7 Features Cozy Mystery Fans Demand

cozy mystery fansCozy mystery fans
 are extraordinary people with refined taste. They have certain high expectations in a good cozy. I’m one of them, one of you. The cozy mystery is my favorite genre to read, as well as to write. But even though I’ve read thousands of them, and my favorites more than once (okay, twice), I still couldn’t have explained the features of a cozy to someone who didn’t have the good sense to read them...until I started writing them.

If you are a true fan of the genre, but like me, couldn’t explain the
features, even if you were being threatened with a poisonous dart gun, I’m laying it all out for you.



7 Features Cozy Mystery Fans Demand

The Setting

Cozies are almost always set in a small town, which is often rural. There are a few great things about using a small town as the setting for a murder mystery series.

  • First of all, anyone who has ever lived in one knows firsthand that everyone lives in everyone else’s pocket. This means that there are undoubtedly several people whom you would love to kill off.
  • Secondly, the reader gets to know the characters well because there are so few of them.
  • Thirdly, these characters are typically quirky and fun to create and come to know as a reader.

The Jade Blackwell Mysteries are set in the fictitious village of Aspen Falls, Wyoming, which sits between the Medicine Bow Mountains and Cheyenne, the state capital. In the first book, Blogging is Murder, we do indeed get to meet some eccentric characters including: Millie the octogenarian who owns Tea & Sympathy; Phyllis, the murder victim’s next door neighbor; Sheryl, the feisty, gossiping sheriff dispatcher; Ross Lawson, the sheriff and Jade’s childhood friend; and Gabrielle “Gabby” Langdon, the wrongly-accused Liz’s reluctant attorney.

The Sleuth

The sleuth in cozy mysteries is typically an ordinary person who gets pulled into extraordinary situations and then realizes she has a knack at figuring out (or tripping over) who the villain is. An amateur sleuth must be inquisitive by nature–she needs to be interested in ferreting out the motivations of the people around her.

This is very possibly the biggest draw for me as a reader. Why? Because I’m nebby–as in curious or inquisitive. I get a kick out of seeing characters intrude just to satisfy their inquiring minds. {BTW, I’ve tried to blame my nebbiness on the fact that I am born under the sign of Aquarius, and we are naturally curious creatures. But no one buys it.  One of the best things about becoming a cozy mystery writer is that I can now be nebby anytime I like and call it “research.” 🙂 }

In my first book, Jade Blackwell, a former academic, and current blogger gets pulled into the world of amateur sleuthing when her good friend and fellow blogger, Liz Collins, is being cyber-stalked. Not only that, the miscreant has hacked and hijacked Liz’s blog. But when the hacker is found dead, Liz is suspected of the crime! Unfortunately, Jade unwittingly makes the situation worse and feels responsible for helping Liz out of the mess she’s in.

The Murder

Cozy mystery fans love a twisted plot but don’t care about reading a lot of gory details about the actual murder. Usually, the murder scene is shown “off stage” and is described in general detail. And instead of the sleuth using a bunch of technical forensics to figure out whodunit (she doesn’t have access to that stuff), she uses her little grey cells, as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot would tell her to do.

cozy mystery fans

No, I’m not going to give away all the details of the murder in Blogging is Murder, but I will say that it is tastefully done in the style of a good cozy mystery. The victim is the hacker who is stalking Jade’s friend, Liz. And, I must say, she probably got what she deserved. (Just sayin’.)

The Puzzle

Another thing I love about cozies is that the amateur sleuth figures out the murder by using her analytical skills and gray matter. There’s very little physical action that needs to be taken like there often is in the broader mystery genre. The clues are puzzled out by the protagonist using her smarts and often her female intuition. Cozy mystery fans love the puzzle…the red herrings and clues and all that good stuff. Everything a reader needs to know to solve the crime is in between the pages–they just have to decipher the answer. The villain and his motives must be believable but are often a surprise.

Nope, you aren’t getting anything out of me here. I’ll just say that there are plot twists, red herrings, and clues. But you’ll have to figure it all out for yourself. 🙂

The Title

You can tell if a book is a cozy just by hearing the title or seeing the cover. The title is usually a pun or a play on words. It also often includes a theme from the amateur sleuth’s day job (The Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle), hobby (The Southern Quilting Mystery Series by Elizabeth Craig) or the name of the town (The Maggody/Arly Hanks Mystery Series by Joan Hess).

Obviously, Blogging is Murder fits firmly into the genre title motif. Blogging is a tough business to be in and in the case of Jade and Liz, blogging caused the murder…or did it? {Can you hear my evil laughter?}

The Humor

Oh, yes. There must be humor. Typically it’s quippy and a bit snarky, which is fun to read, and to write. Rather than ROFL type of humor, it’s usually centered around witty retorts and the eccentric townspeople.

I, of course, include my own unique humor (God help you) in the book. In particular, I love to write asides–have Jade speak directly to the reader. I love this in books, films and T.V. shows. It probably goes back to my days in the theatre.

The Series

Cozy mystery fans want to get to know each character and follow them on their adventures and escapades, which is why all great cozy mysteries are in a series. Authors will often have multiple series’ going at once, but the readers know they can expect another installment of zany antics in the near future. This is one of the reasons I personally think “cozy” fits this sub-genre so well. The reader begins to feel that the characters are their friends (or enemies). Cozies are a great way to escape the everyday routine of life by meeting up with old friends in between the covers (of a book).

Yes, once Jade has gotten a taste of what figuring out real whodunits is like, she will be back again and again, discovering who the villain is before Ross, the sheriff can. So stay tuned, cozy mystery fans!

Start reading Blogging is Murder for free by following this link.





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