Top 10 cosy crime novels | Crime fiction | The Guardian

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I’m not shocked that the humour and delicate escapism of cosy crime is having a second. The books themselves are usually not a response to what we’re dwelling via: most had been written earlier than lockdown or Cop26. However whereas noir income from exploring our deepest anxieties, cosy faucets into a necessity for self-protection that many readers are feeling proper now. It doesn’t imply {that a} well-constructed cosy thriller is mild or meaningless.

After I got down to write in regards to the Queen as a secret detective, I wished to discover a world run by a girl pushed by a powerful ethical code. The type who would say, on her twenty first birthday, “My life, whether or not or not it’s lengthy or brief, shall be dedicated to your service,” and imply it. I wouldn’t say that integrity in public workplace is the defining attribute of our age, however it may be enjoyable to think about it. Add to {that a} distinctive perspective on the world, a lifetime of high-level political expertise, and entry to any skilled she pleases – and you’ve got a ready-made investigator. The Queen is in reality one yr older than Miss Marple, who first appeared in print in 1927. Is that actually such a coincidence?

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There isn’t a such factor as a comfortable crime, after all. Homicide is homicide. Nevertheless, whereas there could also be intercourse and violence in these tales, it’s normally off-stage. Within the following books, we spend our time with detectives who’ve in some way managed to not grow to be drink-addled loners, who inhabit locations we wish to dwell or go to, amongst communities who, regardless of their variations, in the end belief one another and get alongside. It makes a change from the papers. What’s to not like?

Agatha Christie in 1967. {Photograph}: Underwood Archives/Getty Pictures

1. Evil Beneath the Solar by Agatha ChristieWritten earlier than the second world battle, this Poirot novel is filled with tightly wound characters hiding seething feelings. The plot accommodates masterful misdirection about place and time, however its success was additionally due partly to its depiction of summer season solar, silk pyjamas, blue skies and sandy seashores. By the point it got here out in 1941, the peacetime Devon coast the place it’s set had grow to be a fantasy world. The sufferer is clear from the beginning, as so typically in Christie’s novels, however by whose hand will she die, and why? And what about these silk pyjamas?

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2. The Enchantment by Janice HallettA postmodern, do-it-yourself thriller, composed completely of emails, texts and notes, through which the reader is requested to resolve the crime. Set within the snug but ruthless world of newbie dramatics, its comedy comes from the big variety of the message-writers’s voices, from passive aggressive to determined, all of which we recognise.

3. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Demise by MC BeatonMC Beaton was one of many many pen names of the prolific Scottish writer Marion Chesney, who died in 2019 having written 31 books about Agatha Raisin and 34 about Hamish Macbeth. If there’s something cosy crime readers love greater than an underestimated heroine, an Airbnb-worthy Cotswolds cottage and a cat, it’s a sequence. Agatha herself is a comic book delight: horny, vampish and impolite, however hiding various vulnerabilities, and never hiding them very nicely. I wasn’t satisfied by the TV sequence, which didn’t fairly seize her Birmingham roots with Mayfair overtones, however Penelope Keith makes Agatha her personal in most of the audiobooks.

Dorothy L Sayers in 1938. {Photograph}: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

4. Robust Poison by Dorothy L SayersI grew up on golden age crime fiction, and fell in love with Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey as so many readers do. He’s Bertie Wooster with Jeeves’s mind, made human by the primary world battle PTSD that also haunts him in moments of stress. In Robust Poison, he has fallen head over heels in love with Harriet Vane, a spiky, unyielding, clever lady who’s condemned to hold for murdering her lover. Sayers clearly made Harriet a profitable crime author as a result of if she couldn’t have her beloved Peter, then nobody might.

5. Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey A fantastically descriptive story of a younger man who inserts himself right into a rich household, figuring out he isn’t the lacking son they need him to be. The thriller he encounters is a slow-burn, however finally ends up with a not-so-cosy denouement worthy of Iain Banks.

6. Magpie Murders by Anthony HorowitzIf there’s a king of cosy crime, I’d argue it’s Horowitz, who initially tailored Midsomer Murders for TV and bettered it with Foyle’s Conflict. In Magpie Murders, telling a easy detective story is simply too simple, so Horowitz tells two, one inside the opposite. The clues to the up to date outer crime depend on an editor’s finely tuned understanding of the writing of the internal one, through which Horowitz recreates a traditional golden age thriller. It might look like plain exhibiting off, however its intelligent theme of editing-as-detection is a delight.

Richard Osman. {Photograph}: Jonathan Hordle/PA

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7. The Thursday Homicide Membership by Richard OsmanRichard Osman was once a TV movie star who secretly wrote crime fiction in his spare time. Then The Thursday Homicide Membership got here out and he’s now a worldwide publishing phenomenon who makes TV reveals. Osman is a really humorous author, a superb observer of middle-class mores, who cares in regards to the lives of his protagonists – residents dealing with their mortality in retirement houses – and it reveals. He’s additionally good at killing folks throughout Kent, and getting his unlikely quartet of detectives to work out why and the way. Ebook two, The Man Who Died Twice, is pretty much as good if not higher.

8. Three Pines sequence by Louise PennyCan these books be referred to as cosy? Penny explores darkish political themes and a number of the books learn like thrillers, however there may be a necessary goodness to the group within the fictional Canadian city of the title, and the nice and cozy and loving relationships that maintain Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, his household and pals collectively. Her deft contact in capturing these bonds is a balm for any soul battered by the relentless information of what retains us aside. In addition they function good poetry and good meals.

9. Hollywood Murder by Kellye GarrettGarrett made waves within the US as a standout voice when her Detective by Day sequence was first printed in 2017, scooping a number of awards. Garrett takes the cosy to Los Angeles, that includes semi-famous, mega-broke Black actress-turned-PI, Dayna Anderson. Her prose is recent and humorous and the settings are every thing a movie lover would hope for.

10. Homicide Most Unladylike by Robin StevensEarlier than writing grownup crime fiction, I wrote for youngsters and I’m sure that a number of the greatest books are written for 10 to 12-year-olds. This sequence imagines two Thirties schoolgirls fixing crimes in Christie trend, that includes the intrepid duo of Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong. The books mix a way of historical past with a really fashionable sensibility and I’ve seen readers approaching Stevens at occasions to hug her, as a result of they imply a lot to them.

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