Jennifer here, and it’s always a pleasure to welcome Olivia Blacke to the blog. Has she got a treat for you today! Olivia shares about all the fun tropes that can be found in cozy mysteries!
Cozy Mystery Tropes
Cozies, like every genre, have their tropes and conventions – situations and plot devices that are so synonymous with cozy mysteries that they are part of the very fabric of the story.
One of these tropes is the murder board. I love this one because it’s an ongoing visual representation of all the clues and suspects in one convenient place. Charlaine Harris’s Aurora Teagarden series makes use of murder boards to solve cold cases as well as current murders.
Another favorite is when the sleuth gathers all the suspects in one place to do the big reveal at the end. Kate Lansing does a spectacular job of this in MULLED TO DEATH. In my own KILLER CONTENT, I lured my suspects together for the pool party-slash-wake before the investigation took another twist before the reveal.
Many cozy mysteries include a hot cop, who may become a love interest over the course of the series. This hot cop makes a great book boyfriend for the reader, and provides valuable access for the amateur sleuth. In my Brooklyn Murder Mysteries, the hot cop only has eyes for the main character’s bestie. Amidst calls for police reform, this trope is sometimes replaced with the strong, sensible female cop or the stubborn, crooked cop. In FINLAY DONOVAN IS KILLING IT by Elle Cosimano, there are several cops – including a cute cop and Finlay’s own sister. Both are more of a hinderance than a help, but still give the amateur sleuth unprecedented access behind the blue curtain.
The gossipy best friend is another plot device that comes in handy in a cozy mystery. The sleuth needs a reliable source of information – enter the best friend who knows everyone and everything in town. Often, they’re the local busybody that hears everything on the grapevine and is single-handedly responsible for half of the juicy gossip on the rumor mill. In Dorothy St. James’s Beloved Bookroom Mysteries, Trudell Beckett’s friend Tori runs the local coffee shop, and has all the hot gossip (and hot coffee).The gossipy best friend is a throwback to a long history of nosy cozy characters from Agatha Christie to Scooby Doo where the sleuth themself is accused of being a busybody (often by the guilty party).
Cozies with pets always warm my heart, but cozies with super-smart pets? Yes, please! Lilian Jackson Braun’s THE CAT WHO… books are a classic example of a brilliant pets. In Jennifer J. Chow’s Sassy Cat Mysteries, Mimi Lee’s cat Marshmallow can talk to the sleuth and expose valuable clues. In Jennifer Hawkins’s TO FETCH A FELON, Oliver, the chatty corgi, helps Emma Reed solve murders. I make sure to include at least one pet in every book I write because I love my pets, like Baileycakes the spoiled rotten rescue puggle.
One of the hardest tropes to set up (and solve!) is the locked room mystery. Either the victim is found alone in a locked room, or the victim is locked in with a limited number of suspects that can all prove their innocence. The classic locked room inspired my NO MEMES OF ESCAPE, where the victim is trapped in an escape room with five possible suspects—including main character and amateur sleuth Odessa Dean.
Last is my absolute favorite murder mystery trope: the victim/killer. I’m not going to put any spoilers here that might ruin a twist, but every single time the perpetrator believably rises from the grave and is revealed to have faked their own victimhood to throw the investigators off their scent, I cheer. If this is overused, or done poorly, it loses its punch but on the rare occasion that it’s done right, it’s *chef’s kiss.* Maybe it’s so impactful because I love to be deceived by a good story.
What about you? What are the tropes you love in cozies? What are the tropes you hate? The ones you can’t get enough of and the ones you never want to read again? What cozies have you read that have great examples of the common tropes?
Brooklyn Murder Mysteries and Record Shop Mysteries author Olivia Blacke (she/her) finally found a way to put her Criminology and Criminal Justice degree to good use by writing quirky, unconventional, character-driven cozy mysteries. Olivia is a little nerdy, a lot awkward, and just the right amount of weird. She resides with her husband Potassium and Baileycakes, their roly-poly rescue puggle. When not writing, reading, or spending way too much time on social media, Olivia enjoys Amigurumi crochet, SCUBA diving, collecting tattoos, watching hockey, and baking dog cookies. She wants to be a unicorn when/if she grows up.
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No Memes of Escape
By Olivia Blacke
When amateur sleuth Odessa Dean is invited to join a girl’s day out, the last thing she expected was that one of the players would be murdered in a locked escape room. Now Odessa Dean and her bestie are included in the five possible suspects. With time running out to save her friend before Odessa has to leave Williamsburg for good if she can’t find an affordable apartment ASAP, Odessa must navigate the demands of waiting tables at a popular bookstore-slash-café and the perils of internet dating, all while hunting a murderer.