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What’s Rachel Reading? Feliz Navidead

Whether it’s the season or the news or the swell of negativity on Facebook, a couple of you have mentioned that you’re looking for easy reads and escapist literature lately. I’m right there with you, guys, and one of my favorite light escapist genres is cozy mystery. What’s a cozy? Well, there is always a murder involved (the mystery part), but cozy mysteries always downplay sex and violence and scary suspense in favor of female friendships, humor, and smart puzzle solving. Formulaic? Sure — but they do their job as cozy light reads where you often leave the book feeling as if you could be new best friends with the main character.

So if you’re looking for a fun read, try browsing the cozy mystery Kindle bestsellers on Amazon or stop by the new mystery books shelf at your local public library and look for the little paperback mysteries with the punny titles. I’m partial towards library, coffeeshop, paranormal, and culinary mysteries myself, but there’s a sub-niche here for everyone. Amateur female sleuths, small town or quirky settings, a romantic subplot, and (preferably) recipes? I’m in.

Feliz Navidead

But about this latest cozy read in particular: On my last visit to the library, I picked up Feliz Navidead: A Sante Fe Café Mystery. This is the third culinary cozy in the Sante Fe Café mystery series by Ann Myers, so if you haven’t read the first two (Bread of the Dead and Cinco de Mayhem), you might want to start there — but it would also work fine as a standalone. And, yes: There are recipes in the back.

The protagonist of Feliz Navidead, Rita Lafitte, is one of the chefs and co-amigas at Tres Amigas Café in Santa Fe. This holiday season, she’s juggling her teenage daughter, her traditional Midwestern mother’s Christmas visit, her policeman ex-husband, her defense attorney boyfriend — and, oh yes: A murder. A murder where she (again) has discovered the body, and she (again) is pressured into investigating by her elderly boss Flori (and Flori’s cadre of equally elderly yet fiesty graffiti knitters), and she (again) is told by her ex to stop interfering. When things start getting a little too close to home with threats against Rita’s own daughter, she’s compelled to throw herself wholeheartedly into solving the murder — and Feliz Navidead follows all the twists and turns and relationships along the way.

Where Feliz Navidead shines is in its descriptions of Santa Fe architecture, cuisine, and tradition: The murder and mystery center around the years Las Posadas celebration, and a fascinating subplot delves into a privately held archaeological/anthropological collection and the return of Native American artifacts. The quirky characters are easy to like, there’s a dash of humor in the form of a fiesty sweets loving donkey, and if you enjoy Southwestern cuisine, the descriptions of the café’s food will leave you drooling.

Whodunit? In this one I did figure it out before the ending, but that didn’t detract from the story itself — and there are always more details to find out. Feliz Navidead is a charming, light, and entertaining cozy mystery, and I look forward to future installments in the series. Recommended if you, too, could use some escapist reading in your life.

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Ann Myers

Saturday 28th of January 2017

Thanks for reviewing Feliz Navidead, Rachel! I'm so happy you enjoyed it.


Friday 27th of January 2017

I'm reading Dead Cold Brew by Cleo Coyle which is a coffeehouse mystery. I love this series. And there are recipes in the back too. Yum!