I write cozy mysteries because I love to read them. A cozy mystery is one where the focus is on the relationships of the protagonists and the puzzle of solving the mystery, usually a murder. Cozies often have amateur sleuths who find themselves confronted with a murder and set out to solve it either because the police suspect the wrong person or because they are simply driven by their own curiosity. Today, cozies often include more humor than suspense and many showcase dog or cat companions. What they don’t have is gory detailed descriptions of the murders that take place, graphic depictions of violence or language that would make your grandmother blush. They may have romance but the physical contact will be no more than PG rated.
The grand dame of the cozy mystery is Agatha Christie and she is my personal favorite. I have read every book and short story she published, along with her stunningly successful play, The Mousetrap. She is the master of hiding her clues in plain sight while diverting the reader’s attention away from the solution by taking us down blind alleys and littering the path with attractive red herrings. I don’t know that I could choose a favorite of her works. Hercules Poirot, Miss Marple, Tommy and Tuppance – how can one choose between them?
I’m also fond of Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who series, especially the early books both before Quill inherits his fortune and the first few books afterward. The first entry in the series, The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, is my favorite as starving journalist Quill dives into the seedy side of the art world and meets Koko, the cat who will become his lifelong companion and partner in investigative journalism. Sadly, there will be no more adventures with Koko and sweet little Yum Yum since we lost Braun a few years ago.
There are also many independent authors whose writing I follow. Deborah Garner writes a lovely series of Paige and Jake books set in the West, which is what attracted me to her books initially. Her two main characters are a delight and keep me coming back for more. I’m now anxiously awaiting the release of the third book in that series. Steve Demaree writes Christian police procedurals with the most laughs I’ve found in a cozy mystery. Cy and Lou, his detective duo, are a rotund riot who never fail to miss a meal – or solve a murder. I’m on book 5 of this series now and Lou has been steadily working out and changing his eating habits, dropping 50 pounds. Cy’s reaction to Lou’s lifestyle change is the center of much of the humor in book 4, Murder at Breakfast, but by book 5, Murder at the High School Reunion, Cy is faced with having to lose some weight of his own or give up being a semi-retired homicide detective.