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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

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  • 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

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  • 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.
Popular Cozy Mystery Books