Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Wondrous Words: Holiday-Themed Cozy Mysteries? What Are Cozy Mysteries? And Can You Suggest Some?



It's December and our book club always picks a holiday-themed group read. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. One Man's Christmas by Leon Hale. Any Christmas mystery by Anne Perry. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. 

These were pretty straightforward, and we were all pretty much able to find these and read these and discuss them along with Christmas cookies and cocoa.

We celebrated ten years of our book club this year, and now the holiday-themed books have grown thin. But one member, Rae Longest of Powerful Women Readers-fame, suggested we each read a holiday-themed cozy mystery.

And there was silence in the group. What in the world, one brave soul asked, is a cozy mystery?

And...well, I know a cozy mystery when I see one, I think...But I honestly couldn't explain.

So, I turn to you, my cozy mystery experts out there. Can you help us? What is a cozy mystery? Could you suggest some holiday-themed cozy mystery titles or authors who write cozies with a holiday theme? 

And, just for me, could you tell me if either of the books pictured above would be considered cozies? 

And, if you have never heard of a cozy mystery would you just chime in, in the comments, so some of my book club friends don't feel so alone...

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered, or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative! It was first created by Kathy over at Bermuda Onion and is now hosted at Elza Reads.


  1. Hi Debbie! I think a cozy mystery has to be lighter than a murder mystery. A spot of romance in usually does the trick. And a cat. I'm also not an expert on Cozies at all and only recently started reading a few. And I can't think of a nice Christmas cozy now... I haven't had much luck so far this year, so I think I will have to come back and see what is being suggested to you!

    I've posted my Wondrous Words Wednesday and combined it with Wordless Wednesday for this week. I am officially on holiday in 3 hours time and plan on spending a lot of time on the blog to get things in line for the new year.

    Here's my link: Elza Reads

    Hope you are well and taking care of yourself!

    Lots of love,

    Mareli & Elza

    PS: I'll join the Narnia challenge this weekend.

  2. Cozy mysteries - well, in my opinion, they are ones that often contain less on-scene crimes. They do have a body perhaps, but the description of the crime is usually gentler or sometimes there isn't a body. Just another type of crime. Also, the protagonist is often not a police officer or professional crime solver - usually an amateur. They often contain groups that do hobbies (knitting, etc.) or feature a sleuth that owns a business like a bookstore or a bakery or is a librarian. They might contain recipes or knitting patterns or something like that. The covers are usually cheerful and not dark at all. They are 'cozy', like a warm blanket, with a mystery as well.

    As to the books featured above, yes, I would say cozy - certainly for the Leslie Meier book. I've read a bunch of hers. Have not read the other author. Think about the Hallmark mysteries that have been filmed recently and usually there will be a Christmas selection. As another suggestion for your group to read, THE CHRISTMAS LETTERS by Lee Smith. Not a mystery, but it's a book I've read more than once.

  3. As Kay mentions: amateur detective, often a small community of regular characters, off-scene violence, maybe romance, but no sex. They vary from comical to more serious, but are fast-paced. Oh, and fun covers. I'm not a great fan, but there are some that I enjoy.

  4. My years in graduate school pretty much ruined my fun to read novels -any! But I just wanted to visit you and give a December hello:):)

  5. Those two reads look good to read though I have to admit I have not read any crime books for a while

  6. What great timing. I just took my first cozy mystery out of the library this morning. I'm not a mystery fan but the cozy mystery genre has intrigued me for years. The title hooked (pun intended) me because I've crocheted almost all of my life. The author is Betty Hechtman and the book is called "One for the Hooks". It's the 14th in her "crochet mystery" series and all of them have punny titles. The cover promised "Crochet patterns and a delicious recipe included". We'll see if I like the book. I might be a future cozy mystery fan. If so, it appears I'm in some good company.

  7. I'm not really a big fan of cozies or of holiday-themed fiction so I've nothing further to add to your other commenters lists. I think they've covered it well.

  8. As long as there is no blood and gore, and the violence is "off screen," both are cozies. There are also cozy romances...

  9. My blogging friend, James J Cudney has written a whole series of cozies. Google him. I recommend the Braxton Campus series

  10. To me, cozy mysteries are much as described above. They are light detective story and some have themes: cooking, crafting, bookshops, friendship. Perhaps this website will help you:
    If you're interested, there is a cozy mystery reading challenge as well! I've decided to join it. This is the website hosting:

    Cozy mysteries are my "comfort books." Welcome to the world of cozies!

  11. I haven't read many cozy mysteries, though (like you) I think I'd recognize one when I see it. However, I inherited my friend Donna's Kindle after she died. I haven't looked at ALL of the books on it yet, but I see that she gave 5 stars to these cozy mysteries (all by the same author):

    Croissants and Corruption (Margot Durand Cozy Mystery, Book 1 of 12) ~ by Danielle Collins, 2017, cozy mystery (Virginia), 5 stars

    Desserts and Deception (Margot Durand Cozy Mystery, Book 2 of 12) ~ by Danielle Collins, 2017, cozy mystery (Virginia), 5 stars

    Pastries and Pilfering (Margot Durand Cozy Mystery, Book 3 of 12) ~ by Danielle Collins, 2017, cozy mystery (California and Virginia), 5 stars

    I hope this is helpful. I myself intend to read these.

  12. I stumbled across Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings, but I don't think I kept it. 🙄 I think it was in our Little Free Library. I hope you enjoy(ed) it!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

  13. I have yet to read a cozy mystery. Maybe one day I will.

  14. And they come in looooooooong series, except for the Sisters ones set in Birmingham, Alabama, where there are only six or eight but they're really good! I've read a lot set in tea shops or quilting/wool shops, somehow!

  15. I recently heard a definition of a cozy as a mystery where the "detective" is not a police person or investigator by trade, but rather someone who is good at solving mysteries, like Miss Marple or Agatha Raisin (vs. Adam Gamache or Inspector Dalgleish). But I wonder where that puts Hercule Poirot -- he is a detective... but they seem pretty cozy to me!

  16. I have a feeling that the cozy mystery can best be defined as the exact opposite of the hard-boiled detective mystery. Miss Marple vs. Sam Spade or Travis McGee. Sue Grafton's hard-boiled woman detective Kinsey Millhone series: not cozy. Dorothy Sayers' Peter Wimsey mysteries: yes cozy. Robert Parker's Spenser mysteries: hard to classify as he's very tough but loves to eat good food and stay with his girlfriend Susan. But Spenser LOVES violence, which is usually a cozy no-no.

    The most extreme cozy mysteries are exaggeratedly domestic, up to the point of having cooks for detectives and including recipes for the foods that the detectives cook while not solving rather bloodless murders. I hate this end of the cozy spectrum! The definition sometimes includes semi-amateurs like Nero Wolf, Peter Wimsey, or Miss Marple, who are amateurs but very respected for their insight. Most definitions of cozy do require that the detective be an amateur, and that there is some element of domestic coziness included. Otherwise, the classification is all over the place. And maybe not all that useful.

    For a list of Christmas classic mysteries see this:

    best... mae at

  17. I am sorry but with all the worries I have I have no inspiration anymore ! Good luck!

  18. Thank you all for your helpful information!

  19. I am a cozy mystery lover, Deb. I agree with the comments above. Cozies have amateur sleuths that usually not only find a body, but solve the crime. The death is off screen per se. They are clean, some kissing and maybe comments about going to bed at night, but that's usually it. No swearing. I can suggest a couple Christmas ones that I have either read this year or will be. I could list many more.

    Slashing Through the Snow by Jacqueline Frost
    It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder by Maria DiRico
    Murder at the Christmas Cookie Bake-Off by Darci Hannah
    Here Comes Santa Paws by Laurien Berenson
    Marry Christmas Murder by Stephanie Blackmoore
    Better Watch Out by Christina Freeburn
    In Peppermint Peril by Joy Avon

  20. I posted a long list of Christmas cozies last night, but that comment is not showing, so weird. I hope you find lots, Deb.

    1. Thank you so much, Carla. I moderate all comments after the first two days, so I had to go in and approve your list! Apologies for the delay.

  21. I don't think Agatha Christie books are technically cozies, but Leslie Meier's definitely are. We just read Hercule Poirot's Christmas with my library book club, and it is a classic locked quite a bit darker than cozies usually are and the murder scene is described in somewhat gruesome detail. In a cozy, I find the person killed is usually someone no one really liked and who in some way kind of deserved it. (That does hold true in Hercule Poirot's Christmas, though.) The murders are usually not described in any detail and always happen off the page. They usually are set in someplace cozy, like a small town, and center around a cozy activity like baking or knitting. (In the opinion of this librarian!)


I hope you will leave a comment so I know you have visited. If you stop by my blog, I will always stop by yours.

Note: Disqus commenting is only available on the web version of the blog. Please switch to the web version if you are using a mobile device.