Jess Lourey and Shannon Baker – The Double-Booked Tour

Liz here, excited to welcome back Jess Lourey and Shannon Baker! We hosted them last fall for their double launch, and it was so much fun they’re back to celebrate the release of Jess’s latest, March of Crime, and Shannon’s latest, Dark Signal. Take it away, gals!

Jess: Back in 2006, I attended my first Bouchercon, the premier mystery convention. It was held in Madison, Wisconsin, that year. I remember feeling overwhelmed and out of place, the nerdy girl on the sidelines who no one wanted to dance with. Thank god that’s changed (ha!). I also remember attending a panel called Thriller vs. Cozies, where three thriller writers competed against three cozy writers to see who could turn an idea into a synopsis the quickest. While thrillers more often end up on the New York Times bestseller list, at this panel, the cozy writers were quicker and their story lines were voted more compelling each time. I don’t think it was an accident. I think cozies have a lot to teach thrillers, and all mystery genres.

That’s what Shannon Baker, author of the latest Kate Fox mystery, Dark Signal, and me, author of the recently-released humorous mystery March of Crime, are here today to talk with you about, so pull up a chair, pour yourself a steaming mug of chamomile tea, toss in a splash of brandy, and let’s do this.

Shannon, how would you describe a thriller vs. a cozy?

Shannon: Since I’m in sunny Tucson, I’ll opt for a mai tai instead of the tea, but thank you, anyway. I always think a mystery is a whodunnit, with the whole plot driving to find the identity of the bad guy. In a thriller, we most likely know who the bad guy is, and the book focuses on preventing the big bad event. Typically, thrillers have bigger stakes than mysteries, saving the planet from Dr. Brain’s doomsday machine, as opposed to finding who killed the rector.

Jess: Agreed. And I read them both, and find something to enjoy in both subgenres. When it comes to building and portraying relationships, though, I think cozies beat thrillers hands down. It’s not only the relationship between the characters that is often deep (Joanna Campbell Slan’s Kiki Lowenstein mysteries, which I love, come to mind), it’s also the way cozies connect to me as a reader. I feel like I’m hanging out with friends when I read a cozy, whereas reading a thriller often leaves me feeling entertained, but not included. Shannon, what’s one thing that you find cozies do better than thrillers?

Shannon: Criminy, Jess, you have me all nervous. It’s like saying all redheads have crazy tempers, or all Irish drink a lot of whiskey. So, as uncontroversial as I can: Cozies often make me laugh. I love the madcap adventures of Ivy Meadows in Cindy Brown’s off-off-off Broadway series, for instance. Thrillers can get my heart racing and keep me turning pages, which is fun in its own way.

While thrillers aren’t devoid of character and relationship subplots, it’s a matter of balance, in most cases. (see me tap dancing around this?) For instance, when my husband and I watch Game of Thrones, we enjoy the whole show together. But his favorite scenes involve battles and nudity, while my favorite scenes involve John Snow and how he’s feeling, who his friends are, if he’ll ever find happiness. (We both love dragons, duh.) I enjoy the connection, which is where cozies excel.

Jess: Good call! OK, we’ve been a little hard on the thrillers, so let’s end on a positive note. What’s your favorite thriller, or who is your favorite thriller writer?

Shannon: While I’m not well-read in the thriller genre, I do love Francine Matthews’s books. Last year, I read this wild ride of a thriller, with deep character development, as well a heart-stopping plot, called Salem’s Cipher, that deserves mention here.

Jess: Ha! Thank you, friend. For me, although they might technically be writing suspense, I am always thrilled by Alison Gaylin and Karin Slaughter’s books. And there’s this sexy chick named Shannon Baker whose books I keep hearing great things about. If only she didn’t keep nipping my brandy…

How about you, clever readers? What’s one element of cozies (or thrillers!) that you really enjoy? 

Please join Shannon and Jessie as they continue their blog tour. They will each be giving away three books this tour, and every comment you leave at a blog stop gets you one chance to win. For another chance to win a book, sign up for Jess and/or Shannon’s newsletters on their websites (links below).

Jess LoureyJessie short bio: Jess Lourey (rhymes with “dowry”) is best known for her critically- acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing “a splendid mix of humor and suspense.” She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a regular Psychology Today blogger, a sought-after workshop leader and keynote speaker who delivered the 2016 “Rewrite Your Life” TEDx Talk, and the author of Rewrite Your Life, the only book out there which shows you how to turn your facts into healing, page-turning fiction. You can find out more at

Shannon BakerShannon short bio: Shannon Baker is the author of the Kate Fox mystery series (Tor/Forge). Set in the isolated cattle country of the Nebraska Sandhills, Kirkus says, “Baker serves up a ballsy heroine, a colorful backdrop, and a surprising ending.” She also writes the Nora Abbott mystery series (Midnight Ink), featuring Hopi Indian mysticism and environmental issues. Shannon makes her home in Tucson where she enjoys cocktails by the pool, breathtaking sunsets, a crazy Weimeraner, and killing people (in the pages of her books). She was voted Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s 2014 Writer of the Year. Visit Shannon at

36 Thoughts

  1. Wow, welcome you two! Great summary of the difference between the subgenres. And I learned a few new things about each of you. Now to go order some books…

    1. Safe travels! Can’t wait to hear all about your magnificent acceptance speech, RMFW Writer of the Year!

  2. Interesting interview…now I must go and look for all of the mentioned books I haven’t yet read.

    1. Gram!!! I owe you a book from last year’s Double Booked Tour, I think. I never found your email to notify you. Send me a message from my website and we’ll make that happen.

  3. I’ll read (and review) thrillers when they come my way, but it is cozies that I will stay up late to finish.

    1. Thanks for hanging out with us, Barbara Kay! I’m writing a thriller right now, so that’s what I’m reading as well, but soon, cozies…

  4. Great to see you both back with the Wickeds! I read both genres too. I tend to bounce back and forth between thrillers and cozies. One of my favorite thrillers is Jackdaws by Ken Follett about a woman resistance fighter in WWII.

    1. Hi Sherry,
      Thanks for having us. We love hanging out with the Wickeds and I hope you keep having us back, even if Jess eats all the good bits off the cheese plate.

  5. Welcome and great summary. I have to admit to being more of a thriller reader, but I always love the interplay and relationships in cozies. You are right that this element seems to be a “make or break” for a cozy – much more than a thriller.

    1. I was late to the cozy game. Maybe put off by the covers that don’t seem “serious.” A snob, I guess, like people who don’t admit to reading romance. I’ve been schooled in how good writing makes good books in any genre! Thanks for having us!

  6. I definitely agree about the characters and the humor of cozies. It’s the characters that keep me coming back to a series. However, when a thriller really grabs me, I enjoy that, too. I just don’t read them that often.

    One exception to that is Gregg Hurwitz, who does have great characters to go with his page turning action. I have read his last two books on the way to Malice, ironically enough. I like knowing I have hours to read when I pick up one of his books.

  7. Thanks for visiting today, Jess and Shannon! I love the personalities that come through in this interview! I like both traditional whodunnit style mysteries in cozy villages threaded through with a light-hearted tone and bleak, melancholy mysteries set in cold climates and populated by broken people. Sometimes I am in the mood for the intimate connection with one and other times I’d rather experience the more arms-length onservation of the other. As a dear friend of mine once said when I offered her a choice of red wine or white “Why choose?”. In beverages and books I think it is great fun to have a helping of each.

  8. Darn you two…I had to read this twice, since the first time through I had to keep opening new tabs to look up the books you both were mentioning 🙂

    For me it is a toss up between Thriller vs Cozy. Time of year, holiday season, boredom, they all affect what I choose next. A good Halloween or Christmas cozy can’t be beat!

    1. This time of year, or maybe a little later, is always good to cozy up with any book in front of a fire. Unless you live in Tucson, then it’s more like sitting under the umbrella on the deck. But the good book part doesn’t change.

  9. I really like cozies because they are a good clean read and you feel like you really get to the characters. Also, a cozy usually is set in a small town and they have a unique storyline.

    1. I need to take time to play! Thank you for the reminder, and my pleasure on the shout-out. Just stating the truth.

  10. I love the settings of cozies. The village, cafe, store, farm, etc are always such fun & make me want to visit them.

  11. I have read a lot of cozies! I like reading books in a series. That way I really get to know the main characters. Also, I like the quirky secondary characters in cozies and just a hint of romance!!

Comments are closed.