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Marilyn Levinson and The Cozy Mystery

Marilyn Levinson is the author of the Twin Lake series under her own name and The Haunted Library series as Allison Brook. The next Haunted Library novel, Checked Out for Murder, will be released on September 8.

People often ask, “What is a cozy mystery?” Well, it’s a mystery that evokes a sense of coziness in the reader, a much-needed feeling these days, in the Time of the Coronavirus. But what makes a mystery a cozy? The term is believed to have originated with Agatha Christie’s mysteries. Picture Miss Marple gathering clues as she chats with various neighbors in St. Mary Mead.

What makes it Cozy

Image by Sofia Iivarinen from Pixabay

The following are elements of the mystery cozy genre.

1. Cozies usually come in series, enabling readers to become familiar with the sleuth and her circle of friends, her romantic interest and her family.

2. Cozies usually take place in a small town where most people know one another.

3. Cozies usually have a theme, perhaps one revolving around food or a hobby. My Haunted Library series focuses on my sleuth’s position as head of programs and events in the Clover Ridge Library.

4. Cozies usually include pets. Smoky Joe, the Clover Ridge Library cat, plays an important role in one of my books.

5. Cozies usually but not always are murder mysteries. The homicides usually occur off scene. On scene they are never bloody or the result of violence such as a shoot out.

6. Cozies are mysteries that are usually solved by an amateur sleuth.

7. Cozies include a few subgroups. There are historical cozies and paranormal cozies. And even series featuring a dog or cat sleuth.

Questions, Questions…

What cozy series are your favorite and why?

What elements of cozy mysteries are especially important to you?

How do you select the cozies you read?

More on Marilyn Levinson

You can find out more about Marilyn Levinson on her website and on Amazon, and/or follow her on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter both as Marilyn Levinson and Allison Brook, Pinterest, BookBub both as Marilyn Levinson and Allison Brook, and Instagram.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Margaret Mizushima
    Margaret Mizushima

    Thanks so much for this fun and informative post, Marilyn. I just finished a book this past weekend that would probably qualify as a cozy although some of the characters are police officers, so it has elements of being a police procedural. I read The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths, number eleven in her Ruth Galloway series. Ruth is an archeologist who gets called in frequently to help local police with their cases, which often involve modern murders mixed in with ancient bones. I love being immersed in Ruth’s life and her world, the complicated through lines that involve her story and her love interest, and the atmospheric descriptions of setting. When I read one of Griffith’s books, it’s like taking a British holiday.

    1. Avatar
      Marilyn Levinson

      Ah, to be back in England! Sounds like a great series. So glad you enjoyed this post, Margaret.

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    Pat Hernandez

    What an excellent explanation describing cozy mysteries! I have read 73 of Agatha Christie’s novels and short stories. I think that she published about 83 but am not sure. I am looking forward to reading your next installment of The Haunted Library series.

    1. Avatar
      Marilyn Levinson

      Thanks, Pat!

      I must have read about that many of Dame Agatha’s novels. I had to reread some carefully when I was writing MURDER A LA CHRISTIE because my characters discuss the books as part of their Golden Age of Mystery book club.

      Be well!

  3. Joy Ribar
    Joy Ribar

    Excellent article and talking points, Marilyn. I am adding your Haunted Library series to my reading stack!
    Characters who feel real, like friends, matter to me when I read a series. I love description, so books that transport me to vivid locations are a bonus. It’s hard to have a favorite series — my heart and mind has room for many.

    1. Avatar
      Marilyn Levinson

      Thanks, Joy, for adding the Haunted Library series to your reading list.
      My characters are most important to me. I love writing a series, watching my characters mature and grow in so many ways.

      And you’re right—it’s most difficult to name a favorite series when we can enjoy as many as we have time for.

  4. Christine DeSmet
    Christine DeSmet

    Why I write cozies is that I can express a sense of humor. Most cozies are guaranteed to deliver some fun along the way. The personality of the lead characters is important to readers, I’ve found. Readers fall in love with cozy characters and stay loyal to the characters, worrying about them as well as enjoying a laugh or two with the characters. I’m always touched by readers who mention the humor and good feelings that come from reading a cozy.

    1. Avatar
      Marilyn Levinson

      You make some great points. Humor is a wonderful element that cozy readers love. And our characters are what readers remember and respond to.

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    Patricia Gligor

    I think, if there were a “year of the cozy,” this would be it. With all the negative, depressing news we get daily concerning the Coronavirus, people are turning to cozies for escape – more and more. I know I am. Although I love all mysteries – from cozies to thrillers – I’m almost exclusively reading (and writing) cozies these days. Yours are among my favorites and I look forward to your new book!

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    Saralyn Richard

    Cozies are hitting a peak in popularity these days, as people seek diversion from the pandemic. I’ve read scads of them–Christie’s and Jan Karon’s being the first. No matter how many I’ve read, though, there’s always room and time for one more!

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      Marilyn Levinson

      I agree. Cozies make us forget the difficulties of what we’re living through. I read practically all of Dame Agatha’s books, and listened to many of Jan Karon’s.

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