'CORE' Best Lists
- Top 25 Best Mystery Books
- The Top 100 Mystery Books
- Best Mystery Audiobooks
- Best Mystery Books of 2016
- Best Mystery Books of 2015
- Best Mystery Series
- Best Mystery Stand Alones
- Best Modern Mystery Books
- Best Indie Mystery Books
- Best Classic Mystery Books
- Underrated Mystery Books
'ERA' Best Lists
'GENRE' Best Lists
- Best Legal Mystery Books
- Best Police Procedural Books
- Best Mystery Thriller Books
- Best Mystery Suspense Books
- Best Whodunit Mystery Books
- Best True Crime Books
- Best Mystery Thriller Books
- Best Amateur Detective Books
- Best Private Investigator Books
- Best Hard Boiled Mystery Books
- Best Literary Mystery Books
- Best Cozy Mystery Books
- Best Supernatural Mystery Books
- Best Historical Mystery Books
- Best Fantasy Mystery Books
- Best Science Fiction Mystery Books
- Best Romantic Mystery Books
'AUDIENCE' Best Lists
- Best Mystery Books for Women
- Best Mystery Books by Female Authors
- Best Young Adult Mystery Books
- Best Mystery Books for Children
'FILM' Best Lists
'COMICS' Best Lists
The Cozy Mystery Genre
What is a Cozy Mystery?
Welcome to the gentlest of the mystery subgenres. The cozy is named after the often-knitted cover for a teapot, which is called a tea cozy. Think of tea and scones and people who stop the investigation every day at 4pm to indulge in those things. This is the world of the cozy where the likable sleuth finds a relatively bloodless corpse and proceeds to find clues with a minimal amount of violence or danger. The stakes are low, but the humor and insights into today's society can be high. Many of the authors are women, but some can be men.
The action usually takes place in a small town or village and after repeated adventures, it can seem quite dangerous to live in that town. Think of Jessica Fletcher and Cabot Cove, which had a higher murder rate than Detroit.
Recent trends in the cozy world include supernatural sleuths, dogs and cats who solve the crime or are just too cute for words, culinary mysteries, hobbies of the sleuths, including scrapbooking, knitting and more, and career related mysteries including food truck owners, cosmetic reps, and matchmakers.
Cozy Mystery Characteristics
- Level of Characterization
The cozies live for characterization. The main character is a likable soul who is in a spot of trouble and needs to solve the crime to get the world back on its axis. They have friends and family of all sorts, who help them with the solution.
- Level of Plot
The cozies are usually well-plotted with a mysterious murder, several suspects and clues abound
- Level of Mystery
The mystery typically isn't solved until the last pages, so the reader is kept guessing until the very end.
- Level of Suspense
Not too much suspense. The reader knows that the sleuth will be back in the next 20 books, so the character will not be harmed or killed in any way.
- Level of Thriller
The stakes are fairly low. There's no plot to end the world or give control to the terrorists. It's a local murder with ramifications only to the people who knew the victim.
- Level of Strangeness
Cozies can be quirky as can be. In recent years we've seen all sorts of sleuths from vampires to werewolves to mind readers and more. The main character is expected to have some hobby, profession, supernatural ability or just plain ability to get into trouble.
- Level of Violence
Minimal. This is one of the hallmarks of the subgenre.
- Level of Action
While there can be some action, the sleuth may have to be home for dinner or to get the kids from daycare. So the action is fairly limited.
- Degree of Thriller, Suspense, Crime, or Mystery in this the Cozy Mystery Subgenre
This is definitely a subcategory of the mystery genre. The crime is front and center to the plot, and its solution is always a part of the book's resolution. There's very little suspense and the stakes are relatively low, meaning that the thrills are minimal. What people think of when they talk about a "murder mystery."
Related MYSTERY Subgenres
Amateur Sleuth. Cozies always have an amateur sleuth in them. So these two go hand in hand.
Supernatural mysteries. The latest trends see a lot of the cozy mysteries with paranormal elements in them, such as protagonists with unusual talents like mind-reading or reading Tarot cards.
Serials. While standalone cozies exist, most of them are series that run from 3-20+ books where the character's lives are discussed as they meet, marry and have children.
Amateur Investigator. Cozies are much more like to have a private person investigating the crimes.
Furry Sleuths. cozies are populated by cats and dogs who help the sleuth.
Cozy Mystery isn't for you IF...
- If you like hard-hitting action, lots of blood and guts or drinking and swearing, then the cozy is probably not for you.
- Feel that setting and world building is key to a good series.
- Prefer anime that focuses on multiple stories, often involving a large cast of characters.
- Like your anime with a fair balance of guys and girls.
- Watch anime at 1.5x or 2x speed.
- 1 Still Life
By Louise Penny. The book is cozy by its demeanor and lack of blood.
- 2 Truly, Madly
By Heather Webber. A romantic matchmaker with some ability to read people's auras.
- 3 A Murder is Announced
By Agatha Christie. Miss Marple solving murders in a village
- 4 Better Read than Dead
By Terry Moran. A book-related series
- 5 The Scent of Murder
By Jeffrey Marks. The cosmetics department manager at a department store solves the murder of her ex-husband's fiancée.
- 6 Busman's Holiday
By Dorothy L. Sayers. The married Lord Peter has to solve a murder at his new home
- 7 Night Walk
ByElizabeth Daly. Agatha Christie's favorite mystery writer with the very genteel sleuth.
- 8 The Left Leg
By Alice Tilton. Leonidas Witherall, a dead ringer for William Shakespeare, finds a dead body and makes a mad dash to find the killer.
- 9 Jessica Fletcher series
By Donald Bain. Based on the ultimate cozy series, Murder She Wrote
- 10 Lemon Pies and Little White Lies
By Ellery Adams. cooking is a big thing in mysteries these days and this is one of the better culinary series.
- Rebecca (Daphne Du Maurier)