For my sixteen-year-old daughter and me, the TV show Once Upon a Time is appointment viewing. (To be honest, we both have a crush on Hook, aka Guyliner. He’s so cute!!!!)
As we watched the show a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that cozy mysteries have a lot in common with fairy tales. In both, the hero or heroine’s mission is to identify and triumph over evil, usually aided by quirky sidekicks. The locations are often beautiful and appealing – a kingdom for a fairy tale, a pastoral village in the case of many cozies. (See below for another picture of Hook for absolutely no reason whatsoever…)
Even when the setting is a real location, in a cozy it’s imbued with a gloss you won’t find in a suspense or noir novel. The gritty Manhattan of Linda Fairstein’s Alexandra Cooper is a 180 from Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy. Yes, Rhy’s series is historical, but I don’t think it would be any grittier had she used a contemporary setting.
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
If you take this definition at its most basic level, I think it applies to a lot of cozies. Take my Cajun Country Mystery series. My protagonist, Maggie, is an amateur sleuth who summons the power within herself to solve murders that threaten to ruin her family. In each book, she overcomes all obstacles and wins “decisive” victories.
So there you have it – the subject of my Masters thesis, should I ever get my act together and go for an advanced degree. In the meantime, one last look at Hook. Sigh…
Readers, what do you think about my theory that cozies are modern day fairy tales?