Today is National Cozy Mystery Day!
I love mystery books, but cozy mystery is my favorite. I love all sorts of mystery books, but cozy mystery is my favorite. There’s too much love for these trope-filled easy reads. So what is cozy mystery, and what makes it stand out?
What Classifies A Cozy Mystery?
Overall, a cozy mystery has a light-hearted tone. It’s optimistic, even though it typically involves a homicide. Cozy mystery novels aren’t graphic, which means there’s no heavy violence, sex, or cursing.
All cozies have some things in common, and yet they all turn out unique from one another. So let’s go over some common traits within cozy mysteries.
A cozy mystery usually takes place in a small town, rural area, seaside village, or something or other. Rarely are they set in big cities.
In most cozies, they’re set in a real-life area. For example, many paranormal cozy mystery books are set in Salem, Massachusetts. Many other books tend to be set in quiet areas of Maine.
If it’s a quiet area, it’s the perfect scenery for a cozy murder mystery.
The Amateur Sleuth
It’s not a cozy mystery if you don’t have someone butting into the investigation which has no idea what they’re doing.
Sure, there’s a detective or private eye on the case, but the story’s main amateur detective is often a young woman (or man, but typically a woman) who sticks her nose in where it doesn’t belong.
(She’s part of the gossip chain around town, you see. So, therefore, she hears what the police don’t.)
The protagonist often has something to do with the crime, anyway. Whether they’re trying to clear their name, a friend’s, or they were on duty at the coffee shop when the victim kicked the bucket.
Speaking of coffee shops, all cozy mysteries have something else in common: there’s always a gimmick. For example, the title is often written in alliteration or a pun (sometimes both, which is always impressive to me).
The book cover also showcases highlights from the book, such as the animal companion or the hobby (or job) the protagonist does. That’s the gimmick.
Most cozies have at least one of the following:
- Culinary (baking, cooking, etc.)
- An animal companion (usually a dog or cat)
- Bookshop or library (often a book club is involved)
- Coffee shop
- Artist or writer
- Small business owner (café, caterer, florist, etc.)
Of course, there are plenty more that I’m missing.
Murder Wrapped Up In 250 Pages
One other thing about cozy mysteries is that they’re quick reads. Of course, they can be as long as they need to tell the story.
However, most are typically between 250 and 300 pages. I’ve seen some a tad over 300 pages, and I’ve even read some that are as short as 200 or even 150 pages long.
Also, they typically revolve around murder. It’s funny knowing that cozy mystery stories are light-hearted, yet nine out of ten are about death.
Lots To Love About Cozy Mysteries
Cozy mystery novels can be clichéd at times. The genre is filled with many tropes. But, if done well and done uniquely, the cozy mystery genre will be endless.
Rachel Poli is an indie author, podcaster, and content writer working on her debut cozy mystery novel.
Although she favors mystery, Rachel is a multi-genre author with too many ideas and characters in her head, often experimenting with short stories and flash fiction.
When she’s not writing, she’s reading, organizing something, or playing video games. She currently resides in New England with her zoo.