The sleuths behind the scenes

In April, my 21st cozy mystery, MANHATTAN IN MINIATURE, was released. In November, my 22nd DEATH TAKES PRIORITY, will be released. I think I’ve earned my creds to speak about amateur sleuths! (Parts of this blog have been repurposed from previous rants—uh—posts.)

I know a gazillion amateur sleuths. Every day, on bookshelves everywhere, crimes are solved by florists, cooks, ghosts, beauticians, photographers, quilters, nurses, tour guides, and pet owners. They are solved on cruise ships, in cafes, in haunted and unhaunted houses, at concerts, in churches, and on the golf course.

Did I mention that amateur sleuths also include retired physicists, miniaturists, college math professors, and (with DTP) a postmistress?

I feel I know them all well, inside and out. They’re smart, brave, righteous, and sometimes too stupid to live (TSTL).

I’m constantly defending them:

• Of course she has motivation to investigate a murder, even though her day job is running a community garden and she has no training in criminology—after all, the victim was a bridesmaid at her roommate’s cousin’s best friend’s third wedding.

• She’s curious, so Yes! she drive out to the cemetery in the middle of the night to meet someone who says he has an important clue to the killer’s identity.

• So what if she withholds information from the real police? She has a good reason to—she wants to look into it on her own. She is, after all, an independent thinker/investigator. Never mind that she has neither training nor a badge.

• Yes! It is possible that the cupcake-maker sleuth found the clue that experienced homicide detectives and a crew of trained CSI techs missed. After all she has be very observant to bake cupcakes.

Members of my critique groups who do not write amateur sleuths are the biggest skeptics. Who’s going to believe blah blah blah? they ask me all the time.

I think the answer is: readers. They believe it enough to enjoy the story. There’s a reason there are so many cozies and a reason they are very popular. Readers enjoy reading about normal people like themselves—knitters, grandmothers, bakers, journalists, innkeepers, and beekeepers. They like to think anyone can be smart enough to follow a few clues, put the puzzle together and make the world safe again.

Don’t you?


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