Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What Makes Mysteries So Cozy?

They call them cozy mysteries. But what's cozy about murder and mayhem? Why is it cozy when the wrong person gets accused of a crime? Or when a group of geriatric gumshoes put their lives on the line?

Of course, it's not the murder and mayhem that make the novel cozy, nor the witches and sweet old ladies (or old gents). Perhaps it's that contract between author and reader--the one where we know it's all going to work out right, somehow, in the end; and the knowledge that all of the suspects are here--no global implications; just good clean resolutions waiting to be found. Maybe... Not being a cozy mystery writer I can't say. But I do enjoy reading them.

So pour yourself a coffee and see which read or which brew would inspire your interest...

First is a novel that might not quite be a cozy mystery. It's part of one series, a crossover to another, and a seriously character-driven story of seriously believable people coping with an enticing blend of real life issues and the solving of cozy (?) murder. The novel is Murder on the Brewster Flats by Aaron Paul Lazaar. There's definitely murder and mystery, but there's also gorgeously evocative scenery, sweetly romantic relationships, and haunting music. If you've never read any Gus LeGarde books, it's a good place to start. If you've enjoyed the Paines Creek novels, it's a place to continue. Enjoy some well-balanced three-star coffee with this one.

Meanwhile, those geriatric gumshoes can be found in Lady Justice and the Geriatric Gumshoes by Robert Thornhill, an amusingly bungling collection of crimes resolved or made worse by the antics of inexperienced crime-fighters and their more successful friend. It's an easy read, easy to put down and pick up, and all told with an enjoyably real voice. Drink some bright, lively two-star coffee (with a few dark overtones) while enjoying this one.

Murder in the Pearl District by Dianne Harman is definitely set in the real world - my real Portland world! The restaurants and boutiques of the Pearl District seem pleasingly believable, and I enjoyed learning a little more about the restaurant business. But of course, there's murder too, and more lively two-star coffee to go with the somewhat slower travelogue details. Enjoy!

Killer Twist by C.A. Larmer is set somewhat further away, in Australia, and told with the nicely convincing voice of a successful ghostwriter. Again, there are intriguing details, this time about ghostwriting and life as a freelance penner of words. And again, there's murder. Another quick read to go with a two-star coffee, and a nicely intriguing plot.

Amelia Morgans Witches of Enchanted Bay series (I've read books 1 and 2, the Witches of Enchanted Bay and Ax to Grind) adds a touch of paranormal and the tension of romance to the cozy mix. Witch Meg hides her powers because the world doesn't like people who are different (a lesson her mother learned and taught her well). Cop Connor hides his love because he left town and has only just come home. And small-town life, played out beside the coast, becomes oddly dangerous, as of course it should in cozy mysteries. The stories are quick to read and pleasantly entertaining. Enjoy with some lively two-star coffee, and smiles.

Still in the world of paranormal mystery, Mele’s Ghostly Halloween Caper by J.D Winters and Dakota Kahn sends a young woman with curious skills to a Halloween party with curious costumes... and dire events ensue. It's all very cozy, fun and quick, with fascinating revelations of backstory which make it just as good a standalone read as part of a series (it's book six and I've not read the rest). Enjoy with some more lively two-star coffee.


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