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.
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.
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
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.
Read an excerpt:
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.
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