I write what are called ‘cozy’ mysteries, and this time of year do I ever
want to feel cozy! As I look out my office window, the snow is gently
falling and gathering in my neighbor’s pine trees. Sometimes a gust of wind
comes up and tosses the tops of those pines, sending a flurry of snow sideways.
I have a steaming mug of tea on my desk, and a plate of Walkers’ shortbread
cookies. My cats are bugging me, bored out of their tiny minds because of the
weather. Feline Cabin Fever, I suppose. I’ll probably wander onto Pinterest
later to ‘research’ teapots and recipes.
And there you have several ‘cozy’ elements right there: tea, cats, and recipes!
I love the ‘cozy’ lifestyle! And I feel so very fortunate to write cozy
mysteries for cozy readers. But… what is a cozy mystery? In truth the
inclusion of those things – tea, cats, recipes – are not to me the defining
elements of a cozy mystery.
Here are my top three characteristics of a cozy mystery:
Small town setting OR (as in Cleo Coyle’s brilliant Coffeehouse
mysteries) the ability to take a portion of a big city and make it feel
like a small town.
An amateur sleuth OR a professional detective acting, for the most part,
outside of the bounds of their profession, in other words, on something of great
importance to themselves or someone they love.
No gore or truly graphic violence; descriptions of the wounds are kept to a
minimum and no children or pets killed!
These attributes (and others, of course) make a cozy mystery. Some authors
prefer to call what we write ‘traditional’ mysteries, meaning similar to the
original amateur sleuth novels of Agatha Christie, her Miss Marple novels in
particular. But don’t worry about labels. I, for one, don’t feel the need to
call my books anything but cozy, because after all, the definition of
the word cozy is ‘giving a feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.’
Even though I deal with cunning killers and dead bodies, I still hope I give
you, in my novels, that feeling of comfort, warmth and especially
So brew a cup of tea (or coffee, or pour a glass of wine), curl up with your cat
(or dog, or parakeet, or otter) and enjoy a cozy mystery!
Amanda Cooper is the pseudonym for bestselling mystery author Victoria
Hamilton. She writes the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries and the Merry
Muffin Mysteries as Hamilton, in addition to the Teapot Collector
Mysteries as Amanda Cooper.
Cooper’s long time love of mystery novels started at age twelve when her mom
handed her an Agatha Christie book and said ‘Read!’. Thousands of novels later
Cooper is still reading. And writing.
But besides those two favorite
pastimes, Cooper also enjoys collecting vintage kitchenalia, old books, teacups,
teapots and other ephemera. Perfume is her secret addiction. She likes to cook,
hates to clean, and enjoys time spent with friends chatting over wine or tea.
She loves crafts, loathes boredom, and her guilty pleasure is ‘reality’ TV,
which she knows is largely fake but enjoys anyway.
Cooper thinks that people are the most interesting study of all, and more than
anything, she loves to hear from readers, not just about her books but about
anything and everything.
Mid-October in the charming Finger Lakes town of Gracious Grove means it’s
time for the annual Fall Fling Townwide Tea Party. The highlight of the
festivities is a roaming tea-tasting, which includes a stop at Auntie Rose’s
Victorian Tea House. Sophie Taylor would like to share her enjoyment of the
event with her sort-of boyfriend, English teacher Jason Murphy, but Jason’s dean
has accused him of falsifying grades to help an athlete at the local college.
Steamed and stressed, Jason shows up the night of the party with bags under his
But the dean shows up under Sophie’s Japanese Maple later that
night, murdered, and now Jason is suspected of far worse than fudging grade
reports. It’s up to Sophie, her Nana, and their friends the Silver Spouts to
pore over the clues to find out who really decided to teach the dean a lesson.
This is why I read FreshFiction so I can find new authors to me. You listed the reasons I love to read a cozy mystery. I agree a cup of tea or a glass of wine goes great with the books. A suggestion: Goodwill always has such pretty teacups people have donated. We used some this past Christmas to make teacup candles. The ideas came from Pinterest. I look forward to reading your books. (Leona Olson 10:08am February 16, 2016)