Cozy Mysteries: Background information when reading Three Things About Elsie

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Three Things About Elsie

by Joanna Cannon

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon X
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2018, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2019, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp
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About this Book

Cozy Mysteries

This article relates to Three Things About Elsie

Print Review

Angela Lansbury in the cozy mystery show Murder She WroteThe mystery is one of the most popular genres of literature, and the "cozy mystery," a term coined in the late 20th century, holds steady as a favorite subset of crime fiction.

Cozy mysteries are marked by compelling, yet relatable characters. The "detective" is an amateur, thrown into an unexpected, undesired situation. Most often these stories feature an educated, pleasant, and mature woman as the star of the story. Importantly, this main character is someone the reader could imagine befriending. She may have a special interest or skill, but overall she is more ordinary than extraordinary.

An insular community, like a small town, confined resort area, or a retirement community, as in the case of Three Things About Elsie and The Last Stop series by Kirt J. Boyd, makes the ideal setting for a cozy mystery. This type of location keeps the suspect list to a minimum and allows for a brief and intimate portrayal of all related parties. The amateur detective generally has a chorus of supporters in the background cheering her on and providing inspiration and insight.

Much as the detective is an ordinary "every person" type character, so is the villain. Rarely is the murder or theft committed by a sociopath or serial killer. The crime is motivated by a common emotion like jealousy, greed, or revenge, typically as the result of something that happened in the distant past.

Despite the clear "wrong" of the crime, a cozy mystery avoids the gory details and does not explore lurid "adult" situations. This is escapist literature without shocking details.

Typically, the solution to a cozy mystery is revealed through a series of missteps and plot twists resulting in surprise revelations. The clues are in the story and easily retraced once the answer is revealed, but the surprise is part of the delight of this genre. In the story's conclusion, justice is served and the main characters earn their happily ever after (until the next crime in the series).

Although cozy mysteries lend themselves to a series, as readers become enamored with particular detectives, Three Things About Elsie appears to be a stand-alone cozy.

Angela Lansbury in Murder She Wrote, courtesy of TV Series Finale

Article by Sarah Tomp

This "beyond the book article" relates to Three Things About Elsie. It originally ran in August 2018 and has been updated for the July 2019 paperback edition.

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