Monday, February 13, 2017

I thought it would be fun to share with you some of my favorite cozy mystery series old and new.

This week my series spotlight is on the
J. J. Cook
Joyce and Jim Lavene

When I came across the first Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery, THAT OLD FLAME OF MINE, 
I hadn't heard of Joyce and Jim, or J.J. Cook. 
The cover of the book spoke to me. When I read the back cover and found there was a ghost in it, I almost put it back. I was still rather new to cozy mysteries. I wasn't sure I was ready to read one with a ghost. But that book spoke so loudly to me, it was in my bag when I left the store. I'm so glad it was. The Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery series is in my top all time favorite cozy series.  


Set in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, J. J. Cook’s thrilling new mystery series features Fire Chief Stella Griffin, who solves crime with the help of her predecessor, who just happens to be a ghost…
After knocking the lights out of her boyfriend when she catches him cheating on her, Chicago fire fighter Stella Griffin hops on her Harley and heads for Sweet Pepper, Tennessee, where she ends up becoming the small town’s fire chief. When her dear friend Tory Lambert dies after her gingerbread-style house is set ablaze, Stella suspects arson and foul play. 

As Stella investigates, she gets help from a most unlikely source—the ghost of Eric Gamlyn, Sweet Pepper’s old fire chief. And if that isn’t enough to rattle her, attractive police officer John Trump seems to have taken an interest in her. But Stella’s got to stay focused if she hopes to smoke out a killer before her own life is extinguished.



Welcome to Sweet Pepper, Tennessee. Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, it’s home to the hottest and sweetest peppers in the world—as well as at least one ghost and a hotbed of secrets…
Fire Chief Stella Griffin is working to solve the mysterious death of her predecessor, Eric Gamlyn—who also haunts her cabin. Yet the more she learns, the more burning questions she must answer. Just as Stella thinks she has a lead from Deputy Chum, someone snuffs her hopes—and the lawman.
Adding fuel to the fire, Stella’s parents soon arrive—with her ex-boyfriend—hoping to persuade her to return to Chicago. Now Stella is torn between the life she left behind and uncovering what happened to her ghostly friend. But she’d better think fast or more than her investigation could go up in flames…


Sweet Pepper, Tennessee, has the world’s hottest and sweetest peppers—as well as a ghost that cooks and a fire chief who fights crime…
Stella Griffin should be bubbling over with joy now that she’s the full-time fire chief of Sweet Pepper, except trouble is brewing on her doorstep. An angry resident has purchased her cabin, and—with a bulldozer in tow—is ready to tear it down. But as Stella worries over the fate of her home and Eric, her ghostly roommate, there’s soon an even greater cause for alarm.
A suspicious house fire in the pricey Sunset Beach community at Sweet Pepper Lake claims the life of ex-state representative Barney Falk. The nature of the death has Stella feeling out of her depth, so she teams up with the state’s arson investigator. Moving full steam ahead with the case, they must smoke out a killer before the firebug strikes again…



Old rivalries heat up in the fourth Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade mystery from the national bestselling author of In Hot Water.

Fire chief Stella Griffin has been put in charge of judging the annual recipe contest, but Eric—her resident ghost and true culinary genius—has vanished. Before she can track down his latest haunt, she’s called in to investigate a local moonshine distillery that was set ablaze, making her realize there’s more than pies and cakes cooking in Sweet Pepper. 

As rumors of a revived whiskey war ignite, Stella turns to the town’s elders to help her find answers. The past might have some clues as to what has sparked the present fires. But when following a lead lands her in buried rubble, Stella realizes she must extinguish this case fast or she might be going down in flames.


A hot dog and a hot head are on the loose in Sweet Pepper, Tennessee, and it’s up to Fire Chief Stella Griffin to collar them both...
The Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade’s newly adopted Dalmatian puppy, Hero, is missing. Stella believes he just wandered away from her cabin and got lost. But despite posters and searches by the fire brigade and spotty sightings by locals, there are no leads, and the furry fire fighter has yet to return.
Stella is already worried with a series of progressively dangerous arson fires plaguing Sweet Pepper. And oddly enough, Hero’s appearances are coinciding with the fires. Now with the help of the ghost of Sweet Pepper’s former fire chief, Stella will have to dig up some clues if she hopes to find the pup before he’s lost for good—and find the arsonist before someone loses a life.

This series is so very wonderful. I could take the entire day and still not have enough time to say every good thing about it that I would like to.

Sadly, both Joyce and Jim Lavene have passed away.
 If the Lavenes left an unpublished title, then we may still get to see a new one. But please, don't let that stop you from picking up this series. It truly is too good for any cozy fan to miss. 

And don't let the ghost element chase you away. Eric is so much a part of this story, he truly feels as alive as the rest of the fantastic cast of characters. 


In memory of Joyce and Jim Lavene.
Dearly missed every day.


  1. Thanks for sharing this Lisa. This is one of my favorite series of all time. Great tribute to them.

  2. I love this series. I still have a few of them to read. I'm trying to space them out as there won't be any more unless they did have on last one in the works. Joyce and Jim are missed so much. Loved their books. Thank you for the great tribute.

  3. I totally agree, Lisa...wonderful series and Joyce & Jim are dearly missed.

  4. Thanks so much for reminding me of this series, Lisa. I'm ready to binge read! Joyce and Jim left us way too soon.

  5. Such a wonderful post, Lisa, of Joyce and Jim's series.

    Hugs to you!