Cozy sleuths (and sometimes their friends and family members) like to cook. Cozies are, well, cozy, and what’s cozier than the smell of freshly baked bread, cookies redolent with cinnamon and cloves, or a hearty stew, infused with bay leaves, simmering on the stove. There’s a sense of community when people gather together for meals, whether it be for a holiday, family dinner, or to share grief and memory after the death of a loved one. For many reasons Cozy authors intuit this.
When I decided to write Murder in the Museum: An Edmund DeCleryk Mystery, there was no question that it would be a Cozy, it’s a perfect genre for me. And I determined to include recipes for the dishes that my sleuth Edmund enjoyed, courtesy of his wife, Annie.
Cooking is not one of Ed’s strengths, but Annie, an amateur sleuth herself, has some of her happiest moments while in the kitchen. For her cooking is relaxing, a way of showing love, and a way to express creativity. She and I are a lot alike, I suppose.
Annie prepares meals that lean toward the comfort end of culinary endeavors, but she’s also happy when creating dishes with a twist, adding a different herb here, a change of ingredient there. Sharing them at the end of the book adds a nice touch, I think, although I wasn’t sure how readers, especially those not familiar with the Cozy genre, would react.
I was pleased when after reading the final version of the book one of my technical advisors, a police commander, praised the accuracy of the investigative procedures. But to my surprise he also admitted that while he’d enjoyed the recipes, he’d been disappointed that Annie’s friend Suzanne’s red snapper with coconut and lime hadn’t been included. All recipes in the book are ones I’ve prepared, so to his delight, I sent it to him.
Some women in my neighborhood invited me to speak about the book at their monthly discussion group. They meet at dinnertime and bring hearty snacks and beverages to share. That night, one person had prepared Annie’s caramelized Vidalia onion dip. It was a lovely and kind gesture and gratifying to know that everyone enjoyed it.
The book group I belong to doesn’t typically read Cozies but chose mine as one of our monthly selections this past summer. A friend admitted she’d wondered why I had gone into so much detail about the meals that were served. Not that it bothered her, but she was curious. She said she had a pleasant “aha” moment when she got to the end and discovered the mini- cookbook, which all agreed was a fitting addition.
There’s no question that food brings us together, and what better way to end a Cozy than by sharing the recipes for meals our characters prepared for their own friends and loved ones. If they enjoyed them, we hope our readers will, too!