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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on June 6th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 14 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 14

Cozy up: Rebecca Rose has a secret pleasure

By REBECCA ROSE

I am at an age now where nothing new impresses or excites me. I’ve seen dinosaurs fight each other to death, watched alien spaceships blow up national landmarks and major world cities, and cheered for men in giant robot suits beating the crap out of giant dinosaur aliens. Whatever. It no longer gives me a thrill.

What I do love is a good cozy mystery. A cozy mystery is a broad term that refers to mystery television or book series and movies that feature a charming or quirky lead (a lonely widow novelist, a private detective, a quirky person with a weird trait, a spinster, a mismatched duo, etc.). Some of the best are written by Agatha Christie, featuring characters such as Miss Jane Marple (the unwed elderly dame of St. Mary Mead), but it’s Jessica Fletcher of Cabot Cove in Murder She Wrote who serves as the go-to archetype for the genre.

Generally speaking, cozy mysteries are self-contained, meaning characters never refer to past incidents of murders or crimes, and each story picks up without having to rely on backstory or any mythos involving past cases or crimes. Which is great for me because at my age, I can barely remember what happened in the last scene I just watched, much less recall some complicated backstory from three seasons ago.

Cozy mysteries rely on self-containment, otherwise the reader would be in a constant state of panic. If Murder She Wrote, for example, were to actually acknowledge its own contiguous past, Cabot Cove would have a per capita murder rate higher than Medellín in the 1980s. That’s why no one ever acknowledges all the grotesque violent deaths and the propensity of neighbors and loved ones to suddenly butcher their closest friends and family over unsettled wills and petty revenge schemes.

No one new ever shows up in town asking the local innkeeper, “Hey, isn’t this the place where half a dozen people were ruthlessly slaughtered last week by a local hairdresser who was trying to keep her husband from finding out she was pregnant by the mailman? Cool. Where’s a good place to get some clam bisque?” That’s not how cozy mysteries work.

Also, cozy mysteries never let the viewer feel any real stress (aside from seeing several viciously murdered corpses here and there). There are no trials, because in the world of the cozy mystery, our hero makes some random connection between the real killer and the crime, gathers all the suspects in one room, literally announces all the flimsy evidence they have, and then dangles it in front of the real killer, who (instead of saying, “LOL, good luck proving that in court; I’m calling my lawyer), jumps out of their chair and boldly confesses. Bing bang boom, everything is wrapped up with a neat bow.

Cozy mysteries are to me what porn is for some people. They both serve a very specific need. And just like porn, cozy mysteries offer no real-life applicabilities whatsoever. Just like four college cheerleaders aren’t ever going to show up randomly at your house to give you a sponge bath, I’m never going to trip over a dead body in the library of an English estate and help solve who did it with a dashing British detective and my spinsterly aunt who likes to knit. This is my fantasy world. Where most people escape to Hogwarts to fight wizards or Hobbitland (I don’t care what it’s really called) to fight dragons or whatever, I escape to remote English villages in the late 1930s to solve the mystery of who killed Lady Greanghithwick.

And just like porn, there are certain cozy mysteries I will watch over and over because honestly, it just does the trick. Why venture outside my comfort zone and risk being disappointed by some weird new detective series on BBC One when I can just rewatch a Poirot movie I’ve seen 700 times? I know exactly when and where my excitement is going to peak.

Rebecca Rose is lost in a quaint English hamlet. Send your thoughts to rrose@santamariasun.com.




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