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What is a Cozy Mystery?

Polly Holmes writes cozy mysteries. What is a cozy mystery you ask? Imagine Jessica Fletcher moved into your neighbourhood from her quaint town of Cabot Cove, Maine. Would you start to worry who would be the next victim? Or which one of your friends would be caught up in her next murder mystery? 

When you think of a cozy mystery, think Miss Marple, Jessica Fletcher and Rosemary and Thyme. There are several characteristics of a Cozy, including but not limited to:

                * The focus is on the whodunnit

                * No gore, profanity or explicit sex on the page

                * They usually, but not always, feature an amateur sleuth

                * Set in a small town or neighbourhood of a larger city

                * Are usually part of a series and almost always branded by their “hook” on the cover

In short...

The amateur sleuth (usually a female) stumbles across a murder and is drawn into solving it. They may be the main murder suspect, it might be a friend or family member who is the suspect or victim or they may literally stumble across the body. The sleuth usually has close friends who are side-kicks. They help to find clues and act as a sounding-board for the sleuth. While the side-kicks might help solve the mystery, the sleuth isn't dumb and is normally well-educated. There is usually one close family member or friend who is in law enforcement.

In addition to the clues that will help solve the crime there is always a sprinkling of red herrings to throw both the sleuth and the reader off track. A cozy series often has a hook (or underlying theme) that usually stems from the sleuth's pets, hobbies, careers or personal pursuits. The series may also have a continuing romance, usually involving the sleuth. In the same way there is no gore or profanity, the romance is usually sweet (ie no sex on the page). The series is usually light in tone (often humorous) and set in a small town with lots of quirky characters. (AJ Blythe)

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