I love classic cozy mysteries, where ordinary people do extraordinary things all in the name of justice. When I started writing my Jake & Emma Mystery series, I knew I my books would have all the hallmarks of the classic cozy. Jake and Emma are amateur sleuths, or what I call accidental detectives. Their lives were much like yours and mine, until they stumble across the frozen body of a woman after a winter storm. Where you or I might leave it up to the police, Jake and Emma — like all good sleuths — take it upon themselves to crack the case.
Cats are a natural fit for cozies because curiosity is a born and bred part of their nature, as it is with the hero and heroine of any good mystery. A variety of barn cats keep Jake and Emma company but their main companions are a couple of indoor beauties. Peachy is a mature, sedate, orange and white cat whose specialty is providing calm and comfort to the many guests who spend a little time in Jake and Emma’s home in the shadow of Casper Mountain. Peachy is based on one of my own kitties, Willow.
Sparky is a fluffy white tornado whose antics keep Jake and Emma on their toes, but whose purr can melt the iciest of hearts. She is especially fascinated with the lights and glass balls on Christmas trees and you have to be quick to keep the tree from becoming a kitty condo with Sparky around! Sparky is based on one of my own kitties by the same name, who left us last year.
My literary kitties provide humor and color to my stories, but they aren’t feline detectives. If you enjoy your animals taking a more active role, let me recommend two of my favorite authors. Lilian Jackson Braun, late author of “The Cat Who” series wrote about an unusually intelligent Siamese cat named Koko, who never failed to help the inquisitive James M. Quilleran root out the culprit. Koko’s partner, Yumm-Yumm, was a beautiful counterpoint to the regal Koko. My preference is for the earlier books in the series, both when Quill is a starving reporter and in the first few books where he has moved “up north.”
Rita Mae Brown has several series featuring animals but my favorite are the “Mrs. Murphy” books. Mrs. Murphy is a wise and lovely tiger cat who, along with a gray cat named Pewter, and a lively Welsh Corgi named Tucker, takes a very “paws on” approach to crime fighting. Not only do they sniff out clues on their own, they bravely attack any would-be killer who dares to get too close to their Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen. I’ve enjoyed all of the books in this series.
My fifth Jake and Emma Mystery, “Body on the Ballot“, is being released on December 15. Peachy is gone but Sparky continues to offer comfort and moral support. Jake is running for County Attorney, but someone seems determined to keep him out of office. By the time the election rolls around, there may be more than one body on this ballot.