From Publishers Weekly:
An amateur sleuth, an unsuspecting victim, a quirky supporting cast, and trail of clues and red herrings are the main ingredients of a cozy mystery. The term “cozy” was coined in the late 20th century, and in the late 1990s, when I was in high school, I was reading and loving cozies before I knew that was what they were called. I fell in love with the small town stories in which an average person, like me, could solve a crime and bring justice to a family after a murder. The cozy lesson is an average person can make a difference. It doesn’t matter if the protagonist is a knitter, a librarian, or a gardener—that person can solve a murder. The hero archetype of the average person rising to the challenge in extraordinary circumstances has been a theme in literature since ancient times. Think David and Goliath or The Hunger Games. It comes as no surprise that the theme remains popular.
The theme of the common man in extreme circumstances continues into the villain of cozy. Rarely is the culprit an evil person. Instead, he or she is a person pushed to his or her limits, a person who believes that his or her only escape from the current circumstances is to take another life. It’s a bad choice, of course. It is the wrong choice, in fact. The protagonist’s quest for justice proves how bad and wrong that choice is. A cozy—and all mystery—is an examination of what will drive a person to the brink where murder could possibly seem like a good idea.
But there is more to a cozy than the average person taking on a big challenge. In a cozy, it is not that person alone who fights the battle for justice. Many times, the protagonist is surrounded by a group of family and friends, who are cheering her on to solve the crime. Those supporting characters both help and hinder the protagonist, and it is a story about a community banding together for what is right. Cozy readers feel like they are on that team along with the main character and her friends.
And then there is the idea of fair play in a cozy. The clues and red herrings are put out there for the readers to digest and decipher as they read the story. Mystery readers are smart people: they are puzzle solvers and inquisitive, and they like their sleuths to be the same. In other subgenres of mystery and suspense, the reader might already know who the killer is from the very beginning. In a cozy, the reader has the opportunity to solve the murder right along with the main character. As such, the readers believe they can solve the crime, too. The very best cozies are the ones in which the reader thinks she has solved the crime, finds out that she is wrong at the end of the book, but feels satisfied with the just conclusion because it is a surprise, but more importantly because the plot makes sense.
Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly
PG hadn’t checked on the mystery categories on Amazon lately. When he did, he discovered more than one cozy mystery listing.
Cozy mystery readers seem to enjoy titles with a pun.
Another One Bites the Crust by H.Y. Hanna
Gone Gull by Donna Andrews
A Crime of Passion Fruit by Ellie Alexander
Yews with Caution by Kate Collins
A Room with a Brew by Joyce Tremel