I would be rather alarmed if dead bodies crossed my path on a regular basis. And if they did, my first inclination would be to, oh, I don’t know, perhaps call the police and leave it to them to find the killer. But I suppose this tactic would make for a short and rather boring tale.
“Whilst taking my morning perambulatory stroll, I espied a corpse ‘neath the garden trellis. Initially terrified, I summoned up the fortitude to telegraph the local constabulary and some weeks later they caught and incarcerated the heinous murderer. The End.”
Fortunately, the fictional world is a tad more exciting. And the police that I would be so quick to call upon are seldom helpful in the world of cozy mysteries. There, the real sleuths’ credentials are not so conventional. Pet sitters, antique dealers, hoteliers, archivists and knitters are the stuff of what fictional detectives are made. Add to that list actors, veterinarians, art historians and caterers. Name virtually any occupation or hobby and there’s certain to be a fictional practitioner of that activity fingering a perp.
Take for instance Meg Langslow. She lives in the small town of Caerphilly, Virginia, in an old farm house that’s in a constant state of renovation. Although a blacksmith by trade, Meg repeatedly finds herself trying to solve murders. She is surrounded by a quirky cast of friends, relatives and neighbors, and the stories from this mystery series written by Donna Andrews are consistently funny and enjoyable.
And speaking of the periodic table (he writes in an admirable attempt at segue) another fictional female sleuth can be found in Gloria Lamerino, a retired physicist who has recently returned to live above a friend’s funeral parlor in her home town of Revere, Massachusetts. Lamerino signs on as a police consultant and is immediately called upon to help solve a murder using her scientific knowledge. In the Periodic Table mysteries, author Camille Minichino presents readers with a not-so-young sleuth, a cast of peculiar characters and classic plots comparable to those of Agatha Christie.
Even tattooed hipsters foray into the world of amateur sleuthing. Artist Brett Kavanaugh is the owner of The Painted Lady, a swanky tattoo shop located on the Venetian Grand Canal in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sporting a replica of Monet’s water lily garden on her left arm, Brett becomes involved in a murder investigation when her police detective brother asks for help with a tattoo-related case. The Tattoo Shop mysteries by Karen E. Olson are filled with surprises, memorable characters, and a manic edginess that is not typical of cozy mysteries.
And to round things off, what blog would be complete without a Rhode Island bookshop owner who solves mysteries with the help of a PI who died in 1949? Certainly not this one. Penelope Thornton-McClure owns a haunted bookshop that resides in the same building where PI Jack Shepard was killed 60 years previously. Shepard’s ghost helps Pen solve mysteries, and she is able to experience cases from his past in her dreams. The premise may sound far-fetched, but Alice Kimberly’s Haunted Bookshop mysteries are charming and sure to delight any fan of cozies.
What’s the moral here? Live in a small town, work in an odd profession, maintain a cadre of quirky friends, never trust the police and dead bodies will soon litter your landscape?