Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Animal Cozy

I'm a huge animal lover. Wildlife, domesticated animals, pets...I enjoy all kinds of animals. I especially love it when they make it in to mystery novels.

There are a few different ways in which animals appear in cozy mysteries. In some instances they exist in the novels as pets, but don't play a major role. In some cases they're little more than background enhancer; the family pets in the Jane Jeffires Mysteries by Jill Churchill, for example. In other series their role is a little more important, but only as a background character; Earl Grey, the mixed breed "Dalbrador", in Laura Child's Tea Shop Mysteries or Miss Marple, Tricia's cat, in the Booktown Mysteries by Lorna Barrett

In other books the animal plays a more active role, oftentimes helping the protagonist solve the mystery. Koko and Yum Yum are prime examples in The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun. I just love Owen and Hercules from The Magical Cats Mysteries by Sofie Kelly.

A third type of animal mystery actually gives voice to the animal. The story may be told from his or her point of view, or they may tell part of the story. All of the animals talk in the Mrs. Murphy Series by Rita Mae Brown, although the humans can't understand them. While Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tee Tucker are the major animal stars here, the other animals have their say too, including horses and my favorite opossum, Simon. Midnight Louis has even more to say in his series by Carole Nelson Douglas. In these books the chapters alternate between the point of view of the humans and those of Midnight Louis.

Some mysteries have an animal theme. The protagonist works with animals in some way. Claudia Bishop writes about a veterinarian in The Casebook of Dr. McKenzie Series while Linda O. Johnston's Pet Rescue Series features a no-kill animal shelter.

Then there's the cover cat. You may pick up a cozy and see a cat on the cover. However, as you read the book you find no mention of a cat. Who is that cat is on the cover? What's his role? This mysterious cat is a marketing tool. Publishers believe that cats on covers increase sales, so they'll add a cat to a petless mystery in the hopes of getting that animal lover to pick up the book, take a closer look, and perhaps buy it.

What do you think about animal mysteries? Do you have a favorite?

1 comment:

  1. I do love animals in my books, no matter the genre. You already named some of my favourites, Koko and YumYum, and Earl Gray.