Guest Nancy Coco plus #giveaway

News Flash: Nancy Coco’s lucky winner is Crystal. Congratulations, and please check your email!

Edith/Maddie north of Boston, winding down a long month and looking forward to a warmer April.

Following our celebration this week of Sherry’s new Sea Glass Saloon mystery, I welcome the prolific and talented Nancy Coco. She’s also talking about the coast – any coast – and she has a new Oregon Honeycomb Mystery out this week!

When a bee wrangler is bludgeoned, Let It Bee honey shop owner Wren Johnson makes it her beeswax to solve the crime . For the picturesque town of Oceanview on the Oregon Coast, May brings blossoming fruit trees and the annual UFO festival. As Aunt Eloise tries out alien costumes on their Havana brown cat Everett, Wren is off to meet with a bee wrangler, her go-to guy for local fruit tree honey.

But when she arrives, Elias Brentwood is lying on the ground amidst destroyed hives and a swarm of angry bees. The bees didn’t kill him, a blow to the head did. As blue-eyed Officer Jim Hampton investigates and the town is invaded by its own swarm of conspiracy theorists and crackpots, Wren and Aunt Eloise decide the only way to catch the bee wrangler’s killer is to set up a sting .

There’s Something Wonderful About a Coastal Setting and Candy!

There seems to be a theme for me when choosing a setting for a cozy mystery series. That theme is coastal. I grew up along the shores of Lake Michigan, which we call a “Great Lake” but is really a freshwater sea and it’s not even the largest of the Great Lakes.

But I digress. For some reason – maybe my childhood home – I have set half of my six cozy mystery series near a beach.

My Perfect Proposals mystery series (written as Nancy J Parra) was set in Chicago along Lake Michigan.  And both of my Nancy Coco mystery series – The Candy-coated Mysteries and The Oregon Coast Mysteries – are set near water, with the former on Mackinac Island in the straits of Mackinac, and the later along the coast of Oregon.

Why is water such a great setting for a cozy mystery? Beyond my own love of water, there is something about the beach that makes a mystery even more mysterious. Perhaps it harkens back to the old Gothic stories one the Moors with fog and water. Then there is something isolating about an island. It’s like an old manor mystery, everyone knows who is on the island and gets on or off the ferries.

It could be the wildness of waves and wind that help drive a great setting. Or the warmth or lack thereof in the water. Death on The Nile by Agatha Christie was set on water. It’s a perfect and somewhat awful way to bring loneliness, isolation, and fear into a book – even if it is only implied. I mean, my cozies are far from dark. They are fun and warm and contain great communities. Still there is something about a coastal setting that draws fun characters, adventurers and craftsman. Small business owners who serve tourists and locals alike and take daily walks along the beach.

Maybe beaches seem exotic for those of us who live on the plains, or near mountains. Maybe it’s what draws vacationers that also draws a great setting for mystery and mayhem.  Or maybe in the end I just like the energy of water and need to get myself a house on a beach. Happily, there are plenty of great cozy series set near water.

Readers: Do you have a favorite setting? Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of A Matter of Hive and Death.

Just for fun, here’s a wonderful recipe you can make at home that harkens back to the beach and my protagonist, Wren Johnson’s honey store:

Honey Saltwater Taffy


Pad of butter to grease pan

2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 ¼ cup of honey

1 cup of water

1 ¼ teaspoon of salt

3 tablespoons butter


In a heavy saucepan mix the sugar and cornstarch.  Stir in honey and water and bring the mixture to boil over a medium heat. Continue cooking until a candy thermometer reaches 225 degrees F. Be patient as this can take 15 minutes or more. Then remove the pan from heat and stir in salt and butter. Pour the mixture onto a buttered large, rimmed cookie sheet. Let this cool just enough that you can touch it without burning yourself.

Then grease your hands with butter and remove the candy from the pan and start pulling it. To pull taffy you must stretch it, fold it, stretch it, and fold it until it cools off enough that you struggle to stretch it. Then roll into ½ inch wide rolls and cut with greased kitchen scissors into 1 to 1 ½ inch pieces.

Wrap each piece in wax paper, twisting the ends and store in a cool, dry place. Enjoy!

The second in the Nancy Coco Oregon Coast mysteries, A Matter of Hive and Death, released widely on March 29. The next Nancy Coco Candy-coated mysteries, A Midsummer Night’s Fudge, is out May 24, 2022. For more information, go to

USA Today Bestselling Author, Nancy J Parra AKA Nancy Coco AKA Nell Hampton is the author of over 30 published novels which include five mystery series: The Oregon Honey-comb Mystery Series (Kensington), The Candy-Coated Mysteries (Kensington), The Kensington Palace Mystery Series (Crooked Lane), The Wine Country Tours Mystery Series (Crooked Lane) The Gluten-free Baker’s Treat Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), and The Perfect Proposal Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime).  Her writing has been called witty and her protagonists plucky by reviewers around the world.  Nancy is a member of Sisters in Crime and loves to hear from readers. 

60 Thoughts

  1. I love coastal settings, small beach towns are better but cities are okay too. I live less than 2 miles from the beach so I can relate. I was born to be a beachbum. Thank you for the chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  2. I live in a small harbor town along the shores of Lake Erie in the northeast corner of Ohio. There is not only Lake Erie but many covered bridges as well as Amish families. Not far from where I live there are two major cities, Cleveland and Erie, PA, I am blessed to have the best area to live in.

    1. I lived in Erie, PA for about four years – it was great to be so close to the lake!

  3. Nancy, congratulations on the new book!

    I don’t know if it is my favorite setting but I do like books that are set in Ireland for some reason.

  4. Nancy,
    Congratulations on the new book. Now that I live in landlocked Ottawa, I do miss living close to the Great Lakes. I was born & raised in Toronto and spent 4 years living right on the shores of Burlington, ON. I could walk right into Lake Ontario behind our apartment building, if I wanted to. The roar of the waves, and nature’s air conditioning was great in the summer. Being dumped upon with lake effect snow was another winter highlight.

  5. I love coastal settings! You’re right, they can have a lonely feeling to them sometimes but I think of the waves as powerful and eternal. I was watching a show about Scotlands lochs last night – they’d make a great setting for a book, too – just gorgeous! Thanks for the taffy recipe!

  6. Thank you for the Honey Salt Water Taffy recipe. Nothing better than combining two things I love – honey and salt water taffy.

    Congratulations on the release of A MATTER OF HIVE OR DEATH! Can’t wait for the opportunity to read this book on my TBR list.

    Since we live so far the ocean, reading a book with an ocean or large body of water is like taking a short vacation there. I do love the mountains too though. Settings are like icing on the cake and I love all sorts of icings. 🙂
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  7. Congratulations on the book! I don’t have a favorite type of setting. I grew up not far from the shores of Lake Erie and now I’m in the beginnings of the Allegheny Mountains. Both are lovely in their own way.

  8. Congratulations on your latest. Love the buzz!

    Water and mountains are my favorite settings. There’s so much mystery available.

  9. I love the lake/ shore settings. Living in Wisconsin, I’m very fortunate to have a lot of shoreline to explore! Door County is beautiful, as is the area around Superior. I love both of these series and the settings make them even cozier for me to read. Congratulations on the new book!

  10. Congratulations on your new book Nancy!!!! The cover is absolutely fascinating, and the excerpt of the book sounds like it will be such a fun read! I have enjoyed your Candy-coated Mysteries, and look forward to reading your Oregon Honey-comb Mystery Series. I grew up in southern Chile near the ocean, and have fortunately been able to live in coastal communities all my life (except for Montreal…but at least I had The St. Lawrence River :). Thank you for sharing your writing skills with us eager readers!!! Luis at ole dot travel

  11. Congratulations on your new book! I don’t have a favorite setting. I enjoy reading about a variety of places. Like learning about Mackinac Island in your Candy-Coated series.

  12. Congratulations – Coast, Candy and Cats – the high C’s is really cool

  13. I don’t really have a favorite setting. I love the ocean, mountains and everything in between. It’s the story that counts, not where it happens.

    1. Hi Terry, you are absolutely correct on that! It is the story that matters.

  14. My favorite would be some place with castles. For example Ireland. To me, castles seem historical, mysterious, sometimes even eerie.
    Thanks for recipe

    1. Crystal, you are the winner of A Matter of Hive and Death! I’ll try to contact you through your blog or you can email me your address at nancyjparra at yahoo dot com

  15. Congratulations on your new release! I grew up in Michigan and my Sister lives in Holland, about four miles from Lake Michigan. I guess my favorite setting is a costal setting. The Candy Coated Mysteries are one of my favorite series and I’m looking forward to reading the Honey-comb series.

    1. Dianne, I think you can take a person out of Michigan, but you can’t take Michigan out of a person- lol!

  16. Congratulations on the new book! I love settings by beaches or near water.

  17. Best of luck with your new book! I purchased and read the first book in this series, Death Bee Comes Her and enjoyed it! I like smaller town settings either on the coast or in the mountains.

  18. Congratulations on your book! Love the book cover, so cute!!! I love a small town beach setting in books, always a cozy feel.

    Thanks for the chance!!!

  19. My favourite setting is always near the water, whether it is summer or winter. I live on Lake Erie and grew up along the St. Lawrence Seaway. My favourite sound in the world is waves crashing on the shore.
    Your books sounds fabulous! Congratulations

  20. I love books set near bodies of water, like Key West and the Food Critic mysteries set there. But I also love anything set in Texas and New Orleans. I have always wanted to go to Mackinac Island, so I can’t wait to read your books set there and the bee books sound very good. My neighbor has hives. The honey is very strong. I will share your books with her as I usually do anyway. Thanks.

  21. I am partial to small coastal settings since I live about 20 minutes from the closest beach.

  22. I prefer small coastal town settings since we live about 20 minutes from our nearest beach.

  23. I cannot say that I have a favorite setting. I just love them all. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

  24. I prefer scenes that take place in areas like Northern CA, where I live.

  25. I love mountain settings! It’s where I grew up and I just find it relaxing and nostalgic.

  26. There are a few settings I look for especially in cozies. Sometimes it depends on my mood but my favorites are: beach/shore/boardwalk, tropical locals, mountains (w/lots of snow), PNW, Salem – anMassachusetts, gothic castles and English countrysides.

    I also LOVE Halloween and Autumn themed cozies.

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