I will tell you upfront that this is one of the kooky posts, generated by questions about life that seem to nettle my mind and will not let go. Chalk it up to my trying to find my cadence for writing again. The question today concerns why so many new cozy mysteries have women who cook and solve murders, with the recipes in the back of the book or at the end of chapters. What do cooking and murder have in common?
I have loved the murder mysteries of Diane Mott Davidson, as her heroine, Goldy Schultz, catered delicious meals and solved murders. The books also included recipes of all the foods listed on the various menus. Of course, for me, the recipes could have been omitted, as I could not even begin to replicate them, but my mouth waters at just the thought of some of the foods.
Another aspect of Mott Davidson’s books that appealed to me was that, like me, Goldy was a survivor of domestic violence, having survived her first husband’s rages and beatings. Her ability to overcome the abuse in her life may have precipitated her murder-solving escapades. She wanted to see all victims of violence receive justice and the perpetrator put in jail.
I identified with her as a single mom who found love with Tom, her second husband, a police detective who tried unsuccessfully to keep her out of the murder-solving business. They seemed like water and oil, but worked so well together.
Reading the scenes in which they find love and joy in each other were some of the best parts of the books, after finding out the culprit. Like me, she finally found love, when she was willing to let go of the pain and fear of past relationships and grab hold with both hands to happiness. And, oh yeah, I like seeing the bad guys or gals get caught and justice prevails.
Now, when you look at the lists of cozy mysteries, it’s amazing the numbers of women who are caterers or bakers that also solve murders. It seems as though making tea and desserts has become synonymous with skills for solving whodunits. Joanne Fluke has Hanna Swenson, Shawn Reilly Simmons writes the Red Carpet Catering Mysteries, and Sandi Scott authors the Seagrass Sweets Cozy Mysteries, just to name a few.
But, even though I love reading these books, the inquisitive part of me wonders why it is necessary for women who solve mysteries to have their domestic abilities displayed, when none of the men who solve murders are so portrayed. None of the British or American male detectives I love to read ever do any work around the house, and certainly we never saw Hercule Poirot or Ellery Queen with recipes in their books.
I have concluded that these books are meant to appeal to women who want to read murder mysteries, but feel guilty that they may be wasting time. They can enjoy the books, identify with the heroines of the story, and justify the time by stating that they are learning new meal ideas for their families.
Or, it could be the reason that I like them. I like that many of the women who solve murders are strong, courageous, tenacious, and determined. They do not allow not having a man in their lives to prevent them doing what they think they must do, for their own self-satisfaction, although a surprising number of them fall in love with and marry police detectives.
No answers here, but please feel free to send me your thoughts on this phenomenon. Are an aficionado of women detectives or cozy mysteries? If so, who are your favorites? It would make my day to hear from you.