So what are the elements that make a mystery novel ‘cosy’? I usually describe my mystery novels in this way but I am never quite sure they fit into the sub-genre, except that not much blood or violence is visible and the characters occasionally abandon crime in favour of scrapbooking or knitting. In the latest one I even set a sequence of scenes in a cat boarding kennels, which must surely be an archetypal cosy setting!
However, I don’t really go in for descriptions of cosy places such as wool shops, and I don’t let my characters enjoy toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate, or go for sleigh rides in winter wonderlands. Their pleasures tend to be simpler and more down to earth, as befits residents of a small thrifty Scottish town. Making toast is a high point in ‘Crime in the Community’ and while my retired spy joins a Stitch ‘n’ Bitch group at one point during the latest story, she isn’t exactly committed to knitting and certainly wouldn’t dream of sharing her scarf pattern with anyone.
I think on balance I would prefer the term ‘quirky mystery’ but nobody seems to have coined that phrase yet! I suppose I should just settle for being cosy. I must admit that would be quite acceptable during the very wintry weather we are experiencing at the moment.