Monday, November 7, 2022


Cozy mysteries may not feature a tough as nails, hard-nosed, pistol wielding, foul-mouthed detective, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t still pack a punch or be impactful. If you stroll down the aisles of your favorite bookstores, you won’t have any difficulty separating the darker noir, true crime, or gritty police procedurals from the cozy mysteries. The titles and the covers are a dead giveaway. But just because cozy mystery titles are full of puns or the covers are overflowing with cuddly kittens, adorable puppies, or trays of delectable baked goods, that doesn’t mean that the books are light-weights that shy away from tough issues.

There are some dos and don’ts for cozy mysteries that contribute to the misconception that cozy equates to cream puff. Cozy mysteries almost always feature an amateur sleuth rather than a hardcore alcoholic cop like Jesse Stone or a shoot first and ask questions later, Dirty Harry. I have an active imagination and even I can’t imagine Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher pointing a gun and shouting, “Go ahead. Make my day.” Cozy mysteries don’t have gratuitous sex (well, any sex), no graphic violence, and no swearing. Plus, it’s not uncommon that in addition to a murder that must be solved, cozies will often include a knitting pattern, a tip for decluttering your home, or a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Nevertheless, cozy mysteries can still address important issues…in their own way. I’m a big fan of Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mystery Series, about a widowed midwife, Sarah Brandt. Over the course of the twenty plus books in the series, Thompson sheds light on issues of class, race, sexual orientation, and police corruption at the turn of the century in New York City. Thompson doesn’t beat audiences over the head, nor does she forget that the ultimate point is the mystery. However, she does manage to enlighten while she entertains.

In my Mystery Bookshop series, my protagonist, Samantha Washington is writing a British historic cozy mystery that is set between WWI and WWII. This was an incredibly turbulent time in our history, and I’ve managed to weave in things like the kindertransport, which was an organized rescue effort that brought over 10,000 children from Nazi occupied territories to the United Kingdom prior to the outbreak of World War II. Also, despite the cute puppies on the covers of my Dog Club Mystery series, I’ve attempted to include some weightier topics. In, Sit, Stay, Slay! the soon-to-be-released fifth book in the series, I shed light on the practice of dog racing and the plight of these (thankfully) now retired greyhounds.

Mystery/Crime fiction is a segment of genre fiction which is often looked down upon as “escapist,” and not taken seriously by literary fiction enthusiast. Within the mystery genre, cozies are even further down the ladder. Nevertheless, cozies are able to broach subjects in a way that is subtle yet relatable. I’m not deluding myself to believe that cozies will have the same law changing power as books like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but they definitely have the potential to make an impact. If honey can attract more flies than vinegar, then who knows what a great chocolate chip cookie recipe is capable of accomplishing.

Sit, Stay, Slay!

When her best friend Dixie is suspected of killing a dog show judge, Lilly must bring one sick puppy to heel . . .
Tennessee transplant Lilly Echosby has two great loves: dogs and mysteries. So naturally she's named her poodles Aggie, after Agatha Christie, and Rex, for Rex Stout. Now that she has two dogs to manage, it makes sense to enter Aggie in an obedience competition—especially since her instructor is Lilly's gal pal, Scarlet "Dixie" Jefferson.
But when one of the judges for the competition turns out to be Dixie's high school rival, the dog trainer gets hot under the collar. When the woman is found strangled, Dixie becomes the number one suspect. With the help of the other dog club members, Lilly must find the real killer—before the next judge Dixie tangles with throws the book at her . . .

Buy Link---- Amazon, Apple, Google Play, Kobo, Nook


About the author

V.M. (Valerie) Burns was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. She received a Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University, a Master's degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Seton Hill University. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers Association of America, Thriller Writers International and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. In addition to the RJ Franklin Mystery series, V.M. Burns is also the Agatha Award nominated author of The Plot is Murder, the first book in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series; and the RJ Franklin Mystery series.

She currently resides East Tennessee with her two poodles. Readers can keep up with new releases by following her on social media.






  1. Love this Valerie. Cozies don't mean bland, good ones tackle the harder stuff in a gentle way and reach people without alienating anyone.

  2. So right. Cozies are often packed with adventure and intrigue, they just don't depend upon the visual graphic shock factor to make their point.

  3. What KM said! I shy away from those graphic novels. Yes, impact, but like saying the F-word fifty times--they bore me. Whereas cozy have an appeal that touches without bruising.

  4. Well said, Valerie. During this time of pandemic, cozies seem to be selling well. People enjoy the comfort of knowing the town, the characters, and the lack of violence, etc. That doesn't mean cozies don't score points. They definitely do.

  5. Terrific post, Valerie. You've shown that cozy authors don't shy away from showing a less savory side of life--we cozy authors just don't beat readers over the head with it.