What Are Cozy Mysteries?

When it comes to this year’s While I Was Reading Challenge, one of the categories I get the most questions about is cozy mysteries.

I chose this category because it’s a genre I’d like to try more of. Honestly, I got the idea after taking two workshops from cozy author Abby Vandiver and asking her to contribute a guest post!

Cozy mysteries are a sub-genre of crime fiction. Accoding to Wikipedia, The term “cozy” was first coined in the late 20th century when various writers produced work in an attempt to re-create the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.

Like most sub-genres, there are specific criteria that must be present in the story for it to qualify as a cozy:

  • The protagonist in an amateur detective
  • The violence takes place off the page
  • The crime and detective work occur in a small community

The main takeaway from a cozy mystery storyline is that an average person can solve a crime. Maybe the protagonist is a baker, a florist, a knitter, or runs a cat shelter. The point is anyone can solve a murder!

Here are some examples of popular cozy mystery series:

The Flavia DeLuce Series by Alan Bradley

This is one of the few cozy series I’ve read and I adore Flavia. She’s an eleven year old girl with a penchant for chemistry experiments and solving murders.

The Cat Who Series by Lillian Jackson Braun

The amateur sleuth in this series is Jim, a journalist who solves mysteries along with two cats named Koko and Yum Yum. The first three books came out in the 1960’s. Then, the author published new volumes in the 1980’s.

The Coffeehouse Mystery Series by Cleo Coyle

Clare is the manager of a coffeehouse in New York, where a surprising number of murders seem to take place. The buying and making of coffee is a theme throughout the series.

I hope this clears up the cozy mystery prompt for you. As always, feel free to comment below or reach out to me if you have any questions about my reading challenge!


  1. Stacy N

    March 11, 2021 at 7:48 am

    I love The Cat Who… books, but my favorite cozy mystery series is Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody:)

  2. Saturday Miscellany—3/13/21 – The Irresponsible Reader

    March 13, 2021 at 11:26 am

    […] about the book, Juster and Jules Feiffer. (I contributed to the Kickstarter years back) What Are Cozy Mysteries?—Ramona Mead’s overview of the sub-genre Must be something in the water, because this […]

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