When I first began reading mysteries, years ago, I started with Lawrence Block, Sue Grafton, and Robert B. Parker. I loved Parker’s Spencer. I also read some of the classics, starting with Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest, Poe’s short story, “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and of course, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Poirot.
But it wasn’t until just a couple of years ago that I read my first actual cozy mystery, On What Grounds, the first Cleo Coyle Coffeehouse mystery, after a friend recommended it. I loved the novel. It took place a coffeehouse in Greenwich village in New York City, and had humor, a little romance, and best of all, a fun mystery. Since then I’ve read a number of cozies, as well as more traditional mysteries like Nemesis by Dame Agatha and The Singing Sands by Josephine Tey, who deserves a blog post here in her honor.
I didn’t think I’d like cozies. I saw many come across the return counter at the library, and helped patrons find them, but until that first Cleo Coyle Coffeehouse mystery, I didn’t understand the attraction.
My how things have changed since then. Cozies have become my favorite sort of mystery, including Joanna Fluke’s magnum opus, the Hannah Swenson Lake Eden baking mysteries. I cheerfully said how much I love Hannah’s sleuthing and her little world to a friend who prefers much darker, grittier stories. Which is fine, not every book and every genre is for every reader.
I’ve also become a huge fan of cozy mysteries on television as well, starting with Queens of Mystery, Father Brown and Midsomer Murders, followed by Columbo, Monk, and now, at long last, Murder, She Wrote.
What is it about cozies I like so much? In a word, everything. The humor, the fast pace, the fun mysteries, the colorful characters, the worlds they inhabit, and the kindness and caring. Sure, being nosy can seem intrusive, but it’s always in a good cause when it comes to being a cozy. I prefer my cozy sleuths more intrepid than fearful, more determined than uncertain when striving to get to the bottom of the mystery they find themselves in.
I love seeing order restored and justice done, but above all, I like being engrossed in a book. Again, not every cozy will appeal to every reader, and I’m no exception. But when the right cozy pulls me, it’s pure reading bliss.
My own library cozy, A Shush Before Dying, currently on pre-order, is aimed at readers who like a fast pace, an engaging storyline, humor, hints of romance, a cast of characters that they would enjoy spending time with, and readers who love libraries and the stories they tell.
These days more than ever, as a reader, viewer, and especially as a writer, I appreciate the lighter side of things. Comedy gives us the gift of laughter, and I hope my own mysteries can bring some of that, along with a mystery that keeps the reader turning pages.
Here’s to cozy mysteries and the comfort and fun that they bring.