If you have read the page on the Cozy Mystery Site where I have posted my definition of a Cozy Mystery, then you may be wondering why I have the village/small town as an important factor in a cozy mystery series. Most of the new series don’t take place in a village or small town environment. I received an email asking me about just this thing… and I responded in this manner:
It seems like we have had to substitute the traditional village/small town with people who have a common interest. Let’s face it, even our small towns are now overpopulated… to a degree which the town’s founding fathers didn’t expect. No longer is there just one “Main Street” with all of the local shops and businesses… Our Ben Franklin’s Five and Dimes have been pushed out>>> first by the Ace department stores, who in turn were pushed out by Lowe’s and Home Depot. Mildred’s Gift Shop has been pummeled into the ground in order to put up a Wal-Mart… which has also put an end to June’s Flower Shop (which doubled as a Greyhound Bus Line stop) and Albert’s Barber/Beauty Shop.
So, now we have book shops (of the small size variety), libraries, needlepoint and craft shops, cafés, housecleaning services (with a small group of employees… not something à la Molly Maids!), veterinarians’ offices, all sorts of places which enable the author to have the same characters working and playing together… from one book to the next.
I am fondly remembering back to the times when I would board the Greyhound bus in Ames, Iowa and travel up to my grandmother’s small town. I can actually envision a cozy mystery series that could easily have taken place there… amongst the church pot-luck dinners, the P. E. O. and D. A. R. meetings, the local diner, the pool, and the gazebo at the park. I can actually imagine my grandmother and her friends as feisty sleuths who could (and would!) solve crimes when they had time between their clubs and events… relying on the assistance and discretion of the other women in the sleuthing group.
I’m not so sure that the town I saw when I drove through a few years ago (with its townhouses and twirly pool water-work slides at the community pool) would still be considered a good setting for a cozy mystery series. However, I can imagine a cozy mystery series that could take place in the local newspaper’s office or the new physical fitness gym… with the employees solving crimes while putting out the news or training for their marathons. I guess that’s progress! (Or Not!)