Classical Cozy Compared

The classical form of the cozy mystery began in England in the 1920s and 1930s. Time and distance have wrought changes in the genre. Many modern American cozies depart in some respects from the classical formulation. For example, many modern writers may describe murders in some detail and the detective may encounter violence. An intermediary genre between mostly pleasant cozy mystery and gloomy “hard-boiled” mystery of the sort written by Raymond Chandler has come to be known as the “soft-boiled” mystery.


Setting small town/hotel limited environment big city
Crime can be bloodless murder murder
Murder not graphic/offstage can be graphic grisly
Victim disagreeable may be mourned anyone
Sleuth often amateur often detective PI or cop
Violence none a little lots
Diction informal but refined some vulgarity anything goes
Tone light/humorous light to dark mostly dark
Threat very little moderate high
Characters mostly same class more demographics


all classes
Plot intellectual puzzle character-driven action-packed
Sex hinted at only nothing graphic anything possible
Modern Additions animal actors

occupational themes

historical settings

fantasy worlds

social issues