The Case Files No. 2: Cozy Mystery

By Dan Eells,

Today in The Case Files, I will be investigating the world of “cozy mysteries.” The best-known example of a cozy mystery detective is Jessica Fletcher – you know, the “Murder She Wrote” lady.

Cozy mystery (a.k.a. cozy or cozies), sometimes called traditional mystery, is a mystery subgenre in which the books have no graphic violence, sex, or profanity (most of the time). Newer cozy mysteries may have some violence, sex, or profanity in them. They are fast-paced and come in series. It is common for cozies to be themed. They can cover a variety of themes like cooking, pets, puzzles, or crafts.

Some other common aspects of cozy mysteries:

  • Murder or crime is committed off-page.
  • Any sex is also off-page.
  • Victim or victims are typically a “bad person” or someone who treated people badly.
  • Detective is normally an amateur sleuth (not a police officer, detective, or medical examiner).
  • Victim/s normally connect.
  • The setting is often a small town, rural community, or village.

Highlighting cozies can get a little crazy, because so many have been writing. I will be highlighting only a small selection from the world of the cozy mystery. I will leave some links at the end of the article where you can find more complete lists of cozy mystery themes.

Cover of Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie.

Traditional – These authors are the foundation of the cozy mystery, if not the foundation for most mystery novels.

  • Agatha Christie – Start with Murder at the Vicarage, Miss Marple Bk. 1 (Sunflower, Hoopla, and Cloud Library). Marple is an amateur consulting detective. You can find a complete list of Agatha Christie’s books here.
  • Rex Stout – Start with Fer-de-Lance, Nero Wolfe Bk. 1 (Sunflower, Cloud Library, and RB Digital) Set in the 1930s U.S., this novel introduces Nero Wolfe and his sidekick Archie Goodwin. You can find a complete list of Rex Stout’s books here.
  • Dorothy Sayers – Start with Whose Body?, Lord Peter Wimsey Bk. 1 (Sunflower, Hoopla, and RB Digital). The novels are set in Britain starting in the early 1920s to the late 1930s. You can find a complete list of Dorothy Sayers’s work here.
Cover of Wish You Were Here by Rita Mae Brown.


  • Rita Mae Brown – Follow Mary Minor Haristeen, a postmistress, and her cat, Mrs. Murphy, as they solve crimes in Crozet, Virginia. Start with Wish You Were Here, Mrs. Murphy Bk. 1 (Sunflower, Cloud Library) Find a complete list of Rita Mae Brown’s work here.
  • Spencer Quinn– Follow Chet and Bernie as they fight crime across Arizona. Bernie’s faithful dog, Chet, is the narrator of the series. Start with Dog on It, Chet and Bernie Bk. 1 (Cloud Library, RB Digital). Find a complete list of Spencer Quinn’s work here.
  • Sparkle Abbey – Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of two mystery authors, Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter. The novels rotate between the characters Caro and Melinda. Caro is a former psychologist turned pet therapist, and Melinda is the owner of the Bow Wow Boutique. Between the two of them, they get into and solve a lot of trouble. Start with Desperate Housedogs, Pampered Pets Mystery Bk 1. (Hoopla). Find a complete list of Sparkle Abbey’s work here.


  • Cleo Coyle – Meet Clare Cosi, the manager of the Village Blend, a coffeehouse in Greenwich Village. She solves crimes and drinks coffee. Cleo Coyle is the pseudonym for the collaborative writing team Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini. Each novel also includes recipes you can try at home. Start with On What Grounds, Coffee House Mysteries Bk. 1 (Sunflower, RB Digital). Find a complete list of Cleo Coyle’s work here.
  • Joanne Fluke – Welcome to Lake Eden, Minnesota, home to Hannah Swensen and the famous bakery The Cookie Jar. Hannah Swensen is one of the most famous and popular cozy mystery series out. The Hannah Swensen series is currently at 26 books. Each book is full of fun recipes to try at home. Start with the Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, Hannah Swensen Bk. 1 (Sunflower, Hoopla, Cloud Library, RB Digital). Find a complete list of Joanne Fluke’s work here.


  • Laura Childs – Laura Childs is a triple threat! She writes three different cozy series, the Keepsake Crimes, Tea Shop Mysteries, the Scrapbook Mysteries, and the Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Start with Keepsake Crimes, Scrapbook Mysteries Bk. 1 (Cloud Library). Death by Darjeeling, Tea Shop Mysteries Bk 1, (Sunflower). Eggs In Purgatory, Crackleberry Club Mystery Bk. 1 (Hoopla). Find a complete list of Laura Child’s work here.
  • Sarah Graves – The Home Repair is Homicide series is set in Maine and follows amateur sleuth and repairman Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree. The Dead Cat Bounce, Home Repair is Homicide, Bk. 1 (Sunflower, Hoopla, Cloud Library). Find a complete list of Sarah Graves’s work here.
  • Donald Bain and Jessica Fletcher – It’s America’s favorite old lady sleuth, Jessica Fletcher. Start with Manhattans And Murder, Murder She Wrote, Bk.2 (Hoopla) For a complete list of Donald Bain’s work here.

Other Resources