Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Blogger Book Fair Guest Post: What Are Cozy Mysteries?

 Amy Saunders is visiting the blog today to answer a very important question: what are cozy mysteries?

I blame my mom for my mystery fetish. Every day around three, we flipped on the TV and watched reruns of '70's and '80's mysteries. My favorites included Murder, She Wrote, Matlock, Hart to Hart, and McMillan and Wife. All essentially cozy murder mysteries in TV form. So it's no surprise that's what I wound up writing.

But what are cozy mysteries? To unravel what makes a mystery cozy, let's deconstruct my favorite TV mystery series ever - Murder, She Wrote. How does Murder, She Wrote incorporate these basic elements: a murder, a sleuth, a setting, and suspects (one of whom is guilty)? As you'll see, that's key to making a cozy mystery...cozy.  

Somebody Has Got to Die. On Murder, She Wrote, you see some of the players at the beginning and what they're up to (usually not good), and then the chosen Red Shirt of the episode is found dead. You may see the body, but they skip over the actual killing part. That's rarely (if ever) featured in cozy mysteries.
  • Key element one: the murder happens off-stage.  

Leave This Murder-Solving Biz to Me. Jessica Fletcher, lead character on Murder, She Wrote, is a mystery author and therefore knows more about this stuff than the police or FBI or CIA - combined. She means mystery-solving business. And no amount of threats of severe punishment if she doesn't stop interfering will deter her. She is the only one with a high enough IQ to solve this thing!
  • Key element two: leave the case-solving to the least qualified person you can find.  

Welcome to the Smallest Town with the Highest Murder Rate. Ah, Cabot Cove, Maine, the prime setting of Murder, She Wrote. So many people got killed in this town of like 500 people that eventually they had Jessica start traveling to spare CC more atrocities. She even moved to NYC for a while so they had more people to choose from to get whacked. (Those were my favorite episodes, but I digress.)
  • Key element three: cozy mysteries often take place in smaller towns or cities.  

You Murderized Sooooo Much. So Jessica questions the suspects and shakes their business out all over the place, until finally we come to The Confession. The Confession generally happens after Jessica has proven with her Super Sleuth Powers that So-and-So must be the killer. So, naturally, they start blabbing all the details. Then all is right with the world again and Jessica and Friends share a more lighthearted exchange before the end credits roll.
  • Key element four: you have a few suspects, most with deep dark secrets, and a big group confession at the end.

Those are just the basics, but you get the picture. Like my sis says, cozies feature the "lighter side of murder." They don't take themselves too seriously, and that's the fun of it. The fun of reading (or watching) cozy mysteries, and definitely, for me, the fun of writing them!

A note from Jade: Win one of Amy's books, and fall in love with the cozy mystery genre! 

 About the Author
Amy Saunders writes cozy mysteries and is the author of The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries, as well as three standalone mystery novels. Auf'd, book two of The Belinda and Bennett Mysteries, just hit virtual shelves in June. Her novels betray her soft spot for humor and romance - and the ocean. When she's not writing, you may find her baking, reading YA sci-fi/dystopian novels, or dancing around to her new favorite alt rock or pop song. 

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