As the days become shorter and colder this winter, it’s the perfect time to curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and a great book. With familiar characters, quaint settings, and a happy ending every time, you can escape from the busy holiday season with the perfect cozy mystery novel.
Common Elements of Cozy Mysteries
Cozy mysteries, a sub-genre of the mystery genre, are well-named due to their common tropes and themes. In a cozy mystery, the protagonist is usually an amateur sleuth alongside her daily job. The protagonist tends to be an intelligent woman who may work as a baker, librarian, florist, teacher, or a range of other professions. Cozy mysteries typically involve solving a murder or other serious crime, and our lovely protagonist always seems to have a knack for finding the right clues and being in the right place at the right time.
The settings of cozy mysteries are usually quite idyllic, taking place in a small town or village. The residents (and suspects!) likely all know each other, and the protagonist is great at getting people to gossip about each other or “overhearing” crucial information. Our amateur sleuth is rarely a member of law enforcement or a medical examiner, but she just so happens to be good friends with someone who is, so she knows all the details of the case. The other police officers in the community usually don’t take the protagonist seriously, and they may not even notice her at all (which can come in handy when she’s eavesdropping on conversations).
The main theme of a cozy mystery is the age-old trope of an ordinary person who rises up to a challenge and becomes a hero. But unlike some mystery novels, the hero never solves the crime completely on her own. She finds support and advice from other people, and she always has friends encouraging her along the way. Cozy mysteries are sure to feature memorable characters, witty humor, a strong female protagonist, and of course, a happy ending.
Three Best Selling Cozy Mystery Authors
Cozy mystery authors write such well-loved protagonists and supporting characters that readers often can’t help developing an emotional attachment to them. Many authors write series of cozy mysteries featuring the same hero solving case after case and making quirky new friends along the way. If you’re ready to start solving crimes and journeying with a talented sleuth, here are three of our favorite cozy mystery authors and their most notable works so you can begin your new adventure this winter!
Cynthia Ellison has written five novels thus far in her career, but her most popular book by far is called The Lighthouse Keeper. In this book, protagonist Dawn Conner returns to her hometown near Lake Michigan after her grandfather is accused of stealing silver from an old shipwreck that sits beneath a crumbling lighthouse. Dawn plans to renovate and sell the lighthouse while trying to prove her grandfather’s innocence, but it proves to be harder than she imagined: especially when a particularly handsome nautical researcher starts to get involved in the case.
Lauren K. Denton
Lauren K. Denton’s novel, The Hideaway, is a USA Today and Amazon Charts bestseller. Main character Sara Jenkins, the owner of an adorable antique shop in New Orleans, is whisked back to Sweet Bay, Alabama after hearing of her grandmother’s passing. Sara plans to deal with matters quickly to return to New Orleans, but she learns that her grandmother left her “The Hideaway,” a run-down B&B, in her will. As Sara explores her old town, she is shocked to uncover unexpected details about her grandmother’s long life and begins to piece together her thrilling history.
Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which features protagonist Precious Ramotswe, who has a passion to “help people with problems in their lives.” She sets up her agency in Gaborone and is soon hired for a variety of different cases. Precious must figure out how to find a cunning con artist, track down a friend’s missing husband, and find someone’s runaway daughter. Precious has a full load of mysteries to solve, but she can’t help but become intrigued by the case of a missing 11-year-old boy…who may have been kidnapped by witch doctors.
Where to Find More Cozy Mysteries
You can find a deep selection of free cozy mystery books to download onto your Kindle here (when you go this page, click on the cozy mystery link and you’ll be taken to Amazon’s full free selection). Remember that Amazon frequently changes the selection of free books, so be sure to check back often.
If you’d like to find more free Kindle books, try the free book site that we love Booksliced.com.