Are your novels cosy mysteries?

When a reader first asked me this question, images of Miss Marple and tearooms in quaint country villages sprang into my head.

That’s okay, I thought, because I love Miss Marple and Agatha Christie. They’re one of the reasons I write traditional whodunit mysteries. When bestselling author, Tamara McKinley suggested that Agatha Christie fans would love my first novel, No Accident, I was delighted.

But I never envisaged the Kent Fisher mysteries as cosy. They deal with modern, serious issues that don’t feel cosy.

To settle any doubt, I turned to Google.

A quick check suggested cosies were crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in small, socially intimate communities. The person solving the crime is an amateur, usually but not exclusively a woman, with contacts in the police or other law enforcement agencies.

Well, that got me thinking. There’s no graphic sex in the Kent Fisher mysteries because I believe a reader’s imagination can do a much better job. Any violence is usually confrontational and targeted at Kent to stop him solving a case. The communities are not socially intimate, though most of the action takes place in the small towns and villages of the South Downs. Kent’s an amateur detective, sure, but as an environmental health officer, he’s a law enforcer and often works with the police, giving him certain detection skills.

His best friend is a retired Scenes of Crime Officer.

On balance, it looks like my novels fall into the cosy category.

As Kinsey Millhone, Morse and Miss Marple inspired and influenced me, why did I ever doubt this? After all, my goal has always been to entertain readers with absorbing, complex mysteries, engaging characters with their own stories and troubles, all laced with a healthy dash of irreverent humour.

I prefer to think of the Kent Fisher mysteries as the cosy end of the crime fiction spectrum, like LJ Ross or Dick Francis.

A Room Full of Killers by Michael Wood

14th February 2019 – 4 stars.

I loved the first two books in the series. Outside Looking In was outstanding and my favourite read of 2018, making it a tough act to follow.

A Room Full of Killers is essentially a locked room murder mystery set in a detention centre for teenage killers. It has the added twist of having too many suspects as both inmates and staff come under suspicion when the latest inmate is murdered within 24 hours of his arrival.

The story moves along slowly as DCI Matidla Darke’s investigation is hampered by a lack of evidence, resistance from the governor of the site, and too many suspects. Each of the inmates is given a chapter to reveal their crimes and the reasons for them, but this doesn’t seem to add anything to the investigation and made the story seem longer and slower.

But then a second murder adds urgency to the investigation, which threatens to spiral out of control as Matilda pursues a separate line of enquiry, defying her boss. It all leads to an action-packed climax and resolution to the investigation.

While I enjoyed the story, I found the repeated references to Matilda’s problems, concerning a failed investigation and the death of her husband, rather distracting. While it is necessary backstory for anyone who hasn’t read the first two books in the series, it felt overdone and repetitive and didn’t do Matilda any favours as she doesn’t seem to be moving on.

That said, the story’s well-written and executed, with a neat twist at the end. I have the next book in the series on my Kindle and I’d recommend the books to anyone who enjoys police procedural crime fiction.

Description

‘DCI Matilda Darke is the perfect heroine’ Elly Griffiths

The third book in Michael Wood’s darkly compelling crime series featuring DCI Matilda Darke. Perfect for fans of Peter James, Lee Child and Karin Slaughter.

Eight killers. One house. And the almost perfect murder…

Starling House is home to some of the nation’s deadliest teenagers, still too young for prison.

When the latest arrival is found brutally murdered, DCI Matilda Darke and her team investigate, and discover a prison manager falling apart and a sabotaged security system. Neither the staff nor the inmates can be trusted.

The only person Matilda believes is innocent is facing prison for the rest of his life. With time running out, she must solve the unsolvable to save a young man from his fate, and find a murderer in a house full of killers…

A Room Full of Killers