I’ve been chatting on Goodreads with lovers of humorous cozy mystery books. Personally, I’m a big fan of just about all mysteries but I do love cozies-and write them-for particular reasons.
First, I’m a sucker for humor. I love to read it and write it and this is a genre that practically requires it! If you don’t have a good dose of humor in your story odds are your novel runs more toward hard bitten crime procedurals Don’t get me wrong-I love my P.D. James! James is absolutely one of the best mystery authors of all time. She weaves a plot that’s thick with red herrings and requires diligence, not to mention and unwavering attention span, from her readers! But after a serious English who-dunnit I’m looking for some laughs…and a dead body, of course!
So I’m back reading cozies. Some of my favorites are from Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Bear/Shulz series to Rita Mae Brown's Mrs. Murphy series. Neither of the heroines in these books is anywhere near being a professional sleuth, and that’s another requirement of this genre. One is a caterer and the other is the Post Mistress of her small town! That last one is one of the more unique ‘cozy’ professions if you ask me!
P.I.’s are great (LOVE Robert Parker’s Spencer books), along with detectives and coroners (Patricia Cornwell anyone?), but they have more than half a clue what they are doing. And that’s where the humor comes in.
With a clueless sleuth, the situation is ripe for humor and lots of missteps. Plus, they get into much more trouble because they have no idea what they are doing. Well…over the course of the story they figure it out, but along the way you are laughing on the edge of your seat. That’s the funny mystery’s hook and it works on me just about every time.
Naturally, there’s also the best friend/sidekick. Think of Goldy Schultz’s pal, Marla, in The Main Corpse. Any cozy protagonist worth her salt can figure out who pulled the trigger by the last page, but in order to get to the last page she needs her wacky/brainy/equally clueless/possibly professional sidekick to get her there. Sometimes they really are professional sleuths (P.I.’s, Detectives, FBI, for example) who don’t take the heroine seriously. But we do, and we appreciate the nudge these friends can give to more our girl along.
In my book Framed my heroine, Kay Conroy, wouldn’t have gotten quite as far without her friend Maddy. Maddy has nerve to spare and she’s willing to do whatever and go wherever to find the answers that will help save her friend from a murder rap! That’s in between carpooling, PTA meetings, gym workouts and stirring up cookie dough along with trouble. Kay and Maddy make an awesome cozy duo!
Well, those are just a few of my favorite cozy characters-how about you? Why do you love a good humorous mystery? Please share your favorites in the comments below; I’m always looking for something good to read!
(photo: Dying for Chocolate by Diane Mott Davidson)