Do you ever get teased by friends or family about reading cozy mysteries? I certainly do. The first time it happened to me, I was on vacation in Panama. It was my first trip there and I was renting a house for a few weeks with a group of friends, I think there were about 12 of us. We found a gem: a six-bedroom house with a pool, a large yard with hammocks and a huge bar are complete with ample seating and a disco ball – not to mention the lazy 10 minute walk to the beach.
I have known most of these friends for years, some even as far back as high school. So, naturally, it was on course for us to be looking for ways to relentlessly tease each other the way most teen comrades do, or for those adults who seem to morph back into their teen persona when they are with said friends (I reluctantly acknowledge you must know I include myself in this idiotic yet highly pleasurable practice).
One morning I was swinging in a hammock, innocently reading a fabulous mystery by the lovable feline Sneaky Pie Brown and his human companion, Rita Mae. I was quite absorbed in the book, Pawing Through the Past, when I suddenly heard a snicker come from behind a thick wood pillar, which held up one side of my swinging seat. I paused, looked around, and went back to the book. Getting the distinct feeling I was being watched, not to mention the ever growing sound of shuffling and muffled giggles, I sighed and put the book down, hoping a bucket of ice wasn’t going to soon interrupt my blissful solitude. I spotted my not-so-subtle peeping toms, completely not surprised to see there were, in fact, four eyes attached to the snickering sounds, two friends who often teamed up to find fodder for their evening commentary that usually accommodated after-dinner drinks.
When my friends saw they had been spotted, they pretended to be discussing the surrounding vegetation and quickly sauntered off, elbowing each other as they went. It was then no surprise when, later in the evening, my name was brought up and they began questioning my reading choices, not just the feline detective but also remembering seeing a photo of Jessica Fletcher on a cover (from the beloved Murder She Wrote TV Mystery series).
Here’s what I had to say to them and to any other naysayers: I love cozy mysteries. There are many reasons why and I’d like to outline just a few. First of all, I have yet to cry while reading one – cover to cover, not once. This is not an easy task for much of the modern-day literature. I’m not saying it is necessarily a bad thing to inspire such a response and get a reader to connect so emotionally with a book, on the contrary I think it is a great accomplishment and deserves much praise. But, as a reader, I don’t always feel like crying. I could turn on the evening news and get the same effect virtually every day. There is so much sadness and suffering in the world, it is not difficult to find something almost every person could relate to. There are many times in my life or throughout the day even, where I would rather smile, or even giggle in a fictional world of my choosing.
Secondly, I love trying to figure out the who-dunnit part of a cozy. I like to relate to my detective, usually an amateur sleuth with a curious mind, and it is a fun challenge for me to go through the book, questioning each character and hoping I am able to figure it out before the last page. I don’t always do it, but I love to try.
Finally, I enjoy becoming invested in a series where I get to know the town, usually a small one, and the people in it. Each book has a new story but I become familiar with a lot of the recurring characters and the quirks and relationships they have.
I could go on, but these are the reasons off the top-of-my-head that come to mind. I feel good when I put the book down and I always look forward to picking it back up. I think it’s okay to celebrate reading in any form. In a world where looking at a screens has become the norm for business and pleasure, our imagination could use a boost. Why not allow it to enter a world where it doesn’t have the burden of emotional exhaustion? Join the fun, light-hearted challenge of figuring out who killed the bad guy. After all, you might just forget yourself and have enjoy it!
There it is. That’s all I’ve got to say on the matter.
Until next time readers! Thanks for visiting.