Monday, July 31, 2017

Are Cozies "Real" Mysteries?

Well, of course they are! However, in the mystery/thriller world cozies are the equivalent of “the little lady”, nice enough but somewhat insubstantial, easily dismissed as a lightweight with little to offer.

Is my bias showing? Absolutely! Why is there always a pecking order? Pecking Order Syndrome shows up in all sorts of places, and ultimately, racial discrimination can be traced to it. As a kid growing up in a family of West Virginia hillbillies living in Ohio, I remember the prejudice my parents exhibited and believed.

Did my term “West Virginia hillbillies living in Ohio” send you a signal? It should have. Hill people from Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia who had moved to Ohio for jobs, were looked down on. Hillbillies were denigrated by the dominant and native white group. So, hillbillies had to make a group lower than they were on the social scale. The hillbillies of my acquaintance uniformly disliked Blacks. It was their way of feeling better about themselves.

Translating the Pecking Order Syndrome to novels, in the mystery/thriller world, thrillers are more highly regarded than mystery. International thrillers top domestic thrillers for sophistication and cross-country plotting and travel. But both are viewed as superior to mysteries.

Among mysteries, the traditional mystery is still Queen of the Hill. These classic mysteries are revered. For the rest of the subgenres, there is also a pecking order. Police procedurals and medical mysteries with all the technical detail and knowledge required are superior (in many eyes) to other mysteries.

And the lowly cozies—aren’t they cute little things—are at the bottom of the heap.

Oh, yeah? Well, listen up, Bud. Plotting any mystery, laying out the clues, pacing the action, finding relevant subplots, and creating compelling characters is identical in every mystery/thriller written.

You don’t have to have blood and gore on the page for the essential mystery. That’s just the value-added that police procedurals and thrillers bring to the party. The value-added for cozies is learning about a hobby or special interest of the author.

I am a pretty good cooker and know a lot about food. A retired police detective knows a lot about how crooks are caught and treated. Both of us are experts in our fields. Expertise is the commodity that both cozies and thrillers and other mystery subgenres share. Should we value one kind of expertise more than another?

I don’t believe so. What I prefer to read is merely that, a preference. Given great writing, expertise should be valued in any subgenre. 

If you think others would be interested in this post, please share on social media. I’ve prepared a couple of posts you can cut and paste or create your own.

Facebook: “I don’t get no respect,” might be what the cozy mystery genre might say were it able to talk. Do you agree that many regard cozies as an “also ran” kind of mystery?

Twitter: Are cozy mysteries equivalent to traditional mysteries or are they just fluff? @good2tweat offers her viewpoint at


  1. Great post! I love Cozies you make me want to take on the bigots and write one.

  2. Haha! Do it! They are such fun. Mysteries are the hardest genre I write. Really makes me work to plot and plant clues.