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The Quaint Occupations of Cozy Mysteries

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • May 29, 2022

Cozy mysteries are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence occur off stage. The earmarks of cozies include small towns, a focus on food, punny titles, and amateur detectives with quirky, fun day jobs. Often the character's vocation is somehow tied up with the crime that needs solving or special skills from their work are applied to the sleuthing. Here are some of our favorites from these quaint occupations.

Bookish Types

Librarians and bookstore owners show up frequently as the protagonists of cozy mysteries. It makes perfect sense! These are dream jobs for many a reader.

In The Plot is Murder, author V. M. Burns takes it a step further. Samantha Washington owns not just a bookstore, but a mystery bookstore. It's a little on the nose, of course, but when bodies start piling up in her small Michigan town, she's able to use investigative tactics from her favorite genre.

Josh Lanyon's Murder at Pirate's Cove features aspiring screenwriter and scrabble champion Ellery Page. He becomes a bookseller as well when he inherits the flailing bookstore in a Rhode Island seaside village.

In Puzzling Ink by Becky Clark, OCD sufferer Quinn Carr applies her laser sharp focus to her gig creating crossword puzzles. And she finds it works well for solving crimes as well. While in Murder Once Removed by S. C. Perkins, straightlaced genealogist Lucy Lancaster has a handy knack for research and an eye for detail.

Sustenance for Sleuthing

The eateries featured in cozies are often central to the action at hand. Solving murders is hungry work!

With fromage-funny titles like The Long Quiche Goodbye and Lost and Fondue, A Cheese Shop Mystery series by Avery Aames places fromagerie owner Charlotte Bessette in the additonal role of detective solving a string of murders in her small Ohio burg.

In the Hannah Swensen series, red-haired, sassy heroine Hannah solves mysteries on the side, while serving up tasty treats at The Cookie Jar, Lake Eden's most popular bakery. Like many other culinary cozies, the books in this scrumptious series, like Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, include recipes!

Author Kathy Aaron offers up a double whammy of goodness. Death is Like a Box of Chocolates protagonist Michelle Serrano is the co-owner of Chocolates and Chapters, a combination bookstore and chocolate shop. We're not sure if such a magical place exists, but at least we can read about it!

Clues in Construction

The newest cozy trend may stem from the popularity of HGTV-type programming. A much-anticipated release is Renovated to Death by Frank Anthony Polito. Couple and home renovation TV stars, PJ and JP are renovating a Tudor Revival home owned by identical twin brothers. When one of the brothers turns up dead, they must solve the crime.

Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian gives us another two-fer with stage magician Tempest Raj who is working for her family's whimsical home renovation company after what seems a career-ending accident.

Saving the Family Business

Mom and pop shops are another common theme in cozies. Often our hero is compelled into detective work to save themselves or their family's legacy. This is the case in Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala. In the small town of Shady Palms, Illinois, Lila Macapagal and her relatives run Tita Rosie's Kitchen where they serve delicious Flipino dishes, and solve crimes on the side.

In Abby Collette's A Deadly Inside Scoop, Bronwyn "Win" Crewse has returned to her hometown to run her family's ice cream parlor. When her father is falsely accused of murder, she adds tracking down killers to her job description.

Adding a paranormal element to her arsenal, Alex Daniels investigates crimes while running her family's magical apothecary business in A Spell for Trouble by Esme Addison.

Dog is My Copilot

Crime solvers in several of our favorite cozies have jobs related to pets. These furry friends may even act as assistants in the sleuthing. In Mimi Lee Gets A Clue by Jennifer J. Chow, Mimi's pet grooming shop keeps her busy, but on the side she does some sleuthing with the help of Marshmallow, her talking cat with a sharp sense of humor.

From the Pampered Pets Mystery series—with titles like Desperate Housedogs—our pair of sleuths are an ex-psychologist turned pet therapist and an ex-beauty queen turned Bow Wow Boutique owner. Fun fact: authors Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter created their moniker, Sparkle Abbey, by combining the names of their beloved pets.

If reading about all these fun jobs has you thinking about a career change, you're not alone! It may not be possible to take up a new occupation at this point, but luckily, we can experience novel vocations vicariously—plus crime solving—by curling up with our favorite cozy mysteries.

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