Archives for posts with tag: mystery novel

The 2015 Agatha Awards, from last night’s ceremony at Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland. The winners are in bold. Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees!

The Good, The Bad and The Emus by Donna Andrews
A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet
Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan
The Long Way Home by Louise Penny
Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron

Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd
An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd
Wouldn’t it Be Deadly by D.E. Ireland
Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen
Murder in Murray Hill by Victoria Thompson

Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy
Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris
Finding Sky by Susan O’Brien
Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran
Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber

400 Things Cops Know: Street Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman by Adam Plantinga
Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer’s Journey by Hank Phillippi Ryan, Editor
Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice by Kate Flora
The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley
The Poisoner: The Life and Crimes of Victorian England’s Most Notorious Doctor by Stephen Bates

“The Odds are Against Us” by Art Taylor, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Nov. 2014
“Premonition” by Art Taylor, Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays
“The Shadow Knows” by Barb Goffman, Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays
“Just Desserts for Johnny” by Edith Maxwell
“The Blessing Witch” by Kathy Lynn Emerson, Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave

Andi Under Pressure by Amanda Flower
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Uncertain Glory by Lea Wait
The Code Buster’s Club, Case #4: The Mummy’s Curse by Penny Warner
Found by Harlen Coben


Thanks to Donna Andrews for posting the winners in real time on Facebook for those of us who couldn’t be at the ceremony.


Last week in my blog What exactly is a Cozy Mystery? I promised to address their popularity in my next blog.
First, let’s talk about why mystery novels are so popular. The common notion is that people read mysteries because they want a puzzle, something to figure out. I believe that people read mysteries because they want to use their mind when they are reading, they want to be involved in the experience. They want to read actively, rather than passively receive the experience of the words.

What is it about cozies in particular, that make them so popular? Beyond the attraction of different genres, I believe the reason is the Cheers Factor. The television show Cheers was set in a small bar in Boston, a place “where everyone knows your name.” You thought I was going to say the Cabot Cove Factor, didn’t you? Doesn’t everyone want to live in Cabot Cove? Recognize Jessica’s house above? Doesn’t everyone long to live in a charming small town vacation spot where they know everyone, have lots of time to pursue their interests, have lovely surroundings, and a comfortable life? That is all true, of course, but I believe that the Cheers Factor DRIVES the Cabot Cove Factor. We are more and more isolated in modern times and long for a place “where everyone knows your name.”
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On August 2nd I participated in a panel entitled LET’S GET COZY at the Deadly Ink Mystery Conference at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, New Jersey. K. B. Inglee was the moderator. The other panelists were Steve Rigolosi, Peggy Ehrhart, John Clement, Ilene Schneider and Jane Kelly. We discussed what makes a mystery a cozy and why cozies are so popular.

Although I can already think of exceptions to nearly every point I list, here is what, in my view, comprises a cozy mystery. In my next blog I’ll tackle their popularity.

Protagonist is an amateur, a civilian, thrown into the mystery by happenstance. She is often a woman, and one the reader can identify with, with one or two relatable flaws. She has an interesting career or interest that leads her (sometimes reluctantly) to the mystery. She can be any age.

Setting is a small environment of people, an idealized community we’d all love to live in: a neighborhood in a city, a small town, a fishing village, a theatre, perhaps even a school. A place where everyone knows each other. One could argue that the Harry Potter books are cozies, with Hogwarts the small community of people. When we think “cozy mystery” we usually think of a small English village created by Agatha Christie. The death occurs “off screen”—we do not witness the violent act. There isn’t any gore or blood.

Sex is downplayed or nonexistent.

Profanity is minimal or nonexistent.

Often the protagonist has a friend or family member who is connected to the authorities somehow—the police, the mayor’s office, the school principal, medical examiner, a detective or security company.

Sometimes the supporting characters are a bit offbeat or eccentric, adding humor and whimsy to the book.

The murderers are not serial killers or psychopaths, they are people the reader can identify with, but some circumstance has caused them to snap.

In recent years, niche cozies have evolved. If you are interested in antique prints, cats, dogs, quilting, bookbinding, knitting, old house or furniture restoration, inns, Civil war reenactments, wineries, whitewater rafting, golf, cooking, baking… whatever it is, there is undoubtedly a cozy mystery about it.

The emphasis is on plot and characters, not action.

The books are usually written in series form so that the reader can enjoy the main characters and the community through numerous mysteries.

Don’t think that cozies are just for women. There are a number of cozies written by and for men. Many are niche cozies about topics that are traditionally “male” interest: golf, historic house/inn or general home renovation, fishing. I have never seen a football cozy but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone has written one!

Because Edgar Allan Poe’s poems and short stories pervade pop culture and are taught in middle school they are considered by some to be among the lower rungs of the literary canon. That’s a shame. He was the first major American writer to attempt to make a living at writing, and he invented the detective story genre. Some of my favorite writers and thinkers dismissed Edgar Allan Poe. Yeats and Huxley both reportedly called him “vulgar” and upon reading “The Raven” Emerson said, “I see nothing in it.” But Arthur Conan Doyle got him. He said, “Each [of Poe’s detective stories] is a root from which a whole literature has developed….Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?” Poe originated the detective genre in his short story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” with the character C. Auguste Dupin who solved crimes in Paris before the word “detective” had been coined.

 Edgar Allan Poe invented some of the major characteristics we know and love in mysteries today—the bumbling police sergeant representing the by-the-book authority figure as opposed to the creative, eccentric but analytically brilliant detective, the first-person narrative by a friend (Watson to Holmes), and the gathering of the suspects together to announce the identity of the murderer that we love so much when Poirot calls everyone to the drawing room.


I don’t advocate marrying one’s 13 year old cousin, but I have been deeply moved by Poe’s love poems to his wife Virginia, especially one written after her death, probably his most famous poem, Annabel Lee. I read this poem for the first time when I was a young romantic pre-teen. In fact, my mother brought me to visit Poe’s Cottage in the Bronx for my twelfth birthday.


At that age the over-the-top portrayal of his love for her (“But we loved with a love that was more than love”) thrilled me. The idea that he missed her so deeply that “And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side/ Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,/ In her sepulchre there by the sea—/ In her tomb by the sounding sea.” Was her tomb really next to the sea? Did he really go and lie down next to it at night? Whether he did or not, this stirred my imagination, they were like Romeo and Juliet. Then, it seemed sweet and romantic, but in my youth I didn’t fully comprehend his suffering. As an adult I do, and I am slightly embarrassed by his angst displayed so openly. But I still love the poem.


I saw the Annabel Lee original manuscript on display when my family visited the Edgar Allen Poe exhibit at the Morgan Library in New York a few months ago.

 As we stood before it, I tormented my teenage son by reading it aloud to him (I knew most of it from memory). Embarrassed, he eyed a man standing next to us within earshot. The man saw what was going on and said, to our surprise and my delight, “My mother used to recite that poem to me all the time when I was young. I loved it.”

In one of the displays at the Morgan I saw a sample of Poe’s signature. I had never examined it closely before, but this time I noticed the circular curls in the way he wrote the letter “E” and rejoiced at the realization that Peter Lo Ricco, who designed the cover for Cinnamon Girl, my mystery novel, unwittingly channeled Poe in his choice of font. I think we’ll keep that font for the Annabel Publishing logo. Yes, the company was named after the poem. And after a beloved cat who was named after the poem.



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Enter to win a free copy of Cinnamon Girl: A Village Cooks Mystery. Ends January 17, 2014.

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A mystery for cookbook lovers!

While she is busy getting ready for her annual cooking contest/author event at her cookbook and cookware store, Bonnie Emerson, daughter of a former U.S. president, finds the body of a woman near a stream on her property. When Bonnie’s tires are slashed, her father hires a private security company. When she is shot at, he calls in the Secret Service and the author’s agent threatens to cancel her appearance. But it could be worse. If Cookbooktoberfest goes on with a killer on the loose, they might all be in danger.

Cookbooktoberfest and the lives of Bonnie and her family are all in jeopardy unless Bonnie can — with or without the Secret Service — find the killer.

Filled with cooking and cookbook lore, Cinnamon Girl is the first in a series of VILLAGE COOKS mysteries.

Cinnamon Girl: A Village Cooks Mystery by Valerie Horowitz

ISBN 978-0-9899110-1-6. Paperback. $11.95

A life-long cookbook lover, Valerie Horowitz has always worked with books. She has sold out-of-print and rare books, was manager of a bookstore in New York’s Greenwich Village and held various marketing and editorial positions at trade and professional publishers. Currently she is the managing editor of a scholarly publishing company. She is an associate member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, and belongs to Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She lives in a house built in the 1750s with her husband, son, and cat in the bucolic northwestern New Jersey farm and horse country where Cinnamon Girl takes place. You can find her online at her Facebook author page:

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