The Formulaic Cozy Mystery Template
Whether Thriller or Cozy, avid mystery readers consume thousands of books each year. They acquire their reading material from the library, through book sales, garage sales, borrow from a friend and sometimes, actually purchase from the author!
Let’s pretend for a minute, we’re an author desirous of writing and publishing a new cozy mystery series. How is it done? What shall we write about? What is the secret of success? After careful analysis of numerous successful cozy mystery series,’ we begin to notice a certain template to the storyline of each novel.
If we follow this template, our story should begin with a beautiful, blonde female sleuth, recently divorced. She has a dog to capture the hearts of animal lovers. The dog doesn’t have to solve crimes, but it helps. Her sweetheart, (who likely resists a committed relationship) is connected to an inept police department, allowing her access to official information and documents generally withheld from the public. She also needs an unusual profession.
The best jobs or hobbies have already been snagged by other popular mystery series’. These include book store owners, catering services, dog groomers, travel agents, writers, pet sitters, private detectives, cruise ship directors, college professors, librarians, etc.
For any hope of a successful series, she’ll need a career that hasn’t been done to death, but one that gives her access to plenty of potential murder victims. It is a series, remember?
Here’s a thought. Our sleuth will own her own septic tank truck giving her access to plenty of back yards where she spots nefarious ‘going’s-on’, or how about the door-to door Avon lady selling wrinkle cream? Plenty of opportunities to look beyond the screen door and see someone bound and gagged…Maybe not.
Let’s stick with the septic tank pumper-outer lady concept.
We must follow the cozy mystery template. The lady plumber and her quirky sidekick (did I forget to mention the quirky sidekick?) find a body in the pump house. Proceed to red herrings, unrequited love, and suspicious characters, sadly, all have alibis. Toss in some plumbing trivia, stopped up toilets, overflowing bathtubs, (a humorous scene or two), and move right on to the climax where our heroine agrees to meet the Home Depot plumbing salesman in the plumbing warehouse, but doesn’t tell anyone where she’s going. The killer-plumber strings her up to the rafters, because he’s been ‘flushed out.’ Her death is imminent. However, her dog, tracking her scent, led her detective boyfriend to the warehouse. He arrives in the nick of time. The killer is apprehended, every toilet is unstopped, and the heroine rides off into the sunset in her sewer truck.
To be fair, there are many ways writers change up the various topics; hobbies, quirky friend, red herrings, suspects, mysterious packages, murder, theft, kidnapping, contraband, , secret message, villains (always the most unexpected cast member), etc.
This is the formulaic template, with assorted variations, that most cozy mysteries follow.
Mrs. Odboddy – And Then There was a Tiger is a mystery/adventure that diverges from the monotonous, formulaic cozy mystery. Framed for burglary, and accused of passing counterfeit bills, elderly, eccentric Agnes Odboddy is determined to clear her tarnished reputation, locate and return the war bond money she misplaced, and seek justice for the local county fair’s carnival tiger, whose reputation is almost as besmirched as her own. Not a whisker of a formulaic template here, except that, of course, everything works out in the end.
Available at Amazon in print and e-book.
Read more about my mysteries at www.mindcandymysteries.com
Mrs. Odboddy: And Then There Was a Tiger: (Mrs. Odboddy Mysteries)
by Elaine Faber
A WWII tale of conflict and carnivals, turmoil and tigers.
About the Book
Mrs. Odboddy: And Then There Was a Tiger (Mrs. Odboddy Mysteries)
WWII tale of conflict and carnivals, turmoil and tigers.
3rd in Series
Elk Grove Publications (July 25, 2018)
Print Length: 349 pages
Digital ASIN: B07FXDV1C6
While the ‘tiger of war’ rages across the Pacific during WWII, eccentric, elderly Agnes Odboddy, ‘fights the war from the home front’. Her patriotic duties are interrupted when she is accused of the Wilkey’s Market burglary.
A traveling carnival with a live tiger joins the parishioner’s harvest fair at The First Church of the Evening Star and Everlasting Light. Accused again when counterfeit bills are discovered at the carnival, and when the war bond money goes missing, Agnes sets out to restore her reputation and locate the money. Her attempts lead her into harm’s way when she discovers a friend’s betrayal and even more about carnival life than she bargained for.
Granddaughter Katherine’s turbulent love triangle with a doctor and an FBI agent rivals Agnes’s own on-again, off-again relationship with Godfrey.
In Faber’s latest novel, your favorite quirky character, Mrs. Odboddy, prevails against injustice and faces unexpected challenges . . . and then There Was a Tiger!
About the Author
Elaine Faber lives in Northern California with her husband and two feline companions. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, California Cat Writers, and Northern California Publishers and Authors. She volunteers with the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop. She enjoys speaking on author panels, sharing highlights of her novels. Her short stories have appeared in national magazines and multiple anthologies. She has published seven books. In addition to the Mrs. Odboddy Mysteries Elaine writes the Black Cat Mysteries.
Purchase Link – Amazon
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