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Olivia Blacke on Cozy Mysteries and Modern Day Fairytales

Olivia Blacke on Cozy Mysteries and Modern Day FairytalesGone are the days when life lessons are taught through fairy tales…. or are they?

Like many fairy tales, cozy mysteries deal with one of the darkest aspects of the human condition⁠—death. But while the subject matter might be grim, the way it’s handled is, well, downright cozy.

Cozies represent a return to the old ways. The main character, usually female, trades in a high-pressure career in a big city for a simpler life in a tight-knit community. Often, they are returning home to help their family. For example, in TO FETCH A FELON by Jennifer Hawkins, Emma Reed leaves behind her finance job in London to open a tea shop in the countryside. In Mia P. Manansala’s ARSENIC AND ADOBO, Lila Macapagal moves back home in the suburbs to help out the family restaurant, and in Raquel V. Reyes’s MANGO,MAMBO, AND MURDER, Miriam Quiñones-Smith puts her New York City career on hold to raise her son in Miami. While Miami isn’t exactly quaint, the Cuban community fills the role of a small town. Similarly, in my KILLER CONTENT, Odessa Dean moves from a tiny town in Louisiana to New York City, where the neighborhood of Williamsburg is actually a community in its own right.

Death is a normal part of life, but murder isn’t. Morally, it’s one of the worst things a person can do. But in many cozies, the victim is a Really Bad Person. For A GAME OF CONES by Abby Collette and my NO MEMES OF ESCAPE, the victims are Real Estate big shots that are damaging the community. In THE BROKEN SPINE by Dorothy St. James, the victim is a corrupt politician trying to ruin the town library. In Misha Popp’s upcoming MAGIC, LIES, AND DEADLY PIES (May, 2022), the murder victims are abusive men. These are characters so cruel that the reader might feel that they almost deserve their fate.

The not-always-so-innocent victim meets their end hidden from view. The reader is sheltered from the grisly details, because the impact of the death on the community is more central to the story than the coroner’s report. In MULLED TO DEATH by Kate Lansing, the victim is pronounced dead by paramedics that shield onlookers from seeing anything gruesome. In Laurie Cass’s CHECKING OUT CRIME, the dead body is only glimpsed on a dark road. If the main character does witness the death, the description is brief and bloodless, such as when Odessa Dean sees a fellow waitress fall off an elevated walkway in the background of a viral video in KILLER CONTENT.

When the wrong person—if not the main character, often their friend or family member—is accused of the crime, the amateur sleuth gets involved because they can’t let an innocent person be punished for a crime they didn’t commit.

In Jennifer J. Chow’s MIMI LEE READS BETWEEN THE LINES, Mimi Lee’s sister is wrongfully accused. Alex Daniels’s aunt in A SPELL FOR TROUBLE by Esme Addison and Mel Cooper’s mom in BUTTERCREAM BUMP OFF by Jenn McKinlay are both prime suspects despite their innocence. In NO MEMES OF ESCAPE, Odessa Dean’s best friend is falsely incriminated in the murder of an old rival.

Without giving away any spoilers, in the end of a cozy mystery, secrets are exposed and the real killer is revealed. The main character (and their friends and family) gets their happy ever. Justice is served and what was wrong has been made right, making cozies the modern day equivalent of a fairy tale.


About the Author

Brooklyn Murder Mysteries author Olivia Blacke writes quirky, unconventional, character-driven Cozy Mysteries. After shuffling around the U.S.A. from Hawaii to Maine, she currently resides with her husband and their roly-poly rescue puggle, but is forever homesick for NYC. In addition to writing, disappearing into a good book, and spending way too much time on social media, she enjoys SCUBA diving, crocheting, collecting tattoos, and baking dog cookies.