COZIES: A SELECTIVE LIST
Compiled by Helene Androski (University of Wisconsin)
Each of the following authors wrote (or write) mysteries that contain most of the elements of a cozy: a minimum of violence, sex, and social relevance; the solution is arrived at by ratiocination or intuition rather than forensics and police procedure (or beating a confession out of someone); the murderer is indeed exposed and order restored at the end; the hero/ine is honorable and the other characters (often including the murderer) are well mannered and well-bred (except, of course, the servants); the setting is a closed community of some sort, such as a village, university, stately home. Desirable, but not essential: a writing style graced by wit and literary allusion.
Catherine Aird (British, 1930- ): all set in an imaginary
county in southern England and featuring Inspector Sloan. Very English.
Allingham, Margery (British, 1904-166): one of the Queens of the Golden Age, she features Campion and his Cockney manservant Lugg. Very involved plots and Campion plays the upper class twit almost too well.
Robert Barnard (British): often set in the world of British politics and government; the master of the twist at the end; much humor and fully-developed characters.
M.C. Beaton (British): set in a Scottish highlands village and featuring a Columbo-like constable who is deceptively bumbling and outwits criminals and Scotland Yard.
Nicholas Blake (British, 1904-1972): in real life he was C. Day Lewis, Poet Laureate of England, so his mysteries are elegant and literate, featuring elegant, literate Nigel Strangeways, Oxford graduate and amateur sleuth.
Eleanor Boylan (US): the author is Elizabeth Daly's niece and she is carrying on the Gamadge series featuring the widowed Clara Gamadge.
Christianna Brand (British, 1907-1988): she wrote only eight but they feature good puzzles, eccentrics, wit.
Lilian Jackson Braun (US): perfect for cat lovers; the Siamese casts KoKo and Yum Yum "solve" the mysteries for their owner.
Jon Breen (US, 1943- ): two series, one featuring horse race announcer Jerry Brogan and set in the sports world, and the other bookshop owner Rachel Hennings; many allusions to classic detective novels and characters.
Simon Brett (British): writes two series, one featuring Charles Paris, womanizing and out-of-work actor, and the other Mrs. Pargeter, the widow of a successful burglar; very funny; robust characters; the flaws of the hero/ines may not appeal to the traditional cozy lover.
Leo Bruce (British, 1903-1979): two series, one featuring Sgt. Beef, village constable, and the other Carolus Deene, master in a boy's school. Good puzzles, good wit.
W.J. Burley (British, 1914- ): set in Cornwall and featuring decent and unassuming Inspector Wycliffe; great depictions of West Country life.
John Dickson Carr or Carter Dickson (US, 1906-1977): master of the "Locked Room" mystery; huge output.
Sarah Caudwell (British): the puzzles are classic but the morals, especially sexual morals, of the lead characters are decidedly modern; features a group of young London barristers and their mentor, Oxford law professor Hilary Tamar (whose gender is not specified); very witty.
G.K. Chesterton (British, 1874-1936): one of the Golden Age greats; features Father Brown who solves by psychological insight.
Agatha Christie (British, 1890-1976): absolute Queen of the cozies, especially if you like puzzle more than character.
Ann Cleeves (British): features George Palmer-Jones, retired civil servant and avid birdwatcher; good characterizations and birding lore.
V.C. Clinton-Baddeley (British, 1900-1970): very literate, civilized mysteries featuring Dr. Davie, Cambridge professor in his 70's; classic "Donnish School."
Edmund Crispin (British, 1921-1978): fast paced, witty, literate mysteries of the "Donnish School;" the don this time is Gervase Fen of Oxford.
Amanda Cross (US, 1926- ): American "Donnish School" featuring Kate Fansler, English professor at a NY college; much literary name dropping.
Elizabeth Daly (US, 1878-1967): classics from the 40's set among the upper crust in New York City; series character is bibliophile Henry Gamadge and his wife.
Diane Mott Davidson (US): set in Colorado and featuring Goldy Bear, single mother with a catering business; for the food oriented; includes recipes.
S.F.X. Dean (US): American "Donnish School;" series character is Prof. Kelly of a New England college; some preoccupation with moral choices here.
Aaron Elkins (US): features physical anthropologist Gideon Oliver who aids the authorities in many locales with his expert analysis of skeletal remains; graphic descriptions of autopsies may disturb the squeamish.
E.X. Ferrars (British, 1907- ): very traditional, very British mysteries with well-mannered, mostly upper class characters; no series character. Also writes romantic suspense, also known as Elizabeth Ferrars.
Antonia Fraser (British): features TV news journalist Jemima Shore, who is more sexy and spunky than the traditional cozy heroine.
John Greenwood (British, 1921-1986): village mysteries set in Yorkshire and featuring unorthodox Inspector Mosley; very satirical. Also wrote police procedurals under his real name of John Buxton Hilton.
Martha Grimes (US): British-style mysteries written by an American Anglophile; features Inspector Richard Jury and his aristocratic Wimseyesque colleague Melrose Plant; each novel is named after a British pub; good plots, good characterizations.
Gerald Hammond (British, 1926- ): series set in Scotland featuring much lore about hunting and training of gun dogs.
Mollie Hardwick (British): from the author of the Upstairs, Downstairs books, village mysteries featuring Dorian Fairweather, antique dealer; subplot of romance with the vicar.
Carolyn Hart (US, 1936- ): features mystery bookstore owner Annie Laurance and love interest Max Darling; set in resort island off South Carolina; complex plots, humor, much homage to other mystery writers.
Joan Hess (US): features Claire Malloy, widowed bookstore owner and her sulky teenage daughter; set in Arkansas; much humor. Also writes a series set in Maggody, which are much darker in tone.
Georgette Heyer (British, 1902-1974): wrote about a dozen mysteries set in the 30's and 40's; good puzzles plus some of the elements of her better-known Regency novels, i.e. romance, scapegrace nephews, and delightfully acid wit.
Hazel Holt (British): new series set in an English West Country village featuring Sheila Mallory, widow and amateur scholar of obscure 19C authors; Holt is Barbara Pym's literary executor, and if Pym had written mysteries they would have read like these.
Michael Innes (British, 1906- ): one of the best for witty, elegant, literate mysteries; features the aristocratic Inspector George Appleby.
Lucille Kallen (US, 1926- ): series characters C.B. Greenfield, editor of a small town New England newspaper, and his assistant Maggie Rose make a modern Holmes/Watson duo; good characterizations, puzzles, and wit.
Jane Langton (US): elegant mysteries set in New England and resonant with literary allusions to the Transcendentalists.
Emma Lathen (US): series character is John Putnam Thatcher, officer in a prestigious banking firm; much description of the world of finance...and there are actually honorable characters around. Second series featuring R.B. Dominic, Congressman from Ohio and set in the world of politics.
Elizabeth Lemarchand (British, 1906- ): very traditional British mysteries, often set in girls' schools; makes use of English history and archaeology.
Frances and Richard Lockridge (US): long running series featuring Mr. and Mrs. North, a Nick and Nora Charles type couple, who go through many cocktails in the course of their sleuthing.
E.C.R. Lorac (British, 1894-1958): may be hard to find but would be welcomed by Christie fans; intricate puzzle mysteries set in the 30's and featuring upper crust characters.
Sharyn McCrumb (US, 1948- ): her Elizabeth McPherson series features humor and great Southern atmospherics and eccentric characters; also writes science fiction and darker novels set in Appalachia.
Charlotte MacLeod (US, 1922- ): has three series, one written as Alisa Craig; all are light and whimsical and set in New England (except the Craigs, which are set in Canada).
Ngaio Marsh (British, 1895-1982): one of the Queens of Crime; stylish, elegant, traditional mysteries featuring aristocratic Inspector Roderick Alleyn.
Anne Morice (British): actress Tessa Price and policeman husband Robin solve mysteries in the classic detective tradition; the writing is graced by urbane wit.
Haughton Murphy (US): series features Reuben Frost, retired partner of a Wall Street law firm; Murphy is the pen name of a Wall Street lawyer so the corporate/legal/WASP atmospherics ring true; good plots too.
Elizabeth Peters (US): besides her Amelia Peabody Emerson Victorian mysteries, she writes modern ones featuring independent women (Jacqueline Kirby is a librarian and Vicky Bliss is an art historian), fast paces, and humor; she also writes romantic suspense as Barbara Michaels.
Ellis Peters (British): besides the well-known Brother Cadfael medieval mysteries, she has written a series set in a modern Shropshire village and featuring the thoughtful Inspector Felse and his family.
Nancy Pickard (US, 1945- ): set in a small New England city featuring a spunky female heroine, Jennie Cain, director of a charitable foundation; good characterizations and plotting.
Mary Monica Pulver (US): written in the traditional mold and often featuring the Society for Creative Anachronism.
Craig Rice (US): wrote delightful screwball comedy mysteries set in the 40's in Chicago and featuring crackingly witty dialogue, if somewhat cynical hero/ines; a Fort Atkinson native who should not be so obscure.
Virginia Rich (US): features Eugenia Potter, well-to-do widow who loves to cook, so the mysteries include appetizing discussions of food, even recipes; unfortunately Rich died after having written only three.
Betty Rowlands (British): features Melissa Craig, widowed writer of detective stories, who settles in a Cotswold village and mixes fiction and "real life;" great details of village life.
Dorothy L. Sayers (British, 1893-1957): one of the all-time greats; features Lord Peter Wimsey, eccentric and brilliant; great characterizations, intricate plots, great 30's atmospherics; why didn't she write a hundred of them?
John Sherwood (British): his Celia Grant series features her as the widowed owner of a horticultural business; well-plotted village mysteries with gardening lore besides.
Phoebe Atwood Taylor (US, 1909-1976): the Queen of the American cozy; set in Cape Cod and featuring quintessential Yankee Asey Mayo; lightweight, whimsical, great New England atmospherics.
Josephine Tey (British, 1897-1952): one of the Golden Age Queens; besides good plotting and characterizations, she concerns herself with moral questions that add depth to the novels.
Colin Watson (British, 1920-1982): Miss Marple would never recognize his village of Flaxborough, complete with brothels and tea cozy tourist traps; the humor is bawdy.
Patricia Wentworth (British, 1878-1961): the only one of the Golden Age Queens whose series character is a female professional detective, Miss Silver; classically British