I never knew “cozy” mysteries, or “cozies” were a thing until recently. I discovered recently that these are a sub-genre of mysteries/crime fiction that enjoy a dedicated following.
So what characterizes a “cozy mystery” for those of us who are among the uninitiated:
- Usually, the crime-solver is an amateur sleuth and most often, a woman. Think Jessica Fletcher.
- Cozy mysteries are usually set in a small town or village. The more charm the better. Think Cabot Cove. This creates a situation where people readily talk to each other including our amateur sleuth.
- The sleuth usually has a well-connected friend who can help fill in the gaps in their knowledge.
- Many of these are part of a series, and one of the draws is likable, interesting characters, beginning with the sleuth. Think of the Amelia Peabody stories (I didn’t realize they could be characterized as “cozies”).
- Often the cozy theme is connected in some way to the sleuth’s job, hobby, or pet, especially cats, it seems. I’ve even found some with booksellers as the sleuth!
- Cozies assume readers who love to solve mysteries along with the sleuth. You join the sleuth in trying to make sense of the clues while recognizing the red herrings.
- Generally these mysteries are “gentle” in de-emphasizing profanity, explicit sex, and graphic violence or descriptions of murders. Some more recent cozies do have some profanity and adult situations.
These characteristics are not absolute and it seems that what may be “cozy” for one is not for another.
The classic cozy is Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. Among more recent cozy mysteries are the Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton, Lillian Jackson Braun’s “Cat Who” series, and several different series by Rita Mae Brown.
There are some great and far more extensive lists online that go far beyond the few examples I’ve offered. Here are some to get you started if you think you might like to read some cozies, or would like to find a new series:
Looking over this list, I realized I had read and enjoyed and recommended several of these. One page had this statement:
Cozy mysteries have become a booming business. Many cozy mystery readers are intelligent women looking for a “fun read” that engages the mind, as well as provides entertainment… something to “look forward to getting back to.” This is not to say that intelligent men don’t read cozies…they do!
I guess (and hope) that I qualify as one of those “intelligent men!” Sometimes a ” ‘fun read’ that engages the mind” is just the thing.