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becke_davis
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Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

We started talking about this on the thread for this week's featured book, Tana French's The Likeness.

 

It deserves further discussion, which we can continue on this thread.  The question that started it asked:  What is the difference between this book club board and Crime Club?

 

Here are a couple of related links that you may find interesting:

 

http://www.sldirectory.com/libsf/booksf/mystery/america.html

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_fiction 

 

We were discussing "literary" mysteries.  Tana French, Dennis Lehane, Sharyn McCrumb and Ruth Rendell are authors I would include in that list, as well as classic authors like Edmund Crispin, .  Possibly Elizabeth George, P.D. James, Iain Pears, and, in some of her books, Minette Waters.  You could also include authors such as Mark Haddon, 

 

More related links:

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2005/dec/19/top10s.winter.nights

 

http://www.writer-on-line.com/content/view/40/66/~Articles/Mystery/Interview-with-a-Publisher.html 

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Bade
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

Thanks for the new thread and the new ideas.  You are helping a book addict feed the habit! :smileyhappy:
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becke_davis
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

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Everyman
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

I found this quote interesting: "Following the beginning of Prohibition, crime and accompanying dishonesty in police departments and in city hall increased. This development provided the inspiration for the fictional private eye."

 

Perhaps this is why the hard boiled detective was mostly an American invention and the police procedural is largely a British development.  There are certainly some police procedurals with American cops, and some private detectives in England, but I find that many more police procedurals are set in England (or elsewhere in Europe) than in the US.

 

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becke_davis
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

My favorite British procedurals when I was young were the Gideon series by John Creasey:

 

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/fiction/article4224627.ece 

 

http://www.who-dunnit.com/authors/118/

 

http://kirjasto.sci.fi/creasey.htm 

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A610921 

 

 The American series I first read were by Dell Shannon, a pen name for the prolific Elizabeth Linington (and not to be confused with the pop singer Del Shannon):

 

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/s/dell-shannon/ 

 

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Linington 

 

and, of course, the 87th Precinct novels by Ed McBain (aka the late Evan Hunter, etc.) :

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/07/books/07hunter.html?_r=1&ex=1121400000&en=33eac647b50501a3&ei=5070... 

 

http://www.edmcbain.com/ 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/87th_Precinct 

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becke_davis
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

On the "What are you reading now?" thread, this question was posed: WHAT IS A COZY?

 

I found a great, detailed description here, and I'm going to paste it in:http://www.cozy-mystery.com/Definition-of-a-Cozy-Mystery.html

 

What Makes a Cozy Just That?

Imagine your terror at finding out that Jessica Fletcher was moving from Cabot Cove to your neighborhood! Would you stay up at night just wondering when this unassuming, friendly woman was going to befriend you? Would you wonder which of your friends would be the first, and then second, third, even fourth to die?

 

I have loved watching Jessica solve all the murders in Cabot Cove, and then, when she ran out of neighbors, have to move to New York. If you are reading this article about cozy mystery books, you probably have enjoyed watching Jessica solve her way through one community after the next. She is a prime example of a Cozy Mystery Heroine….


Cozy mysteries have become a booming business. Many cozy mystery readers are intelligent women looking for a “fun read” that engages the mind, as well as provides entertainment… something to “look forward to getting back to.” This is not to say that intelligent men don’t read cozies…they do!


The crime-solver in a cozy mystery is usually a woman who is an amateur sleuth. Almost always, she has a college degree, whether she is using it or not. Her education and life’s experiences have provided her with certain skills that she will utilize in order to solve all the crimes that are “thrown her way.” The cozy mystery heroine is usually a very intuitive, bright woman. The occupations of the amateur sleuths are very diverse: caterer, bed and breakfast owner, quilter, cat fancier/owner, nun, gardener, librarian, book store owner, herbalist, florist, dog trainer, homemaker, teacher, needlepoint store owner, etc. These are just a few examples of what the amateur sleuth does…. When she’s not solving crimes, that is!


The cozy mystery usually takes place in a small town or village (click here to read more on the village setting). The small size of the setting makes it believable that all the suspects know each other. The amateur sleuth is usually a very likeable person who is able to get the community members to talk freely (i.e. gossip) about each other. There is usually at least one very knowledgeable and nosy (and of course, very reliable!) character in the book who is able to fill in all of the blanks, thus enabling the amateur sleuth to solve the case.


Although the cozy mystery sleuth is usually not a medical examiner, detective, or police officer, a lot of times her best friend, husband, or significant other is. This makes a very convenient way for her to find out things that she would otherwise not have access to… Do you know any caterers or dog trainers who have access to autopsy reports? I don’t! (Unless you count some of my favorite cozy characters…)


At the same time, it is probably safe to say that the local police force doesn’t take the amateur sleuth very seriously. They dismiss her presence, almost as if she doesn’t exist. This of course, makes it convenient for her to “casually overhear” things at the scene of a crime.


More and more, cozy mystery books are being written as parts of a series. The reader becomes emotionally involved and connected with the reoccurring characters. It’s almost as if the reader is “going home” to a familiar place when she reads her next cozy mystery book in a series. (Of course, publishers of these series must enjoy knowing that fans of a series guarantee the success of each book in the series. It’s not uncommon for fans of a cozy mystery series to pre-order a book before it is available at the stores.) 

In a series, it is important that the characters are likeable, so that the reader will want to visit them again. The supporting characters are equally important to the reader. It is for his reason that there are so many funny, eccentric, and entertaining secondary characters. Can you imagine wanting to read the second book in a series that has all of it’s characters as scummy, low-life people, perpetrating evil deeds and being downright mean all of the time?


Cozy mysteries are considered “gentle” books… no graphic violence, no profanity, and no explicit sex. Most often, the crime takes place “off stage” and death is usually very quick. Prolonged torture is not a staple in cozy mysteries! The victim is usually a character who had terrible vices or who treated others very badly. Dare I say…. the victim “deserved to die?” And, there are usually connections between the victims (if indeed there are multiple victims… which usually, in a cozy mystery, there are!), even though the reader is not aware of the obvious connections until the amateur sleuth solves the crimes.


Sex (if there is any) is always behind closed doors. It is implied…. at most! Two characters may go from having a late-night, romantic dinner to----fast forward----one person taking a cup of coffee up to their partner, who is enjoying the delicious luxury of sleeping in. Enough said!


Cozy mysteries tend to be fast-paced, with several twists and turns throughout each book. There are usually several red herrings to provide distracting clues to the reader. The amateur sleuth is able to sift through the clues, tossing the useless information out while analyzing the good clues. There is a lot of puzzle solving involved in a cozy mystery.


The cozy mystery puts an emphasis on plots and character development. You definitely could not convert a cozy mystery novel into an “action movie” with a lot of car chases and young, gratuitously topless actresses! An expression comes to mind that could easily differentiate the cozy mystery from other types of mysteries…………. “Brains over Brawn” every time.

 

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harleyhoney
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

Thank you, Becke.  That is a perfect description of the cozy and the cozy reader.  If our authors would like to change the sub-genre name to "puzzlers", that's just fine with me.  After all, it's "brains over brawn". LOL


becke_davis wrote:

edited by nancy

 

I found a great, detailed description here, and I'm going to paste it in:http://www.cozy-mystery.com/Definition-of-a-Cozy-Mystery.html

 

 

What Makes a Cozy Just That?


Many cozy mystery readers are intelligent women looking for a “fun read” that engages the mind.


The crime-solver in a cozy mystery is usually a woman who is an amateur sleuth. 

More and more, cozy mystery books are being written as parts of a series. The reader becomes emotionally involved and connected with the reoccurring characters. 

In a series, it is important that the characters are likeable. The supporting characters are equally important to the reader. It is for this reason that there are so many funny, eccentric, and entertaining secondary characters.

 

Cozy mysteries are considered “gentle” books… no graphic violence, no profanity, and no explicit sex.

Cozy mysteries tend to be fast-paced, with several twists and turns throughout each book. There are usually several red herrings to provide distracting clues to the reader. The amateur sleuth is able to sift through the clues, tossing the useless information out while analyzing the good clues. There is a lot of puzzle solving involved in a cozy mystery.


The cozy mystery puts an emphasis on plots and character development. You definitely could not convert a cozy mystery novel into an “action movie” with a lot of car chases and young, gratuitously topless actresses! An expression comes to mind that could easily differentiate the cozy mystery from other types of mysteries…………. “Brains over Brawn” every time.

 


 

Nancy

 

 

"Somebody said they saw me swinging the world by the tail, bouncing over a white cloud, killing the blues."
Killing the Blues by Rowland Salley
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becke_davis
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

When I think "cozy" I think "Miss Jane Marple." But the text I pasted in from the link I included really spelled it out clearly.

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dhaupt
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

Thanks Becke, great definition and the sleuths usually are women, one exception I can think of is the Cat Who mysteries where our lovable newspaper man is the featured puzzle solver.

Can any one think of any other "cozy" that stars a male character.

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basson_mommy12
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

 


Everyman wrote:

I found this quote interesting: "Following the beginning of Prohibition, crime and accompanying dishonesty in police departments and in city hall increased. This development provided the inspiration for the fictional private eye."

 

Perhaps this is why the hard boiled detective was mostly an American invention and the police procedural is largely a British development.  There are certainly some police procedurals with American cops, and some private detectives in England, but I find that many more police procedurals are set in England (or elsewhere in Europe) than in the US.

 


Hey, Everyman!  Nice to see you around.  I've missed reading your comments.  :smileyhappy:
Interesting thoughts.  I don't read these types of mysteries, but I really enjoy television versions such as "The Closer."  I'm more of a "Easy Chair Detective" fan, along the lines of Poirot and Marple and Holmes.

 

 

"The Answer to the Great Question of ... Life, the Universe and Everything ... (is) 42." -- Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

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becke_davis
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

Actually, I brought back an old thread to continue this conversation. Everyman hasn't been around for awhile.

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becke_davis
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

 


dhaupt wrote:

Thanks Becke, great definition and the sleuths usually are women, one exception I can think of is the Cat Who mysteries where our lovable newspaper man is the featured puzzle solver.

Can any one think of any other "cozy" that stars a male character.


 

Offhand, I would say Agatha Christie's Mr. Parker Pyne comes close. Those stories aren't set in a small town, though, so I don't think they really fit the "cozy" definition. Maybe Christie's Mr. Satterthwaite? 

 

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Luanne
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

I finally found the right thread!!  I love cozies (as noted in the other thread) but have never heard of the Easy Chair Detective genre.  What other authors/characters would you classify in that category?  I am currently reading Charles Finch's "Charles Lenox series" which may fall in that group.

Thanks!

"... for myself I am an optimist -- it does not seem to be much use being anything else." Winston Churchill
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becke_davis
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

"Easy Chair" makes me think of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe.

 

And remember when locked room mysteries were all the rage? Well, it was before my time, actually, but I read a lot of books from that era. You don't come across many of those anymore.

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dulcinea3
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

I guess Martha Grimes' Richard Jury series are a kind of hybrid, because I would consider the world that Melrose lives in to fit the cozy genre, and Melrose is certainly an amateur, but that is then coupled with Jury from Scotland Yard, who lives in London.

 

I usually just think of most mysteries that I like as cozies, whether or not they actually fit the description.  For example, although Roderick Alleyn is a professional, so many of Marsh's novels are set in small villages, at house parties, etc.  I think it is the setting and atmosphere more than most of the other elements that make a cozy.  The element that I think I most often find exception to is that the sleuth must be an amateur.  In addition to Alleyn, I think that Poirot appears in many cozies.  Even after his retirement, I don't think that he could be considered an amateur, and the police usually have great respect for him.

 

What do you call the genre that converts actual real-life authors into fictional amateur sleuths?  Like Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen series, Susan Wittig Albert's Beatrix Potter series, etc.  Is there a name for those?  I thought that might be what a 'literary' mystery is, but from the examples that you gave up above, Becke, I guess that is something else.  So, what is a 'literary' mystery?

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becke_davis
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

"What do you call the genre that converts actual real-life authors into fictional amateur sleuths?  Like Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen series, Susan Wittig Albert's Beatrix Potter series, etc.  Is there a name for those?"

 

What a good question. I'm not sure of the answer so I've been searching online. I came across a fascinating look at mysteries and detective fiction on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detective_fiction

 

And another one: http://www.sldirectory.com/libsf/booksf/mystery/topic.html

 

And while I didn't find an answer to your question, I did find this:

 

SLEUTHS OF DISTINCTION:
Real-Life People Solving Un-Real Mysteries


http://sachem.suffolk.lib.ny.us/advisor/sleuths.htm

 

 

"I thought that might be what a 'literary' mystery is, but from the examples that you gave up above, Becke, I guess that is something else.  So, what is a 'literary' mystery?"

 

 

I think I threw that term out there. Often, mysteries are looked down upon as not quite the thing. You know, the reviewers who think any book that sells well doesn't count as literature. Well, there are some books -- and some authors -- who write so well and/or in such a literate style that even the critics praise them. Elizabeth George, for example, and Ruth Rendell's non-Wexford books. Recently, I would put Tana French on the list.


 


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speedcat
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

Thanks so much for including this article!

Cheers,

Elizabeth

 

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becke_davis
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

I thought it explained it really well.

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basson_mommy12
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Re: Mystery Genres: Noir, Cozy, "Literary" and more

I would include Iain Pears and Umberto Eco in the literary mystery genre.  Many critics don't even put these guys in mystery, but I think they certainly are!

 

 

An Instance of the Fingerpost  

 

My husband and I read this aloud to each other on a 12-hour car ride.  Excellent book, truly!  So unique.  Marvelous!  I have too many good words to describe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Raphael Affair (Art History Mystery Series #1)  

 

Next on my list for Pears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Name of the Rose  

 

I haven't made it through this book yet.  Eco gives me a headache.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foucault's Pendulum

  

 

 

Excellent!  I read this pretty quickly: it only took me a month and 3 different dictionaries!

"The Answer to the Great Question of ... Life, the Universe and Everything ... (is) 42." -- Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

Ruth W.
Grand Rapids, MI