What is a Cozy Mystery? A List of Diverse Cozy Mystery Books

Have you ever been intrigued by cozy mysteries (or cozy mysteries), because they are all the rage right now? But have you been a bit disappointed that this genre isn’t very diverse (shocker)? Do you love cozy mysteries, but find yourself having to turn a blind eye to how exclusive it is? There really is not enough diversity in this genre (again, shocker)! Before we get to the long list of diverse cozy mysteries, let’s talk a little bit about cozy mysteries!

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What is a Cozy Mystery?

As with all genres, cozy mysteries don’t have a strict definition. Genres are used to help you understand the tone and content of the book, but genres are constantly being bent (but that’s the topic for another blog post altogether)! Cozy mysteries are a sub-genre of crime fiction, where sex, violence, and cursing are kept to a minimum, and often happen off stage. The tone of cozies is generally light, comedic, and comforting. Think of a book you’d want to read on a bad day or at the beach, nothing too serious, but lots of fun with plot twists and a little over the top. I like to think of these stories as solving murders Scooby-Doo style.

Cozy mysteries give readers everything they want from a murder mystery, without all the violence and darkness that can weigh down the tone. These novels are light, fast-paced, and generally focus on plot and character development, which ensures a comforting and predictable feeling for the reader. This provides readers with a healthy dose of escapism without feeling heavy.

History of Cozy Mysteries

In order to understand the history of cozy mysteries, it’s important to understand two different periods in the history of detective fiction.

The Golden Age of Detective Fiction was an era in detective fiction where the writing was aimed at misleading the reader (in a fun way) and making the reader attempt to solve the crime along with the protagonist. This is the same era of time where authors such as Agatha Christie, Anthony Berkeley, Dorothy L Sayers, and Freeman Wills Crofts were writing. These are light-hearted “whodunit” mysteries and are often considered classic murder mysteries.

At the outbreak of World War II began a decline in the light-hearted mysteries where readers were attempting to solve mysteries alongside the protagonists. There started to be a trend toward darker themes in detective fiction. Mirroring the world falling into yet another worldwide war, a new, darker style of crime fiction emerged. This period of crime fiction is often called Hardboiled American crime fiction, it often features more of a single, dark, tough protagonist. This is the protagonist who drinks heavily, smokes cigarettes a lot, hangs out in sketchy areas, and is really good at solving crimes because he is willing to get his hands dirty. This period of crime fiction focuses much heavier on the darker side of crime and the corruption of those who solve the crimes.

Cozy Mysteries are thought to be an effort of the mid 20th century to revive the Golden Era of Detective Fiction and bring back the light-hearted “whodunit” type of mystery. This Hardboiled American crime fiction focused so much on darker themes, that it lost that light escapism tones that were so present in the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Think of cozy mysteries as being evolved from the Golden Age, while simultaneously evolving and learning from the era of Hardboiled American crime writing.

Cozy Mystery Tropes and Elements

Elements in all books will differ a lot, but I want to give you examples of common aspects of a cozy mystery to give you more of an idea of what it includes. When I was first looking up cozy mysteries, I read definition after definition, and still couldn’t understand the appeal. Why would I want the sex and cursing to be off-stage? But as I started reading them, I started to understand that it’s just an entirely different mood, and that is the appeal.

  • Cozy mysteries often have a murder (or a serious crime), but the victim is usually an unlikeable character. So it is never a big tragedy that they are dead.
  • Relatedly, the book will never focus on the gore or violence. The idea is that they are focused on the sleuthing. It’s all about running around and solving the mystery!
  • The main character is usually an amateur sleuth, trying to solve the murder (or crime) without any previous detective experience.
  • The food descriptions are often a huge spotlight of the story.
  • There is often a “cute” element, whether it be a talking dog, or cooking/baking as a profession. Something that feels cute and quaint.
  • Clues are given to the reader so that the reader can start guessing too! But there must be fun, unexpected twists and turns.

Of course, there are more elements that can go into cozies, this is just an idea of the type of things you might find in cozies so that you can get a better idea of what they are! Or you can just read one! So let’s get to the list:

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Diverse Cozy Mystery List


Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien

Quick Take

After a brutal breakup, Lana moves back to work at her family’s restaurant. Not long after, their property manager ends up dead after getting takeout from the restaurant, now Lara must find the murderer before he finds her!

  • 🍜 Food Memoir
  • πŸ“– Couldn’t Put It Down
  • 🌏 East Asian Rep
  • 🌳 Family Focused

Goodreads | Amazon Book Depository

Why pick up this book?

Vivien Chien grew up in a mixed-race household, which helped her navigate writing this cross-cultural story. She’s been in love with books and writing since she was in elementary school, writing short stories about her classmates. She lives in Cleveland where this series takes place, which offers the book a very realistic setting.

A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette

Quick Take

Recent grad Bronwyn has taken over her family’s ice cream shop, but due to construction delays she is forced to open during the first snow of the season. To make things worse, in the snow, she finds the body of a man who has an old feud with her family.

  • 🍜 Food Memoir
  • πŸ₯€ Quirky Characters
  • ⏱️ Fast Paced
  • πŸ“š First in Series

Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Why pick up this book?

Abby Collette is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling author. She likes to incorporate a little mystery in everything that she writes because she loves mysteries so much. She is a member of Crime Writers of Color, “an association of authors seeking to present a strong and united voice for members who self-identify as crime/mystery writers from traditionally underrepresented racial, cultural and ethnic backgrounds” (source), and Sisters in Crime, an organization whose mission is to “promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers.” (source).

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan

Quick Take

On the day he retires, Inspector Ashwin Chopra inherits two unexpected mysteries: the case of a drowned boy, whose suspicious death no one seems to want to be solved, and a baby elephant.

  • 🌏 Indian Rep
  • πŸ’— Heart Warming
  • πŸ“– Couldn’t Put It Down
  • ⏱️ Fast Paced

Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Why pick up this book?

Vaseem Khan has written two crime series set in India. This book was a Times bestseller and an Amazon Best Debut. Since it’s release in 2015 it has been translated into 15 different languages. The second in the series, The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown won the 2017 Shamus Award for Best Original Private Investigator Paperback (Amazon author page).

Hummus and Homicide by Tina Kashian

Quick Take

When Lucy Berbarian quits her job and moves back home to her work at her family restaurant, she definitely wasn’t expecting the health inspector to drop dead after eating a kebab…

  • 🍜 Food Memoir
  • 🌼 Self Discovery
  • 🌳 Family Focused
  • 🎲 Plot Twists

Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Why pick up this book?

Tina Kashain grew up working at her parent’s restaurant and grew up to be a NJ Deputy Attorney General and a patent attorney, so writing culinary cozies comes from a lot of personal experience. She also is an Amazon best-selling romance author, where she writes under the pseudonym, Tina Gabrielle.

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Quick Take

When a blind date turns into an accidental murder, a young woman can rely on her meddling mother and aunties to help cover up the crime and hide the body.

  • 🌳 Family Focused
  • πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘§ Mother-Daughter Relationship
  • 🌏 Chinese-Indonesian Culture
  • βœ’οΈ Debut Author

Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Why pick up this book?

Jesse Q. Sutanto actually lives on the same street at her mother and seven hundred meddlesome aunties, so she knows what she’s talking about in this one. In 2019 she was at Pitch Wars mentor, which is a program where agented and published authors pair up with newer writers to help mentor them and help with their writing. Jesse is especially interested in helping marginalized writers get their voices heard.

Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett

Quick Take

When Hollywood actress Dayna witnesses a deadly hit-and-run, she figures that going after the reward isn’t a terrible idea… Until it turns into a full-blown investigation.

  • 🎭 Hilarious
  • βœ’οΈ Debut Author
  • πŸƒ Easy Reading
  • 🎲 Plot Twists

Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Why pick up this book?

Kallye Garrett’s debut novel was named one of BookBub’s Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time. Hollywood Homicide has also been given starred reviews by Publishers Weekly and Literary Journal and has won multiple awards, including the Agatha, Anthony, Lefty, and Independent Publisher β€œIPPY” awards for the best first novel.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

Quick Take

Lila’s life seems to be the perfect blend of rom-com tropes until she moves back home after a terrible break-up and a nasty food critic (her ex-boyfriend) drops dead right after eating her new dish.

  • 🍜 Food Memoir
  • 🌏 Filipino Rep
  • πŸƒ Easy Reading
  • 🌳 Family Focused

Goodreads Amazon |  Book Depository

Why pick up this book?

Mia P. Manansala is the winner of the 2018 Hugh Holton Award, the 2018 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, the 2017 William F. Deeck – Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers, and the 2016 Mystery Writers of America/Helen McCloy Scholarship. She’s also a 2017 Pitch Wars alum and 2018-2020 mentor.

Raining Men and Corpses by Anne R. Tan

Quick Take

After a series of unlucky losses of money, her quest to get her money back goes spiraling out of control after she finds her ex-lover’s body and becomes the prime suspect to his murder.

  • 🌏 East Asian Rep
  • 🌳 Family Focused
  • πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘§ Grandparent Relationship
  • 🎲 Plot Twists

Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Why pick up this book?

Anne R. Tan writes books as a legacy to her children. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area surrounded by a cultural hub that helped her appreciate her culture. She no longer lives in the Bay Area, but writes these books to help her children visit the rich culture through reading, just like us as readers. Enjoy Raina Sun’s large and dynamic family and visit the cultural hub with her!

Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon

Quick Take

Gethsemane Brown has six weeks to turn a group of rowdy schoolboys into an award-winning orchestra and solve a decade-old murder with her new ghost friend all at the same time.

  • ⏱️ Fast Paced
  • πŸ‘» Supernatural
  • 🎢 Musical Mystery
  • πŸ“š First in Series

Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Why pick up this book?

Murder in G Major was the winner of the lefty Award for Best Debut Novel, a nominee for the Agatha award for Best First Novel, and chosen one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Debut Novels in 2016. Alexia Gordon has a medical degree, but her passion is writing, so she spends her time writing fantastic novels. She is also a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Crime Writers of Color.

The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian

Quick Take

Zoe Faust recently moved to Oregon, and while unpacking she finds a real gargoyle in her bags. Not just that, but he needs her help to decipher a century’s old text to explain exactly what he is.

  • πŸ’« Atmospheric
  • πŸ›Έ Sci-Fi/Fantasy
  • πŸ’ž Light Romance
  • 🍜 Food Memoir

Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Why pick up this book?

Gigi Pandian is a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author, breast cancer survivor, and accidental almost-vegan. Her books have been described as a cross between Agatha Cristie and Indiana Jones, and her mysteries have also been awarded the Agatha, Rose, Lefty, and Derringer awards.

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Craving a Little More?

Here are the additions to this post, thank you so much for your recommendations. All of the books below were recommended to me for this list by others. Please enjoy!

Book Depository | Amazon

Iced in Paradise by Naomi Hirahara

Book Depository | Amazon

Murder on Bamboo Lane by Naomi Hirahara

Book Depository | Amazon

Mimi Lee Reads Between the Lines by
Jennifer J. Chow

Book Depository | Amazon

Seniors Sleuth by
J. J. Chow

Book Depository | Amazon

A Hex for Danger: An Enchanted Bay Mystery by
Esme Addison

Book Depository | Amazon

The Plot Is Murder by
V. M. Burns

Book Depository | Amazon

In the Dog House by
V. M. Burns

Book Depository | Amazon

Mango, Mambo, and Murder by
Raquel V. Reyes

Book Depository | Amazon

Hidden Treasures: A Pinx Video Mystery by
Marshall Thornton

Book Depository | Amazon

The Less Than Spectacular Times of Henry Milch by
Marshall Thornton

Book Depository | Amazon

Death Before Dessert by AE Radley

Book Depository | Amazon

Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang

Did you find a new cosy mystery to add to your to-read pile!? Are there any diverse cosy mysteries that you love that I should add to this list? Are you a cosies fan? Let me know!


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I’ve been needing a new cozy mystery to read!! This list is great!!

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