Cozy Mysteries – do their covers do them a disservice?

I have several blogging friends and a couple ‘real life’ friends who adore ‘cozy‘ mysteries.

Definition of a ‘Cozy’ mystery (from Wikipedia)

Cozy mysteries, also referred to as “cozies”, are a sub-genre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.


I consider myself an ardent mystery fan, yet I only very, very, seldom read cozies. Which got me wondering…  do the covers on cozy mysteries do them a disservice?  I enjoy the frequent use of literary puns in the titles of these type of mysteries, but the covers leave me feeling that I shouldn’t take them seriously. Is it just me? Or, is that the whole point – they maybe don’t WANT to be taken seriously.

For instance if I saw this book cover:

I probably would skim over it – in other words it wouldn’t GRAB my attention. The artwork is well done, but it gives off a ‘cutsy’ vibe. However if I saw a cover for the same book with a cover that looked more like this (just a mockup cover that I created myself) I would more than likely take a second look.  

Is it that I just prefer photos over artwork for book covers?  Perhaps. Yet there have been many books that I loved that had artistically rendered covers.

Discussion: Are you a fan of cozy mysteries? Do you love their covers? Would any other kind of cover attract you more – or less? Does the first cover above seem more or less appealing than the one I created for comparison purposes?

Just wondering…

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About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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48 Responses to Cozy Mysteries – do their covers do them a disservice?

  1. I read cozy mysteries on occasion. More so to unwind. I don’t really mind the covers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. carhicks says:

    I really enjoy cozy mysteries and the reason is because they are light, breezy, fun and a mix of romance, mystery, humour etc. I love the titles that are puns and parodies. Having said all that, I do not like the covers that are cartoonish. The women who are perfect etc. I like animals on the cover, but not necessarily front and centre. I agree that some of the covers look “hokey” and I often pass over those ones. They do their books an injustice as far as I am concerned.

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    • Thanks Carla. I’m so happy you commented on this post as I know you read a lot of cozy mysteries and I wanted your opinion. I’m interested in the fact that even though you read a lot of them and enjoy them very much – you still find many of their covers ‘hokey’. Precisely the point I was trying to make.

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. If you mean books like the old Agatha Christie novels, then yes, I do like cozy mysteries.

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    • I know Agatha Christie is often termed a ‘cozy’ Davida but I was referring more to the modern cozy with the puns in the titles and the ‘cartoonish’ covers. Such as “French Pastry Murder” by Leslie Meier OR “Doom with a view” by Kate Kingsbury.

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  6. I love cozies!!! But it’s interesting you bring up their covers because I certainly am likely to pass over one of the cover is a bit too weird. The cat in the middle of that table does it in for me I think!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. sahmoun2778 says:

    I pick up cozies occasionally and mostly if there is a cat on the cover. I love stories that include cats and you often find them in cozies.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting question! I do like a good cozy mystery. Although not all of their covers have this “cutesy” vibe, many of them do. I’m not personally a fan of that type of art, but since it is so common, it is easy to pick them out when I’m in the mood to read one.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like a good cosy, but am also put off by covers. A lot of them are too fluffy and remind me of women’s fiction or romance, neither of which I read.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve only recently dabbled in cozy mysteries and that’s because a blogger friend of mine wrote a cozy mystery. I think I tend to skip cozy mysteries because of their covers to be honest. They just don’t grab my attention because they are to cartoonist and look ridiculous to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love cozies. But I have a different eye for them than I do for other books. I know where my fave libraries stock the cozies, so when I am skimming those shelves I particularly look for the titles. Training my eye to ignore everything else. Then I pick up the ones where the title sounds interesting or I have read the author before and liked her.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. macsbooks311 says:

    I just assume that a cozy book, mystery or rom-com, is going to have a cozy cover. Personally, I don’t care for the same-ole, same-same covers that I find on many thriller books. How many books can feature a woman running in a coat? Since I generally read ARCs, I rarely even see a cover and I like that just fine.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha-Ha. I love to read thrillers but will freely admit that many of their covers are too similar. Did you see my blog post: https://fictionophile.wordpress.com/2016/04/28/cover-love-part-1-in-red-walking-away/ Originality is the key – and something that there is not enough of when it comes to book covers.
      I too read mostly ARCs. However I DO see the cover at the offset – when I’m being offered the title, or on NetGalley or Edelweiss. I’ll freely admit that I do base part
      of my judgement on the cover. It will either cause me to investigate the book further, or decide to not accept the ARC for review. I’m such a ‘shallow’ reader…. LOL

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  13. I agree with you too. Some covers are as cheap as they come. Ellen Byron mysteries may be very good, but the covers are not what I will pick up at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for weighing in Diana. A book might be a treasure, or a complete dud, but the cover is what FIRST attracts the potential reader. Anyone who says they don’t judge by the cover is misleading themselves in my opinion. Perhaps they should question just what they are attracted by at the beginning of their reading journeys.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Mischenko says:

    I have to agree with you, although I haven’t read that many of them lol. I always think some of the covers are so funny though! 🤣 💚❤💚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your are right, many of them are funny – often utilizing very clever puns or plays on words. The authors have put a lot of work into the writing of cozy mysteries. I wonder… do THEY like the ‘cutsie’ covers or would they prefer something just a tad more serious?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mischenko says:

        That’s a good question. Honestly, covers are important to me. It’s the first thing I notice before reading blurbs so, it would be interesting to hear what authors have to say about it. Very thought-provoking!

        Liked by 1 person

  15. yvonnembee says:

    To be honest, at first glance neither if these covers really jump out as cosy mystery. They are both very busy looking and I personally like a more simple cover, sometimes less is more. I do like the covers as pictures more than covers if that makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Yvonne for your candor. Perhaps it is just a genre thing. Some of the covers I’m really attracted to are used repeatedly by thriller publishers and usually have a landscape or house included in the cover. Maybe readers of cozy mysteries love these cutsie covers. It certainly makes them easy to identify. Either you grab them, or you steer clear.

      Liked by 1 person

      • yvonnembee says:

        I like the older style covers, I think it is just something readers are used to. Covers are such an important thing as its the first thing we see and that first impression counts. I know many books in their various genres have similarities and trying new things is never wrong. I do pick up books where the cover doesn’t relate to my stereotyical idea and I have enjoyed them. It’s another one of those “pushing the boundries and expectations” things x

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Such a good question! I’m not a fan mostly because I want something slightly darker and also the covers really do put me off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Like you Nicki, I usually prefer something more true to life. For that reason I don’t read many romances either (at least not those with a happy ever after ending). I’m now reading “The Stranger Diaries” by Elly Griffiths. In it she refers to the work of Georgette Heyer and how many people might be put off reading her work because her books often depict a woman in a crinoline-type dress. Perhaps those covers are doing Heyer a disservice as well?

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  17. James McEwan says:

    A very British murder with a cup of tea. That is how I perceive these covers.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I enjoy cozy mysteries despite their covers, and yes, it’s those literary puns and the cover artwork that make me grit my teeth. Once I get past the cover (and often the punny titles), I can enjoy some light reading, but the covers often make me wince. I understand that I’m not their primary market, but wow.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. it’s funny you should ask, because I just saw some entangled covers that are a little like that and wondered. However, we couldn’t conceivably be judging a book by its cover…could we? 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Of course we are judging a book by its cover. A cover gives a first impression. A good cover can make a reader pick up a book. A bad cover can leave the book ignored.
      They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but then they never said that covers couldn’t tempt you into reading a book. A book’s cover is VERY important to me. If that makes me shallow, so be it. Thanks for your comment Sascha.

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  20. Anjana says:

    I think it varies from publisher to publisher, I do know of many that have pretty dignified/interesting covers or titles.The definition of cozy can probably to stretched to a lot of books that may not be marketed as such. The right ones can be a lot of fun to read!
    🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Shalini says:

    I like cozy but I wish some of the covers didn’t look so artificial… Then I would pick them up more

    Liked by 2 people

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