The generally spouted definition includes several criteria:
- an amateur sleuth, often a woman
- a somewhat confined setting (a village, small town, a cruise ship, a hotel)
- a cast of recurring characters, perhaps slightly eccentric, but likeable
- a mystery that can be solved more with logic and wit than high-tech police procedures
- a premise or theme such as a hobby, occupation, or age group. There are cozies centered around quilting, bookshops, B & Bs, cooking, fly fishing, golf and even NASCAR.
- enough clues and red herrings that the reader can try to solve the crime along with the main character
Cozy mysteries have been around for years starting with Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, and more recently in TV shows like Murder She Wrote and Monk. The number of series has mushroomed in the last twenty years to include, in addition to the interests listed above, horse vets, basketball coaches, genealogists, antique buffs, house appraisers, scrapbookers, and now Rvers! As a bonus, many writers include information pertinent to the theme such as recipes, needlework patterns, or antiquing hints.
Several websites list cozy mysteries by author, hobby, occupation, holiday, and location. So, until spring arrives, grab an afghan, a cup of tea or cocoa, and hunker down with a cozy mystery.