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.