Thursday, August 26, 2010

What Makes a Cozy by Christine Duncan

Recently I've noticed a lot of talk about what makes up the cozy genre. Basically, if people don't read cozy they tend to view it as sort of old-fashioned or as someone said on one of the mystery sites recently, give off the... scent of camphor balls and old wet wool. One of the nicest things said in that discussion was that cozies were set in a small setting like an old English manor house and the hero/heroine was an amateur sleuth.
I am here to set the story straight. The only thing true about any of that junk you read in the last paragraph is that cozy heroines are amateur sleuths. There is no graphic language or graphic violence. Cozies are more about a puzzle to solve. But cozies today are hardly old-fashioned.
Today's cozies are set in the real world. Probably a lot more like YOUR world than the PI novel you just set down. They can be in a small town (doesn't have to be in the UK let alone a manor house.)And they can deal with some pretty harsh problems. For instance, Sarah Graves, who writes one of my favorite cozy series--Home Repair is Homicide, has the heroine dealing with her son's drug addiction, and her own not so wonderful childhood.
My own cozy series, is set in a battered women's shelter.
Cozy writers like Jennie Bentley, and Joyce and Jim Lavene have fun series with savvy heroines. Others, like Monica Ferris may have a hobby type setting.
Folks, don't trash 'em, till you've tried 'em. And if you haven't read a cozy since Miss Marple, you really haven't tried 'em.

Christine Duncan is the author of the Kaye Berreano mystery series. Book two of the series, Safe House is available now.


Jean Henry Mead said...

I also write what might be termed cozies with suspense, and some of my favorite mystery novels are cozies, but I also like to read in some of the other subgenres as long as they don't give me nightmares. :)

Helen Ginger said...

I agree with you. I tend to lean toward thrillers, but lately have been reading more cozies. They're quite fun.

Terry Odell said...

Good post; good reminder. I've been reading Cleo Coyle's back list, and aside from the mystery, there's often some great information--she shares recipes and more than you could ever want to know about coffee in her Village Blend series.

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Some cozies DO have graphic violence and/or language. Not as graphic as some other things, but the cozy landscape is changing.