Cozy Mysteries are a sub-genre of crime fiction featuring a lack of violence, gratuitous sex, and profanity. The murder generally takes place ‘off-stage’ and lack heavy descriptions of blood and gore, and any sexual activity is generally only implied.
The protagonists can be found in any walk of life, ranging from inn-keepers, to monks, to professors, to ghosts, and anywhere in between. They almost always take place in a benign, genteel setting, where violence and crime are decidedly unexpected.
This is a listing of our library’s most popular cozy mystery authors, as well as some newcomers to the genre.
British and Historical (Each series listed here is set in Britain, in an earlier period in history, or both.)
Retired advertising executive Agatha Raisin has taken up residence in the Cotswolds and must use her less-than-perfect sluething skills to solve the crime that seems to follow her wherever she goes. Readers will be adore Agatha’s bluntness and dry wit and Beaton’s depiction of the playful antics of life in a small village.
Hamish Macbeth may be a wiz at solving murders, but this Police Constable will do anything to avoid promotion so as to stay in his home village of Lochdubh in the Highlands of Scotland. While some of the plotlines may seem a bit formulaic at times in this large series, Hamish’s wry sense of humor and the quirky residents of Lochdubh will keep readers coming back for more.
This series, set in Imperial Rome in 70 A.D., features the sharp-witted and wise-cracking detective Marcus Didius Falco. “Davis’ [work],” states Publisher’s Weekly, “though couched in period detail, rewards as much for deft handling of plot and depth of characterization as for its historicity.”
Specializing in herbal remedies and murder, Brother Cadfael is Medieval England’s answer to CSI. Readers looking for engaging, well-written, and sophisticated material need look no further than the Brother Cadfael series.
Sayers has often been labeled as one of the greatest mystery writers of the twentieth century, and it’s easy to see why when reading her Lord Peter Wimsey series. For the best books featuring this pianist, bibliophile and criminologist, readers are encouraged to begin with Clouds of Witness and beyond.
Hobbies and Professions (These series feature protagonists with a variety of hobbies and professions, from tea-shop owners, to archaeologists to knitters.)
The Depression has forced wealthy siblings Robert and Lily Brewster into a hand-to-mouth existence in Manhattan. Their luck changes when they are invited to take over care of their uncle’s mansion turned boarding house on the Hudson, until dead bodies start turning up on the property.
Bibliophiles will find a cohort in Cliff Janeway, a Denver cop turned antiquarian book dealer. When he’s not running his shop,Twice Told Books, Janeway is solving crimes related to the sometimes shady world of literary treasures. Kirkus Reviews states that “Janeway, who can be tough, sensitive and passionate, is a credible hero, both as cop and as book-lover.”
Fans of the television show Bones will sure to be pleased by Gideon Oliver, a physical anthropologist also known as ‘the skeleton detective,’ who uses his knowledge of bones and bone fragments to solve crimes.
Fans of needlework and mysteries alike will be sure to enjoy this series featuring Betsy Devonshire, amatuer sleuth and owner of the Excelsior, MN needlecraft shop, Crewel World. Many of the books include a free cross-stitch pattern.
Readers, beware: do not read these books on an empty stomach! Both Hannah Swensen, the proprietor of an eat-in cookie shop, and the bonus baked goods recipes included in every book will delight readers.
Readers looking for a fun adventure and an intelligent, sassy heroine need look no further than Peters’ Vicky Bliss, an American art historian and professor working at Germany’s National Museum. Join Vicky as she pursues the criminals of the art world across the European continent and beyond.
Supernatural (These series features subjects ranging from ghosts to guardian angels)
She may no longer be among the living, but that doesn’t keep Aunt Dimity from staying at her Cotswold cottage after her downtrodden niece, Lori, inherits it. Together, Lori and Aunt Dimity solve a slew of crimes, from murder to lost jewels.
Bailey Ruth Raeburn has been in heaven for some time when she joins the Department of Good Intentions and is sent to Earth to help people in need. She manages to break at least half of the rules in the process during each assignment, but all is well in the end. According to a starred review of series opener, Ghost at Work, by Booklist, “The most appealing attribute of [Hart’s] masterful, self-assured writing style is her wry humor — imagine Bailey, who has been dead for decades, learning about cell phones and computers for the first time.”
Compiled by Jennifer in Reference.