Staff Musings

October 20, 2007

Cozying up to Mysteries

Filed under: Mystery & Suspense,Uncategorized — carricee @ 11:33 pm

Today at the store we got in a ton of cozy mysteries, and while I was shelving them I was thinking about why I love them so much. Of course, I love lots of books, so it’s really not surpising that I love the cozy mystery genre, but let me ensure you know what a cozy is before I leap into why they’re great.

A cozy usually has an amateur sleuth, rather than a PI or a police detective. These sleuths are quite often women, and they usually end up investigating the death of a neighbor, co-worker, friend, or enemy quite often while running their own business or working a particularly appealing job. These jobs or businesses usually (but not always) have something to do with food, flowers, drink, or cleaning – thus giving the author the opportunity to package recipes and tips along with her story. These mysteries are most often marketed towards women.

Now why does this grizzled veteran of thousands of science fiction books adore cozy mysteries? Easy! First of all, sometimes science fiction is just too hard. If I come home, after a long annoying day of work and just want to fall in bed – and especially if I’ve just finished a book and am starting a new one – I don’t want to pick up a science fiction novel and have to understand an alien culture! As much as I enjoy it, I frankly don’t always have the energy for it. Cozies, on the other hand, are incredibly easy to digest and get into.

Also, cozies are not gritty or gory. Hardly ever. Sometimes mystery novels freak me out, not many of them, but some of them, sometimes. I know I can read a cozy even if I’m home by myself at night during a thunderstorm and everyone in the prison just escaped. No problem! They might have murderers and and violence, but there’s always some sort of charm that glosses over all the really gross stuff. Plus, the killers in cozies usually end up being pretty pathetic – after all, the mystery is always solved by removing a stain or realizing someone added a new flower bed!

Another reason I love cozies is that they have to be the least pretentious books in the world. People who read cozies know that they are reading for pure escapism, and maybe they like the stain-busting tips or recipes that go along with the mystery. Though I do enjoy reading literary fiction, non-fiction and other esoteric such things, sometimes it’s just as fun to know that you aren’t getting anything extra out of a book. Who needs enlightenment when you can learn how to make a perfect cup of coffee? In fact, isn’t it near to being the same thing?

Hmmm…I hope I’m not veering towards learning something from a cozy…that would take away some of the joy. Well anyway, let me give you a short list of some of the cozies that I enjoy, and for once, ones that we have in stock in the store!

Coffeehouse Mysteries – by Cleo Coyle. If you like coffee, you will LOVE these mysteries. The protagonist manages a fantastic historic coffeehouse in New York City, and all too often finds herself in a mess of trouble with some type of murder or other threatening her business. Add to the mix delicious gourmet coffee tips, believable and likable characters, a fun and interesting backdrop, and an acceptable and pleasing amount of romance, and you’ve got yourself the perfect cozy!

Death on Demand Mysteries – by Carolyn Hart. Running a mystery bookstore in the small-knit, idyllic island community of Broward’s Rock, Annie Darling has the perfect setting (and name) for the cozy genre. And who loves books who doesn’t love reading about people who run bookstores?

Toadfern Mysteries – by Sharon Short. Josie Toadfern runs her small Ohio town’s only laundromat, and has become something of a stain expert, leading her to be one of the few people who can figure out what the mysterious markings on a silk blouse or handkerchief actually are. The characters in Short’s series are wacky and fun, and the setting is believable and interesting, making for a perfectly satisfying read for me.

The one downside I’ve found with cozies is at times the characters are very stereotyped and the plot can be incredibly formulaic – not with all, but definitely with some. Sometimes, the authors work so hard to be acceptable to as broad an audience as possible that in the course of trying not to offend anyone they offend most people – or at least me. But when you know you’re only reading for fun, those things really don’t seem that important. Come in and ask about cozies, everyone here will be more than happy to lead you to the best of the bunch.

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1 Comment »

  1. I would like to introduce you to the Silver Sisters. Cozy mysteries for the pure fun of it.

    After discovering that we both liked funny mysteries with lots of twists, my sister Phyllice Bradner and I (both previously published writers), created the Silver Sisters, identical silver-haired Mae West look-alikes with a talent for getting into trouble. Goldie Silver is an over the hill hippie who owns an antique store in Juneau, Alaska. Her selfish, manipulative twin Godiva Olivia DuBois, is a weathly widow who writes the syndicated advice column, “Ask G.O.D.” from her Beverly Hills mansion. (G.O.D. are her initials). Add their 80 year-old mother Flossie and uncle Sterling, former vaudeville magicians, and you have the recipe for lots of fun.

    The first book in the series is A CORPSE IN THE SOUP. Goldie and Godiva, with some unwanted help from Flossie and Sterling Silver, take the reader to the Greatest Gourmet Gladiators Tournament and then on a zany romp through the world of TV chefs in search of a killer, hitting lots of speed bumps along the way.

    The second book in the series, SEVEN DEADLY SAMOVARS, will be completed in 2008. It takes the reader from Juneau to Seattle to L.A. hot on the heels of two Russian thugs, Igor and Ivan Dumkovsky, who will do anything to get those samovars.

    Don’t take my word for it. Check http://www.silversistersmysteries.com for reviews and a preview of the first three chapters.

    MORGAN ST. JAMES
    A Corpse in the Soup Best prices for book stores are from the publishers:
    PAPERBACK: http://www.wings-press.com
    ISBN#1-59705-805-X

    AUDIOBOOK: CD or Cassette
    http://www.booksinmotion.com (Can also be ordered through Baker and Taylor, but Books in Motion will give you a better price.)
    CD ISBN# 159607857X
    Cassette ISBN# 1596078561

    Comment by Morgan St. James — October 22, 2007 @ 4:59 pm | Reply


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