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Embrace the Cozy

A Dive into the World of Cozy Mysteries

By Ellen Quint

Most of us can spot a cozy mystery by its cover—quite literally. Typically adorned with a colorful collage, it often features the protagonist’s primary work setting (as they tend to be amateur sleuths with occupations marginally connected to crime scenes) or showcases their main passion, be it baking or knitting. A glimpse of the small, picturesque town setting is almost obligatory, along with at least one furry companion, whether cat or dog.

Book Cover: FATAL FIRST EDITIONA truly engaging cozy, capable of sustaining a series, must offer characters with whom readers can empathize, relate to, and genuinely enjoy spending time with. The lead character should possess a unique skill, knowledge, or ability that not only leads them to the crime but also makes them adept at solving it. Adding to the charm are the quirky supporting characters who provide color and support to the protagonist. What defines a cozy mystery is often what it lacks—graphic violence and explicit sex.

What makes cozies so beloved is the author’s ability to infuse something fresh and clever into the narrative. Each of the cozies discussed below excels at delivering precisely what readers seek when they delve into a cozy mystery, offering a unique perspective that sets it apart.

In the 14th installment of the A Library Lover’s Mystery series, FATAL FIRST EDITION, Jenn McKinlay concocts the perfect tale to satisfy mystery book lovers. Centering the plot on the mysterious appearance and disappearance of a first edition of Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, inscribed to Alfred Hitchcock, McKinlay takes book-loving readers on an entertaining journey. Protagonist Lindsey Norris, the director of the library in the idyllic town of Briar Creek, Connecticut, brings to the series her expertise in research, book restoration, and keen observation skills. With a reputation for crime-solving, Lindsey finds herself embroiled in yet another crime-solving situation.

Book Cover: FUR LOVE OR MONEYAboard a train returning from the Annual Archivists Convention in Chicago, Lindsey and her husband, Sully, are disturbed by sounds coming from the adjacent roomette. As the story unfolds, readers are treated to a well-paced tale filled with enough twists and turns to keep them fully engaged. And let’s not forget the delightful addition of Lindsey’s pets—a cat and a dog—whose personalities add warmth and charm. Newcomers to the series will find more than enough backstory to catch up and immerse themselves in Lindsey’s world quickly.

For those more inclined toward furniture restoration than book preservation, Sofie Ryan’s FUR LOVE OR MONEY offers the perfect escape. This is the 11th addition to the A Second Chance Cat Mystery series, featuring secondhand shop owner Sarah Grayson, her rescue cat Elvis, and her quirky colleagues, the Charlotte’s Angels—sassy senior citizens who run a detective agency from Sarah’s shop. Sarah’s accidental discovery of the body of a Bernie Madoff-like figure, who bilked neighbors and investors out of millions and then supposedly died years ago, sends shockwaves through the quaint Maine town. With the help of the Charlotte’s Angels, Sarah sets out to unravel the mystery and reveal the murderer. The result is an engaging narrative peppered with vignettes of furniture restoration, breathing new life into forgotten treasures. While the cast of characters may seem plentiful, readers will find ample backstory to catch up on returning characters and distinguish the new ones.

Book Cover: MURDER IN MASQUERADENow, for something entirely different—a subgenre within the cozy mystery genre—historical cozies. Combining historical mysteries with the cozy aesthetic, these novels transport readers to a bygone era while still retaining the charm and intrigue of a cozy mystery. Mary Winters’s MURDER IN MASQUERADE (A Lady of Letters, Book 2) whisks readers away to Victorian London, where Lady Amelia Amesbury finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation. While maintaining the core elements of a cozy mystery, such as off-screen violence and an amateur sleuth, historical cozies demand meticulous attention to detail in crafting an authentic setting. Winters excels in this regard, immersing readers in the language, clothing, rituals, and societal norms of the Victorian era.

The atmosphere and genuine sense of setting are enhanced by the secret life of Lady Amesbury as Lady Agony, the advice column writer for a penny paper. Lady Agony’s correspondence introduces each chapter and provides insights into the times and into Lady Amesbury’s feisty nature. As the second book in the series, readers can experience the early development of the characters who they will enjoy spending time with while learning about life for women in England during the Victorian era.

So, cozy up and immerse yourself in the enchanting world of cozy mysteries!


Embrace the Cozy A Dive into the World of Cozy Mysteries

Ellen Quint