facing the facts (sigh)

I have a visceral negative reaction to some things (which I’m sure isn’t unusual). Certain Jim Steinman songs, for example. And the movie The Wall (my then-wife and I looked at each other halfway through and then we got up and walked out of the theater without saying a word — we were in tune on some things).

My mother was that way about Tom Cruise — “boyish” men who were no longer boys gave her the willies.

Anyway, I’ve always had a very bad reaction to the term “cozy mystery,” which is, according to Wikipedia, “a subgenre 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.”

Which could sort of describe Jan Sleet solving mysteries in U-town, but the trappings there were eccentric enough to make that connection rather harder to see. Most writers of cozy mysteries probably don’t write about a small, socially intimate community that includes a mass murderer, three siblings who are apparently aliens, a superhero, a woman who lives her life as a dog, and a very small teenage girl with superhuman strength (who’s the head of state).

(But there may be something to it anyway, since this is why “The Apartment Mystery” ended up getting booted from the Jan Sleet Mysteries collection — as one astute beta reader pointed out, it was much bloodier than the other stories.)

Anyway, U-town aside, now that a much younger Jan Sleet is plying her trade in the resort/college town of Claremont, Massachusetts? I’m afraid it’s no longer possible to refute the description (not that I’m going to use the term myself, but I find I don’t have any real arguments against it).

Well, Wikipedia does say that the genre is “an attempt to re-create the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.” And I’ve never denied that I’m doing that.

So, starting very soon, “The Town Hall Mystery.” Which sounds like a Hardy Boys book, an association that doesn’t bother me (though I much preferred the Rick Brant books when I was a lad).

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