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Topic: Is anyone else getting sick and tired of this cozy plot device?

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Subject: Is anyone else getting sick and tired of this cozy plot device?
Date Posted: 8/6/2008 1:08 PM ET
Member Since: 3/12/2007
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It seems like more and more cozy authors are creating intentionally unresolved romances as a plot device to keep you buying the next book in the series ...

 

That's one of the main reasons I gave up on Claudia Bishop's Hemlock Falls mysteries.

 

Now, I'm seeing the same thing with Joanne Fluke, Michelle Scott's wine lovers, and Maddy Hunter ... and it makes my blood boil!  Come ON, authors!!  If your characters and mysteries aren't enough to keep us interested, then a loose-ended romance is only going to go so far ...

 

I'll admit to being a sucker for a good romance ... and a good mystery ... but it seems like some of these series are neither!!

The only reason I haven't lumped Stephanie Plum books in there is that the rest of the stories are good enough to overcome the romantic waffling.



Last Edited on: 8/6/08 1:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 8/6/2008 2:07 PM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2008
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This is why I am finding the Mrs. Jeffries series so refreshing right now. Its nice to have her living with a man, who she is only friends with (she is a Scotland Yard Inspectors housekeeper). I also enjoy the Donald Bain "Murder She Wrote" books for the same reason. I feel like I can enjoy being swept up in the details of the murder, the locations and the friendships without the added chemistry. Gosh, I have spent so long enjoying Jessica Fletcher as a strong single female lead, that if she ever did smooch George Sutherland, I might faint. Gag! Both of these females had wonderful spouses who they lost and don't feel that they have a void in that area of their lives. This makes sense to me, neither of my grandmothers remarried after losing their spouses. I feel having a decidedly single female gives room for other character developments that I find interesting. In the Mrs. Jeffries books, her nurturing of her staff and Inspector Witherspoon. In the Donald Bain MSW books, she develops many close friendships and travels extensively.

Can you point me to some other cozy mysteries that don't have a romantic plot device thrown in?

Date Posted: 8/6/2008 2:39 PM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
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The Mommy Track Mysteries by Ayelet Waldman have no romantic suspense because the main character is happily married.  She is a Mom of young children, and since I'm in that stage of life right now, I found many if the situations described to be very funny (and close to home).

Date Posted: 8/6/2008 3:16 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2008
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That's also a plot device in the Scumble River Mysteries by Denise Swanson. That was going on for a while in the middle of the Chocoholic Mysteries by Joanna Carl too. However, since she's married now it stopped. That's something that took away from the 2nd Ghostbusters mystery by Victoria Laurie too. I personally didn't see the point of this in that particular book because it was much better without it to me.

The Ministry is Murder mysteries by Emilie Richards don't have it because she's happily married. I'll have to check out the Mommy Track mysteries if I can find 'em.

I'll have to keep my eye on this thread to see what other cozies don't have that as a plot device. I sick of it too.



Last Edited on: 8/6/08 3:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/6/2008 8:34 PM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2008
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Someone posted this to me on another forum:

 

FROM THE LIBRARY JOURNAL

ditzy single female sleuths have now matured into responsible young women who still turn to friends for help but also rely on their own inner strength and competency.

THERE'S A LIST OF AUTHORS WITH BOOK REVIEWS AT THEIR SITE
 
 
 

By Jo Ann Vicarel -- Library Journal, 2/1/2008

Girl Power! The chick-lit mystery subgenre has been reinventing itself for a while. Outgrowing shoe fetishes and designer clothing obsessions, ditzy single female sleuths have now matured into responsible young women who still turn to friends for help but also rely on their own inner strength and competency. Nancy Martin's latest entry in her "Blackbird Sisters" series, Murder Melts in Your Mouth, reveals how much the sisters, who were left destitute by their parents, are able to handle what life throws at them. Sue Ann Jaffarian's capable paralegal, Odelia Grey, has become a thoroughly competent detective in Thugs and Kisses. And Claire Johnson uses a culinary school in Roux Morgue to illustrate how a young chef can be exceptional both at her profession and snooping around solving murders. You go, girls!

Kim (Mistry) -
Date Posted: 8/7/2008 7:43 AM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2006
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  It's one of the reasons I love the Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman so much!   She's a widow with grown children, who decided being a  CIA operative would be "interesting"!  She travels around the world helping the agency and usually fixing a few other problems along the way.   No love interest, except maybe with her plants and her unusual hats!   

    They were written starting back in the 70's so to read about an independant "older"  woman, traveling to Communist Bloc countries no less, and not dealing with any kind of lame romance is great!

Date Posted: 8/7/2008 5:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
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Yes...this drives me nuts!! I'll read the first couple books in the series where the main character has a 'sort of' boyfriend and then suddenly there's another guy who's 'interesting' or vying for her attentions. Nothing will turn me off faster. The Stephanie Plum series is a PRIME example of that--how long has she been vascillating between Joe and Ranger? I dunno...I gave up midway through book 8. I keep saying that Joe and Ranger should hook up and leave Stephanie with Grandma Mazur for company--now THAT book I'd buy! LOL

But I've noticed that just about all of the cozies I've tried reading lately seem to go that route after a couple of books and for that reason, I've really gone off a lot of them. I'll have to take note of some of these other series mentioned where the 'dueling romances' isn't an issue.

Another 'sort of' cozy series that doesn't use this is Susan Wittig Albert's "herbal" mysteries featuring China Bayles. She starts out single but has been happily married for many books now. They do tend to be a little bit edgier than a typical 'cozy' though--not overly so, but her books do sometimes address tough issues.

Cheryl



Last Edited on: 8/7/08 5:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/7/2008 8:26 PM ET
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Why does a female have to be old to be "OK" with being single? Why does a female have to have "dueling love interests"? 

I suppose its because I am married and have several children, but for me, its a fantasy life to read about a woman of independant means who doesn't need a man and who can outwit the best of 'em.


I have to believe I am not alone in this way of thinking, since the Donald Bain books have been immensely popular featuring a very single Jessica Fletcher. The whole "George Sutherland" thing was veto'd by Columbia and it seems like only half the audience is shipping for him anyhoo. The other half like their friendship to stay just that... a friendship.

Date Posted: 8/7/2008 10:10 PM ET
Member Since: 3/12/2007
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Why does a female have to be old to be "OK" with being single? Why does a female have to have "dueling love interests"? 

My point exactly, Leslie ... I'm not "old" and I'm way more than "OK" with being single ... I find the dueling romances to be soooo unrealistic ... *sigh*

Date Posted: 8/8/2008 12:43 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2006
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Hazel Holt's Mrs Malory series is a good example of a cozy where the heroine is 60ish, a widow, no continuing love interest, and a series with quite different solutions. I have enjoyed all thus far.

Veronica Black, Monica Quill, and Aimee Thurlo all have nuns as the heroines, although Thurlo can be a little less of a cozy. Simon Brett wrote 6 cozies with Mrs. Pargeter, the widow of a professional criminal, as his crime solver. No romance there! His Feathering series has 2 women friends as the off the cuff detectives. They are a strange combo - but they get the job done!

Jeanne Dams has 2 series, 1 in the US at the turn of the century and the other set in an English cathedral town. The early 60s woman in this series  who is an American but moved to England after her husband's death,marries her retired DCI early in the series The one set in the US is quite interesting, especially if one likes a litttle history. There is a bit of romance, but there are only 5 books in the series. The author uses the romance in a very effective way.

Selma Eichler has an overweight, well over 40 detective agency owner. A little romance but always the same man, and not much. Sharon Kahn's Texas Jewish Rabbi's widow has some characters you would like to punch, but it's an easy cozy to read.  Cynthia Riggs has a cozy series whose detective is a 90 something woman, yet it is believable. Certainly no love interest to plod through there! Kate Gallison, Joan Hess, Kate Kingsbury, Ann Purser - all have cozies that seem to be like the ones you've discussed here - not all that waffling between love interests that never seem to be resolved - and really become tedious to the reader. I know exactly what you all mean by the love interests that after a few books make you want to shout and say, "Get on with it!" Thank you for all the previous suggestions.     M'ann

Date Posted: 8/8/2008 1:57 PM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2008
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Thanks for reminding me of Cynthia Riggs! I have been wanting to try her Victoria Trumbell books, too.

Also for reminding me of the Kate Kingsbury. I have had the first two on my wishlist for a few weeks! I think I will like this series.

Date Posted: 8/15/2008 10:38 AM ET
Member Since: 7/8/2006
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I hear you!!  I have found this to be true more and more! Fortunately I have tons of cozies/mysteries on my shelf so I can alwasy choose one that I can tell won't have any love conflicts! The Lois Meade books are great!! Lucy Stone books too! I guess It's the chick litish mysteries that have alot of "back and forth romance " in them.I do enjoy those but in smaller doses:)

Stacy

Date Posted: 8/16/2008 11:16 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
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I definitely recognize this device but I think the problem is not so much in the romance but more in the fact that the author is intentionally dragging things out in the hopes of retaining readership. I rather like the romantic tension in many cozy series but there are a few that, in my opinion, really don't know what they are doing. If the characters aren't appealing enough to hold the readers' attention, the idea that at some point the characters will tumble into bed...well...that's just silly.
Date Posted: 8/17/2008 12:25 PM ET
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I am really enjoying the Mrs. Pargeter series by Simon Brett. There is no hint of a love interest and they are very different books. Just wish there were more. I only have two more to read in the series.

Date Posted: 8/18/2008 12:59 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2006
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Add my name to the list.  I don't know why authors have to add romance to everything.  A good mystery should be just that.  

Date Posted: 8/18/2008 10:05 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
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I don't like it when the romance or relationship part of the story takes over either.  I read cozies for the mysteries....if I want a romantic suspense, I'll read one.  If I want a romance, I'll read one!  But when I'm reading a cozy, all I can think is, people are falling dead all around this person and all they can think about is their love life?  No.

Date Posted: 8/25/2008 10:58 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2006
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The late Charlotte MacLeod wrote two series that featured couples with stable relationships that ultimately (and early in each series) progressed into marriage -- the Sarah Kelling series and the Peter Shandy series.  Both series were very entertaining and successful, without having to manufacture love crises with the sleuth.  Instead, it really seemed that the sleuth and his or her significant other were a sane team facing together the craziness and eccentricity of the world.  As a reader I always wanted to read the next installment.  I wish more cozies would follow this model.



Last Edited on: 8/25/08 10:59 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/26/2008 7:44 AM ET
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John J. Lamb's Bear Lovers Mysteries also feature a stable, happily married couple ... it's a relatively new series, and I hope he keeps it up!!!

Date Posted: 8/26/2008 2:07 PM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2005
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I really like that series, Karen.  I know I've heard others complain that his relationship with his wife is too sweet and perfect, but I think it's a refreshing change.  

Date Posted: 8/26/2008 2:47 PM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2008
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I've really appreciated all the ideas about authors and series to try in this thread!

I should mention the series I am currently attached to- Maggie Sefton's "Knitting Series". There is a very slowly developing romance between two of the main chacracters, but it is molasses slow,  I think in book 3 is their first date. And its the kind of romance I can tolerate- they begin as good friends. No silly miscommunications and love triangles. The very slow to develop romance is also taking a very back seat to the mystery, Kellys jobs, friends, etc. I love how independent Kelly is, and I like the midwest backdrop.

Date Posted: 8/26/2008 2:57 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2008
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I just finished the first 2 Alice Kimberly books (the Haunted Bookstore mysteries). I love them. I keep finding myself wishing Pen and Jack could get together. I love this series and it doesn't really have any romance in it per say. I mean Jack and Pennelope do have some sparks but there's really not a romance going on. I'm starting number 3 tonight.

 

Date Posted: 8/26/2008 5:35 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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This is one of my main frustration with M.C. Beaton!  I love the Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin books a little bit less with every angsty, unresolved romantic twist.

Why can't there be a good cozy series like the Thin Man?  The book by Dashiell Hammett is charming, mostly because of its wise-cracking, happily married sleuths Nick & Nora who can spar and snoop without any romantic drama to gum up the works.  They enjoy sleuthing, and they enjoy being married.  Sadly there's only one Thin Man book, but at least there's a good number of equally good Thin Man movies.

Date Posted: 8/26/2008 10:42 PM ET
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But Vanessa, are Nick and Nora happy only because of the copious amounts of alcohol they consume?   ;->

I've actually never read The Thin Man, but the movie is one of my favorites.  I get a big kick out of the non-stop partying, however.  DH and I used to joke about naming children Nick and Nora (we have only one child, but we did use one of these two names!) and then decorating the nursery with pictures of martini glasses!  Okay, we have a weird sense of humor.  :-p

How about glasses up for more happily (if eccentrically) married couples in mystery fiction!

Date Posted: 8/27/2008 7:37 AM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2008
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Oh, not only do I love the Thin Man movies, but William Powell is one of my crushes- do you know he was said to be the most intelligent actor to have ever performed in Hollywood? So suave! And Irene Dunne- so stunning!

I really should read the book!

Date Posted: 8/27/2008 5:39 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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Lol, they do drink an awful lot, but I think they're just as happy together stone sober.  And Powell is one of the most talented actors ever, they don't make 'em like that anymore!  But it was Myrna Loy who played Nora.

Also thought of one other set of non-angsty cozies; the Tommy & Tuppence mysteries by Agatha Christie.  My favorites are The Secret Adversary & By the Pricking of My Thumbs.  And I like how they take place at various points throughout their lives together, but they're always happily married.

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