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Miranda James | Cozy isn't just "female"


When you mention the words "cozy mystery" these days, what probably comes to mind most often is "female sleuth." That's because 99% of cozy mysteries these days do have female main characters, usually amateurs, who do the crime-solving. Two writers who have bucked that trend recently are Jeffrey Cohen, with his Elliot Freed series, and Miranda James (aka me), with the "Cat in the Stacks" series featuring not one, but two, males as lead characters: Charlie Harris and his Maine coon cat, Diesel.

Charlie Harris is a widower with two grown children, and in the first book, MURDER PAST DUE, he has moved back to his hometown, Athena, Mississippi, after the death of his wife. About a year after the move he found a kitten in the parking lot at the public library. He named the kitten Diesel for his rumbling purr and discovered that Diesel was a Maine coon. The average male Maine coon often weighs about twenty-five pounds, but Diesel (based on an actual Maine coon I once met) weighs closer to forty pounds in OUT OF CIRCULATION.

Charlie is also a librarian, and when that word is mentioned, most people probably again think "female," since the profession seems to be dominated by women. But there are male librarians, and I thought it would be fun not only to have a librarian as the sleuth in a series, but also to make that librarian a man. Why should characters like Sarah Booth Delaney, Aurora Teagarden, or Annie Darling have all the fun?

The marketing departments at most major publishers seem to think that women readers - whom they identify as the chief consumers of cozies - want to read only cozies by women authors featuring women characters.

I'm happy to say that Charlie, Diesel, and I have proved them wrong. Cozy readers responded by putting the first book in the series, MURDER PAST DUE, on the extended New York Times mass market paperback bestseller list for four weeks in 2010. The most recent book, OUT OF CIRCULATION, just spent three weeks on the print list (aka the top twenty, the ones they print in the Book Review). Several other cozies made the list at the same time, so it looks like readers are making their wishes known.

Right now I'm busy working on the fifth book, THE SILENCE OF THE LIBRARY, and having great fun. This book will be out in February 2014. Charlie and Diesel send their thanks to all the readers who embraced them so warmly. (And so do I, of course!)

Murder Past Due
Cat In the Stacks
August 2010

Classified as Murder
Cat In the Stacks
May 2011

File M For Murder
Cat In the Stacks
February 2012

Out Of Circulation
Cat In the Stacks
February 2013

Two commenters will each win a copy of MURDER PAST DUE




47 comments posted.

Re: Miranda James | Cozy isn't just "female"

The Cat in the Stacks series sounds really interesting. I need a little fun right now. I hope that they are still in circulation. Pun intended.
(Kathleen Yohanna 7:07am March 10, 2013)

I love cozy mysteries,animals and born and raised in Mississippi.
(Sheila True 9:26am March 10, 2013)

I look forward to meeting Charlie and Diesel...sounds like a purrrrty neat adventure. Keep writing!
Pat Pascale
(Patricia (Pat) Pascale 9:28am March 10, 2013)

I love a cozy mystery like this. Can't wait to meet Diesel and Charlie too.
(Bonnie Capuano 9:33am March 10, 2013)

I have not seen these books posted anywhere but they sound great. I have a feeling that Diesel is the main character. Appreciate the chance to win.
(Leona Olson 10:27am March 10, 2013)

I like cozy mysteries but haven't read this series yet.
(Sandy Giden 11:29am March 10, 2013)

This series is captivating and special. Love the names for the
(Sharon Berger 11:31am March 10, 2013)

Cozy mysteries are great. And anything with a cat (I have two) is even better.
(Annetta Sweetko 11:40am March 10, 2013)

I have to admit I thought most cozy mysteries are written by women. Funny how we embrace these stereotypes. I have seen Out of Circulation around the web and it seems popular.
(Connie Schultz 11:43am March 10, 2013)

I love Maine Coons - I rescued one that still had her eyes closed and fed her by bottle, watch her grow into one of the most magnificent cats I have ever seen - I named her Minx (for she was, a minx that is). She was a smart cat that was very protective of me and my home.
(Carla Carlson 12:57pm March 10, 2013)

I am a great fan of another male amateur sleuth--Jim Quilleran and his cats Koko and YumYum of The Cat Who Series. Now that their author has passed, I've been looking for a new series to read----and this may be it.
(Sue Farrell 1:06pm March 10, 2013)

This sounds like a good add to my TBR list. Thanks for the post.
(G S Moch 1:22pm March 10, 2013)

Your series definitely sounds like good reading, I hope to have read the first four by the time your 5th book comes out. Keep Writing!
(Shirley Younger 1:23pm March 10, 2013)

I love any mystery related to books. Throw in cats and I'm hooked. I haven't read this series but will find a way.
(Renee Brown 1:35pm March 10, 2013)

Having 2 kittens of my own who will be 11 months old this month, it sounds like I have some reading to catch up on!! They might not be Maine coons, but nevertheless, I am an animal lover, and would truly enjoy curling up with them and reading a good mystery with a cat as one of the characters in the book!! I'm sure that it'll be a good read, since it takes a "real man" to step forward and give his true identity - not hide behind it. I say that with the utmost respect. I also enjoyed reading your posting today. It actually gave me a warm feeling today that I couldn't quite put my finger on, so I know I'll get the same response from reading your latest book, after catching up on the others. Congratulations!!
(Peggy Roberson 1:58pm March 10, 2013)

Love the covers and the titles.
(Kathy Sullivan 2:52pm March 10, 2013)

sounds like an interesting read
(Denise Holcomb 3:20pm March 10, 2013)

I lvoe cozy mysteries. I would love to read these.
(Debra Guyette 4:01pm March 10, 2013)

I love the name you've given your Maine coon kitten in your latest cozy mystery (Diesel)! As I'm a library lover, anyway, I think Out of Circulation, A Cat in the Stacks Mystery would be a great book for me to read. I think the covers are cute...maybe, Diesel needs a pair of glasses to read his book he's flipped open! I had a similar looking cat for many years when I was a little girl (but, I believe Maine coons have very long tipped ears in a variety of colors with striped patterns that vary). Why not change the story to have a male librarian; I think that's clever. Can't wait to check out this series. Thanks!
(Linda Luinstra 4:08pm March 10, 2013)

I love cozy mysteries and think that your series sounds like
great fun. Why should the lady sleuths have all of the fun?
(G. Bisbjerg 5:04pm March 10, 2013)

Love Charlie and Diesel!
(Mary C 5:59pm March 10, 2013)

I love cozies, and books, and cats, and mysteries!
(Shannon Scott 6:53pm March 10, 2013)

One thing about cozies is that it doesn't matter who write it (man or woman). It is the story that count (especially with a cat). Cats are smart creatures. They have a secret language. :)
(Kai Wong 7:24pm March 10, 2013)

What fun. I do love a cozy up.
(Mary Preston 7:40pm March 10, 2013)

I love mysteries with kitties!! I am a total cat person and have put this series on my TBR!!
(Ashley Applebee 8:06pm March 10, 2013)

Oh boy, a writer from Mississippi, state of the great Oxford and Faulkner! I love Southern Lit ~ its my favorite genre. And believe it or not, I used to work in a school library. I love books, books, and more books....We had a cat for almost 15 years, and BINGO was his name-o! All true!
(Susan Coster 8:28pm March 10, 2013)

Love mysteries! The Cat in the Stacks series will definitely be added to my reading list. Really like the covers and having a male librarian as the main character is very interesting.
(Bonnie H 8:46pm March 10, 2013)

love when animals are involved in the plot:)
(Michelle Schafer 9:51pm March 10, 2013)

Your books sound great. I especially loved hearing about the Maine Coon Cat. I am anxious to "meet" him or her.
(Gladys Paradowski 10:06pm March 10, 2013)

I'd love to read this series, it sounds really great!! I'm a librarian and from Miss. so there you go!!!
(Martha Lawson 10:19pm March 10, 2013)

Your books sound great. Love the covers. Thanks for a chance to win.
(Linda Hall 10:25pm March 10, 2013)

Books sound like a great series.
(Vicki Hancock 11:23pm March 10, 2013)

I have yet to read any in the series but it sounds interesting and I cant wait to get my "paws"
on one!
(Deborah Garcia 12:13pm March 11, 2013)

I think this sounds like a really fun series to read.
(Debbie Penny 7:53am March 11, 2013)

I absolutely need to read this book. With books being my favorite prized possessions, and my love of cats, having 2 rescues myself, I can feel me being pulled right into this story. Thanks for sharing!
(Stephanie Strausberger 9:03am March 11, 2013)

Looks like books I would really enjoy. Thanks.
(Dianne McVetty 10:03am March 11, 2013)

.sounds GOOD..
(Kent Cook 10:07am March 11, 2013)

I would love to read these cozy mysteries. They sound like
great stories.
(Mary Hay 11:34am March 11, 2013)

Your books sound wonderful. I have been meaning to read them for a while - they are definitely my kind of books. I thank you for the chance to win. I wish you every good luck with your books.
(Nancy Reynolds 1:01pm March 11, 2013)

You definitely caught my eye - thank you for sharing with us - these stores are so cool - I am new to your work, so that is something that I need to catch up with! I love finding new authors - well, authors who are new to ME!
(Felicia Ciaudelli 1:10pm March 11, 2013)

I enjoyed the true tale of Dewey Decimal the library cat. I'm sure your fiction would be just as good! No reason we can't read about a man in amateur sleuth stories. And in my nearest library the staff are half male and half female.
(Clare O'Beara 1:31pm March 11, 2013)

yay soungs good, thanks
(Debbi Shaw 2:25pm March 11, 2013)

Love the cover-looks like a great read.
(Theresa Molesky 4:29pm March 11, 2013)

Your book sounds like one I would enjoy reading.
(Jackie Wisherd 5:57pm March 11, 2013)

This cozy mystery--#4 sounds like a great one, and I hope it does as well as your first one did for you! Would love to read it and catch up on the others. You are a new author to me. What other books have you written?
(Rich Cook 7:00pm March 11, 2013)

I Love LOve LOVe LOVE mystery books so i can't wait to read this one. I hope you have a great day and thanks for the contest :)
(Meghan Anderson 10:04pm March 11, 2013)

these books sounds love love the of cats and would love to win any of these books...thanks
(Kimberly Hoefs 10:58pm March 11, 2013)

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