Oct. 22, 2020

cozy mystery by theme


Let’s Get Cozy

Breaking Down Popular Themes in the Cozy Mystery Subgenre

Leslie Chatman

In recent years, the cozy mystery subgenre has seen tremendous growth. As an offshoot of the mystery genre, cozy authors have built a devoted fan base that falls in love with their characters and settings and are eager to see where the intertwined storylines take them.

Even with the exponential growth, there are some people that are unfamiliar with cozy mysteries or “cozies” as fans tend to call them.


What is a cozy mystery?

Cozy mysteries feature the unusual murders that happen in a small town or village. The crimes always take place “off the page,” as there is no graphic violence or explicit sex in these books. Because this subgenre has a bit of mystery and a bit of romance, the main character, the amateur sleuth, tends to be a very likeable, well-educated woman who lives, works or owns a business in or nearby the small town or village. She has strong connections to the area and many of the townspeople.

As both a blessing and a curse, the amateur sleuth is usually very nosey and often gets involved in solving the case. This causes some tension between her and the local authorities because she remains one step ahead of them, despite their efforts to limit her involvement. She has something the police lack: background knowledge of the townspeople and the gift of gab—the strong ability to gossip.


What draws people to cozies?

Cozies are usually written as a series. The books are fast-paced and very engaging from the first chapter. This makes it easy for readers to become personally connected to the characters and the setting. For many readers, it’s as if they are one of the townspeople in their favorite books.

As mentioned, the amateur sleuth is so likeable that readers are rooting for her to solve the case before the police and, for the romance side, to get the guy that best suits her. Due to cozies being tasteful in how they depict crime and intimate relationships, readers appreciate that the focus is more on the exciting twists and turns of the plot and strong character development.


Popular themes in the cozy mystery subgenre

With the growth in the cozy market, authors are encouraged to bring in different themes to their work. The theme could focus on the job the amateur sleuth has, like maybe she is a baker or an interior designer. Themes can also focus on a hobby, such as fashion or antiquing. Either way, themes create groupings within the subgenre. Each theme has devotees that can’t wait for the next installment from their favorite author to be published.


Some of the most popular themes in the cozy mystery subgenre


Historical or Period Mysteries

Cozies within this theme are set in a different time period, like the 1800s or the “roaring twenties” for example. Though these books may feature different social norms than those that exist today, they still reflect the same basic cozy elements. Despite there being a separate theme within the subgenre for British cozies, many books in this theme have a British or Old World influence.


Culinary Mysteries

As some of the most popular books in the cozy subgenre, the culinary theme features amateur sleuths who either own or work in a food related business. That encompasses everything from traditional restaurants to bakeries and chocolatiers to food bloggers. This theme is super popular for adventurous and non-adventurous culinary enthusiasts because of all of the great recipes each book contains.


Paranormal Mysteries

As authors are working to develop a new series, unique elements start to evolve to complicate or complement the amateur sleuth. Enchantment, ghosts, conjuring and psychic elements are growing in popularity, giving readers a little something different while not losing the basic framework of a cozy mystery.


Travel or Vacation Mysteries

Everyone loves a get-away or a fun seaside adventure. Travel or vacation focused cozy mysteries give readers a little murder and mayhem along with a fun escape, allowing readers to take a cruise or to visit places like Hawaii, Nantucket and Switzerland anytime of the year.


Holiday Mysteries

The senses of the reader are activated when it comes to a holiday theme cozy. The mind’s eye is engaged to imagine the beautiful fall colors of Thanksgiving in Vermont; to hear the crunching sound of the leaves as the amateur sleuth takes a walk to contemplate her next move. Holiday cozies are a fun way to enjoy the experience of a favorite holiday or season anytime and they bring in some of the most cherished thoughts of family, friends and togetherness.

Mystery and Suspense Magazine reviewer Leslie Chatman

About the Author

Leslie Chatman is a Dallas-based writer who believes in Hallmark love and month-long birthday vacations. When she’s not writing about the latest thrillers or cozies, she is working hard to raise money for nonprofit organizations that matter to her. Connect with her on Twitter @LeslieTypes.

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