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When you look at a bunch of mystery books grouped together (say, at your local library), you probably notice that alongside those edgy-looking covers from Gillian Flynn or Scandinavia is more

than a little pastel. These are what is known as "cozy mysteries." Last week, I wrote for the Movies Blog about British crime dramas with a non-London setting. Most of those I mentioned are people who deal with crime as part of their jobs: police officers, journalists, private investigators. So what, then, makes some mysteries "cozy"?

A cozy mystery is a sub-genre of mysteries for people who prefer their whodunits to be decidedly un-gritty: violence, gore, sex, and profanity are usually at a minimum. Think Miss Marple or Murder, She Wrote. They typically feature amateur detectives in close-knit, quaint settings and often involve hobbies and/or animals. You can read an expanded definition here. (For more, that website also contains a database of these titles.)

I have noticed, though, in my research on the topic a couple of themes. For one thing, cozy mysteries tend to skew toward the specific. The very specific. For example, Eva Gates's Lighthouse Library series takes place on North Carolina's Outer Banks, where the lead character is a librarian in a re-purposed lighthouse (which comes equipped with a library cat). Kneading to Die is the first in a series in which the sleuth bakes organic pet treats alongside her Maine Coon cat. (Cats abound, but there are other animals, too.) In short: the world-building in the cozy mystery is on fleek.

The second theme I've noticed is that the cozy mystery titles involve a lot of puns. After some stiff competition, I think my favorite is You Cannoli Die Once(set in a Philadelphia Italian restaurant), with As Gouda as Dead: A Cheese Shop Mystery and Fleece Navidad: A Knitting Mystery. as close runners-up. In fact, an earlier version of this display idea was named "Death by Pun-ishment" because my life revolves around dad jokes.

So we bring you our display: Niche and Cozy. Along with some titles to browse, you'll see a sign that reads:

"My mystery is about an ex-(former occupation) who owns (a cozy business) in (an unassuming location) and now solves mysteries with the help of (a quirky sidekick)."

Our mad-lib style title generator.

There are four corresponding jars. Pick one slip from each jar, come up with your own title (the punnier the better), and post it. For an example, my mystery is about an ex-financial planner who owns a wedding planning business in a tiny Delaware town and now solves mysteries with the help of a forlorn ice cream man.

Picks from the jars....

The title I came up with? "Something Throttled." It's harder than it seems!

My title! Is it punny enough?

Find the complete list of titles we've picked here, but if you're at Central we'd love for you to drop by the second floor and write your own!

Come post your titles. Pun-ish us!



When you look at a bunch of mystery books grouped together (say, at your local library), you probably notice that alongside those edgy-looking covers



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