Until All The Mysteries Of The Universe Are Solved,
We Give You Some Quick Guesses
and
A Warp-Speed Whodunit

by Polly Whitney

Cuddling Up With A Warm, Fuzzy Murderer

There was a time, during the so-called Golden Age of Mystery, when everyone knew what a "cozy" was. Not so anymore, what with women private eyes kicking bad guys through cement walls, even butlers carrying semi-automatic weapons to the door, and Quentin Tarantino quitting his job at the video store. It's time to correct this ignorant state of affairs in the mystery world.

Cozies I Have Known

  1. A cozy must include at least one cat.

  2. The murder is usually a domestic crime. Example: bashing in your rich uncle's skull is a much cozier activity than taking out 7-11 clerks with your Uzi.

  3. The sleuth is almost always an amateur. It's much cozier for a pink-haired elderly lady to point her knitting needle at the murderer than to have the villain collared by the cops and read his Miranda rights.

  4. Tea is served in cozies (double entendre intended).

  5. Graphic violence is eschewed in cozies. Example: the murder is discovered, the ghastly deed having been done offstage. Some ill-mannered person might mention blood, but if so, characters overhearing the remark must either turn white as sheets or shudder deliciously. Nobody in cozies has ever seen blood before.

  6. The murder weapon in cozies is usually a blunt instrument, i.e., a lapis lazuli paperweight, a fireplace poker, or Larry King.

  7. Poison is allowable as the agent of death in cozies but only if death is instantaneous. Prolonged suffering (much less nausea and vomiting) is not permitted. The ban on vomiting, I think, is in deference to the cat.

  8. The language of cozies does not permit the use of four-letter words. You can leave a cozy open on your kitchen table without fear that your ten-year old will adopt linguistic behaviors that will embarrass you before your bridge club.

  9. Cozies usually take place in country houses or small towns. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people are far more likely to hate each other if confined in a small area together. The same is true of rats. This phenomenon is called "the behavioral sink," or "St. Mary Meade Syndrome."

  10. You can read a cozy in front of your mother. However, you can read anything in front of a cat.

Submitted by Polly Whitney, who read Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet to her cats without being torn to shreds.


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