Did you ever wonder what makes a cozy mystery, ‘cozy’? What does the term actually mean? These six elements of a cozy mystery are key factors in deciding what makes a mystery fit into the cozy genre:
1. Cozy Mysteries are Clean
Cozy mysteries are squeaky clean. What does that mean? It means there is no graphic violence, and the murder is never described. Is there action? Of course – but never overly violent or disturbing action. Cozy mystery readers are there to solve a puzzle, not to read about the details of a violent murder.
2. Cozy Mysteries Have Romance – Without the Sex
It’s quite common (but not necessary) for cozy mysteries to have some element of romance. If romance is present in the story, it is never the main story line – only secondary to the plot.
And by far the biggest rule is, if romance is present, sex is not. Just as cozy mystery readers are not interested in reading about graphic violence, neither are they interested in reading about sex.
The romance is sweet, innocent, and often part of a love triangle. Kisses and soft touches are acceptable, but anything more intimate is not. Cozies keep it lovely and simple.
3. The Sleuth in a Cozy Mystery is an Amateur
While there are a few exceptions, traditionally the sleuth in a cozy mystery is an amateur. And more often than not, this amateur is a woman.
Part of the allure of a cozy mystery is that a civilian solves the crime. The reader could easily be the sleuth, and most cozy mysteries are designed so the reader solves the mystery along with the sleuth character.
However, it is common for the sleuth to have a connection with someone in law enforcement. A father, a brother, a beau – anyone who will help them get access to information they need to solve the crime. This is an important element of a cozy mystery.
4. Cozy Mysteries Have Cats and Dogs
Cozy mystery readers love their animals, and they love having them in the books they read. Most of the time the sleuth in a cozy owns a cat or a dog. But, pets are not limited to these two favourite species. Any animal will do, including sheep, crows or even chameleons.
The pet may or may not be helpful in solving the mystery.
5. Cozy Mysteries Take Place in a Small Town
Cozy mysteries take place in a small town or a village. This adds to the coziness of the story. The sleuth is part of a close knit community, and the setting is often described in the story, giving the reader the desire to live there (despite all the murders). This is one reason cozy mysteries in British towns are so popular. Seaside communities are also often used.
And let’s not forget the cozy feeling of Christmas in a small town! Most cozy mystery series have a book centered around Christmas time and a holiday murder.
6. Cozy Mysteries Often Contain Baking, Crafts or Hobbies
It is very common for cozy mysteries to have some sort of baking, cooking, or crafting element as part of the story. There are a whole slew of culinary mysteries which include recipes in the back. Some books focus on other hobbies like scrapbooking or knitting. A lot of these stories include patterns and ideas as well.
Cozy mystery readers love their crafts, hobbies and food. Anything they can get in addition to a good mystery story, pleases them and keeps them coming back for more.
Other Common Elements
Cozy mystery readers are… readers! And because they are readers, they love books. A common vocation for a cozy mystery sleuth is a librarian or a bookstore owner. Again, this comes with long descriptions of the cozy feeling one gets from being around stacks of books.
Other common elements of a cozy mystery include tea and coffee drinking, or hobbies like birdwatching or gardening. They often also include spiritual themes like inspirational stories with Christian faith, and on the opposite end, paranormal mysteries with witchcraft.
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