I Need Help with a Mystery

I am a librarian and a mystery fan so I am pretty familiar with the mystery genre. But I am curious about the history of mystery and crime fiction and sometimes I have questions about the development of the genre that cannot be answered by casual research.
I am not a professor of literature and so do not have ready access to more scholarly tomes on the subject. I know I can dig them up if I really want to, but I think first I will use that most basic of research skills – ask somebody.
So I am asking you – a reader of cozy mysteries. Do you know when the cozy first began to be written by American authors? The articles I’ve read state that the cozy was developed by British authors and set in isolated country villages. One aspect of this sub genre is that the suspects are confined to a limited social circle. In British mystery that circle is usually drawn around the inhabitants of a rural village.
It seems to me that here in the U.S., authors have added a different twist. Many cozy mysteries take place within a circle that is determined by interest rather than location. For example, Monica Ferrs’s Needecraft mysteries take place in the world needlecraft enthusiasts. The series’ detective, Betsy Devonshire, owns a needlecraft shop and her mysteries often involve some sort of clue or situation involving a piece of needlework.
There are a number of popular themes that series tend to center on: food, crafts, pets, books and home decoration/remodeling to name a few.
I’d like to know when the trend of themed cozy mysteries began and what authors were part of it. Feel free to recommend any resources you may know of. (And let me know if any of my conclusions are mistaken)
Please leave comments here or email me at karalynnrussell (at) gmail.com. I’ll be happy to share the results on this blog once I’ve sorted through them. Thanks in advance for your help.


About cuppacozy

I'm a librarian and a writer who enjoys reading, writing and helping people find their perfect literary match.
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2 Responses to I Need Help with a Mystery

  1. Rebecca Douglass says:

    Hmm. Since the cozy is so hard to define, we’ll never nail down just what the first one was. But i would say some of the older American cozies I’ve read are from authors such as Charlotte MacLeod and Dorothy Gilman (Mrs. Pollifax books are actually spy stories, not mysteries, but they are definitely cozy in most respects).

    Themed cozies are something I became aware of pretty recently. I think the first I encountered was Diane Mott Davidson.

    Of course, this is totally subjective and not adequate for research. But maybe if enough people chime in you can start looking at copyright dates?

    Good luck with this!

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