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10 Cozy Detective Series You Need In Your Life


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If I were to sum up what makes a cozy mystery in just one word, the word I would choose is connection. Yes, cozies have other characteristics, including no graphic violence, no profanity, and no overt sexual behavior, but at their core these stories are about how we connect with one another. It’s these connections and the loyalties that come with them that motivate the protagonist to try to solve the crime. It’s these same bonds—or lack of them—that motivate others to help or hinder these efforts. And one of the reasons cozy mysteries are so popular with readers is because they feel a connection to the characters as well.

Traditionally, cozy mysteries are set in a small town—St. Mary’s Mead in Agatha Christie’s classic Miss Marple novels and Cabot Cove, Maine, in the popular TV show, Murder She Wrote. My own Magical Cats series takes place in Mayville Heights, Minnesota, which in some ways is like the small town where I grew up. But there are also cozies that take place in big cities. Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse series is set in New York, Greenwich Village to be specific. Leslie Budewitz’s Spice Shop mysteries are based in Seattle, while Los Angeles is the setting for Jennifer Chow’s Sassy Cat books.

Whether the plot unfolds in a charming small town or a bustling metropolis, it’s the relationships the main character has with the people in her town or her neighborhood—friends, family, coworkers—that make her uniquely able to solve the crime that has disrupted her community. The conventional cozy sleuth isn’t a professional. She doesn’t work for the police. She—because the character has almost always been female—is often a white woman between the ages of about 30 and 45, not withstanding Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher. However, those traditional parameters are expanding as we look to our entertainment choices to be more reflective of our lives and our world. As new authors join the genre, more cozy mysteries are featuring protagonists that don’t fit the traditional amateur sleuth definition with respect to gender, age and ethnicity, allowing more readers to see themselves reflected in the stories.

EJ Copperman’s (Jeff Cohen) Asperger’s Mysteries—there are five books in the series—feature Samuel Hoenig, who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Samuel’s strength is his logical and literal way of looking at things. Jane Darrowfield from Barbara Ross’s Jane Darrowfield Mysteries is retired and bills herself as a professional busybody.

Alexia Gordon’s Gethsemane Brown is African-American. Mimi Lee from Jennifer Chow’s Sassy Cat mysteries is Chinese, while Raquel Reyes new Caribbean Kitchen mysteries showcase cooking show star and amateur sleuth, Miriam Quiñones-Smith, who is Cuban-American. Frank Anthony Polito’s new cozy series, which debuted in May, features gay couple, Peter and JP. Like the classic cozy sleuths that came before them, it’s the connections these new characters have in their communities that help them solve a crime.

Here are ten cozy mysteries that all expand the classic definition of an amateur sleuth.

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Mimi Lee Gets a Clue by Jennifer J. Chow

Mimi Lee has a lot on her plate. She’s started a pet grooming business, her mother is determined to find her a husband, and she’s the number one suspect in the murder of a local pet breeder.

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Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon

Classically trained musician, Gethsemane Brown, is stranded in the Irish countryside, tasked with turning a group of boys into an orchestra. At least she’s staying in a cozy cottage. There’s just one small problem. It’s haunted by the ghost of the murdered owner who wants Gethsemane to clear his name.

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The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

The Thursday Murder Club meets each week at their retirement home to talk about unsolved crimes. When a local developer is found dead, the four friends find themselves caught up in a current case.

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The Question of the Missing Head by EJ Copperman & Jeff Cohen

Samuel Hoenig answers questions for a living and his Asperger’s Syndrome gives him a unique perspective on the world. So will he be able to answer the latest question posed to him: Who stole a head from the Garden State Cryonics Institute?

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Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien

Lana Lee is home waiting tables at her family’s restaurant as she gets her life back on track. When the building’s property manager dies after eating a batch of the restaurant’s shrimp dumplings everyone at the restaurant comes under suspicion. It’s up to Lana to find a killer—and maybe get to know a handsome detective a little better!

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Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

Lila Macapagal moved back home to nurse a broken heart and gets pulled into trying to save her Tita Rosie’s restaurant. When her ex-boyfriend—who also happens to be a food critic—dies after an argument with Lila, she suddenly finds herself the prime suspect in a murder.

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Mango, Mambo and Murder by Raquel V Reyes

Miriam Quiñones-Smith has relocated to Coral Shores, Miami. She misses her job teaching Carribean food culture in New York. Now she’s dealing with a snobby mother-in-law, a distant husband and her new job as a food expert on local TV. And she’s rapidly becoming the main suspect in a murder!

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Renovated to Death by Frank Anthony Polito

Peter “PJ” Penwell and his partner, JP Broadway, are the producers and stars of the hit home renovation show, Domestic Partners. When the two men discover a dead body in their latest renovation project they may have to add “catch a killer” to their list of tasks

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Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody by Barbara Ross

Jane Darrowfield has gone undercover at a 55 plus condo community, tasked with smoothing relations between the various cliques. Any progress she’s made is quickly derailed when one of the residents is bludgeoned with a golf club. Now Jane is on the trail of a killer.

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The Plot is Murder by V.M. Burns

Samantha Washington is about to see her long held dreams of owning a mystery bookstore and writing a novel come true. Then an unscrupulous real estate agent is found dead in Samantha’s backyard and she soon becomes a suspect. With some help from her grandmother, Nana Jo, and the older woman’s friends Samantha vows to clear her name.

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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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