While I know how I define a cozy mystery, I’ve had several friends asking me lately what exactly is a cozy mystery. Read on to find out what makes a book a cozy mystery, at least to me.
The setting of a cozy mystery is normally a small town or village. Whether it’s Sleepyside, New York (Trixie Belden), St. Mary Mead, England (Miss Marple) , or just Wilfred, Oregon (Josie Way in Witch Way Librarian Mysteries), they never take place in a city. Everybody needs to be able to know everyone else. It’s part of the story and the reason why our main character can be the sleuth.
The main character is generally a female. She is never a professional detective, whether as part of law enforcement or not. She typically is college-educated (but not required). Sometimes she’s a librarian. At times, she’s an author (Jessica Fletcher, anyone?). But overall, she’s a member of the small town, even if she’s newly arrived to the town.
Now one of the secondary characters has to be a member of the police force or some way for the main character to get additional information that she wouldn’t otherwise have access to, like the cute EMT in The Secret, Book, & Scone Society. Or another example is in Halloween Hayride Murder, where one of the guys that Tessa is dating is a local cop.
Yet, the secondary characters aren’t just there for the sleuth to pump for information. There is always at least one best friend or new friend in the mix as well. For Brighton in If the Broom Fits, it’s Annika Skeenbauer, someone from the witch clan that Brighton’s family has a feud with.
Most, if not all, cozy mysteries include a love interest for the main character. What I have noticed in cozies lately is in the first book of a series, the main character becomes part of a love triangle, which is resolved in later books. This is not my favorite by any means. I prefer books where the love interest is clearly laid out at the beginning. I mean, I have to know who to root for!
Now you might be wondering what I mean about off page. Well, most of the violence (i.e. murder) occurs off page. Sometimes (okay, most of the time) our main character finds the body. As a reader, you’ll rarely see violence or sex or even graphic words for that matter on the page. Kisses will happen, but everything else happens off page.
The main focus of a cozy mystery is the mystery. Usually there’s a single murder that must be solved, but sometimes the authors throw a curveball in there and add another one. Still, the main focus of the story is solving the mystery and the best part- you, the reader, get to solve it along with the sleuth.
Who reads cozy mysteries?
If you’re a fan of Murder, She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder, Hannah Swenson mysteries, Murder 101, or Mystery Woman TV shows, you would like cozy mysteries. If you grew up reading Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, and/or the Hardy Boys, you would like cozy mysteries. So what have you been reading lately?
You can check out all the cozy mysteries I’ve read this year, HERE.
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