The Great Detectives: A Look at our Favorite Cozy Sleuths

Brains over brawn is our mantra

the great detectives cozy sleuths

Today we would like to salute the charming sleuths of cozy mysteries.

Brains over brawn is a cozy mystery’s mantra. With an emphasis on character and plot development, this genre features curious amateur sleuths who use their deductive reasoning to solve cases. These novels often take place in small towns, and are quite PG-rated. Odds are you’ll find a likeable cast of eccentric, funny, and kind characters, alongside the clever sleuth.

Below are our top cozy-mystery heroes. Enjoy!

lord peter wimsey

Lord Peter Wimsey, star of a series by Dorothy L. Sayers, is a quintessential English gentleman. He has straw-colored hair, a beaked nose, and a vaguely foolish face concealing an impeccably sharp mind. He’s also quite athletic; during his time at Oxford, he was on the cricket team, and at aged forty he could still turn three cartwheels. Besides sleuthing, his hobbies include collecting incunabula, playing the piano, driving swanky cars (including the 1927 Daimler four-seater), and indulging in fabulous meals and fine wine. Read more about Dorothy L. Sayers. 

george baker

Behind Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford’s tough exterior is a sensitive family man. Ruth Rendell wrote more than twenty Wexford novels about this obstinate, small-town police chief. Wexford is difficult, opinionated, and very intelligent, but his bullheadedness is well founded, since nine out of ten times he’s right. Read more about Ruth Rendell.

Harvard professor Homer Kelly always seems to stumble into a mystery. Living in Massachusetts with his sensible librarian wife, Mary, Kelly soon discovers that murders and betrayals abound in academia, all of which must be solved through the powers of deduction and wit. Author Jane Langton not only devises these brainy mysteries, she illustrates them, too. Read more about Jane Langton.

green for danger

Other star sleuths include Charlotte Armstrong’s MacDougal Duff, a history professor turned amateur detective, and Christianna Brand’s Inspector Cockrill, an eccentric, keenly observant fellow famous for cracking cases during the London Blitz in World War II.

We love how the novels and stories with these characters showcase personality and smarts rather than gore and violence. Whether we’re reading about Lord Peter Wimsey’s latest adventure with his faithful manservant/sidekick, Homer Kelly’s ludicrous theories, or Inspector Wexford wooing us with his tough/sensitive appeal, these cozy sleuths are unforgettable.

Images: Edward Petherbridge as Lord Peter Wimsey in the 1987 BBC television adaption.

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