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COZY MYSTERY NOVELS


The two novels in my Caulfield, Sheridan Mystery series belong to the “cozy” subgenre of the traditional mystery. Nancy J. Cohen in Writing the Cozy Mystery, Second Edition, defines this literary type “as a whodunit featuring an amateur sleuth, a distinctive setting, and a limited number of suspects, most of whom know each other and have a motive for murder.”


Professors Ariadne Caulfield and Judith Sheridan are the amateur sleuths in Death in Venice (2015) and Shakespeare’s Secrets (forthcoming in August 2020). They exemplify characters in what Cohen identifies as a text where “the sleuth’s world is just as important as solving the murder.” Both of my mysteries offer readers “cozy” opportunities, as Cohen puts it, “to learn about a new occupation [university life] or to vicariously explore a different locale [Venice, Italy and North Florida].” The “focus of a cozy is on interpersonal relationships rather than crime scene details or lab results … [and on] a lighthearted story with a challenging puzzle,” both of which I have tried to convey in my novels.


At one end of the cozy spectrum, Love and Death in Venice, with its depiction of violence against women, especially sex-slave trafficking, illustrates an affinity with thrillers, while maintaining the cozy emphasis on character and setting. Shakespeare’s Secrets, on the other hand, is more traditionally “cozy” with “no explicit sex, violence, or bad language.” Both novels, I think, “satisfy our need for justice and a happy ending.”

The Malice Domestic Conference features cozy mysteries without explicit sex or violence. This year the conference will be held May 1-3 in Bethesda, Maryland. The guest of honor will be Julia Spencer-Fleming, an author who has won numerous awards, including the Agatha, a Dilys, and a Macavity

While researching two of my favorite authors, Donna Leon and Elizabeth George, I discovered this excellent website: Book Series in Order. It has extensive lists of mystery writers who write series, plus a way for readers and writers to add authors.

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