I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
Cozy mysteries are perfect when life feels hard and you want to escape somewhere that feels fairly uncomplicated, even if people are being murdered. This series, set in small town Louisiana, is one of the stronger ones to come out in recent years. It's not perfect by any stretch, but it's got good bones, so to speak.
Mardi Gras Murder takes place very soon after a fairly catastrophic flood sweeps through, one that leaves behind the body of a John Doe. At first presumed to have been a victim of the flood waters, an autopsy reveals he was shot. As the town rebuilds and focuses on their Mardi Gras celebrations, a judge of the local beauty contest is also shot and killed, and in spite of any evidence, our MC Maggie has a gut feeling the two are related. Of course they are. After attempted murder is tried on another judge, Maggie starts looking for connections to the John Doe.
The beauty contest is a total red herring; that's not a spoiler either, as it's pretty obvious from the get go that it's meant to be. The real ties that kill are much more investing that a vapid beauty contest, though the ultimate motivation behind them is just as shallow and meaningless.
Still, the author writes a solid setting with strong characters - all of them, men and women, good and bad. If the plotting and murder motivations aren't as strong as they could be, they're surrounded by a lot that is. The backdrop and characters are why I probably rated this higher than I should, objectively speaking. But I got happily lost in backwater Louisiana for a day or two, and I'll happily get lost in it again, should the author write another.