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It's a Mystery 6/8/2013

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Cozies Revisited

Several years ago I posted a blog about the subgenre of Mysteries known as Cozies.  Today these continue to be one of the most popular types of mystery.  As previously written, there are a number of characteristics that make a mystery a cozy.  They include:

  • An amateur sleuth, usually a woman, and usually college-educated.  They tend to be well-liked and are able to get witnesses/suspects to open up to them.
  • An amateur sleuth who is not a police officer, medical examiner, or detective, but usually has a connection, often romantic, to someone who is.  This allows them to obtain inside information to help them solve the mystery/murder.
  • A small town or village as the setting, allowing most of the characters and suspects to know each other.
  • A number of red herring clues that the sleuth and reader must sift through to solve the mystery/crime.  More brains than brawn are required of the protagonist.
  • The lack of graphic violence, profanity, or sex.

There are a wide range of categories of cozies, beginning with the classic British ones, especially those of Agatha Christie.  Other categories include historical settings, animal themes, culinary, paranormal, vacations, holidays, and hobbies.  I would say that among the most popular are the culinary and hobby ones, especially craft-related, because the books often include recipes, patterns, and instructions.  A new trend among the food-themed ones is healthy eating, such as the Gourmet De-Lite series by Peg Cochran, and a new title, Gluten for Punishment, by Nancy Parra, which includes gluten-free recipes.

One of the most interesting aspects of cozy mysteries is the profession of the protagonist.  New this spring and summer are books about ballroom dancing, a consignment shop, stay-at-home dads, museum workers, a glee club, a soup shop, and an Italian chef.  Look for a new series by Kylie Logan (aka Cleveland's own Casey Daniels), author of the Button Box series.  Her new title, Mayhem at the Orient Express, features the League of Literary Ladies.  Add these professions to the already popular ones of candle-making, soap-making, scrapbooking, knitting, bookstore owners, caterers, libraries, book clubs, wedding planners, and pet-sitters.

A co-worker just commented this week on the titles of cozies and how some catch his attention as he passes a mystery display because they are so "punny".  They can certainly make you chuckle or groan.  A number of cozy authors are known for their "play-on-words" titles.  Consider, for example, Jacklyn Brady's Piece of Cake series, with titles such as Arsenic and Old Cake and A Sheetcake Named Desire.  Julie Hyzy's White House Chef mysteries include Affairs of Steak and Eggsecutive Orders.  And Avery Aames's Cheese Shop mysteries feature titles such as Lost and Fondue, The Long Quiche Goodbye, and To Brie or Not to Brie.  Check out the titles of Tamar Myers or Jill Churchill for other classic examples.

Here are some new cozy titles recently added to the WPPL Mystery collection (groan away!!).

Bolin, Janet - Thread and Buried - (Willow Vanderling,, Threadville Mysteries #3).

Burdette, Lucy - Topped Chef - (Hayley Snow, Key West food critic, #3).

Costa, Shelley - You Cannoli Die Once - (Eve Angelotta, chef at family's Italian restaurant, #1).

Mugavero, Liz - Kneading to Die - (Kristan Connor - gourmet pet-food chef, #1).

Rowen, Michelle - Bled and Breakfast - (Sarah Dearly, vampire, Immortality Bites series #2).

And some "not so cozy" mysteries:

Bolton, S.J - Lost - (Lacey Flint, Detective Constable, London, #3).

Castillo, Linda - Her Last Breath (Kate Burkholder, police chief, Ohio Amish country, #5).

Hill, Antonio - The Summer of Dead Toys - (Insp. Hector Salgado, Barcelona, #1).

Housewright, David - The Last Kind Word - (Mac McKenzie, PI, St. Paul, #10).

Lovitt, Zane - The Midnight Promise - (John Dorn, PI, Melbourne, Australia, #1).

Don't forget that our summer reading program, Reading is a Treat, is in full swing.  There are prizes and programs for all age levels.  For more information and to register on line, click on this link:

Treat yourself to some good reads this summer!


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