The ‘cozy mystery’ might be considered a sub-genre within the broad crime/mystery category of fiction. It is typically low on graphic violence and sex, the main protagonist is usually an amateur detective of some sort — often with some odd interest that plays a role — and it is commonly set in a small community. It is apparently somewhat popular these days. I didn’t know I was writing cozy mysteries with my two Cully Beach novels but they sort of are.
Except that the whole mystery part is somewhat played down in favor of the relationship side of the plot. So one might be as inclined to put them into the chick-lit/dick-lit category. Not that a book can not fit into more than genre, of course. They are set in a smallish town, the protagonist-investigator is an amateur with an odd interest — in this case, surfing — and they are not very graphic. So I guess I could have marketed them as cozy mysteries, eh?
If I get around to my folk festival mystery (which still consists of rather nebulous notes), it might well fit that sub-genre as well. And I do tend to put in a fair amount of humor, another common component of the cozy. I’m not really into heavy, violent stuff.
Now I think the novels of my sister and niece (Jean James/Mary James) comes close to fitting the cozy mystery category as well. Certainly their two ‘Pate and Faircloth’ books do. “Wherefore Art Thou, Jane,” and “Methinks I See Thee, Jane,” are set largely in rural Panhandle Florida, with a professional snake hunter as the main protagonist, and are unabashedly humorous. The upcoming “Hell is Naked” (out in November, I’ve read an advance copy) is borderline, maybe. Certainly not overly graphic and with a bit of humor, but set in the ‘big city’ (Los Angeles) and starring an ex-cop.
I suppose it is a formula of sorts — and I am glad I did not know of it before I wrote “Shaper” and “Waves.” They just are as they are because that is the way I conceived them. But I am happy to market them any way that might bring in more readers!