I love cozy mysteries. Watching them. Sometimes reading them, too.
But don’t think it’s because they have a “lighter” tone than other mysteries do. Cozies tend to be more quirky, sure, but the one thing that cozy mysteries have that most other mysteries don’t is a very large body count.
Don’t believe me? Well, check out this quote:
Why would anyone be down on cozies in particular? When you think about it, just how cozy are they? How cozy would you feel tucked away in your pristine English country village, at your church potluck supper or your Tuesday evening quilting circle, with neighbors dropping dead all around you? Honestly, if they’d stopped to consider the body count she leaves in her wake, the people of St. Mary Mead would have locked Miss Marple in her house and never let her out.
Nowadays this is also known as “the Jessica Fletcher syndrome” in many circles. It’s real and measurable on a lot of series. She, or he as the case may be, shows up and people start dropping. And no one notices the pattern just because this person is supposedly solving the mysteries. Heh.
Still not convinced, though?
Well, last fall I discovered one of my all-time favorite British detective series, Midsomer Murders, was available on Netflix and watched several seasons (or series as they’re called in Britain) in one big binge. Now, Midsomer Murders is one of those quirky blends of both cozy and police detective shows – a little of both, not a lot of either – but the thing that made me sit up and blink was when I went online to look up some information about the series, background, episode lists, you know the things fans like to find out, and ran across a running, ever growing “body count” on a listing about it.
Basically, it averages around 3-4 murders per episode. Not a lot, but it adds up when we’re talking around a hundred episodes.
Now I ask you, how many action-adventure series rack up that many intentional murders per episode that aren’t due to something being blown up or whatever? Very few hard detective shows have that many murders per episode short of the CSIs because, heck, those shows have to fill up the morgue or they have nothing to investigate. No, most detective series have maybe one or two murders per with the occasional extra one thrown in for variety.
Not a steady diet of always having 3 or 4 or more per episode with many of them only occurring after the “detective” or a member of his “family” appear on the scene. Seriously, how suspicious can it get?
And that’s pretty much the case for just about any cozy I’ve ever read or watched. You find a nice quiet town and a little old lady or someone connected to her, run for your life.
Or as I recently suddenly realized, if you find yourself in a small town of truly bumbling, eccentric characters, er, scientists, hidden, I mean, tucked peacefully off the main thoroughfare, and watched over by an unassuming, thought to be stupid investigator who goes by the name of Sheriff Jack Carter, then definitely run for your life before someone takes you to the big house (of Global Dynamics). Yeah, Eureka certainly seems to be science fiction’s version of the cozy and no place for unsuspecting strangers to wander into. Being murdered could actually be the least of their problems there.
Heck, Sheriff Carter might find a regular old murder relaxing. 😉
So, who’s your favorite serial killer, ahem, cozy mystery detective?