Friday, May 14, 2021

Ten Clues You Are In a Cozy Mystery


Happy Friday! So, if you read the Weekend Edition from Saturday, you'll know I intended to write something about reviews for both authors & reviewers. However, it’s been an emotionally heavy week – several people I love going through tough stuff - and I just needed to talk about something a little lighter.

So let’s talk about cozy mysteries! While I didn’t start reading cozy mysteries until 2015, I basically grew up on them in television form - thank you, Jessica Fletcher. And one of the things I (and countless thousands of readers) love about cozy mysteries is that they follow a certain formula. After the upheaval of the past year, a little predictability is like comfort food. We want to know that justice is served, that the good guys win, that friendships matter, and that there’s something we can count on to remain pretty much unchanged. (Obviously God is unchanged. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But I’m talking outside the spiritual realm for the moment) 

Agatha Christie set the standard for cozies, when the first of her Miss Marple books released in the 1930s, and while cozies have definitely adapted to the modern age, much of what makes them so beloved has stood the test of time. Cozy mysteries (even most general market ones) are great for Christian fiction readers because a true cozy is free of explicit language/scenes. There are of course some authors who choose to write a grittier cozy, but the majority stay true to the genre and abstain from anything above a PG rating. I’m really happy to see cozy mysteries beginning to be written by Christian fiction authors too (again, even with a general market publisher) – more on that later.

Before I share some of my fave cozy mystery authors and some new/upcoming cozies to look forward to, I thought I'd have a little tongue-in-cheek fun with that predictability I mentioned earlier. If you've never read a cozy mystery, but you have watched at least one episode of Murder She Wrote, you'll still be able to follow along easily. 

So without further ado (adieu?)... 


1. You live in a quaint small town with its share of quirky characters and an inordinately high homicide rate.

*Usually coastal, in the south, or in the mountains. There are also a lot of festivals.

2. Homicide rate notwithstanding, there’s always someone new moving into town & starting a new business.

*This is usually the person who will either die next or be accused of the next murder so maybe don’t get too close to them just yet.

3. If person A (probably someone in your close circle) threatens person B (newcomer), person B has less than 24 hours to live.

*Now is the time to find person A a good attorney… except there really aren’t any because this is a cozy mystery, not a suspense.

4. You like to ‘help’ the local law enforcement solve these murders. 

*After all, in a very meta twist, you read cozy mysteries in your free time and you always know whodunit before anyone else.

5. Local law enforcement lets you do this & even asks you for advice on occasion, however begrudgingly. Oh they tell you to stay out of it, to let them do their jobs, but they don’t really mean it. You know this because they thank you once you’ve handed over the culprit.

*One of them may even start dating you. Or your best friend.

6. You, your family, your friends, maybe even your pet, will all have your turn as the number one suspect in a murder investigation.

*You also usually find the body. Which doesn’t really help your defense.

7. The library or business or money-making hobby you own may only have 2 employees (including you) but it’s no problem at all for you to close up shop or leave your lone employee in charge indefinitely, at a moment’s notice, so you can chase down a lead.

*Don’t worry, your business still thrives, and all your regular customers understand & are happy to pitch in if needed. No charge.

8. Your most faithful companion is your pet who is full of personality & may even save the day – and your bacon – when necessary. At the least, your pet is your brainstorming partner and helps you process all the clues.

*Usually a dog or a cat … but it could be a snake or a parakeet or an iguana. A pet rock is probably pushing it though.

9. You have at least one endearingly eccentric older relative who doubles as a fount of wisdom.

*Bonus if he/she has hilarious friends.

10. Someone in your inner circle is a baker or pastry chef or gourmet chef so you’re always eating yummy food.

*Recipes included at the back.

I have several favorite cozy mystery series, encompassing a range of authors and publishers. If I started naming my faves, we would be here a while and I would inevitably leave one or more out. However, you can peruse my cozy mystery archives on ReadingIsMySuperPower to get an idea of which ones I recommend.

I'm super excited to see more Christian authors branching out into the cozy mystery genre. This is not to say that their books are overtly Christian (though some are) but it makes me so happy to see Jesus followers writing great books in this genre too. Some older series by Christian authors include Vannetta Chapman's Amish Village Mysteries, A.H. Gabhart's Hidden Springs Mysteries, and Julianna Deering's Drew Farthering Mysteries (that last one is more of a British cozy / Agatha Christie-esque & therefore slightly different from the formula we've been talking about).

Some new books coming out that I'm excited about are Pint of No Return by Dana Mentink (Poisoned Pen Press), On Skein of Death by Allie Pleiter (Berkley), and Dogged by Death by Laura Scott (Crooked Lane Books), and Trouble Brewing by Heather Day Gilbert (Woodhaven Press). The first three I mentioned start new series, too! Ahem - I've used their covers throughout the post to pique your interest (full disclosure) :)

There are also two cozies of particular interest on Seekerville that recently released: 

The Deeds of the Deceitful
(Hope Street Mysteries #6)
by Ellery Adams & Tina Radcliffe
Beyond the Page / November 2020

Patterns of Deception
(Savannah Secrets #11)
by Ruth Logan Herne

I hope you give cozy mysteries a try, if you haven't already. It's a great way to pass a few hours, guaranteed to put a smile on your face and make your heart a little lighter. Reading a cozy mystery with a mug of your favorite hot beverage (lemonade substitutes nicely in the summer), a comfy corner, and a snuggly dog or cat if one is available. 

Do you read cozy mysteries?
If so, who are some of your fave authors? What do you like most about this genre?
If you haven't read one yet, what intrigues you about this genre?


Carrie Schmidt is an avid reader, book reviewer, story addict, KissingBooks fan, book boyfriend collector, and cool aunt. She also loves Jesus and THE Story a whole lot. Co-founder of the Christian Fiction Readers' Retreat and JustRead Publicity Tours, LLC, Carrie lives in Georgia with her husband Eric. 

She can be found lurking at various blogs and websites (because she can't stop talking about books) but her main home is the blog she started in 2015 -



  1. Hi Carrie:

    For me the big tipoff is the title, which in itself is cozy and the cover art which usually looks like the covers you have shown that are somewhat like comic book art. I think I can tell a cozy at 25 feet away. They also tend to be shorter with fewer subplots. I do like them and I really need to read more of them.

    Do you consider the "Cat Who" series to be cozies? I read all of them as far as I know.

    BTW: Mary wrote three cozies that I read a very long time ago. I don't know if they are still available. I thought they were very good.


    1. Hi Vince, I love cozy mystery titles & how punny most of them are :) And the covers are always fun and bright and cheery. And YES the 'Cat Who' books are definitely cozies!

      Mary - I need your cozies. ASAP.

  2. I grew up on Jessica Fletcher as well and always joked about how it was even possible that she still got invited to dinner parties and weekend getaways when there's always bound to be a body after she shows up! I haven't read many cozies, at least not in the last few years, but this is a good reminder that I should switch it up and read in a different genre occasionally. Thanks for a really fun post!

    1. haha, you are so right Glynis. WHY do these amateur sleuths get invited anywhere when their reputation certainly precedes them? LOL

  3. Cozies are so fun and there's always one on my TBR pile. They're also on my bucket list as a writer. I would love to do one myself.
    I got into reading the genre with Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Schultz series. Goldy is a caterer, so there's always a recipe. I like the value-added nature of cozies. Sarah Graves always has home repair hacks in her "Home Repair is Homicide" series, Susan Wittig Albert has suggestions on how to use herbs, and other series have tips and hacks from the protagonist's interests.
    Right now I'm reading one of Carolyn Hart's "Ghost" series, about a deceased woman who comes back to earth to help people in crisis. Not sure how theologically sound it is, but they're good fun and good mysteries.
    Another early cozy was Chesterton's "Father Brown." Never read the books, but watched the PBS series.
    Another way you can tell a cozy is that they usually have a pun in the title.
    May be back later, have a great weekend.

    1. Hi KB :)

      "I like the value-added nature of cozies." - YES. There's always a plethora of tips and recipes and life hacks included as a bonus. You're so right.

      And I LOVE the punny nature of cozy mysteries - I've done a couple of posts on my own blog about that. The titles always make me smile :)

  4. Hi Carrie!

    You had me laughing all through your post because you hit every cozy nail on the head!

    A year ago I decided I would try writing a cozy, so I dove into the process of educating myself. Now that my mystery is almost finished, I can say that I consider the experiment a success. I hope by next year my book will be an anticipated addition to your must-read list!

    On a more serious note, I also applaud Christian authors moving into the cozy mystery genre. You mentioned the "grittier" cozies. They are out there. Some cozy authors want to push the boundaries on what makes a cozy a cozy (including coarse language, sex, paranormal elements, etc.,) but most of us want to keep the cozy brand intact. Readers need to know what to expect when they pick up a book, and for the most part, the authors deliver a delightful clean read.

    But another aspect to authors who are Christian breaking into the secular cozy market is that we can work to normalize religion again. My characters go to church. The local pastor appears as one of the townspeople. And most important, all the main characters operate with a sense of moral purpose: murder is evil and the bad guy must be brought to justice.

    Thanks for the great post!

    1. I forgot to mention how many cozies take up room in my TBR pile! I'm constantly reading a mystery!

    2. Yes!! I jump-up-and-down-clap-my-hands agree with everything you just said. And I cannot wait to read your cozy mystery, Jan!!

  5. Hi Carrie:

    I think that perhaps, Midsomer Murders, is a cozy mystery tv show that has been on for 22 seasons! It has all the features you mentioned but as for quaint small towns they don't exists like on the show and they have to film the episode in three villages to get the shots they need without all the modern stores and signs.

    Also, over the years the fans and critics kept on demanding more murders per show and they worked it up to four murders a show as the perfect amount and they do it without being bloody.

    Talk about a village with a high murder rate, Midsomer area must be the highest in the world!

    I think one of Mary's cozies was called "Of Mice and Murder". (If you want a classic non-cozy book, read "Of Mice and Men". Very uncozy.)

    1. "Talk about a village with a high murder rate, Midsomer area must be the highest in the world!" - haha indeed

    2. although I think Cabot Cove could give it a run for its money too lol

  6. I love a good cozy! Favorites include Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series, Sarah Graves's Home Repair is Homicide series, and anything by Agatha. :)

    1. Agatha is Queen :) And I need to read those others, pronto!

    2. Love Elizabeth Peters/ Amelia Peabody! Awesome dry British wit. Ramses is such a fascinating character. Have had many laugh out loud moments reading those books.

  7. Carrie, such a fun post! I like cozy mysteries and enjoyed your Ten Clues! So cute and so true! I'm chuckling in small town Georgia and thinking how fun it would be to write my own cozy. Something to ponder!

    Happy weekend to all and happy reading!

    1. ooo you should! I'll be first in line to read it! :)

  8. Fun post, Carrie. I love cozy mysteries. I will have to look at these new ones you have mentioned. I would also recommend the Courtney Archer series by Rosemarie Ross, the pen name for Rose Ross Zediker. There are two books out in that series with a third coming in December. I love watching the mystery series on the Hallmark Movies and Mystery channel. They are cozy mysteries which fit all the clues you mentioned. I could add a couple more. The heroine is always going after the bad guy by herself when she should know better. She also always walks alone down dark streets and looks up clues on her computer while sitting alone in her dark office at night, instead of safely locked in at home. And quite often she has a mother who is appalled at how often she finds bodies!

    1. haha yes, those other clues are spot on, Sandy! And yes, I love that Hallmark Channel. My faves are the Crossword Puzzle mysteries, the Chronicle mysteries & Mystery 101 - oh, and Aurora Teagarden too.

    2. Mystery 101 is one of my favorites. My husband and I are currently watching the Aurora Teagarden. I recorded all the episodes when they were on a marathon, so watching in order. I haven't seen those other two.

  9. I read about fifty Cat Who books back in the day.

  10. Big fan of the Courtney Archer Mysteries. Murder and a baking show combined by Rosemarie Ross (our very own Rose Ross Zediker writing with a pseudonym)
    Cobblered to Death
    Finished off on Fondant
    and coming soon
    Christmas Candy Corpse

    1. YES! I need to check out her books soon. I've heard great things!

  11. Thanks for a fun post, Carrie. Love these kinds of lists. :) I enjoyed Janice Thompson's Bridal Mayhem cozies and Vanetta Chapman's Amish mysteries. I've thought about writing one (even have a craft book on the genre), but I'm not sure I want to write about killing people. :)

    1. it's usually just a brief killing haha. I haven't read Janice's series but I loved Vanetta's Amish Village mysteries & her Amish Bishop mysteries too.


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