Tag Archives: cozy mysteries

It’s Finally Here!

Hello, my faithful Scribelings! Suze here. I’m too excited for any niceties, so I’ll get straight to the point. FETA ATTRACTION, Book 1 of the Greek to Me Mysteries, has a cover. I think the art department at  Berkley knocked it out of the park, don’t you?

Feta Attraction Cover

FETA ATTRACTION is available for preorder now, and releases on January 6, 2015. I can’t wait to share it with you!

Candy Crush–Cereal Killer Cookies

Hey, all, Suze here. As some of you may know, I write mysteries. Culinary cozy mysteries. I can’t talk much about my own current project just yet, but I can talk about other writers in the genre. So I’ve decided to start a new feature here at the Scribes.  Once a month or so I will introduce you to a cozy mystery author and prepare a recipe (or craft project) from one of her books. Sound like fun?

Book 17, coming in August
Book 17, coming in August

I’m starting off with one of my all-time faves, the Queen of the Culinary Cozies, Diane Mott Davidson. (Click here for a Wiki link) Diane’s series stars an espresso-swilling Colorado caterer named Gertrude “Goldy” Bear Schultz. Like her fairy tale namesake Goldilocks, she just can’t seem to keep her nose out of the business of the inhabitants of the upscale mountain town of Aspen Meadow. In each book she is called upon to cater an affair for the town’s snooty rich contingent, somebody gets killed, and Goldy finds a reason to get involved–even though her husband, Tom, a big yummy hunk of a local cop, repeatedly tells her to stay out of it. With the help of her zaftig moneybags BFF, Marla, and her assistant, aspiring chef Julian, Goldy always solves the mystery and delivers some of the most luscious recipes out there. Here’s one, from The Cereal Murders, book 3 in this long-running series:

IMGP8496Cereal Killer Cookies

2¼ cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 6-ounce packages almond brickle chips (Bits O’ Brickle or Heath Toffee chips)
1 2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the oats with the brickle chips. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. In a food processor mix the sugars until blended, then gradually add butter. Continue to process until creamy and smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and process until blended. Add the flour mixture and process just until combined. Pour this mixture over the oats and brickle chips and stir until well combined. Using a 2-tablespoon measure, measure out scoops of dough and place at least 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on racks.
Makes 4 to 5 dozen

Suze’s Notes: The one tablespoon of vanilla is not a mistake. For me, this recipe made four dozen chewy cookies, plus one, not counting the raw cookie dough I ate. I used a silicone baking mat and left the cookies in for about 9 minutes because I was using the convection feature on my oven. I took them out when they were browned around the edges but still slightly gooey in the center, then left them on the cookie tray to set up before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

This recipe is a delicious twist on the classic oatmeal scotchie. Even the non-oatmeal-cookie-loving Crown Prince of Hardydom conceded that they were “pretty good,” as he grabbed another off the plate. Consensus around the Hardy house is that this recipe is a keeper!

Have you tried any new recipes lately? Do you have a series you’d like to see me feature?

Let’s Cozy Up

Hey, everybody! Suze here, writing to you on a beautiful fall day. Hope you’re enjoying it!

When people ask me what kind of stories I write, I tell them cozy mysteries. (I have a needs-revision contemporary romance too, and a long-way-down-the-road literary novel or two I’d like to tackle, but the mysteries are what I’m focusing on now). More often than not, I get a blank stare in return, followed by: “What’s a cozy mystery?” So today, I thought I’d try to solve that puzzle for you. I’m pretty sure you already know a cozy when you see one, but you just didn’t have a name for it. Remember Murder She Wrote? How about Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple? And of course, Nancy Drew.

There is no one definition or set of rules for this mystery subgenre, but here’s my take:

  • The heroine (and it’s nearly always a heroine, not a hero) is an amateur who, for whatever reason (bad luck, nosiness) gets involved in a crime. This means she’s not a private detective or working in law enforcement. If she gets paid to find a killer, it’s not a cozy.
  • The heroine is single, usually childless or with children grown and out of the nest, at least at the beginning of the series. There are exceptions (Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Bear Schultz books come to mind), but in general the heroine starts out on her own.
  • The heroine has some interesting occupation that the reader can either identify with or learn more about. Goldy Schultz is a caterer. Lucy Burdette’s Hayley Snow is a food critic. Rosemary Harris’s Paula Holliday is a gardener. Sheila Connolly’s Meg Corey owns a New England apple orchard. Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen owns a cookie shop. There are series about tea shops, knitting/yarn stores, cheese sellers, soapmakers, writers — the list goes on and on. There are also some paranormal variations. Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books started out cozy-like. Heather Blake’s Wishcraft series is about a witch.
  • The stories are often accompanied by recipes or craft patterns/instructions.
  • Setting is extremely important. Cozies are always set in small towns, and as a series develops over time, the reader feels as though they know the village and its inhabitants intimately. You might not want to actually move there, since as an outsider your chances of getting bumped off are pretty good.
  • Close to the beginning of the book, a murder occurs, either of a townsperson, or a stranger.
  • The murder happens off-stage. This is crucial. In a cozy we do not see the murder happen. Our sleuth can, and often does, find the body, but that body is already dead (or dying, but in any event it is too late). There can be some on-camera violence, but it is not graphic (no heads exploding in a shower of bone and blood), and it’s usually done in self-defense.
  • Likewise, sex happens off-stage. People do it in cozies all the time — we just don’t get to, um, experience it.
  • There is often a love interest, but the relationship develops over the course of several books and may never actually end in marriage or an HEA. (Big difference here, between romances and mysteries)
  • As for the mystery itself, there are several suspects, each of whom has a credible motive for wanting the victim dead. It’s up to the sleuth, and the reader, to figure out whodunnit.

What about you? Do you like cozies? What’s your favorite series, either on television or in books? Know of an occupation or hobby that would make a good cozy?