The past four to six months I’ve read quite a few Cozy Mysteries, around several hundred so far. I haven’t reviewed them all because after a time they all read exactly the same, without much forethought.
There is typically some protagonist-quirky grandmother, sexpot store owner, irascible grandfather, bookworm/nerdlette young woman and so forth. There’s either a missing person, a dead body they innocently stumble upon where they are immediately, laughably suspected of murdering by the stoic/uncommunicative/over-the-top-testosterone-filled cop/sheriff/detective/fbi who doggedly ignores obvious evidence that exonerates the aforementioned person. The protagonist either has unbelievable luck whereas just the right clues fall angelically into their lap or path, like ducks in a row, OR there are unbelievable obstacles that someone puts in their way to frame them for the murder. There is typically some denouement where they are found not guilty and bring the perpetrator to justice all the while making law enforcement looking like bumbling fools.
This is the easiest way to earn a one- or two-star review from me. I always tell these authors and writers to put more effort into their work. Create more interesting characters, give them flaws, make their friends/sidekicks more human and more interesting. Give them a decent, more life-like law enforcement partner and stop stereotyping how they behave. Place subplots into your book that the main character doesn’t have to get directly involved in-a next door neighbor missing mail, a co-worker finishing a project with another difficult coworker, carpenters building a home for the deaf or blind; something, anything.
Detailing your novel does two things: One, makes the main plot and thus, characters, more interesting bringing them down to earth, making them more human. Two, increases word count without adding dry, boring filler like describing how they open the mail or get into their car. Also distracts you from over-composition. No long, drafty, boring landscape descriptions-unless you are describing a mood of one of the characters but that has been long overused.
When I write a book review, I’m not thinking of others’ opinions, other 4 and 5 star reviews or anyone’s feelings. I’m describing how I liked the book, how the plot flows, how characters and place add to the feel, read and composition of the novel. Are they interesting? Appropriately quirky enough? Don’t think I know what I’m talking about? I’ve written ten books consisting of two noir mystery novels, with a third in the series on the way. I’ve written four cookbooks, three books of short stories (which are free-see my website for details), a short biography on my life with Alports Syndrome with three more books on the way-a children’s book, a sci-fi novel and the third mystery novel mentioned before.
Writing is hard work, laborious and you will quit for weeks at a time. Don’t give up!