When I was in grade school I learned about fiction, nonfiction, biography, and autobiography. As I grew up I noticed more and more book genres. Lately I’ve been interested in the Cozy Mystery genre. Doesn’t sound like it goes together, does it?
The following is from Wikipedia:
“Cozy mysteries” began in the late 20th century as a reinvention of the Golden Age whodunit; these novels generally shy away from violence and suspense and frequently feature female amateur detectives. Modern cozy mysteries are frequently, though not necessarily in either case, humorous and thematic (culinary mystery, animal mystery, quilting mystery, etc.)
Lately cozy mysteries are popping up everywhere. They are even in the Christian Fiction market. Agatha Christie’s mysteries are classified as cozy mysteries so I guess that I’ve been interested in this genre for a while. After I read When the Sandpiper Calls by Peggy Darty I was curious to find out more about why they call them “cozy” mysteries.
Here are two exerpts from an article at Suite 101.com.
The cozy is an intellectual puzzle. They are preferred by women who are intelligent and not inclined to read fiction. The books generally have strong, quirky characters and the people are at least as interesting as the plot. They are a study in human nature, …
Cozy mysteries are delightful light reads and they are improving as they become more popular. The puzzles are becoming more sophisticated and the characters are achieving a greater variety, from the sweet to the sinister. While it is unlikely they will appeal to the average male in the near future, they are certainly an entertaining break for intelligent women with good vocabularies and probing minds.
Sounds good to me; except I am inclined to read fiction. I would like to think I’m intelligent, though.
Another of their sentences caught my eye. They said, “Descriptions of the crime scene are normally toned down to avoid upsetting the stomach of the reader, who is likely to be having lunch or rocking a baby as she reads. ” How true!
I found a good article by Stephen P. Rogers titled “Writing the Cozy Mystery.” This is how it starts :
A cozy is a mystery which includes a bloodless crime and contains very little violence, sex, or coarse language. By the end of the story, the criminal is punished and order is restored to the community.
The character solving the crime is often an amateur sleuth who becomes involved because of personal reasons but it is also possible for the character to be a professional: police officer, medical examiner, or private detective.
Many cozies invite the reader to solve the crime first. In those instances, clues should be evident and fair. Red herrings (apparent clues which distract the reader) may be included and all the suspects might appear guilty along the way but these falsehoods should be explained by the end.
So, there you have it. I’ve been reading this genre – just didn’t realize it was called the Cozy Mystery Genre. So far, I like it. Yes, I was a fan of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Trixie Belden was ok, and The Three Investigators were high on my list of favorites.
I found a suspense writing blog that has an article on cozy mysteries. Go to Keep Me In Suspense to read more on this subject.
There’s a website with a big Cozy-Mystery List.