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Friday, April 7, 2017

Cozy Mystery Week ~ Kathleen Kaska on Cozy On Up

 

I've brought in some of the best cozy authors out there to share their secrets and their insights about the booming genre of Cozy Mysteries.

Cozy On Up
By Kathleen Kaska

I define a “cozy” as a mystery that makes me feel good; the characters make me laugh and put me in a good mood; and the story is lighthearted and humorous (think: Carl Hiaasen, Janet Evanovich, Elizabeth Peters, Spencer Quinn, or Martha Grimes’s Emma Graham mysteries).

What a cozy mystery does not do is scare the pants off me, keep me awake at night, or give me nightmares. I enjoy reading a frightening story every once in a while, but only when I know what to expect. My expectations for a cozy: no graphic violence, explicit sex, or lots of profanity. I want to enjoy the story and be entertained. The main character must be likeable and one I can identify with on some level.

Here is a general definition for a cozy mystery: the investigator is an amateur, usually a woman. She has no official authority to investigate crimes, especially murder. But in order to view the scene of the crime, interview suspects, and nose around, she must have a connection with someone who does have such authority, like a spouse, friend, or relative who is a cop, a private investigator, a criminologist, or a forensic scientist.

In Martha Grimes’s Emma Graham mysteries, Emma is a twelve-year-old girl, whose best friend is the sheriff. Even though Bernie and Chet are private investigators in Spencer Quinn’s series, I consider the books cozies because the stories are told by Chet, a dog. And Carl Hiaasen’s characters are so quirky, “authority” is merely a foreign word. They take matters into their own hands as if they have a god-given right to so do. I think that must have something to do with them being from Florida.

I would love to hear your thoughts of what makes a cozy mystery, as well as your favorites. I’m always looking to add new authors to my reading list.

~Kathleen Kaska
 

Excerpt from Run Dog Run:

She’d been foolish and gone off alone, now she might have to pay the ultimate price…

The rocks along the bottom of the creek bed seemed to disappear. Kate felt the ropy, gnarl of tree roots instead.

The cedar break. She was approaching the road and soon the water would pass through the culvert. She knew that she would not make it through the narrow tunnel alive. Her lungs screamed for air. With one final attempt, she grabbed hold of a long cedar root growing along the side of the creek bank and hung on. Miraculously, it held. She wedged her foot under the tangled growth and anchored herself against the current. Inching her way upward, she thrust her head above water and gulped for air. But debris in the current slapped her in the face, and leaves and twigs filled her mouth, choking her. Dizziness overcame her ability to think—exhaustion prevented her from pulling herself higher.

She must not give in. Fighting unconsciousness, Kate inched her way up a little farther, and at last was able to take a clear breath. Her right arm hung loosely by her side, the back of the shaft had broken off in the tumble through the current, but the arrow was lodged in her arm. Numb from cold water and exhaustion, she lay on the bank as the water swept over her, and then, as quickly as it had arrived, the flow subsided and the current slowed. If she could hang on a few moments longer, survival looked promising. As thoughts of hope entered her mind, Kate feared that her pursuer might not have given up the chase. Perfect, Kate Caraway, just perfect. You screwed up again, she chided herself as the lights went out.

Blurb:
After five years in Africa, researching the decline of elephant populations, Kate Caraway’s project comes to a screeching halt when she shoots a poacher and is forced to leave the country. Animal rights activist Kate Caraway travels to a friend’s ranch in Texas for a much-needed rest. But before she has a chance to unpack, her friend’s daughter pleads for Kate’s assistance. The young woman has become entangled in the ugly world of greyhound abuse and believes Kate is the only one with the experience and tenacity to expose the crime and find out who is responsible. On the case for only a few hours, Kate discovers a body, complicating the investigation by adding murder to the puzzle. Now, she’s in a race against time to find the killer before she becomes the next victim.


Buy:
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Bio:
Kathleen Kaska is a writer of mysteries, nonfiction, travel articles, and stage plays. When she is not writing, she spends much of her time with her husband traveling the back roads and byways around the country, looking for new venues for her mysteries and bird watching along the Texas coast and beyond. 

It was her passion for birds that led to the publication The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story (University Press of Florida). Kathleen Kaska is the author the Classic Triviography Mystery Series, which includes The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book, and The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book. 

Kathleen also writes the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mystery series set in the 1950s. Her first two mysteries, Murder at the Arlington and Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queen Book Group, the largest book group in the country. Her latest Sydney Lockhart mystery, set in Austin, Texas, is Murder at the Driskill.

Run Dog Run, is Kathleen’s her first mystery in the new Kate Caraway animal rights series. 


Find Kathleen:
Website | Twitter |  Facebook






25 comments:

  1. I think a cozy mystery has humor, quirky characters, a heroine with a job not in law enforcement...and a crime that isn't ordinary!

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    Replies
    1. I like the crime that isn't ordinary. Do you mean the circumstances surrounding it? Or the method of murder?

      Hugs
      LA

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  2. Thanks, Leslie, for organizing the Cozy Mystery Week celebration. It's been loads of fun and the comments from readers have been encouraging.

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    Replies
    1. Ditto Kathleen's comment, L.A.! I'm loving getting to know more authors ... and their books!

      Light,
      Nancy

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    2. Hi Kathleen and Nancy, this week has been a total pleasure. I'm glad you could participate!!
      Hugs
      L

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  3. Great job of outlining what makes a cozy a cozy, Kathleen! Like you and Cynthia, I especially enjoy cozies with humor and off-beat characters.

    Your books look so intriguing - and my to-read pile is growing daily!

    Happy TGIF and weekend!

    Light,
    Nancy

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  4. Nice post, Kathleen! I do disagree with one part of your definition, though. There are plenty of cozies (my own included) where the amateur sleuth finds a way to nose around without the benefit of a connection to a person of authority.

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    Replies
    1. You're absolutely right, Lois. Miss Marple comes to mind, although she is "bothered" by the police at times.

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  5. And a dog. A cozy has to have a cat or preferably a dog to the investigator out.

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    Replies
    1. A dog! Yes, dogs make anything better.

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  6. Kathleen, this is a good explanation of a cozy mystery. Which is why I find I drop my books into the category even though my covers aren't like other cozy mystery covers and I feel my books have a bit more romance and "real" world to them than a cozy. But I have the amateur sleuth, the law enforcer love interest, the dog, the cat, and the quirky secondary characters. I think the term cozy is up to the writer and the reader to interpret. Good post!

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  7. Cozies also don't use any foul language, which is why I categorize my books as amateur sleuth mysteries. Mafia hit men don't say, "Gosh darn it!" My characters use language that is appropriate to who they are and the circumstances.

    Another thing about cozies, you can kill people but never animals or children.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yay, Blogger is back. In several comments, I’ve seen authors say their books are more amateur sleuth than cozy. What do you all think the differences are?
    Lois and Paty have mentioned a few things.

    Also, are there different categories on Amazon for Amateur Sleuth and Cozy?

    Happy to finally be able to comment. Sheesh.
    Hugs
    L.A.

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    Replies
    1. In my opinion, there's not a definitive answer to that question. My Sydney Lockhart mysteries are cozies, no question there: lighthearted, humorous, a lot of quirky characters, and Sydney has no business solving murders that's why I gave her a detective boyfriend. But she usually becomes involved to clear her name. My Kate Caraway mysteries are iffy. Kate's background gives her experience, but not the authority. I would classified it as a traditional mystery above a cozy. The situations are serious, there's some foul language, but it's not too graphic. Oh, and I do stick in a few quirky characters, or I should say, they just show up and won't go away.

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  9. Amazon has a Cozy category and a Women Sleuths category. There are also categories for Culinary Mysteries, Animal Mysteries, Crafts and Hobby Mysteries, etc.

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  10. I like your definition of cozy, even though I can think of a few exceptions. The atmosphere created by your definition is also important. There's an easiness in life that comes through, and yes, I always enjoy the humor.

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    1. Thanks, Susan. I appreciate the "easiness in life," comment. I need to figure out how to insert it ito my bio.

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    2. Hi Susan, I like the "easiness in life" as well. However, I must admit, that when I read that, my series sounds like it would be more amateur sleuth. So confused. But quirky is definitely a trait I would use for my characters. All of them :)
      Hugs,
      L.A.

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  11. I agree with your idea of "cozy". What I have trouble with is describing my first Penny Summers mystery, "Katelyn's Killer" as an "almost cozy" i.e., no graphic violence, sex, or words my mother-in-law would stop reading at. There's gotta be a good name for THAT genre!

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  12. Kathleen, thanks for the post. I think I can check off your cozy list of characteristics right down the line. I think my fav is Agatha Christie. I've been enjoying Julianna Deering's Drew Farthering series. And I see it's up for a Christie award. Keep the cozies coming. Cheers

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  13. I agree with the need for quirky characters - my No Substitute for ___ series has plenty of over-the-top sidekicks. And a dog. I don't get fain mail but Cheese Puff, a scruffy entitled mutt, does.
    When I look for cozies to read, I look for quirky characters, a setting a little out of the ordinary, and not too much "cutesy."

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    Replies
    1. Hi Carolyn,
      Thanks for visiting the blog. So, what do you think the difference is between cozy and amateur sleuth?

      Hugs,
      L.A.

      Delete
  14. When I think "cozy" I think J.B. Fletcher from the old TV show, "Murder She Wrote." I don't really read many cozies, but I think I'll have to check out the one told by a dog...

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    Replies
    1. A great definition of a cozy mystery, my favorite reading. Thanks for the series on cozies.

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