Here’s a post at Kill Zone Blog about cozy mysteries. Not quite like my take on the subgenre, but we overlap. Certainly this post offers another contrast to David Schmid’s lecture in the Great Courses course.
The author of this post is Leslie Budewitz, who must write cozies . . . yes, food-themed cozies, as of course so many are. I expect with recipes in the back, a touch I generally enjoy, but a lot of hers have puns in the titles, often a sign that the mystery is too cute for my personal preference.
Anyway, here is what Budewitz says:
Ultimately, the cozy is about community. The sleuth, usually a woman, is driven to investigate because of her personal stakes. She wants justice, for the individuals and for the community. The professional investigators—law enforcement—restore the external order by making an arrest and prosecuting, but it’s up to the amateur to restore internal order, the social order, within the community.
That’s not quite what I said — what I said was, Ultimately, the heart of a cozy mystery is the romance and other relationships of the female protagonist; a cozy is basically a mystery wrapped around a romance story. I stand by that, but I like this way of framing a cozy too.
Budewitz’s post is mostly about style and tone — the restraint with blood and violence, the clean language. Not all cozies avoid vulgar language, I will say, but in general the tone of a cozy will be on the warm-fuzzy side. I certainly agree Budewitz is right to suggest the benefits of clean language. This topic always makes me think of my mother, who reads a ton of mysteries, but absolutely detests bad language that makes it onto the page. From the author’s point of view, it makes no sense to alienate readers like my mother when you can so easily say, “He swore under his breath,” or whatever.
Anyway, good post if you have a minute and care to click through.