Whenever someone asks me what a ‘cozy’ mystery is, I tend to say it’s a mystery with an amateur sleuth. Turns out that’s an over-simplification. Oh, all right – it’s not true. Sure, a lot of cozies have amateur sleuths, but not all. So what makes a mystery ‘cozy’? I’m still working on that. What they’re NOT, as a rule, is ‘gritty’. Or ‘noir’. Or hyper-violent. There’s a focus on people and the relationships between them. There is often humor.
A good example of a mystery with professional sleuths that I would classify as a ‘cozy’ is this one – Death of an Old Git by Andrea Frazer. It’s set in an English village, a good hint that it’s going to be cozy. The sleuthing pair is humorously mismatched, and the large suspect pool of village characters keeps you intrigued.
The titular ‘Old Git’ is Reg Morley, the most irritating man in Castle Farthing. Morley is a petty thief, a peeping tom, and a quarrelsome troublemaker whose hobby is making life miserable for as many people as possible. So when he turns up drugged and strangled, the problem for the authorities is – too many suspects!
Assigned to unravel the mystery is Detective Inspector Harry Falconer, well-educated, smooth and proud of his sartorial elegance. A manpower shortage teams him with well-meaning bumpkin Acting Detective Sergeant Carmichael. The assignment puts Carmichael in plainclothes for the first time in his career, and his garish, mismatched, and generally horrible attempts at plainclothes is just the first of the crosses Falconer must bear.
Death of an Old Git is available at Smashwords and all its affiliates, and also at Amazon. There are two more Falconer and Carmichael mysteries, which I’ve added to my Must Read list. And they’re all just 99 cents apiece!