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Millenial Cozies: A New Generation Discovers the Joys of the Cozy Mystery


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One thing I’ve noticed about cozy mysteries is that—for those unfamiliar with this charming genre—they seem to have a bit of a reputation. Basically, older women snooping into crimes, possibly a knitting group, definitely a cat. But this isn’t always the case. Well, except for the cat. Although really it can be any cute animal companion.

This misunderstanding makes sense. I mean, famed characters like Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher arguably defined the genre. But it’s grown from their foundation, branching out to encompass so much more in terms of characters, themes, narration, and mystery elements.

First, you might be asking, what exactly is a cozy mystery?

A puzzling whodunit that generally features a hook—something like a crafting store, restaurant, bed and breakfast, or, in my case, a winery—and tends to be lighthearted in tone, with any violence and hot-and-heavy romance happening offscreen. The protagonists can be anyone, although they’re usually, for whatever reason, underestimated.

And something I’ve learned about the cozy world is that it’s important to adhere to these genre expectations in order to satisfy readers. But even within these guidelines, there’s room for experimentation—to include slang, cutting edge technology, cultural phenomena, or other tidbits to make the stories feel fresh.

As a millennial and cozy fangirl, I’m always on the lookout for new series that might appeal to a younger audience. This desire has only increased since I started penning cozies, gleaning inspiration from the sort of books I wanted to—and eventually did—write. And I’m pleased to report there are plenty that fit the bill.

Whether they star a younger amateur sleuth, take place somewhere wholly unique, showcase an unforgettable voice, or push the envelope in a different way, here are a few cozy mysteries that millennials will consume faster than avocado toast at brunch. (And now I want avocado toast).

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Noodle Shop Mysteries by Vivien Chien

The voice immediately captured me in Death by Dumpling. Lana Lee is spunky, unapologetic, humorous, and someone I’d love to be friends with. Toss in an intriguing mystery, complex family dynamic, and food descriptions that will make you drool, this series is a must-read.

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Lady Emily Series by Tasha Alexander

There’s so much to love about these historical mysteries. A main character who’s independent and unconventional, a love interest who encourages her to pursue her interests even if it means—gasp!—a woman studying antiquities, foreign settings from London to Paris to Constantinople, and mysteries that continually up the stakes.

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Headlines in High Heels Mysteries by LynDee Walker

This edgy series stars a main character with a hip voice, keen investigative skills, and an enviable shoe collection. One thing I especially appreciate is how naturally Nichelle Clarke is drawn into each mystery with her job as a crime reporter, and the agency she has to solve them, contending with both deadlines and danger.

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Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series by Louise Penny

If you’re on the fence about trying a cozy, this is the perfect gateway series. While it sways toward traditional, it has many elements of a good cozy—a quaint town, quirky cast of characters, food descriptions galore (seriously, I always crave brioche after a sojourn in Three Pines!), and thought-provoking mysteries. Not to mention the underlying series arcs, which add extra richness to each installment.

Hollywood Homicide Kellye Garrett

Detective by Day Mysteries by Kellye Garrett

Come for the humorous voice and stay for the twisty mysteries, solid writing, and cool L.A. setting. In basically the pinnacle of modern cozies, actress-turned-PI Dayna, AKA Day, is a main character you can’t help but root for as she discovers her passion and knack for investigating while traversing Hollywood in search of the truth.

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Flavia de Luce Series by Alan Bradley

These witty novels are phenomenal because the sleuth is a precocious 11-year-old girl with an affinity for chemistry. Underestimated to the extreme, Flavia proves to be bright—and sneaky—enough to fight crime (and thoroughly annoy her two older sisters). The British mansion backdrop and 1950s time period add a touch of whimsy to this delightful series.

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Book Retreat Mysteries by Ellery Adams

Taking place at a book-themed resort and featuring a secret faction of knights charged with protecting an invaluable literary treasure, really, what’s not to love? With an entertaining cast of characters, town I wish I could visit IRL, dash of romance, and cornucopia of bookish Easter eggs, these enthralling mysteries are as charming as they are comforting.

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And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

This list wouldn’t be complete with at least one mystery by the celebrated Dame herself, and this one is superb. A group of seemingly disconnected strangers are cryptically invited to a remote island for a weekend, only to be offed one by one…guaranteed to keep you guessing until the end. Bonus, there’s a new film adaptation in the works that promises to be fantastic!

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Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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