Posted by: nancycurteman | June 21, 2012

10 Characteristics of a Cozy Mystery

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These days most mysteries are crossovers meaning they incorporate characteristics from more than one mystery category—romantic suspense, historical mystery, fantasy mystery. There is still a market niche for the pure cozy. Consider Malice Domestic. Writing a purebred cozy can be fun. Here are 10 characteristics of a cozy mystery.

1. The murder is either bloodless or committed before the story begins.

2. Turn off violence, sex, and coarse language or reference them off scene.

3. The villain is always caught and punished in the end.

4. The amateur sleuth who solves the crime is a likeable person with good values and minor faults. She usually has a job or profession unrelated to detective work. She is often an everyday person you might meet in the grocery store checkout line.

5. The sleuth is remarkably capable in picking up clues, making connections and discovering possible suspects.

6. Forget serial killers or criminals who kill for fun. Standard cozy motives are greed, jealousy or revenge.

7. The setting for a cozy is usually limited so there is a small pool of suspects for the sleuth to interrogate. It may be a small town, neighborhood, an English manor or even a circus.

8. Often the snooping and investigating of the sleuth makes her a target of the murderer.

9. The cozy is not a frantic, wild and wooly ride but rather a gradual revelation of clues that lead to a surprise ending.

10. Often a bit of romance will add spice to a cozy. Just don’t over season.

Use these 10 characteristics of a cozy mystery to create one of your own. Have fun.

More writing tips:

How to Tie Your Mystery Writing to Your Personal Passions

5 Best Small Town Settings for a Cozy Mystery

Photo: BannerGif


  1. One of my critique partners says in a cozy, “There’s a murder but no one gets hurt.” 🙂


    • Kathy, Great description of a basic cozy characteristic. Smart partner!


  2. […] 10 Characteristics of a Cozy Mystery […]


  3. […] Domestic ( lists these characteristics of a cozy […]


    • I like the title. Sounds like a nineteenth century story.


  4. They seem to feature a lot of pastry baking. Is this a requirement?


    • You are right. Most mysteries are a combination of styles. Good point.


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