Cosy Crime’s Continued Success
By Hayley Cadel, Alexandra Constable and Yashika M.
In this week’s issue, the Trends team looks at the trend of cosy crime, often referred to as “cosy mysteries” or “cosies.” With authors such as Agatha Christie remaining popular, this subgenre is the by-product of Christie’s unwavering popularity, with her book covers being emulated in this trend too. This area of crime fiction earns its name primarily through the idyllic, rural villages in which its stories are usually set; a common trope is a sea-side town housing an insulated and intimate community of gossips and enigmas. In other words, cosy crime generally refers to tales of previously ordinary and small towns that are abruptly catapulted into chaos by violence. Murder, however, is not always the crime in question, and the story may centre around some other unlawful activity, such as theft, vandalism and blackmail. Despite this, the world of cosy crime is noticeably rose-tinted. Any such act of violence is never explicitly or crudely described, and the conclusion typically involves the rescuing of the soon-to-be murder victim or the resolution of a crime; the genre is predominantly family-friendly and attracts large numbers of young readers, thus typically staying clear of anything too upsetting.
Whilst crime thrillers have always had a large market, the new interest in cosy crime as a subgenre has been credited as a result of the pandemic. The escapism and the gentleness of cosy crime have found readers reaching for these books during COVID-19 and this has not waned since. In casting an amateur sleuth as the protagonist, readers who fancy themselves as an armchair detective gravitate to these narratives. Furthermore, Bea Carvalho, head fiction buyer at Waterstones, notes that there is “comfort...in the structure of crime novels,” highlighting how it is this structure which has made it so popular with readers. In relation to the pandemic, Carvalho notes that, “when the world is uncertain and hard to understand, those traditional narratives, where by [in] the end the author will have done all the work for you – that’s pretty appealing.”
In discussing cosy crime, it would be impossible not to mention Richard Osman and the accomplishments in this subgenre he has had, being a runaway success in book sales during the pandemic, selling 3.1 million copies. Some of his most famous novels include The Thursday Murder Club (2021) and The Man Who Died Twice (2021). Alongside this and likened to Osman’s books, a brand new series by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett is out, which includes the first book in the series, A Murder of Crows (2022), and whose latest instalment, A Cast of Falcons, was released just last month. This series is set in a small, fictional village named Cookingdean, in a retirement complex where anything of great interest seldom occurs. The pandemic has been credited as the perfect time for this novel to do well as the focus is end-of-life care, with all the characters being over seventy years old. The protagonist, Dr Nell Ward, is forced to attempt to solve a murder case with her colleague Adam after unexpectedly becoming the prime suspect of the investigation. If this article has spiked your interest, you can also turn to some other well-known classics that fall under the cosy crime subgenre! Agatha Christie’s Evil Under The Sun (1941) is another great example, along with Dorothy L. Sayers Strong Poison (1930) and Louise Penny’s Three Pines series.
Another runaway success in this genre is The Appeal (2021) by Janice Hallett. In this novel, a murder occurs and the reader is provided with all the necessary documents and positioned as the detective tasked at solving the murder. With a murderer who is hidden in plain sight, The Appeal promises to change the way you think about the modern crime novel. For those who enjoyed The Appeal, The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is due to be released in January 2023, which follows a similar structure with the reader being provided with the relevant documents to again solve the crime.
Known for its light-hearted tone and shock-filled banter, the cosy crime genre is only growing in popularity. With more and more authors and readers inclining towards this particular genre, the admiration for these books knows no bounds, mainly because they come with the promise of not having a negative end to the narrative, making it even more likeable and easier to read. The gentle and light-hearted nature of these books appeals to young adults (as well as old) and provides an outlet for them to explore further into what is otherwise a more graphic and gruesome field of literature. Moreover, the genre provides a cognitive and a psychological space for the human mind to explore its imagination vis-a-vis supernatural concepts. Here are a few of our recommendations for the same! In Too Deep by Simon McCleave, Murder at the Charity Ball by Helena Dixon and Shooting Season: A Yorkshire Murder Mystery by David J. Gatward are all anticipated to be released next year and the cosy crime loyalists are waiting. Now that we’re all hopefully looking forward to some time off over the Christmas period and with the weather colder, we think cosy crime is the perfect genre to cosy up with!