The time of year for cozy mysteries is upon us. When the weather begins to cool down and the pumpkin spice lattes are coming out, one of the very first things that I will reach for, is a good old fashioned cozy mystery. There is something about the wholesome murder mysteries that speaks to me during this time of year. I will actually consume every book of this type that I can get my hands on. This year, with my first day at Coles coming up on Monday, getting my hands on them will be easier than ever.
Despite my all encompassing love for this charming sub-genre, not everyone knows that makes a mystery “cozy”. I usually do my best in a short amount of time by simply saying “think Agatha Christie or the Nancy Drew series” by way of explanation. Today, however, I am going to give my lovely Word Nerds a full break down of the ingredients that mix to create a cozy mystery – as well as a few recommendations of my favourite series.
1. A PG-13 Murder
Alright, so there is murder in these books – naturally. However, while some of them do include bludgeoning, shooting, asphyxiation, etc. the scene is not described in a gruesome way. It’s also usually pretty obvious who the first person to die is going to be. 9 times out of 10 it will be – it’s always someone who has ticked off the vast majority of the characters early on. How else would they have a whole slew of suspects?
2. No Sex, Swearing, or Added Violence
So let’s keep in mind the nature of the beast here. Obviously someone is dead, so there was SOME violence – however, for the rest of the book (although there may be threats of added violence) it’s pretty much violence free. The cast of characters, who usually include a few elderly comic reliefs, must have had theirs mouths washed out with soap as children because in my personal experience I have not seen one swear word written in a cozy mystery that was worse than “damn”.
3. An Amateur Sleuth
So the main character (who usually has a cool job – like owning a bookstore or a bakery or being a librarian) or someone that they truly care about will become one of the main suspects – or their place of business will be closed during their busy season for the investigation to continue. In order to restore order and take the pressure off of their loved ones (or work place), the main character will begin to do an investigation of their own – a lot of the time finding out pertinent information before the police do.
4. A Law-Enforcement Love Interest
So this is not a must for ALL cozy mysteries, however it is kind of a common theme. I mean, who doesn’t love a man/woman in uniform right? When I think about it, if I was an amateur sleuth trying to save my bookstore, I’d probably be spending a lot of time with the hunky detective too right? It will start with a nudge by a friend mentioning to the character how “cute” or “dreamy” detective so-and-so is, very quickly followed by “I just want to find out who killed *victim*”. One thing leads to another and suddenly they’re having dinners to “update” one another over wine and steak.
5. A Theme
All cozy mysteries have a theme and there are A LOT of themes out there. Baking, Book sellers, crochet, knitting, embroidery, sewing, thrift shops, librarians, cats, dogs, horses, antiques, muffins, donuts, pie, christmas trees, gardening, tea shop, coffee shop, supernatural, home improvement, etc. THERE ARE SO MANY POSSIBILITIES AND I MUST READ THEM ALL.
In closing, there are cozy mysteries for every hobby, interest, or life style – but be aware that the cozy is definitely not for everyone. If you’re looking for an edge of your seat thriller, this is probably not the genre for you. I mean, I’ve read cozy mysteries that had me up well into the night to find out who the killer is, but I’m kind of a fluffy bunny that way. If you want a charming mystery, set in a small town (usually a tourist town) that is a fun, smooth, read then I will list a few of my favourites to get you started:
The Shores Mysteries – Hilary MacLeod
The Cat Who… Series – Lillian Jackson-Braun
The Merry Muffin Mysteries – Victoria Hamilton
The Magical Cat Mysteries – Sofie Kelly
The Bewitching Mysteries – Madelyn Alt
Thanks for reading Word Nerds! Keep an eye out in the coming week for my first cozy mystery review for the blog – Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost!