I wonder why that is. Aren't men capable of writing 'comforting' type words? Of course they are. But maybe cozy mysteries require something more than comfortable words. They require a good mystery yes, but they require a certain kind of mystery atmosphere with the murders mostly happening off-stage. But it's the atmosphere that makes for a cozy, I think. At least my kind of cozy. But, surely, men are capable of creating comforting atmosphere and a few 'not in your face' murders.
Let me double check my shelves once more.
Okay, bingo! These men come close. (So the answer to my initial question is yes, but rarely.)
The late Stuart Kaminsky with his Toby Peters private eye mysteries set mostly in and among the quirky movie people of 1940's Los Angeles. Favorite title? Mildred Pierced. Yes, it features Joan Crawford as a murder suspect/actress in distress. Funny.
Ed Gorman with his Sam McCain series set in 1950's small town Iowa. Each title is the name of a rock and roll song of the times. i.e. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.
Parnell Hall with his Stanley Hastings private eye series set mostly in NYC and also his crossword puzzle lady mysteries. (Full disclosure: I read and love the Stanley Hastings series, but don't read the Puzzle Lady series, possibly because I dislike crossword puzzles.)
Jeffrey Cohen with his wonderful series featuring Aaron Tucker, small town NJ magazine writer and solver of myseries. Also his Elliott Freed movie theater mysteries, set in NJ. One title: For Whom the Minivan Rolls.
Alan Bradley with his multi-award series set in 1950's England and featuring a 12 year old protagonist is the closest to the perfect male cozy writer as I can come. No, not close. He is a male cozy writer, period.
Alexander McCall Smith (I've only read The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency, but that qualifies for sure.) So, okay, so there are some who are DEFINITELY writing cozies.
Peter Abrahams (Writing the quirky Echo Falls mysteries.) Yup, definitely cozies. Though not as 'warm' as I would ordinarily like a cozy to be.
These seven series all have one thing in common: humor. Three are private eye series, one - the Sam McCain series, might as well be. Sam is a small town lawyer who solves murders almost against his will. Jeff's two heroes are a freelance writer and a theater owner. Flavia de Luce, Bradley's solver of mysteries, is a budding chemist. In Echo Falls, it's mostly the high school kids who solve the mysteries.
(There's also EJ Copperman, whose NJ cozy I read last year and loved. Not sure if EJ is a man or woman, though since Copperman is a pseudonym. My suspicion is that Copperman is a man.)
But that's it, cozy writer-wise, for the male population currently living on my bookshelves. And really, except for Peter Abrahams, Alan Bradley and Alexander McCall Smith, the others are 'almost' cozies. Not 100 percent sure they qualify. As much as I love these books, they are not what I reach for when I need a 'comfortable' mystery read. What do you think about all this? Do you read cozies? When and where? Must a cup of tea be nearby? Men and cozy cups of tea....not so much. I mean, men drink tea, yes. But, you know what I mean. I like my tea with butter cookes, little crackers with slices of cheese and a strawberry or two. A man usually sneers at this sort of thing. HA!
In contrast here are the women writers all but pushing Stuart, Parnell, Alan, Alexander, Peter, Ed and Jeff off my bookshelves. The following are all read by yours truly and safely vouched for:
- Agatha Christie (A golden age Dame, but I consider her Queen of the Cozy Mystery even if some of the murders are rather ugly. The Jane Marple mysteries especially, qualify as cozy.)
- Dorothy L. Sayers ( The Peter Wimsy myseries.Though Sayers is probably turning in her grave over the word 'cozy'.)
- Nancy Bell (Gotta' love these Miss Biggie mysteries set in small town Texas. Narrator is 12 year old boy.)
- Charlane Harris (Before the vampires and undead set in, there was librarian Aurora Teagarden.)
- Susan Moody ( Mysteries set in the world of English Bridge Tournament play. Hard to find, but worth the effort.)
- Katherine Hall Page (Mysteries set in various localities, but mainly small town Massachusettes. The mystery solver is caterer and minister's wife Faith Fairchild.)
- Emily Richards (Another series featuring a minister's wife solving mysteries. What is it with these minsters and their wives? Murder seems to follow them around.)
- Georgette Heyer (Yup, as well as her Regency stuff, she wrote a terrific bunch of mysteries.)
- Elizabeth Daly (Supposedly Agatha Christie's favorite writer.)
- Mary Roberts Rinehart (Another Golden Ager. I'm currently reading THE YELLOW ROOM and loving it to pieces.)
- Elizabeth Peters (Not strictly cozy settings. But I defy anyone NOT to call the Amelia Peabody books cozies. Even if they take place mostly in Egypt.)
- Jo Dereske (The Miss Zukas mysteries mostly set in and around libraries.)
- Elaine Flinn (Antiques and murder in, if I remember correctly, California.)
- Diana Killian (Murder among antiques dealers in the lake district of England.)
- Jincy Willett (Loved her debut: The Writing Class. Waiting for more.)
- Lisa Lutz (The loony Spellman clan and their various mysteries.)
- Laurie R. King (Holmes and Russell. These excellent books take up where Conan Doyle left off. These are 'borderline' cozies though since they do not have a light tone.)
- Josephine Tey (A brilliant Golden Ager who wrote at least two classics of the genre. Also not known for her lightness.)
- Ngaio Marsh (A Golden Ager, another creator of borderline cozies since many of her murders are gruesome and not light. But for me, she qualifies.)
- M.M. Kaye who wrote some terrific romantic adventure novels, only some of them 'cozy' in nature. (I have an anthology of them and love these books written in the 30's/40's, mostly set in places that don't even exist anymore as Kaye envisioned them.)
- MC. Beaton's Hamish MacBeth series set in the Scottish Highlands. (I think Beaton is a woman.)
And these are only names of the ones I've read. There are many others who qualify as cozy writers out there, I just haven't gotten around to reading them.
The main thing that must happen when I think of a cozy read is this: I must smile. A cozy, above all else, must evoke a smile. Maybe a smile of recognition. A smile that leads to a warmth of rememberance and the promise of comfortable company and a good, well written story. That's it.
Maybe it's just that most writers write to their audience and most males, let's face it, probably don't read cozies. More than likely spy thrillers are to men what cozies are to women. Agreed?
Maybe it's just a girl thing.