Nice to see others publicly perplexed about just what really constitutes a "cozy" mystery.
P. D. James?
|Cozy or Gory?
since the publication nearly thirty
years ago of A Taste for Death
editions have stressed the
grisly killing razor and blood
as the main design motifs
The existing order in P. D. James novels is one where most people seem pretty miserable most of the time. I don't find misery "cozy" personally. Not to mention the murders often are horrifying, with all manner of unpleasant details.
I suppose James' later books, when she allows Dalgleish some measure of personal happiness, are cozier. Also there are elements in the books that I see as cozy, like lots of detail about old English architecture and interior decoration; "well-bred" English people who invariably speak in long sentences of impeccable grammar; and, of course, tea (Ovaltine, even!).
I do recall a cat in one--although it was strung up by the murderer to try to lure its owner outside her (cozy) cottage to be killed as I recall.*
*(note to concerned cozyistas: I think cat and owner both survived, happily--TPT)
The pair in the youtube clip above, Jim Parsons and Craig Ferguson, both seem to agree that Agatha Christie is cozy.
Yet even there, I don't know. Is And Then There Were None cozy (it's definitely an isolated community)? Ordeal by Innocence? Endless Night? Even a village mystery like Murder Is Easy I wouldn't call cozy (multiple murders of nice people and then the murderer turns out to be....well, read it for yourself if you haven't). Maybe there should be a "cozy-ish" category.
Though this may be too limiting, I guess in my mind I often tend to think of "cozy" more as "cutesy," which would be something like, I think, this book by Ellery Adams. Okay, I'm judging a book by its cover, but from that cover it's seemingly got about everything you would want in a cutesy-cozy:
|Now this looks cozy!
Come in and sit a spell....
it involves food (better yet, it's dessert; ideally there should be some recipes in the text too)
it's part of a series (a charmed pie shoppe mystery we're told--extra points are given for giving the word "shop" a ye olde English spelling--this gives readers series characters with whom they can identify in book after book)
it has an animal (I suppose ideally it should be a cat, but other animals are permissible I think, as long as they're cute as the dickens)
there is a pretty pastel cover design (I'm reminded of those M. C. Beaton Hamish Macbeth covers that always make me want to go to Britain immediately to live in a thatch-covered cottage)
It's also authored by a woman (despite the ambiguous name), which probably helps. Do men really write real cozies, at least under their own names? There's Dean James, who books sound genuinely cozy in the strictest sense, but he writes them as Miranda James.
I'd love to think that Ian Rankin, say, secretly writes cozies under the name Isidora Ramekin.
I'm planning on tackling a couple by Carolyn Hart books next week, so there will be more on this subject, since she is seen as sort of a modern cozy founding mother. I've been busy this week trying to get an article on another author done for CADS, but I expect to be back on track next week.