What is a Cozy Murder Mystery?
♥ ~ * ♥ Comfy Cozy Chair ♥ * ~ ♥
Would a Cozy Be Your Cup of Tea?
Well, cozies have no violence or blood.
Or, do they?
If you read some of the resource material online (some links below) and off, you'll see that there's not exactly a complete consensus on this. Some commentators say that there's violence and blood, but it's "offscreen". Others say that there's violence and blood, but it isn't described in detail, so it doesn't gross us out. Either way, though ---- it's minimal.
Therefore, I always thought the preferred method for murder was poison. Or, maybe lethal gas. I think perhaps blunt instrument, also.
Poison and Gas and Blunt Instrument, Oh, My!!
Violent, but not bloody.
But, now, I'm not so sure about that, either.
One of the essayists on a page in the "Links" section, below, says that the murder weapon can be a silver letter opener. That's violent AND bloody. But, still ---- pretty refined.
Another thing cozies don't have is sex.
Or, do they?
Apparently they can have it, but just not "show" it much. Maybe a little romance here and there. (On the other hand, I've been seeing alleged "cozies" lately where they seem to break this rule, which I don't appreciate. I don't want to have to skip over something. I might miss a part of the story. Yet, I dislike reading about someone's intimate nonsense.)
If you're starting to think, "Hmm --- this cozy mystery business sounds like it would really appeal to old ladies," ---- Bingo!
Dilys Winn founded the first specialty bookseller of mystery books in the U.S.
*b - I - N - G - O* !
Tired of sex, but love a great puzzle, and don't want to clean up any nasty crime scenes
That's also Miss Marple --- who, as you know, is Agatha Christie's most famous detective, second only to Hercule Poirot himself. (But, Poirot is not an amateur.)
The Seattle Mystery Bookshop website says:
"In her entertaining 1977 book, Murder Ink, Dilys Winn described the cozy as 'a small village setting, a hero[ine] with faintly aristocratic family connections, a plethora of red herrings, and a tendency to commit homicide with sterling silver letter openers and poisons imported from Paraguay.' "
Cosy is as Cozy Does
Not so sure I agree with that definition, but one thing that seems very clear: Perhaps there's no consensus on the definition anyway.
The Oxford English Dictionary says that the word can be spelled various ways: cosy, cosey, cozey. Apparently "cosy" is preferred in the U.K.; "cozy" here in the U.S.
The OED also has an entry --- "A cosy little murder mystery," dating from 1958, published in The Observer.
A term first used in a review in the Observer 25 May 1958, "cozy" refers to a sub genre of the novel of detection defined by its light tone, element of fun, and closed world. A detective, amateur or professional, investigates the eruption of violence in an apparently tranquil world; the cast of characters is limited, and suspects are known to each other. The plot is often intricate, the story told with a sense of humor, the setting one of material comfort, and the emphasis on verbal jousting rather than physical violence. The quintessential cozy is a murder in a country house during a snowstorm as family and friends gather for a holiday, when no one can escape, or rescue the houseguests, from their opulent prison.
Ok, Now We Know What Cozies DON'T Have, But What DO They Have?
I'm no expert --- although I do love cozies, and try to read them frequently. So, in my humble opinion, here's what they DO have:
1. Usually an amateur female sleuth. The "official" crime-fighters keep saying she should keep out of it.. The amateur sleuth turns out to be correct.
(I don't know if Poirot mysteries are considered cozies or not. Poirot is neither female nor amateur.)
2. A sleepy, quiet little town, village, or other municipality, where "nothing ever happens."
Or, does it?
3. A large list of characters who can be eliminated one by one when the amateur sleuth interviews them all.
Or, can they?
Special Relationship with the Officials
But, it does seem that the amateur frequently has some sort of a special relationship with the official crime-fighters.
Skye Denison is going to marry the local chief of police, Wally Boyd, in the Scumble River Mysteries.
Charlotte Adams, the amateur sleuth and full-time organizer in the series by Mary Jane Maffini, went to high-school with Nick and Pepper Monaghan, two cops who are now married to each other --- perhaps not too happily.
Angelina Amalfi, the food critic in Cooking Most Deadly --- which I refer to in my Hub entitled, "Mystery Log" --- is dating Paavo Smith, also a cop. Paavo has asked Angelina to marry him.
Jean, the main character in Fatal Flip is the mom-in-law of a police officer. The mom and the daughter --- the cop's wife (also Jean)--- both solve crimes against the advice of the local police department. There are some awkward moments with mom and daughter solving mysteries while talking on the phone, doing the household chores and taking care of the baby, all the while the cop husband of Jean (younger) is sitting right at the table, eating.
Claire Cosi (!), the coffeehouse manager and amateur sleuth of the Coffeehouse Mysteries, is dating Detective Mike Quinn, of the (first?) precinct. Detective Quinn is first cousin to Michael Quinn, of the New York Fire Department.
Victim who Victimized Others?
I have noticed that sometimes the victim in the cozy mystery novel is a villainous character who does not elicit sympathy from the readers.
Maybe that happens in other kinds of mysteries, as well?
When the murder victim is a villain, the murderers become like avengers who mete out justice. --- At least in some ways.
Of course, it's still not okay.
Homicide is always a crime.
Or, is it?
I'm thinking especially of Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie.
Or of The Adventure of Black Peter, by Arthur Conan Doyle.
More about Scumble River
I have some Hubs about the Scumble River Mysteries here on Hubpages. There's a general one, entitled "Scumble River Murder Mysteries Series Books, in Order, Featuring Amateur Sleuth Skye Denison".
There are also seven reviews of individual books from the series: Murder of a Small-Town Honey; Murder of a Snake in the Grass; Murder of a Botoxed Blonde; Murder of a Chocolate-Covered Cherry; Murder of a Royal Pain; Murder of a Wedding Belle and, Murder of a Creped Suzette .
Online Resources About Cozy Murder Mysteries
- Cozy Mystery Authors | Madison Public Library
A reference librarian at a major university developed this amazingly comprehensive list of authors, along with each one's amateur sleuth; the sleuth's "day job"; and city. "A Cozy Mystery usually takes place in a benign universe, in a small . . ."
- Cozy Mysteries |Definition |Best Authors |Favorite Cozy mystery writers
Cozy Mysteries | British, American, Australian cozy mystery authors
- Cozy | Seattle Mystery Bookshop
Think Agatha Christie. Think cats. Think culinary. The cozy is a mystery in which a murder, perhaps violent, is committed without bringing significant unpleasantness to the reader, or to the other characters in the story.
- Definition of a Cozy Mystery | Cozy-Mystery.Com
What makes a cozy mystery a "cozy mystery?" Definition of a cozy mystery. The author of this website discusses the different ideas of what may or not be a cozy. It's a highly subjective matter, apparently. Readers have many comments.
- Definition of a Cozy Mystery Book an Addendum to My Previous Definition The Cozy Mystery List Blog
"The other day I received a letter from a site reader who said she was quite happy about finding my site. She knew she had the right place when she read my description of what a Cozy Mystery is. . . "
- Mystery Fanfare
A blog about all kinds of mysteries, not just cozies. It looks good anyway, though.
- One Writer's World
Susan Oleksiw has been writing and publishing since she was a teenager . . .Susan is the author of two mystery series. The first features Chief of Police Joe Silva in the Mellingham Series. The second features American Anita Ray . . .
Online Resources About Making or Buying a Tea Cozy --- They Go Well with Cozy Mysteries.
- Custom Cozies
Custom Cozies, your online store for custom-made Tea Cozies, Teapots, and Tea Accessories. You select the shape, size, fabric and trim, and we'll make your "Custom Cozy"!
- Granny Tea Cozy Tutorial! | Crochet with Raymond
Very, very nice blog from a crocheter in New Zealand. Raymond is her Siamese cat. He's featured in the photo on this page. She's obviously a master crocheter. Lots of eye candy with her creations.
- Free Pattern for Crochet Tea Cozy
This site has a list of other kinds of cozies, too --- for the laptop, coffee mug . . .
- TLC Home "Quilted Tea Cozy Pattern"
A Quilted Tea Cozy Pattern makes a charming addition to your kitchen décor. Download a free quilt pattern and get started on a fun quilt project.
- How to Make a Tea Cozy | eHow.com
How to Make a Tea Cozy. A tea cozy is a cover for your teapot, which will keep the kettle warm or simply cover it when not in use. Traditionally they are knitted and resemble winter caps, but you can make a quick tea...