Guest- CJ Connor

Jessie: In New Hampshire where, thankfully, Hurricane Lee gave us a miss!I am absolutely delighted to welcome CJ Connor as a guest today. One of the things that I love about the Wickeds is that we have the opportunity to introduce new authors and series to mystery enthusiasts. I hope that you will join me in greeting CJ Connor and his new series here today! Take it away CJ!

My debut novel Board to Death–a cozy mystery with Kensington Books set around a Salt Lake City board game shop–came from my wish for more cozies starring queer characters. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, I fell hard for the genre. I loved the close-knit feeling they brought and the clever puzzles. The knowledge that no matter what happened, the sleuth would turn out alright was also comforting when real life offered no certainties.

But I could find very few cozy mysteries about LGBTQ people. My husband and I eloped during those months, and I longed for books about queer people and couples. That my favorite genre had very few to offer disappointed me as a reader, but it also offered an opportunity–maybe I could help improve belonging for queer readers in the genre by writing one myself.

Thankfully, the “quozy mystery” genre–a term coined by Edgar Award-winning author Rob Osler–has grown rapidly over the past few years. It brings me a lot of joy to see cozy mystery publishers making space for queer stories and that readers have a greater selection than they did even three years ago. I hope to see the quozy mystery genre continue to grow and am grateful my debut is a part of it.

Everyone needs more quozies in their life! Read on for queer cozy mystery book recommendations on where to start, perfect for those new to the subgenre as well as more seasoned readers. There’s a little something here for every reader–ghoulishly delightful paranormal cozies, hobby mysteries that dive deep into fascinating niches, historical mysteries with gentle romantic subplots, and more!

Quozy (Queer Cozy) Mystery Recommendations

Devil’s Chew Toy by Rob Osler

Starting off with a debut novel by the author who created the term “quozy mystery” in 2022! Rather than a murder, this cozy mystery is centered around a missing persons case. When teacher Hayden McCall’s date Camilo Rodriquez disappears and the police refuse to take it seriously, Hayden investigates for himself. Along the way, he dives deep into Seattle’s queer community and befriends Hollister and Burley, two lesbian women and friends of Camilo, who help him with the case.

Charlotte Illes is Not a Detective by Katie Siegel

Charlotte Illes was once a renowned teen detective whose achievements would have gained her a spot right next to Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown one decade ago. Now in her midtwenties, she feels aimless and worries that her best days are behind her. A call to her old help line changes everything, however, and she soon finds herself entangled in a murder investigation with much higher stakes than the cases she handled as a kid.

Grave Expectations by Alice Bell

If you prefer your cozies on the spookier side of things, you’ll want to check out this debut starring reluctant medium Claire and her unusual sidekick Sophie, the ghost of her best friend. When Claire is called to perform a seance at a party in an atmospheric English mansion, she senses a spirit with unfinished business that could be linked to any of the guests.

A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette

Written by an avid Murder, She Wrote fan, this cozy mystery is set around a Hollywood antiques shop and brings together wonderfully nostalgic vibes and a clever whodunit. Formerly married sitcom stars Jay Allan and Cindy Cooper remain best friends and are grateful that they can live openly as queer people more so than they could in the 90s. Shortly after opening a Hollywood memorabilia antiques store, they 

Hither, Page by Cat Sebastian

Readers who love cozies with romantic subplots will find it easy to fall for this historical mystery set in post-WWII England. After the war, Jamie Sommers retires to his childhood village in the hopes of building a quiet life as a country doctor. But when murder strikes–as it tends to do in idyllic English villages–Jamie crosses paths with Leo Page, a spy called to investigate who intrigues Jamie in unexpected ways.

Readers: what are your favorite cozy mysteries starring queer leads? If you are new to the quozy mystery subgenre, which book are you most excited to check out?

Short bio: CJ Connor (he/they) is an author from Southern Utah. His debut novel Board to Death is the first in the Board Game Shop series with Kensington Books. He is an EBSCO NoveList advisor, a Book Riot contributor, and a member of the League of Utah Writers.

19 Thoughts

  1. Welcome to the blog, CJ, and congratulations on the new book! As a big board game fan, I’m looking forward to your series.

    I include queer characters in all my books, but not as protagonists. Although they’re not cozies, I’ve enjoyed John Copenhaver’s historical mysteries. And Rob’s book is on my TBR pile!

  2. C.J.: Welcome to the Wickeds! I enjoyed reading Rob & Zac’s debut quozys last year and I have Charlotte’s book in my TBR at home. I am excited to read Rob’s second book, Cirque du Slay (I have the digital ARC).

    And I have enjoyed reading books by non-cozy LGBTQ+ mystery writers such as Anthony Bidulka, John Copenhaver & Greg Herren for a long time.

  3. I don’t think I’ve read any cozy mysteries that have a queer lead, but I’ve read a few non-cozy series that do. Ellen Hart is my favorite, plus Laurie R. King’s Kate Martinelli series and Sandra Scoppetone.

    CJ, I played a lot of board games as a kid so your new book does sound very intriguing to me. As for the titles on your list, I have to say I’m really interested in that Katie Siegel book since Encyclopedia Brown was one of the earliest gateways to my life-long love of mysteries.

  4. Congratulations on the release of BOARD TO DEATH! I love ALL cozies and can’t wait for the opportunity to read it. Love the idea of the series to be centered around board games. I think we all remember that one favorite childhood game. And since there’s a little kid still in all of us, I know that I for one still love playing board games.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  5. Hi CJ. Congrats on your new release. I’m laughing so hard at this description you wrote ” But when murder strikes–as it tends to do in idyllic English villages….” That’s so true, but that’s why we love cozies, right?

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