Monday, April 18, 2022

Cozy? Me? I thought I was Hard-Boiled!


 By Thomas Kies

The ARC for WHISPER ROOM (release date, August 2) is available now for review and a few people have already commented on Goodreads.  I’m more than pleased that universally, so far, their reviews have been exceptionally positive.  I’m a bit taken aback, however, that two of them describe my book as a Cozy Mystery. 

I’m far from insulted, but I’ve never considered my books to be cozy by any stretch of the imagination. They’ve always been described as dark, twisty, and scary.  My neighbor read my third book, GRAVEYARD BAY, and when I asked him how he liked it, he told me, “The ending gave me nightmares.”

No cozy there.

The cozy mystery is a subgenre that has been described many ways, but I’ll try to distill it down as best I can.  The protagonist is usually female, an amateur sleuth, and the violence and sexual activity takes place off scene.  The setting is generally a small community where most people know each other

Interestingly, that kind of describes WHISPER ROOM. If you close your eyes and squint at it from a distance. 

Merriam-Webster defines genre as “…characterized by a particular style, form, or content.”

Primary fiction genres are: Romance, mystery, science fiction/fantasy, action/adventure, thriller/suspense, horror, historical fiction, and young adult.

Then there are subgenres. Amazon numbers them as 16,000 and calls them categories. 

Subgenres for fiction are: psychological thriller, cozy mysteries, historical mysteries, romantic suspense, spy thrillers, police procedural, private detective, legal thrillers, heist, locked room, noir, and supernatural thrillers.

Now, many of the subgenres for mysteries are obviously hybrids from the broad definition of genres listed above. 

My first book, RANDOM ROAD, was labelled a mystery but in reality, it was a romance novel with a mystery as the engine that drove the story forward. Girl gets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy, girl solves mystery, boy dies.  So, let’s add the genre of Tragedy to our list. 

How did Amazon label RANDOM ROAD? Hard-boiled mystery, amateur sleuth, women sleuths.  Nothing about romance at all.  I guess I hid it well.

I’ve taken a hiatus from teaching my Creative Writing courses at the college until this coming fall, but I think one of the exercises I’ll try is asking the students to take a book they’ve recently read, as well as a classic they may have read when they were in school and give it three classifications like Amazon might.

Like TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.  Would it be a Legal Thriller, a Coming-of-Age novel, or maybe Horror (Boo Radley was pretty scary…until he wasn’t)? 

Amazon actually classifies the novel as Teen & Young Adult Classic Literature, TV/Movie & Game Tie-In Fiction, and Classic American Literature.

I’ve never even heard of TV/Movie & Game Tie-In Fiction.

So, back to WHISPER ROOM.  The blurb reads: Sex, Blackmail, and Murder…Welcome to the Whisper Room.

Doesn’t sound cozy at all to me. 

1 comment:

Susan D said...

I dunno, Thomas. Does it have a cat or dog? A crafty job? Recipes? :^)