It's a crime! (Or a mystery…)

Murder to Music is Cosy? Well, now that you’ve asked…

MurderToMusic Described by Paul Magrs as ‘the Queen of Cosy Crime’, Lesley Cookman’s latest in her Libby Serjeant series (with Accent Press) – Murder to Music – hits the shelves on Monday April 11th.  Here, she puts the case for cosy crime and how it needs to be crafted in our contemporary social structure and technological world.

First, I’d like to say thank you for allowing me to hijack the It’s A Crime blog today. It’s a great opportunity for me for a number of reasons. I’m published by one of the smaller independent, although hugely successful, publishers who haven’t the resources of the big guys, so I’m more difficult to find, not being on the shelves of the major supermarkets or WH Smiths Travel shops, neither am I reviewed in the broadsheets.

The other reason is to push the underrated but still surviving “cosy” genre, the direct descendent of the Golden Age detective stories and, some would say, redundant and anachronistic in the 21st century. Or, some others would say, just plain daft.

Well, yes. The amateur sleuth who happens, Jessica Fletcher-like, to stumble on crime after crime, corpse after corpse in her own small corner of the world is, frankly, unbelievable. But I still like reading them and to my delight, so do quite a lot of other people.  Of course, these days it’s not about the toffs and domestics who tug their forelocks and say “Yes’m.”  It’s about ordinary people with ordinary and out-of-the-ordinary jobs. We also tend to have very up to date and relevant themes. I’ve had illegal immigrants, homophobia and gay-bashing and incest among others. I’ve also used another thorny topic as part of the background in Murder to Music, which will be out on Monday April 11th, but I don’t want to give the game away. You never know, you might buy it! 

A lot of the reasons for crime that existed in the Golden Age are denied us now, with the acceptance of unmarried and single parents and the removal of many of the social barriers, and the internet and mobile phones mean that people are less likely to be stranded anywhere without help. Of course, the villain can take the phone away, or there can be no signal, but you can’t keep falling back on that.  No, we need to be more inventive than our predecessors in finding reasons for our murders and reasons for our protagonists to investigate them.  And it’s a bit of a struggle, let me tell you.

There is little blood in our genre; our murders happen off stage in the main, and as much as possible we ignore police procedure. I have a recurring police character whom my protagonist can call on, and who allows her and her friends an awful lot more leeway than would happen in real life, but then, I write entertainment, not reality, and I hope my readers can, as I do, suspend belief.

So, here’s to Cosy Crime and here’s to my faithful readers. And thanks to this blog – maybe there’ll be a couple more.

With thanks to Lesley Cookman.  Links to author, publisher and Murder to Music on Amazon.


13 comments on “Murder to Music is Cosy? Well, now that you’ve asked…

  1. Sarah Callejo
    April 7, 2011

    I love cosy crimes (sounds like an oxymoron). It’s great to evade into a fictional world trying to work out who did it and why without wrinkling your nose and feeling sick at gory details.
    And Paul Magrs is right, Lesley is the queen of cosy crime.

  2. Jenny Haddon
    April 7, 2011

    I always think ‘cosy crime’ is about the times we live in. Agatha Christie absolutely hit the 50s on the head with Miss Marple. Or think of Hariet Vane fighting and not fighting Peter Wimsey for her personal space.
    Your books are really good at the gradations of partnering and friendship — at all ages — which seem to characterize NOW. Plus lovely characters and a terrific sense of place, too; not to mention the mystery itself.
    Keep up the good work.

  3. Elaine Simpson-Long
    April 7, 2011

    Lesley – your publishers have been kind enough to send me some of your books and have enjoyed them very much. I love cosy thrillers and just recently seem to have been involved in a lot of gore – serial killers seeming to be the order of the day – but when I am stressed or tired reading a ‘good murder’ which sounds like an oxymoron, but isn’t, is a great way to relax.
    I have enjoyed the Agatha Raisin books very much, Carola Dunn, and of course all of the golden age writers and if anything is guaranteed to make me feel better it is reading a Wimsey!

  4. Diana Horner
    April 7, 2011

    In the past week, I have seen more detail about real life crimes, than I can comfortably digest. (TV news stories, she added quickly..)
    Crime is endlessly fascinating, but there are times when you want to immerse yourself in an intriguing story, but not to the extent that you have to brace yourself to get through the ‘tough’ bits.
    Good luck with the book Lesley, I will look out for the Kindle version 🙂

  5. Chris Stovell
    April 7, 2011

    I’ll certainly be adding Murder to Music to my Treats In Store pile for when I finish the current WIP. Here’s wishing all success to Lesley, Libby and independent publishers.

  6. Lesley Cookman
    April 7, 2011

    Oh – *wipes away tear* what lovely comments. thank you all so much. And thank you, Rhian!

  7. Dorte H
    April 7, 2011

    I like reading cosy mysteries now and then. Will there be a Kindle version?
    And why is it that every time I find a publisher who accept un-agented submissions, their page shouts “We regret we are closed to new submissions until further notice” at me?

  8. Liz Harris
    April 7, 2011

    I love cosy crime books. I’ve read every Agatha Christie (more than once) and adore the atmosphere that prevails in these novels. Cosy crimes are so much more appealing than novels that feature excessive details of police procedure.
    You’ve made some interesting points in your blog. Thank you.

  9. Sandra Mackness
    April 7, 2011

    Really enjoyed reading this, Lesley. I think you’ve just hooked me! Great comments to your piece, by the way.

  10. Lesley Cookman
    April 7, 2011

    Thanks again, everyone, and Dorte – yes, all my books are available for Kindle and ipad and other electronic devices, my publishers have been on the button as far as the digital side of the industry is concerned right from the outset. And I’m sorry they’re closed to submissions!

  11. Cara Cooper
    April 8, 2011

    Hi Lesley
    Cosy crime is great and all the better for not having reams of police procedure. It’s all about the character of the protagonists and the setting and above all people. I love the Ladies Detective agency series and Sherlock Holmes, both of which I would class as cosy crime. The mystery is everything as is the eternal fight between good and evil. Cosy crime, love it. Long may it last. Congratulations with your latest book and for being with Accent Press, a great little publisher.

  12. Rosemary Gemmell
    April 8, 2011

    This sounds like exactly the kind of crime novel I love. There’s so much reality on TV that it’s good to sink into a good mystery book!

  13. Henriette Gyland
    April 8, 2011

    I love reading cosy crime. Although the crime often happens off-stage – or if it is on-stage, it is far less gory than hard-core crime – I find it so much more believable. These are stories about ordinary people going about their ordinary business, who suddenly find an undercurrent of nastiness in their other-wise idyllic worlds. That’s actually quite scary and unpleasant when you think about it.
    Cosy crime also allows me to exercise my “little grey cells”, as Hercule Poirot would put it. There’s nothing better than the kind of novel which leaves you guessing until the end, and Lesley Cookman’s books hit the spot for me, as does another cosy crime author, Veronica Heley.
    I look forward to “Murder to Music”.

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This entry was posted on April 7, 2011 by in Guest Article.