I re-read the first three Jane Jeffry mysteries by Jill Churchill--Grime and Punishment, A Farewell to Yarns, and A Quiche Before Dying. I read these ages ago, so I'd forgotten who the killers were. Anyway, I enjoyed reading them again. Jane is a widowed stay-at-home mom with three kids, and ends up involved in mysteries in her Chicago suburb. She and her friend Shelley poke around, digging up gossip and domestic facts that elude the police. In the first one, it winds up being important that most people vacuum with their back to the door (something that doesn't even occur to hottie detective Mel VanDyne). Grime and Punishment is about the murder of Shelley's cleaning lady, A Farewell to Yarns starts with a visit by Jane's friend, a master knitter (and Jane crochets an afghan throughout), and her horrid (uninvited) son. In A Quiche Before Dying, Jane and her visit mother (and Shelley as well) take a writing class that ends in murder by poisoned quiche (more common than you might think!). Lilah loves these books, too, incidentally, because they all have kitty cats on the covers. She'll carry one around, happily saying "Kitty cat, kitty cat, meow." So cute. She will also climb into her chair and "read" them.
Anyway, these were (I believe) some of the earliest cozy mysteries, first published in 1991 (I think--Lilah wandered off with the book and I'm not sure where she put it). Jane and Shelley are entertaining, and the housekeeping/childrearing content isn't the least bit boring (at least to me, since it's stuff I do, too). Jane's budding relationship with Mel VanDyne is handled well, I think, and her kids are great. The mysteries get less tight and the editing a little less stringent as this series goes on. I'm not sure I've found a series where this isn't true, though, and favorite series for me are often as much about visiting old "friends" as they are about reading a great mystery novel. Even less stellar entries in the series (I think she's on #16 or so, so it's a while before they lose a little something) are fun for me.
I'm now reading Death at Daisy's Folly by Robin Paige, the third Victorian Mystery. I love it. It takes place at a house party, which is so Gosford Park (one of my favorite films ever). Expect a review soon!