Guest Post: Creating Cozy Elements by Jeanne Quigley

Creating Cozy Elements
by Jeanne Quigley

Thank you for the invitation to present my new cozy mystery, The Double Exposure Murder. The book is the first of the Robyn Cavanagh Mysteries and my second series after the Veronica Walsh Mysteries. Writing The Double Exposure Murder gave me the wonderful chance to create a new set of the elements that compose a cozy mystery.

Amateur Sleuth

The amateur sleuth is at the heart of all cozy series. In her mid-forties, Robyn Cavanagh is a self-employed accountant who has started a second career in portrait photography. While her accounting work pays the bills, Robyn’s photo sessions with clients of all ages—high school seniors posing for their graduation photos, newborns sitting for their first portrait, couples celebrating their engagement or milestone anniversary, and families posing for their Christmas card photos—nurture her creativity and stoke her dream of one day being a full-time photographer.

After Robyn takes the official engagement photo of math teacher Brooke Gibson and her fiancé, she is asked by Brooke to take photographs of 16 Clover Lane, the house Brooke has inherited from her great-aunt, for its real estate listing. Robyn enjoys the assignment and returns to 16 Clover to show Brooke her portfolio of the charming home. What Robyn finds in the backyard shed isn’t so cheerful: Brooke’s body and, beside her, the shovel used to kill her. Robyn’s plate suddenly becomes more crowded as she turns amateur sleuth.

Supporting Characters

Every sleuth needs a team to help her investigation and supply moments of comic relief. Robyn receives both from her Irish-American family. The second of Geri and Ed Cavanagh’s five children, she has two sisters and two brothers. In The Double Exposure Murder you’ll only meet her older sister, Meredith, who is a colleague of Brooke’s at Garland High School. This connection makes Meredith a valuable source of information throughout the investigation. Robyn’s parents provide advice and comic relief during their Saturday night dinners with Robyn and a memorable Sunday morning round of their own bit of detective work. Geri and Ed are proof that you’re never too old to be over-protected by your parents.

Also in Robyn’s circle is her friend Will Vonderlin. They have been friends since childhood, though Will wasn’t the boy next door. He was the boy from the street behind the Cavanagh house who hung out with the neighborhood kids and caused a bit of mischief on Halloween Eve. Will’s a respected architect now, but there’s still a playful glint in his eyes. He’s thrilled to play sidekick to Robyn and his invitation for her to join him at a July Fourth barbecue lands Robyn potentially crucial information in the murder case.


One of my favorite writing “duties” is building the fictional town where my main character lives. In The Double Exposure Murder that place is Garland, New York, a community I placed on the western side of the Hudson River in the real Orange County. I relished having a new set of roads to name, shops to open, and houses to build. I dotted Garland’s main street, Hudson Road, with shops such as Schmidt’s Imported Clocks and Crafts, Burt Yoon’s Antiques, Andretta’s pizzeria, and the Belle Patti-sserie bakery. Robyn spends a lot of time on Hudson Road, visiting clients, taking a Saturday morning walk with her dog, and hunting for clues to solve Brooke’s murder.


Finally, this debut Robyn Cavanagh mystery provided me the chance to rectify a grievous error I made in the Veronica Walsh series. Cozy mystery readers love their amateur sleuths’ pets, be they dogs, cats, goats, parakeets, or chickens. Though Veronica loves animals, she doesn’t have a four-legged companion (yet). I apologize profusely to readers for my oversight and I’ve made up for it by featuring several loveable canines in The Double Exposure Murder. Robyn shares her home at 9 Lyons Lane with Yogi, a mixed collie named after the late Yogi Berra, one of the New York Yankees’ most beloved players. Robyn’s parents have a black Labrador retriever named Ranger in tribute to my dad, who was a devoted fan of the New York Rangers hockey team. Peanuts is the beagle buddy (beagle-Snoopy-Peanuts Gang!) of Will Vonderlin. Two German shepherds, Major and Chief, figure prominently in the story and a Yorkshire terrier makes a cameo appearance.

All these cozy elements come together in The Double Exposure Murder, a story I hope you enjoy. Won’t you join Robyn on a trek through Garland to catch a killer?

About The Book

The Double Exposure Murder (A Robyn Cavanagh Mystery)

Robyn Cavanagh enjoys a thriving second career as a portrait photographer in her beloved suburban hometown of Garland, New York. Having built a large portfolio of high school senior photos and family portraits, Robyn is thrilled when math teacher Brooke Gibson hires her to take photos of a different subject: 16 Clover Lane, the house Brooke has recently inherited from her late great-aunt. Brooke will soon put the home on the market and wants Robyn to take the photos for the real estate listing. Robyn thinks the cozy house will attract prospective buyers—until she finds bride-to-be Brooke’s battered body in the garden shed.

When Brooke’s mother asks her help in canceling the wedding plans, Robyn plays amateur sleuth and gathers clues while also collecting refunds from Brooke’s wedding vendors. With help from her friend Will Vonderlin, Robyn assembles evidence of a possible love triangle, financial indiscretions, and neighborhood feuds and builds a suspect list that includes Brooke’s fiancé, a jealous relative, a longtime rival, and a shady bartender. The clues lead Robyn to the killer and a spectacular July Fourth finale complete with a marching band and a parade of howling dogs.

Purchase Links:  Amazon – B&N –  Amazon Canada  – Kobo

Read an excerpt:

Yogi and I arrived at 16 Clover Lane a couple of minutes before 10:30. Brooke’s Ford Focus was parked in the carport.

Brooke didn’t respond to the first ring of the doorbell. I pressed the button again and waited a few seconds. The front door was open several inches, so I called to Brooke through the screen door. When she still didn’t answer, I assumed she was either in the bathroom or the backyard. I opened the screen door and entered the house, Yogi at my heels. The door to the powder room was open, and Brooke wasn’t in any of the first-floor rooms.

“Brooke! It’s Robyn.” I yelled up the staircase opposite the front door. I listened for a few seconds then headed into the kitchen. “Let’s go out back.”

The mystery deepened when I didn’t find Brooke on the patio. More possibilities ran through my mind. Brooke could be on a stroll around the block or in a neighbor’s house for a quick visit.

I called Brooke’s cell; when it went to voicemail, I ended the call without leaving a message. I’d text her, but before I started the message, a breeze blew open the shed door. The creaky door closed with a soft thud; then, another puff of wind urged it open again.

I spotted a can of paint on the ground outside the shed. “I should’ve known Brooke would fix the shed.”

Curious about the paint color Brooke had selected, I crossed the yard and bent over the paint can. I thought Brooke might have selected sunny yellow to match the house, but she had purchased a dark green shade. New paintbrushes and a drip pan lay on the grass next to the can. Did she plan to enlist me to help with the shed’s facelift?

The shed’s door creaked open and closed a third time. I moved to secure the door shut, but first I peeked inside and experienced an adrenaline rush like I’d never had. Fighting a growing sense of panic, I wrapped a length of the leash around my hand and pulled Yogi away from the supine form on the shed’s floor.

I took a second look at the still figure, clad in cut-off jeans and a white tank top. “Brooke!” Brooke’s mouth was open, and her eyes stared at the roof. Her nose was bloodied, and scratch marks stretched from her shoulders to her wrists. Her collarbone jutted out at a sickening angle.

I pushed back the door and told Yogi to lie down, making him a makeshift doorstop. He obeyed and watched me check Brooke for a pulse and breath.

It was a futile attempt, I knew, but a necessary one.

I stepped into the doorway and called 9-1-1, my glance fixed on the steel-blade shovel on the ground next to Brooke’s body.


Excerpt from The Double Exposure Murder (A Robyn Cavanagh Mystery Book 1)
by Jeanne Quigley Copyright May 17, 2022.


About the Author


Jeanne Quigley is the author of the Veronica Walsh Mysteries and the Robyn Cavanagh mystery series. Unlike her fictional sleuths, she has never been a soap opera star or an accountant (though she was an accounting major for a few minutes in the spring of 1985), but she has worked for an educational publisher and in the music industry. A lifelong New Yorker, Jeanne lives in her native Rockland County.

Author Links



May 30 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT


May 31 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

May 31 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – GUEST POST

June 1 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 2 – Novels Alive – REVIEW

June 3 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

June 3 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 4 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

June 4 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

June 5 – Cozy Up With Kathy  – REVIEW

June 5 – Nadaness In Motion – REVIEW

June 6 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 7 – The Mystery Section – SPOTLIGHT

June 7 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 8 – Girl with Pen – SPOTLIGHT

June 8 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST

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