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What Makes a Cozy Mystery Cozy?

Maria is a book reviewer, editor, and proofreader, as well as a master of public health, master gardener, photographer, artist, and writer.

Just a few of my favorite cozy mysteries

Just a few of my favorite cozy mysteries

Exactly What Is a Cozy Mystery?

The first time I heard the phrase, "cozy mystery", I asked myself the same question. These days, whenever I hear that phrase, I picture the typewriter at the beginning of the old television show, "Murder, She Wrote", hence the photo of my grandfather's old manual typewriter down below.

Essentially, a cozy mystery is a who-done-it that opens with a dead body and the efforts to locate the killer. There is always a non-law enforcement person who solves or helps to solve the mystery. That person is often someone the police consider a local busybody or a nuisance, even though they frequently benefit from the help. Sometimes the police appreciate the efforts of the person, but most often they do not.

Cozy mystery books are usually serial books set in small towns with people who all know each other, which lends more to the warm, cozy ambience.

The Sleuth Is Usually a Woman

The heroine is always an amateur sleuth with a job, but usually a business to run. Yep, I said "heroine" because the amateur crime-solver is almost always a woman. She usually has a family member, best friend, or boyfriend in law enforcement. How else will she get access to confidential information?

I have read only one cozy mystery with a male main character. That was Jack of Hearts, by Christopher Greyson. The heroes or heroines are never seriously hurt, but that doesn't mean no one tries to kill them. As with all books, some are better than others, but most are very good mysteries with plenty of twists and turns, but without profanity or gratuitous violence.

A cozy mystery (or cosy, if you're British) incorporates intrigue and suspense, misdirection with many twists and turns, and some criminal behavior. Most people say they prefer this genre specifically because they lack the profanity and extreme, often graphic violence of thrillers and many other mysteries.

Readers who enjoy this genre, are not interested in having a grisly murder described, but are instead, eager to solve the puzzle of who did it and why. So it's not likely you will ever see the mafia in the pages of a book of this genre.

One of my favorite televised cozy mysteries is the British TV series, "Midsomer Murders", now in its twenty-second season.

My grandfather's typewriter that I used to play on when I was a child. I wonder if I could write a cozy mystery? Hmmm, probably not.

My grandfather's typewriter that I used to play on when I was a child. I wonder if I could write a cozy mystery? Hmmm, probably not.

You've Been Reading and Watching Cozy Mysteries For Years

Without knowing it, I read cozy mysteries as a child. During summer vacation I often read one Hardy Boys book each day. Then came the Nancy Drew series. I read them just as quickly.

Did or do you watch the Hallmark Channel's Morning Show Mysteries, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, Gourmet Detective, or Crossword Mysteries? Maybe you were or still are a fan Agatha Christie (I have a friend who named her cat Miss Marple), or of TV shows such as Monk or Diagnosis Murder. All of these are cozy mysteries. Below, I will share some of my favorites cozies with you.

Some of My Favorite Cozy Mysteries

The books listed below are, by far, not all of my favorite cozy books, but there is only so much space here. These are just a few of the books I believe you cozy mystery lovers will enjoy. In writing this, I noticed that, while most cozy books have female lead characters, many cozy mystery TV shows have male leads. Hmmm. Yes, there are cozy mysteries on television, too. Not so sure? Read on, dear reader.

The Oakwood Book Club Mystery Series: The Antique House Murders

Set in Oakwood, Ohio, The Antique House Murders, by USA Today bestselling author, Leslie Nagel, is book two in a series of four (I still need to read book #1). It has some unexpected twists and turns. Nagel, who lives in Oakwood, is also a recipient of the Agatha Award and the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense, and was shortlisted for the Pat Conroy Beach Music Mystery Prize.

These are the first four books in The Oakwood Book Club Mystery Series.

These are the first four books in The Oakwood Book Club Mystery Series.

The Four Books of the Oakwood Series

  1. The Book Club Murders
  2. The Antique House Murders
  3. The Advice Column Murders
  4. The Codebook Murders
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A Caterer's Guide to Love and Murder

A Caterer's Guide to Love and Murder was penned by Jessica Thompson, who I have learned is quite the baker in addition to being an author. You should see some of her cakes on her Instagram page!

Jessica does a great job of creating an intriguing story with well-developed characters while and addressing multiple ethical and social issues. The second book in this series, A Caterer's Guide to Holidays and Homicide, is due out soon. She has already promised to send me the ARC of it, and I can’t wait to read it.


The Books of the Caterer's Mystery Series, So Far

  1. A Caterer's Guide to Love and Murder
  2. A Caterer's Guide to Holidays and Homicide (cover reveal and publication date coming soon)

Potting Shed Mystery Series: Best Laid Plants

Number 6 in this series by Marty Wingate is Best Laid Plants. This was another book I couldn’t put down. Besides the entertaining mystery set in the Cotswolds, there was a plethora of plant names (including their botanical names) and interesting bits about plants. As a master gardener and plant lover, I was especially enamored by this one.

These are the first four books in The Potting Shed Mystery Series

These are the first four books in The Potting Shed Mystery Series

The Books of the Potting Shed Mystery Series in Order

  1. The Garden Plot
  2. The Red Book of Primrose House
  3. Between a Rock and a Hard Place
  4. The Skeleton Garden
  5. The Bluebonnet Betrayal
  6. Best-Laid Plants
  7. Midsummer Mayhem
  8. Christmas at Greenoak

White House Chef Mystery Series

It’s been quite a while since I read the books of this series by Julie Hyzy, so I can’t really pick a favorite. Olivia Paras is Introduced in Book One as the White House assistant chef. She is soon promoted to head chef, even while solving one mystery after another, much to the chagrin of a stern law enforcement agent who tries unsuccessfully to resist her charms. These books are suspenseful, funny, occasionally sexy, but always cozy.

These are the first four books in the White House Chef Mystery Series.

These are the first four books in the White House Chef Mystery Series.

The Books of the White House Chef Series in Order

  1. State of the Onion
  2. Hail to the Chef
  3. Eggsecutive Orders
  4. Buffalo West Wing
  5. Affairs of Steak
  6. Fonduing Fathers
  7. Home of the Braised
  8. All the President’s Menus
  9. Foreign Eclairs

These Books Have Many Things in Common

Intelligent plots, intriguing mysteries, true-to-life characters, and, of course, that warm and cozy small town feel. Well, Washington, D.C. is not exactly a small town, but the microcosm of the White House could be considered a small town, couldn’t it?

Obviously, I love cozy mysteries, but only those with intelligent plot lines, and well-developed characters. These books have that and more. HubPages limits the number of ads I can put on any article, so I have put only two. Of course, from any ad, you can order anything your little heart desires.

These are just a few of my favorite book of this genre. There are many others that I’m sure you will enjoy. That is, if you are a lover of cozy mysteries.

© 2021 Maria Logan Montgomery

Your Comments Are Always Welcome

Maria Logan Montgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, UsA on July 27, 2021:

Hi John, Thank you for reading my article. It's been decades since I read Agatha Christie, so I need to read them again. Both my husband and I love Midsomer Murders. Drop by Grumpy's site and talk books anytime.

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on July 26, 2021:

This was interesting. I haven't heard the term "Cozy Mysteries" before, but it certainly fits the genre. I have watched a lot of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, Midsomer Murders etc, and read a couple as well. Thanks for sharing.

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