What Is A "Cozy Mystery"? This Is The Perfect Genre For Winter Reading

by Sadie Trombetta
Africa Studio/Stocksy

As the cold weather starts to set in, nothing sounds more appealing to this reader than spending a weekend at home getting lost in a good book. If you, like me, plan on hibernating until spring, you're going to want to stock up on snacks, wine, and a stack of cozy mysteries to curl up with this winter.

You've heard the phrase tossed around, you've seen the section at your local bookstore, but what exactly are cozy mysteries? According to bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author Amanda Fowler, "An amateur sleuth, an unsuspecting victim, a quirky supporting cast, and trail of clues and red herrings are the main ingredients of a cozy mystery." They often also include animal characters, interesting hobbies, and endlessly punny titles.

Unlike traditional detective novels or thrillers, this is a subgrenre of crime fiction that prioritizes humor and heart over sex and violence. Cozies allow readers to go on exciting, sometimes dangerous adventures knowing that in the end, justice will be served and a happily ever after waiting for them. Think small towns, big hearts, and outlandish circumstances.

Ready to spend the weekend snuggled up with a great book? Then grab one of these nine cozy mysteries that make the perfect companions for a winter's night spent in.

'Buried in Books' by Kate Carlisle

San Francisco book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright couldn't be happier to be marrying the love of her life, security expert Derek Stone, and the reappearance of her formerly feuding friends from college has only made the joyous occasion that much better. But when one of them turns up dead and their bridal shower gift ― a rare book ― turns out to be a forgery, it is up to Brooklyn to find out who is a killer and who is a con artist before her big day.

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'Christmas Cake Murder' by Joanne Fluke

Get in the holiday spirit with the help of Joanne Fluke's new Hannah Swensen Mystery, complete with festive recipes. In the latest installment, Hannah's hectic life gets even busier when she agrees to help recreate a Christmas Ball to honor Essie Granger, a Lake Eden local in hospice care. But when she gets her hands on Essie's old notebooks, she finds the elderly woman is good at writing crime fiction — maybe a little too good. When one of the stories becomes reality, it is up to Hannah to solve the mystery and prevent a holiday disaster.

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'Murder, She Wrote: Manuscript for Murder' by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land

Jessica Fletcher is back in the latest Murder She Wrote installment. This time, the bestselling novelist and amateur sleuth is determined to clear the name of her longtime publisher and trusted friend Lane Barfield, accused of financial wrongdoing, following his suspicious murder.

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'The Widows of Malabar Hill' by Sujata Massey

It's 1920s India, and Bombay's only female lawyer Perveen Mistry is tasked with investigating a suspicious will on behalf of three Muslim widows. When the case takes a murderous turn, it's up to Perveen to find out what really happened on Malabar Hill and protect the innocent women and children there from further harm.

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'Harvest of Secrets' by Ellen Crosby

It's harvest season at Montgomery Estate Vineyard, and the busiest time of year for Lucie and her family becomes even more hectic when a skull is unearthed near the Montgomery's cemetery at the same time Lucie's first crush, wealthy aristocrat Jean-Claude de Marignac, arrives in Atoka. When Jean-Claude turns up dead and dark family secrets start to reveal themselves, Lucie finds herself on a collision course with a murderer.

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'Homeward Hound' by Rita Mae Brown

It doesn't get much cozier than Rita Mae Brown's animal mystery series starring the unforgettable Sister Jane and her fellow four-legged sleuths. In this latest installment, the president of a powerful energy company goes missing during the annual Christmas run, and it's up to Sister Jane to track down a killer and unpack a mystery.

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'As Me No Questions' by Shelley Noble

The first in a new historical cozy mystery series, Ask Me No Questions introduces readers to Lady Dunbridge, a widow turned sleuth in turn-of-the-twentieth century New York City. Following the death of her husband, the unconventional modern woman is ready to take Manhattan by storm ― high society, scandal, murder, and all.

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'A Scandal in Scarlet' by Vicki Delany

After a fire damages the West London Museum, the shop owners on Baker Street hold an auction to raise money to rebuild. When the body of museum board chair Kathy Lamb is found in the back of Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room before the fundraiser can even begin, it becomes clear to Sherlock Holmes Bookshop owner something more sinister is going on, and whether the police like it or not, she's determined to help get find out what.

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'Yule Be Dead' by Lorraine Bartlett with Gayle Leeson

It is Christmastime in the latest installment of the New York Times bestselling Victoria Square series, but the jolly mood of the season is spoiled when the dead body of Vonne Barnett is discovered. When Katie Bonner, the manager of Artisan's Alley, finds a broken teacup she believes to be a clue, it sets her off on a dangerous investigation with the murderer hot on her heels.

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