Reading the Cozy Mystery

Critical Essays on an Underappreciated Subgenre


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About the Book

With their intimate settings, subdued action and likeable characters, cozy mysteries are rarely seen as anything more than light entertainment. The cozy, a subgenre of crime fiction, has been historically misunderstood and often overlooked as the subject of serious study. This anthology brings together a groundbreaking collection of essays that examine the cozy mystery from a range of critical viewpoints.

The authors engage with the standard classification of a cozy, the characters who appear in its pages, the environment where the crime occurs and how these elements reveal the cozy story’s complexity in surprising ways. Essays analyze cozy mysteries to argue that Agatha Christie is actually not a cozy writer; that Columbo fits the mold of the cozy detective; and that the stories’ portrayals of settings like the quaint English village reveal a more complicated society than meets the eye.

About the Author(s)

Phyllis M. Betz is a professor emerita of English from La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She lives in Burlington, New Jersey.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Phyllis M. Betz
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 236
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7727-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4169-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction: A Cat. A Craft. A Cookie. A Cozy.
Phyllis M. Betz 1
Contemporary Cozy Mysteries, Agatha Christie and the 1990s: Six Steps Toward a Definition
Marty S. Knepper 17
The Cozy from the Margins: The Archetypes of Home and Heroism from Inside and Outside the Modern Cozy
Susan Rowland 49
Counterpointing the Cozy: Louise Penny’s Three Pines
Paula T. Connolly 65
Is the Cozy a ­Tailor-Made Style for Historical Crime Set in the 1920s and 1930s?
Jennifer S. Palmer 79
Displaced Controversies: The Paradoxes of the Cozy Setting
Phyllis M. Betz 94
This Cozy England: England and Englishness in Cozy Mystery Series
Susan K. Martin and Kylie Mirmohamadi 113
Extending Cozy Boundaries
Kathryn Heltne Swanson 130
The Body in the Library: The Library in the Cozy Mystery
Mary P. Freier 144
Aurora Teagarden, the Cozy and the Southern Gothic
Jessica Gildersleeve 156
Clara and Solange: Two Very Modern Detectives in a Very Cozy World
Jon Wilkins 169
A Likeable Man: Columbo as Cozy Detective
Stephen Cloutier 188
The Best of Both Worlds: Being Cozy and ­Hard-Boiled in Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe
Sally ­Beresford-Sheridan 204
About the Contributors 225
Index 227

Book Reviews & Awards

Winner, International Crime Fiction Book Prize