Wicked Wednesday: Lessons from Cozies

On Wicked Wednesdays, we all chime in on a topic. This week, what cozy series have you learned from? What has made that enjoyable?

Julie: Two series come to mind. First of all, Elizabeth Peters Amelia Peabody series. It is about Egyptologists at the turn of the last series. Really fun, funny, and I felt like I was learning about the scientific methods of the time. And then, when I went to Egypt, I brought Barbara Mertz‘s book Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphics. Interesting, since Barbara Mertz and Elizabeth Peters were one and the same person.

The other series is Kate Carlisle’s Bibliophile series. I love learning about book binding, and the frame she has put around the series.

Jessie: I know I’ve mentioned her before but I love all the series by Charlotte MacLeod. Her books are lessons in silly fun that is balanced by well developed, meaningful relationships between people. Her characters are funny but they way she treats them celebrates who they are and the lives they live in a way that shows the regard she has for them.

bouillon_paper_smallEdith: Many years ago, when I realized I wanted to write a mystery novel, I was reading Katherine Hall Page‘s series, featuring caterer Faith Fairchild in a fictional Massachusetts town; Susan Wittig Albert‘s China Bayles herb shop series, set in Texas; and Diane Mott Davidson‘s Goldy Bear Catering Mystery Series. I drew lessons about writing a foodie cozy from all of these and kept them in the back of my mind, I guess. They all feature a WholeEnchiladafemale protagonist with a quirky female buddy. The amateur sleuth is courageous, funny, and an entrepreneur, and either at the start or later in the series they all have children at home, which I did at the time (and still do, blessedly, just not at home!). Who knows, my protagonists Cam or Lauren might acquire a child or two one of the these days!

Sherry: I came across Clare O’Donohue’s Someday Quilts Mystery Series because she was one of the authors on a panel I moderated at Malice. In the Double Wedding Ring, the characters, plot, and setting all were fully developed and felt real. I have several old quilts that my grandmother made. One of them is a double wedding ring. It was interesting to read about modern day quilt and pattern making while reading a great mystery.

billionaireblendBarb: I always mention Cleo Coyle’s Coffee House Mysteries. I love the way she turns Greenwich Village and the community around the Village Blend Coffee House into perfect cozy setting. Her characters are diverse and interesting and the back story (and how it plays out in the present) is fabulous.

I also learned a lot from three Maine-based series: Kaitlyn Dunnett’s Liss MacCrimmon Scottish Mysteries, Sarah Grave’s Home Repair is Homicide Series and Leslie Meier’s Lucy Stone Mysteries. At first I was a little intimidated to jump into their ranks, but now that I have I realize what an inspiration these books are.

Readers, your turn: What cozy series have you learned from? What has made that enjoyable?

17 Thoughts

  1. I have been swearing for years that I don’t read historical mysteries (I tell myself it’s because I’m a meticulous historian and get aggravated by even small errors, but the reality is, I have to eliminate something from the piles of books!). However, purely by accident I find myself reading two books set in the 1910’s-20’s and actually enjoying them: one by Caroline Todd and one by Catriona McPherson. I think I’m going to have to reevaluate my position. It may be that I’m less fussy than I used to be and more open to any well-plotted, well-written mystery.

      1. Of course, especially since I know a little about the area. I’m wondering if my ancestors aren’t haunting me, since my last couple or three books seem to be spending a lot of time looking at the 18th century. (I was brainwashed by Johnny Tremain at an early age. And Drums Along the Mohawk.)

  2. I knew nothing about the kingly drama that happened in England during the 1930’s with Edward giving up his throne for the woman he loved. While Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness mysteries haven’t gotten that far yet, I got curious enough about that part of the story to look it up and see where all it led.

    Also, I have learned that if you know something about a murder, call someone and blurt it out over the phone as soon as you can. If you insist, “I have to tell you in person. Meet me at such and such in an hour.” When an hour comes, all the person you want to meet with will find is your dead body.

      1. Love that analysis–it’s like the redshirts in Star Trek. If an unfamiliar face turns up in the first 15 minutes, he’s going to die.

        Fact: the first time I visited London, a friend and I stayed with friends of her parents. Turns out they lived in the apartment where Wallis Simpson lived while poor Edward was trying to sort things out. If those walls could talk…

  3. My favorite cozy series is Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef series. I love Ollie and the White House setting is interesting. Her First Families are fictional, but it was fascinating how she wrote the transition between administrations, and how different the two families were. I also like the DC setting, probably because my oldest son works in that big white building with the dome.

  4. A big thank you to Barb for the plug. Funny thing. When I was writing KILT DEAD, I kept looking at Sharyn McCrumb’s Scottish mysteries and thinking how could I possibly measure up to her books? And of course, in my other identity, I hesitated for years about writing novels set in the 16th century because who could top Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond?
    Count me in as another fan of Charlotte MacLeod and of Elizabeth Peters.


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