Welcome Ryan Hoffman!

Liz here, happy to introduce a new cozy writer in our midst! Ryan Hoffman is here to talk about his cozy debut, Murder & Old Books, about a barista/bookstore owner who gets involved in murder. Take it away, Ryan!

Hello all from the bitter cold of South Dakota. I’m happy to be here and introducing you all to the new world that I’ve created. It took me a long time to figure out that I finally wanted to write a cozy mystery. As most of you have dealt with, I started with, what would my series would be about? I bounced from multiple ideas, asking the simple questions of who would my sleuth be, where would it be set, and who would be my victim. 

The first of all is who is my sleuth?  In my cozy debut, Murder & Old Books, my sleuth is Riley Morgan, a young barista turned bookstore and cafe owner. Except he didn’t start off as a bookseller and barista. I went through many ideas: produce clerk in a grocery store, sales person / manager in a Walmart style department store, a librarian, a coffee shop owner. Then I realized that I like two things in life, besides the people around me, coffee and books. That’s where the character of Riley Morgan started to take shape. I figured he’d have to be smart and observant so that’s why he worked as a coffee shop barista before managing his bookstore Cafe, Pages & Scone. He also needed some baggage, so I decided the reason why he ended up in the city and as a barista is because he had a falling out with his dad. And that led me to my amateur sleuth.

Next, I turned to the setting, I found that was the easy decision. I went in the whole “write what you know” direction and decided to set it right here in South Dakota. The landscape and people are so interesting here in the plains. I created my own fictional town of Cedar Grove borrowing “some” from real towns in the area. I also set it in a fictional version of the county where I grew up Lincoln County which is Jefferson County in the book. That was the really easy part. 

The last part was figuring out who would be my lucky victim. I decided with this series I would not follow some of the usual tropes for intended victims. I wanted Riley to have a reason to get invested and involved in the case. I just didn’t want to make him the prime suspect and follow that old cliche. So that’s why I created Jed the victim. He’s someone Riley would be close to, which would lead him to look into the case. Then came the fun part – figuring out the suspects and clues. 

I’m currently working on book two in the series, Home Roasted Killer, which will be out next spring. 

About the book

Running a bookstore… is murder!

Riley Morgan never expected to be back in his quiet hometown of Cedar Grove, South Dakota, population 3,211. The former barista turned bookstore owner has his work cut out for him. His opening day during Memorial Day weekend turns out to be better than expected. That is until one of his customers, local curmudgeon and drunk, Jed Nelson, turns up dead. Jed decides to leave Riley his dog and house in his will, making him the prime suspect. Of course there are lots of people that wanted Jed dead, from one of his ex-wives to a property developer looking to cash in on his land. Riley with the help of his childhood friend, and newfound canine companion, and his high school crush turned cop, decided to catch the killer before they added another deadly chapter to this mystery?..

About Ryan

Ryan Hoffman has always had a deep passion for writing. He has a degree in Criminal Justice. He is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. He has held a lot of jobs which bring him a lot of experience to add to his cozy mystery novels. Those range from currently working in a cafeteria to working as a stocking clerk in a grocery store. He has always had a soft spot for mysteries since reading his first Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew book as a child. He graduated to devouring Agatha Christie and other mystery writers in his adult years. He currently lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but grew up in a small town similar to the ones he writes about.

Readers, let us know what you think of this new addition to the cozy scene below!

30 Thoughts

  1. Congratulations, Ryan, on your debut cozy mystery.

    Riley sounds like my kind of guy: coffee and books are meant to go there, and are both necessities in my life, LOL.

    And I must admit that I have not read many mysteries set in South Dakota, so I hope to armchair travel there via your story.

    1. Geez, typo above “coffee and books are meant to go TOGETHER”. Probably should have made some coffee to drink here before posting.

  2. Congratulations on the release of your first cozy and much success of the Riley Morgan Mysteries series. “Murder & Old Books” sounds wonderful and I can’t wait for the opportunity to read it. Love the cover which could been in my town here in Arkansas. We thoroughly enjoyed or visit of your state and it would make it interesting to see if I could find descriptions that resembled some of our experiences.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  3. Congratulations Ryan! While I’m not a coffee drinker I do love bookstores so I’m sure this would be a book right up my alley. Sadly, I probably have more in common with the victim Jed, the curmudgeon part that is…I don’t drink.

    Consider this added to my buy list.

  4. Congratulations, Ryan! The book sounds unique and fun and fabulous! I don’t know of a cozy series set in South Dakota, so maybe you’re blazing a new trail here!

  5. Congrats on the release of Murder & Old Books, Ryan! Such a welcome addition to the cozy mystery world. Cheers!

  6. Murder & Old Books sounds like my kind of cozy. Congrats Ryan on your new series! We spent a fun family vacation in South Dakota years ago. Such a beautiful state with lots to see there.

  7. Congrats on the new book. I like that you have created a male protagonist for a cozy. Also, that he didn’t end up where he is because of a broken relationship with a woman. Talk about cliches.

    Thank you for a trip through your thought processes. Very enlightening.

  8. Congratulations, Ryan! I’ve watched your journey over the last few years, from when you first Friended me. To see you blossom with your own series is fantastic!

  9. The book sounds like a delight, I look forward to reading it. Congratulations on your new series!

  10. Definitely sounds intriguing. Thanks for the peak behind the scenes at what went into creating this series. And huge congrats!!!

  11. Congratulations, Ryan, on the new release! Love the cafe/book store setting and the setting of South Dakota! Very unique. I like that it has a male protagonist, too. Great concepts all they way around! Best of luck with it.

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