women, fascinating society, and murder. Can two women from opposite walks of life join forces to stop a killer? It was music in the eighteenth century with Nupur Tustin’s Murder Backstage. Joseph Hayden, iconic composer, is also an amateur detective exploring a murder. Can he find the sweet note of an arrest? Highly recommend these books for an engaging experience!

Short Stories are a great way to introduce a series with a snippet illustrating how a particular character first started to be an amateur detective. Check out these prequels to series I highly recommend. Join the author’s newsletter for a free incentive: Hour to Come in Victoria Tait’s Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery deals with the ups and downs of the antique trade; Twisted Wedding in Hazel Smith’s Maid Ivy Mystery introduces Ivy and her ability to sweep up grime and crime. In these cases…size doesn’t matter! is a favorite destination for books since I love being read to! With my monthly membership, I downloaded a truck load of books from cozy mysteries and Detective dramas to historical romance and suspense thrillers. For 2022, I was totally hooked on the brilliant narrations performed by Dame Penelope Keith for the Agatha Raisin books by M.C. Beaton/R.W. Green, especially Devil’s Delight. No more “whistle while you work;” for me, it’s “listen while you work.”

REMEMBER! To enter to win a $3 Amazon gift card (US Only) to start off 2023, comment below with your answer to this question: What was your favorite author, series, or book from 2022? If entering via comment be sure to include your email address or we won't be able to contact you.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode went up this week.

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.
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. I enjoyed reading Etta Faire she started with Over Her Husband's Dead body and it is thrilling.

  2. I think I'd have to go with Vivian Chien! glen (dot)hurlbut95993(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. Magic in Blood by Mayte Losada

  4. What a great bunch of books! My favorite series I read last year were The Homeswappers by Adriana Licio and Bought-the-Farm Mysteries by Ellen Riggs. ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

  5. So many good books in 2022, but my definite favorite was Ten Years by Pernille Hughes. Such a sweet story.

  6. So MANY excellent! I'll choose Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak and Burn the Negatives by Joshua Winning: both outstanding.

  7. Over my Husband's Dead body by Etta Faire

  8. Thank you for including me in this prestigious company! Judy Penz Sheluk

  9. Thank you for including me in such prestigious company!

  10. My favorite author discovered in 2022 is Sulari Gentill -- first for "The Woman in the Library," which made me a different writer for reading it, and also for her series of mysteries featuring Rowland Sinclair.

  11. My favorite author from 2022 is Sulari Gentill.

  12. I really like Hazel Smith's new series A Maid Ivy series and Audrey Clementine's new series The Misty Milton series.

    Thank you for this opportunity!

  13. I'm so honored to be on your list, Kathleen! I adore the Book Magic series and I can't tell you how thrilled I am that you do, too. And to be in such great company, too! Thank you!

  14. 165 books?!? That's wonderful. I shoot for 100 and usually go over a little. I discovered cozies last year and really like Joanna Fluke, Carlene O'Connor and Maddie Day.

  15. We have a winner!
    Lorie Ham


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