Why I Love Cozy Mysteries by Julia Henry

I was always a voracious reader, and mysteries were part of the mix as I was growing up. When I was in high school my family moved to Annapolis, Maryland. The summer before school started was difficult, and my fifteen year old self was in a funk. One day my mother brought home a stack of books from the library, and put one down in front of me.

“I think you may like Agatha Christie,” she said.

I probably rolled my eyes, but I opened the book. The Caribbean Mystery. Not even one of her best, but it was good enough to hook me. The summer got a lot better as I discovered Dame Agatha. I was a Miss Marple fan that summer and for the next year. Then I read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and had my Poirot period.

Now, Agatha Christie is more traditional and less cozy, but the puzzle mystery provided me with a firm foundation for my own writing. I not only write cozies, I read them. Here are some of the reasons I love this genre.

Writing a series is a great opportunity to build a cast of characters that continues to evolve. I’ve learned how to not rush romances, how to upend expectations, and how to build a story arc over several books. I’m always amazed that a minor character in one book becomes a central figure in the series.

World building is fun. In my Garden Squad series I made up a town called Goosebush. It is loosely based on Duxbury, Massachusetts. The similarities are looser with every draft. The geography is changing to meet the needs of the series, and the size of the town keeps expanding as I need to bring in new neighborhoods and characters. I love being able to change maps of the coastline.

Order is restored. One of the best part of a cozy is restoring order back to a community. Justice (usually) prevails. The good person wins. This is incredibly comforting in chaotic times.

The mystery requires imagination. Let’s face it, it takes a special talent to look at a gardening shed and come up with a half dozen interesting murder weapons. I have that talent. My family finds it frightening, but what can I say?

Cozy readers are the best. Whenever I go to a conference and meet readers, they greet me like a friend. How great is that?

I love writing cozies, and am thrilled about this new series. I hope folks enjoy reading Pruning the Dead as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Post-retirement aches and pains can’t prevent sixty-five-year-old Lilly Jayne from keeping the most manicured garden in Goosebush, Massachusetts. But as a murder mystery blooms in the sleepy New England town, can a green thumb weed out a killer?

With hundreds flocking to her inaugural garden party, meticulous Lilly Jayne hasn’t left a single petal out of place. But the picture-perfect gathering turns unruly upon the arrival of Merilee Frank, Lilly’s ex-husband’s catty third wife. Merilee lives for trouble, so no one is surprised after she drinks too much, shoves a guest into the koi pond, and gets escorted off the property. The real surprise comes days later—when Merilee is found dead in a pile of mulch . . .

Lilly wishes she could stick to pruning roses and forget about Merilee’s murder—until her best friend and ex become suspects in an overgrown homicide case. Now, aided by the Garden Squad, an unlikely group of amateur crime solvers with a knack for planting, Lilly knows she has limited time to identify the true culprit and restore order to Goosebush. Because if the murderer’s plot isn’t nipped in the bud, another victim could be pushing up daisies!