Cozy mystery book series and hobbies go together like coffee and donuts. The combination makes you feel good in a relaxing, shall we say “cozy,” way. For those of you not familiar with the genre, think of the TV Show “Murder She Wrote,” (1984 to 1996) which encompassed all that makes a cozy a cozy. The main character was not a detective by profession but an amateur sleuth mystery writer. The show featured a strong, independent female protagonist, no gratuitous sex, violence, or foul language. It was a show you could feel comfortable letting your grandmother watch with you.
I have always leaned more toward G rated endeavors — Disney movies, never been to a nightclub, don’t appreciate sexist humor. So when my sister presented me with a paperback book titled “The Cat Who Could Read Backwards,” first published in 1966 and given to me in the late ‘90s, I was hooked. By 2007, I had the whole collection of 29 Cat Who books and re-read them every year and still do. I began to wonder if there were more like this and fell into a whole new world. Thousands of books later, and at the age of 62, I still love the quaintness, the simplicity, if you will, the Mayberry-esqueness of the genre.
One running theme you will find in any cozy series is the link to a hobby or interesting field of work for the main character. Finding new series month after month, formerly in paperback and now on Kindle, I was awed that I often had so much in common with the main characters or at least could relate quite easily. This isn’t by accident but by design. The women (and I say women just because it’s the majority of readers in this genre) who choose these books have the same sensibilities as the characters they are reading about. If you search on Amazon Kindle, the categories are as follows:
Mystery — Cozy — Animals; Crafts & Hobbies; Culinary
I can’t say “they” when describing these readers as I am one of them so from here on, the references will be “we.” Those of us who gravitate towards cozies are avid readers, first and foremost. There are currently over 30,000 cozy mystery titles on Amazon Kindle.
Animals in general and pets specifically is a very popular theme in both the stories and the titles of cozy mysteries. I think the main reason my sister gave me my first Cat Who book was because of the word cat in the title. I have downloaded a few books from Kindle Unlimited solely because there was a dog or cat in the title and on the cover and sometimes the stories don’t live up to the cute cover. It takes more than a gimmick like puppies to make a great story that us enamored readers will sit up half the night to finish.
In addition to the Cat Who books, which are considered classics in the genre, you might check out Kathi Daley’s Whales and Tails Cozy Mysteries or Allie Babcock Mysteries by Leslie O’Kane featuring a dog therapist.
On my list of popular cozy mystery hobbies you can’t leave off the culinary books. Food features in dozens of series’ titles in this genre. The cozy mystery list blog uses four pages to list culinary cozies. That’s a lot! I discovered there’s this underground cult (not really) of authors who put actual recipes in their novels. So delicious.
It was a red letter day when I found a book at the thrift store that was 25 chapters of recipes inspired by the Cat Who series. You might check out We Sisters Three mysteries by Melissa F. Miller featuring three sisters named after herbs and with titles like “Rosemary’s Gravy” or Lexie Baker’s series by Leighann Dobbs with titles like “Dying for Danish.”
Finally, we come to arts & crafts and more often than not, these hobbies feature sewing and other needle crafts like crochet or knitting. From the Cozy Mystery List blog you might find the following — Sadie Hartwell’s “A Knit Before Dying” which includes original knitting patterns. There are so many you will just have to dive in and start somewhere. At one time I was going to keep track of all the series I’ve read but there have been so many, I’ve long since lost track and I keep finding new series that I love every month.
Now I must ask for reader participation. Several years ago I read a cozy mystery series that I was having the urge to read again. However, I can’t remember the author, title, or main characters’ names. You might recognize it by this description. There is a youngish woman who inherits a yarn shop and becomes involved with several of the customers, who are older retired ladies. They get involved in several murder mysteries, one of which takes place at either a craft fair or quilting fair. I want to say the series took place on the west coast but that may or may not be an accurate memory. If this sounds familiar to you, please email the title or author to me and I will be every so grateful.