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Maryn
08-18-2004, 12:01 AM
When my mystery critique group formed years ago, we added "suspense" to our name, so it was a mystery-suspense critique group. We found that people who wrote one were often readers of the other, and that they could critique either genre well even if they didn't pleasure read it.

Since that time, we've decided that certain sub-genres of mystery, namely cozies, are so different that the suspense and harder mystery writers can't supply useful critique to the authors. (However, a visiting Romance writer could.)

I suppose that's the main reason the group split. I'm curious if other mystery or suspense writers feel the gap between themselves and cozies is as huge as it seems to us.

Maryn, barely able to tolerate even "good" cozies

rtilryarms
08-18-2004, 04:17 AM
I love the clandestine!

TerriLynn
08-23-2004, 06:50 AM
what's a cozie?
:huh

Terri
who writes romantic suspense

HConn
08-23-2004, 09:13 AM
A cosy is a type of mystery in which the setting is homey and the thrill factor is low. Miss Marple was the star of many cosies.

No gun fights. No fist fights. No mail bombs. Lots of conversations with the vicar, though. :)

Maryn
08-24-2004, 04:25 AM
I suspect a lot of readers might define a cozy (American spelling) or cosy (UK, after the tea cosy) as any mystery story in which the 'detective' is not a professional law enforcement person.

Maryn

HConn
08-24-2004, 07:54 AM
Hm. That's not how I heard it. This is how I've always thought of cozies (I'm an American, so I'll switch my spelling):


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.

from this list of cozy writers. (http://www.twbooks.co.uk/authors/bibliographies/cosies.html)

Or here: (http://www.crcstudio.arts.ualberta.ca/textintransit/viewtext.php?s=browse&tid=80&route=bytitle.php)


The 'cosy' mystery provides a few vicarious thrills within an otherwise safe and comfortable world. The order of genteel life is disrupted by a crime, the clues of which are pieced together by an astute (or nosy) character in the community. Order is central to the cosy - the mystery is unravelled by orderly rules, procedures, and conventions, so that order can be restored to society once more.

The setting of the cosy is usually rural or suburban, populated by mundane characters. It is important to note that the detective figure, such as Christie's Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot, is incorporated by his/her world and entirely ordinary in his/herself. The appeal of the cosy lies in the reader's ability to project himself into the detective role by piecing together the clues, while remaining grounded in the familliar.

I just read a friend's manuscript to give him feedback. His "detective" is an actor just returned from fighting the Nazis in WWII. In the course of the story, he kills people, gets beat up, rescues an old friend who has become a junky, sleeps with a promiscuous socialite, and rubs elbows with gangsters. While the protagonist is not in law enforcement, you wouldn't really want to call the book "cozy."

Maryn
08-24-2004, 09:26 PM
I'm generally quite frightened by definitions containing the word "ratiocination," aren't you?

I concede that your friend's mystery certainly isn't a cozy, and that there's more to it than an amateur sleuth. (It sounds like the kind of book I'd enjoy, too.)

After reading the more complete definitions you shared, I'm reminded of precisely why I can't abide cozies. Strictly a matter of personal preference, but they're missing a lot of what I enjoy in reading and chock-full of things I don't care for.

It's no wonder I find them so hard to critique--I try to be objective, but my distaste keeps clamoring to get out. (Not to mention that the cozy writer in our group was really writing romance with a serving of mystery on the side, rather than the other way around.)

Thanks for the exhaustive definitions!

Maryn

HConn
08-24-2004, 10:27 PM
I've enjoyed the few cozies I've read, but it's not something I'd seek out. Too mild.

But I used to enjoy Murder, She Wrote every once in a while. :)

evanaharris
08-28-2004, 11:23 AM
But I used to enjoy Murder, She Wrote every once in a while.

Who doesn't enjoy the occasional Murder, She Wrote? That and Matlock.

Writing Again
08-28-2004, 12:40 PM
Oddly while my own writing style tends toward the Mike Hammar / Nero Wolf styles two of my favorite writers are Agatha Christie and M.C. Beaton.

Twice I have bravely ventured off to join writer's groups only to be tossed out because my writing is violent, vulgar, and crassly commercial without true literary merit or any socially redeming qualities.

But I sure have a lot of fun writing.

katdad
10-23-2004, 03:41 AM
I cannot handle "Cozy" mysteries either. The "locked room" mysteries or ADs either (AD = Amateur Detective).

I prefer either police procedural or private detective.

Myself, I'm writing a series of modern hardboiled private eye novels, and I prefer reading that genre.

Writing Again
10-23-2004, 07:18 PM
I don't know enough about police procedures to even attempt one: Private investigators are too constrained in real life to provide decent action.

I also know enough about police to both respect and disrespect them: I know enough about the rules and the system to both understand their purpose and to distrust their results: I've seen just how out of hand and crazy things can get from all POV's: Police, courts, victims, witnesses, and even the perps.

I prefer writing about the ordinary citizen who somehow has a stake in the crime, either as victim or suspect. They are not bound by any rules except the situation as they find it and their own ingenuity.

katdad
10-24-2004, 02:27 AM
Yes, in real life, private detectives are too constrained.

Thankfully we're writing fiction, and we can play around with things a bit. I'm not writing biography here.

Police procedurals do indeed take research, and perhaps you may need to be a former cop (Wambaugh) or be very close to the cop profession.

I have tried to create a very realistic private detective in my novels, with few stretches of the truth. My protag of course gets involved in things that a real life PI would not, but hey, we're all fudging the truth here anyway.

Jamesaritchie
10-27-2004, 04:46 AM
For what a cozy is, think "Miss Marple" or "Murder, She Wrote." Both are classic cozies.

I write both cozies and hardboiled, and I see no gap between them that matters. I love to read both, and my experience is that being able to critique both shouldn't be a problem. And the last thing on earth I'd do is have a romance writer/reader critique a cozy mystery.

strngchs
02-10-2007, 02:03 AM
Bringing up an older conversation here, but a friend and I have had a recent discussion about the reading level of readers who read in the mystery genre, and it was said(not by me!) that the reading level of readers who read cozies/amateur sleuths is lower than those who read suspense.

Is there any validity to this statement?

aadams73
02-10-2007, 02:37 AM
Validity? No. I read both suspense and cozies, and I bet my reading level and my manners are better than the person who told you this.

Pick up a couple of each and see what you think :)

strngchs
02-10-2007, 02:49 AM
I am wondering if the ultimate meaning was that the plot structure for each differs to the amount that one seems easier to read, i.e. easyreader, and the other takes more of an education just to decipher the wording sometimes...

oh well.... who knows what a person means when they try to say books are written for any reason other than to entertain!

Jamesaritchie
02-10-2007, 02:50 AM
Bringing up an older conversation here, but a friend and I have had a recent discussion about the reading level of readers who read in the mystery genre, and it was said(not by me!) that the reading level of readers who read cozies/amateur sleuths is lower than those who read suspense.

Is there any validity to this statement?

Considering that the most intellectual English writers often write cozies, and that the readership is usually highly educated, it's sounds like, to be polite, poppycock. Most of the cozy lovers I've known not only had extremely high reading levels, they often considered themselves about most other fiction.

I love cozies, and I'll guarantee my reading level is higher than whoever said this.

JDCrayne
02-10-2007, 04:08 AM
I suspect a lot of readers might define a cozy (American spelling) or cosy (UK, after the tea cosy) as any mystery story in which the 'detective' is not a professional law enforcement person.

Maryn

Pish-tush. I consider my mysteries cosies, and they do have a professional cop as the protagonist. There's only implied sex, very little strong language, and the murders take place tastefully off-stage. If you stick to the non-cop definition you could still have massive amounts of gore and sex, and mysteries with that are definitely not cosy.

CheshireCat
02-12-2007, 01:02 AM
Bringing up an older conversation here, but a friend and I have had a recent discussion about the reading level of readers who read in the mystery genre, and it was said(not by me!) that the reading level of readers who read cozies/amateur sleuths is lower than those who read suspense.

Is there any validity to this statement?

If there's any validity to even the idea that the reading level is different for the two sub-genres, I'd guess it was the other way around. (And I've written both, so not bashing either here!) Not sure even that applies today; the classic cozies written by Christie and those like her tended to have some fairly complex characters and motivations, but the last few cozies I picked up, I must admit, seemed lightweight and extremely slow-moving.

I love good suspense, but it has to be character-driven for me; a plot that surprises me is good, but it's the characters I want to be talking about afterward.

But, again, I have to say that quite a bit of the suspense I've picked up in recent years has disappointed me because of the lack of complexity in the characters.

Hmmm. I think what I really think (bear with me here) is that we can't make a blanket statement about the reading level of readers within any genre. :D