Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Mystery About Mysteries

Deck reading days are almost here. Summer is a great time to breeze through a mystery novel, but did you know that not all mysteries are created equal? Nope! Mysteries can be classified as "Locked door," "hard-boiled," "police procedurals," "cozies," "medieval," -the list is sooo long! Each type has specific characteristics, so I thought I'd spend a few blog entries sharing some details.

Let's start with COZIES, those lovely little English country house mysteries, with little violence, no gory details, and nary a cuss word to be found, except an occasional "Jeepers!" Other elements that define a cozy mystery include: a cat somewhere in the story; an amateur sleuth who snoops as a sideline rather than as an occupation - her day job being a cook, a nun, and even a bookseller; murder is often by blunt instrument and/or home decor item such as Aunt Polly's imported paperweight; the murder is discovered, not portrayed, and the person discovering the body must shudder at the sight of blood; and the murder is usually done in a home setting and, surely, there will be a fireplace nearby where interested parties sip tea as they piece together the clues.

Cozy writers to check out: Charlotte Macleaod, Dorothy Cannell (her detective in an interior decorator), Susan Wittag Albert (Beatrix Potter mystery series; the animals talk, way too cute), Charlaine Harrie (Tea Garden series) Tamra Myers and Diane Mott Davidson (both feature main characters who are detectives/cateresses, both writer's book include recipes), and of course, Agatha Christie.

There are far more than I can mention, but rest assured, if you have a hobby, there may be a cozy mystery about it. Do you knit - yup, there's a series, more than one as a matter of fact. There are cozies for artists, rare book collectors, gardners, lovers of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott, well, you get the idea.

So, when Mother Nature finally cranks up the heat for us here in Wisconsin, grab a cozy mystery, head to the beach, the deck, or you favorite, cushy backyard swing and spend a simple hour or two solving a crime.