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Cozy or amature detective?

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The story I'm working on has a ghost as one of the characters, both of the murders take place off screen, and the protagonist is not a police officer.

There is a description of the murder scene, maybe both of them, but not in great detail.

Is this a cozy, or an amateur detective?


Kathy Wendorff:
Karen, it sounds like it could be both. Not all cozies have amateur detectives -- Agatha Christie is the classic cozy writer, and she featured private investigators like Hercule Poirot and police officers like Inspector Battle. I can't offhand  think of any recent cozies with police or PI protagonists, but it's not impossible -- as long as the story doesn't feature graphic onstage violence or sex, and nothing truly terrible happens to any characters the reader truly cares about, it would qualify.

Conversely, not all amateur sleuth mysteries are cozies, even if they take place in a small town and feature quirky characters and humor. Kathleen Taylor's series is not cozy in feeling at all. (That "nothing truly terrible happens in a cozy to any characters the reader truly cares about" definition is hers, and it's the best I've heard.) You're the best judge at this point whether your story feels like a cozy.

An increasing number of writers see "cozy" as a pejorative, and use "traditional mystery" instead. Not me, because I'm not ashamed of writing cozies, and think they have just as much socially redeeming value as any other mystery sub-genre.

Does that help, or confuse things?

Kathy W.

I agree with Kathy.  Cozy and amateur sleuth aren't mutually exclusive.  Many books are both.



Most "cozy" (or, to use my preferred term, traditional) mysteries are amateur sleuth.  There are exceptions, of course, like those Kathy pointed out, but, by and large, the "cozy" is the province of amateurs like Lord Peter, Ellery Queen, Miss Marple, and Mr. Campion.

Does having a ghost as a character make it "woowoo?" I've seen that term tossed around, but have never seen it defined...


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