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What is a Cozy Murder Mystery?

Updated on November 20, 2015

♥ ~ * ♥ Comfy Cozy Chair ♥ * ~ ♥

Don't you wish you were sitting here right now? AND reading a cozy mystery novel? AND drinking a cup of tea? Could anything be more heavenly --- other than actual Heaven?
Don't you wish you were sitting here right now? AND reading a cozy mystery novel? AND drinking a cup of tea? Could anything be more heavenly --- other than actual Heaven?

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!


Murder Ink: The Mystery Reader's Companion
Murder Ink: The Mystery Reader's Companion

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.

Susan Oleksiw writes, in her article "Cozy Mystery" ---- link appears below:

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.

Chess Puzzle

Source

Ok, Now We Know What Cozies DON'T Have, But What DO They Have?

Fair question.

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

Pop Cozy Quiz

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    • Huntgoddess profile imageAUTHOR

      Huntgoddess 

      3 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      LOL bwa, ha, ha ha, Au Fait.

      OMG, I can't stop laughing.

      Thanks so much for reading my Hub and commenting.

      LOL.

      You made my day here, kiddo!

      God bless.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      3 years ago from North Texas

      Never heard of a 'cozy' in relation to a murder mystery before. But now I've learned all about them -- or have I? ;)

      Interesting. :)

    • Huntgoddess profile imageAUTHOR

      Huntgoddess 

      4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Yes, I have seen that series by Joanne Fluke. I think the series has a name, but I can't think of it ?

      Sounds like they fit the bill for a cozy, though.

      Sorry you did not like the main character :-( That can be a total bummer.

      Thanks for reading my Hub, and thanks for stopping by. So glad you liked it.

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very interesting! I've read lots of these mysteries (perfect for a little light reading in the winter), but didn't know they had a name. I suppose the series by Joanne Fluke (Sugar Cookie Murder, Key Lime Pie Murder, etc. ) would be "cozies, since the murders are off-screen, not too gruesome and she is an amateur sleuth. I've read all of that series, and whereas I don't particularly like the main character, the stories were enjoyable.

      Thanks for the information! Enjoyed reading this!

    • Huntgoddess profile imageAUTHOR

      Huntgoddess 

      7 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      LOL --- Thanks, JG.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Not a problem, HG. I'd forgotten I even left a comment! ;D

    • Huntgoddess profile imageAUTHOR

      Huntgoddess 

      7 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      JG, I don't know why I haven't answered your excellent comment yet. So sorry. I think I was probably in a big rush that day.

      Yes, definitely, my definition is about like yours, I think. Thanks so much.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      My idea of a cozy is one where the victim is "gently murdered"...i.e. by poison, suffocation by pillow, or a surprise dunking in the bathtub or the lily pond in the garden. Plus, the main character must be an amateur sleuth who has a nose for clues the police overlook, and the author leaves details of any sexual encounters the characters might be involved in to the imagination of the reader. ;D

    • Huntgoddess profile imageAUTHOR

      Huntgoddess 

      8 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Hey, thanks a lot, Minnetonka Twin. Sorry it took so long to get back to you here. I don't like to be rude like that.

      So glad you passed the test. Where should I send your diploma? LOL Suitable for framing --- but frame not included. LOL (Just kidding! --- Lest it's not obvious.)

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      Yae, I passed the test. Thanks for the great information on the cozy mysteries. It sounds like something I would really enjoy reading. I will check out more of your hubs on this. UP and Useful and Awesome:)

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