Is My Book a Cozy? Writing a Cozy Mystery

A conversation amongst myself and some friends, including authors, non-writer readers, and a publisher,   inspired this article. An author was trying to decide whether her work in progress is a cozy or a suspense book. The publisher said it's not a cozy without a murder. He thought my WIP might be a cozy; I've been calling itparanormal suspense. A non-author reader had no idea what a cozy was.

There's a lot of confusion, especially at a time when genre lines blur and there are so many mashups (mixed genre stories). I had to read a few articles to say for sure what genre I think mine is. So this article should allay confusion.

What is a Cozy Mystery?

A cozy mystery has a dead body or two, but not a lot of gore. The reader can cozy up with a good book by the fire, under a blanket, and have a good story without being terrified or having a lesson in forensics. An amateur sleuth gets involved trying to solve the riddle of "whodunit."

Examples of Cozy mystery Series:

These are just a few of many examples. Here are new cozy mystery releases on Amazon.

Bad Hair Day Mysteries by Nancy J. Cohen feature Marla Shore, a hair salon owner. Beauty shops are notorious for loose lips, and in this case, a woman dies while her perm is processing, in the first book.

Murder, She Wrote series by Jessica Fletcher was turned into a TV series. Fletcher  is a mystery writer who stumbles over dead bodies the way some folks trip over their own two feet.

The Cat Who Mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun: Reporter Jim Qwilleran  and his Siamese cat Koko (and later another Siamese named YumYum joins them) solve all sorts of mysteries, first in New York, then, more conventionally to the genre, in a small town.

 Royal Spyness Mysteries by Rhys Bowen is a historical cozy series about a minor royal without estate or fortune trying to make her way in a changing world. Meanwhile, she encounters various mysteries and is even told by HRM The Queen to watch for certain individuals.

Darcy and Flora Cozy Mystery Series, of which The Cemetery Club is the first. Reporter Darcy has returned to her hometown where she quite literally stumbles over a dead body while helping her mother Flora tend the cemetery.

Flavia De Luce Mysteries: Ten-year-old budding chemist and amateur sleuth Flavia finds herself in a world of trouble in this series. While it is technically juvenile fiction, I adore these stories.

Paranormal cozies: One of my writer friends said there were no paranormal cozies. There are a bunch of them, as you can see from this amazon search for "paranormal cozy mysteries." Series include the Gypsy Sleuths Mysteries and Magical Cures Mystery Series.

Cozy Conventions

Here are some conventions of the cozy mystery:

  • Always a series,
  • Each novel happens in a small town or enclosed environment, perhaps a workplace,
  • Every so often in the series, the protagonist is away from home base, such as on vacation,  so the book happens elsewhere.
  • The reader comes to care about the characters, especially the point of view character.
  • The amateur sleuth
  • Is often a business owner or writer.
  • She is  somehow personally connected to the situation, either suspected of committing the crime, trying to clear a relative/friend, or for other personal reasons.
  • The sleuth is involved in such a way she wants or needs to solve the mystery.
  • Someone in town/the environment knows almost everything about everybody.
  • A cast of quirky characters people the world of the story.
  • The sleuth may be married or may go in and out of relationships throughout the series.
  • There is no sex beyond a kiss and some cuddling. Anything else goes on off-page, in the reader's imagination.
  • The whole cast have ongoing lives, including marriages, health conditions, birthdays, town festivities, break-ups, babies, etc.
  • The setting itself becomes a character with its own life because so many people and stories breathe life into it.
  • There are false trails, liars, secrets, clues and much of what you would expect from any mystery.
  • The hero generally has a confidant that helps her make sense of things.
  • The villain is someone the reader wants to come to justice, and someone who most people in the world of the books will not sorely miss.

Cozy Possibilities

You'll find cozies that involve:

  • Animals -  cats, dogs
  • Hobbies, such as knitting
  • Romance
  • Ghosts
  • Businesses: hair salon, cookie bakery, kitchen, caterer, library, B&B
  • Locations: Bay, golf course, manor house, old London
  • Sleuth may be: a child, a senior, a man, a middle-aged woman, a couple, a mother and daughter
  • Some series include recipes, as in the Fresh  Baked, Patisserie and Hannah Swensen series'.

Read FREE Cozy Mysteries

Get FREE cozies from Amazon using this link - free Cozy Mysteries Note: Be sure to watch whether they're on a free giveaway promotion or are free for Kindle unlimited subscribers.

Writing the Cozy Mystery

Want to try your hand writing  cozy?  Get Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy Cohen for only 99c on Kindle or $6 in print as of this writing.


This is an excellent guide that includes the how-to plus writing exercises and templates (guides) to use in crafting your own cozies. It's short and to the point. Order your copy of Writing the Cozy Mystery now. Have you written or started writing a cozy? I hope this article helps you. Follow your BLISS, Ronda Del Boccio Best selling author and Amazon Top Reviewer Order mY books from Amazon