I probably don’t have to tell you cozy mysteries are in a class by themselves. Cozy readers are some of the most passionate people I know, but in case anyone out there is stumbling onto the term for the first time, let me tell you the cozy “rules.” Okay, I used quotes because I’m kind of a most-things-are-probably-guidelines girl. Plus, “rules” seems so rude and totalitarian, doesn’t it? I prefer Guidelines. Maybe that’s me?
Cozy guidelines are easy. These lively little mysteries are part of the crime fiction family, but they are also so much more….They’re fun! Cozies always have an amateur, sleuth. Once upon a time most of those were female, nowadays there are plenty of fabulous male amateur sleuths as well. (My heroine's a female, so I'll go with "She" for this post). The heroine’s drawn into the investigation and has to learn as she goes. She lives in a small community where she’s comfortable. The secondary characters are rich and interactive.
Cozies don’t linger on gory crime scene details and they don’t use excessive foul language. They also don’t describe intimate scenes between characters. Ugh, that really does sound like rules, huh?
BUT! Hang in here with me. This is the best part…Cozies are meant to make a reader smile, keep her hooked and hopefully keep her guessing. Cozies can have romance, but it never overwhelms the plot. Cozies are written for quick-witted readers and the storyline moves at a clip. Plus, like any good mystery, red herrings abound! I do enjoy a good bunny trail. Just when I think I know what’s happening, the author yanks the carpet out from under me and I’m reading faster to find out what will happen next! Cozies are a thrill! I’m still getting my head around the fact I’ve written one. No. Three!
Many small things come together to form a good cozy, but my favorite aspect of this genre is the humor. I love to laugh and I really really like to make others laugh. A lot. So, when I pick up a novel that can make me smile, it’s a keeper – and it’s often a cozy. If I can make a reader laugh? You can’t see me, but I’m shaking my head. If I make a reader laugh, I’ve nailed it. I win at authoring.
In my Patience Price Myeteries, I’ve taken a curiosity-driven island counselor and taunted her with endless amounts of intrigue and obstacles. She’s dealt with body parts washing up on the beach, a reality show come to town, locals worried about their safety, a shark infestation, birders arriving by the busload, money problems and some pretty serious threats on her life.
If that’s not enough, she’s got family drama. Her adoring, hippie parents don’t understand her Type-A ways. Her current love interest doesn’t understand why her ex-soul mate is always hanging around and her ex doesn’t really see the problem. The town’s dividing up publicly on the topic of her love life and hey! They even made shirts.
I think women have the most fun with cozies because we understand the struggle. We juggle the same things, minus the murder, I hope. We deal with family and friends and romance. Community commitments and punch a time clock. Women know all about how easy it is to leave the house wearing two different shoes. We’ve all tried to dial our glasses and put the phone on our nose. Imagine trying to solve a murder too. It’s crazy, but when it’s someone else’s crazy…..so it’s fun to watch the antics unfold.
Car bombs? Shootings? Abductions? Sure. But what about golf cart chases, cat dates and missing eyebrows? Absolutely! In a cozy mystery, there’s no end to the antics an amateur can get herself into while following the clues to a killer. I shudder to think how far I’d make it in a real sleuthing scenario. I’m going to guess not very far.
Are you a cozy reader? What’s your favorite series? Do you think you’d make a good sleuth?