Many of you know how much I love science fiction, but you may not know what my other favorite genre is. Actually, I’m a HUGE cozy mystery fan.
I had the opportunity to share this little known fact with some writer friends a few weeks ago and was shocked to learn that not everyone knows what a cozy mystery is. But this is understandable when I think about it. The publishing heyday of cozies was back in the 80s and 90s.
I grew up reading classic cozies from Agatha Christie. But I cut my teeth on some of the masters like Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody, Jacqueline Kirby, and Vicky Bliss), Alisa Craig—writing as Charlotte MacLeod (Grub-and-Stakers, Peter Shandy, and Sarah Kelling & Max Bittersohn), Carolyn Hart (Death on Demand, and Henri O), and Ellis Peters (Brother Cadfael).
There are some contemporary examples, most notably the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series and Sue Grafton’s alphabet series.
So what sets a cozy mystery apart?
I guarantee you it’s not just about little old ladies with cats. Yes, Murder She Wrote falls within the genre, but there is so much more to these amazing books.
A cozy mystery is a story where the sex and violence happen off stage and are down-played. The hero is usually a heroine. A large number of the protagonists are women. But these women are intelligent, resourceful, and intuitive. They aren’t usually professionals who would be involved with crime, but there are notable exceptions.
The idea behind a cozy is an intellectual read where the reader has the same chance of solving the mystery as the writer. The writer must play fair and place the clues where the reader can find them. But they do NOT have to be obvious.
The setting of cozies is of prime importance. Even f set in a larger metropolis, the idea is to create a village setting where the main characters gather and know each other. In a cozy the setting is truly one of the characters and because the reader identifies with it so much series are common.
The crime is always (okay, there are a few exceptions, but I’m not fond of them) a murder and the murderer is typically rational and often highly intelligent and articulate.
A lot of cozies revolve around a career or hobby, such as Diane Mott Davidson’s cozies which revolve around cooking.
Now that I’ve introduced you to the genre, do you have any favorites? (Can anyone say, The Cat Who?) I’d love to know and discover some new cozy gems.
Don’t forget to join the conversation!