Not Me: Speluncaphobia, Secrets and Hidden Treasure
(Macavity and Me Mystery)
by Charlotte Stuart
About Not Me!
Not Me: Speluncaphobia, Secrets and Hidden Treasure (Macavity and Me Mystery)
3rd in Series
Setting – Seattle (where the protagonist lives), Vancouver BC, and a trip up the Inside Passage
Taylor and Seale Publishing (July 29, 2022)
Paperback : 242 pages
ISBN-10 : 1940224225
ISBN-13 : 978-1940224220
Digital ASIN : B0B8187514
Aztec gold artifacts from the 16th Century, a fake treasure map, and cryptic clues leading to a cave in the Canadian wilderness—
• Feuding family members
• A suspicious death and surfeit of suspects
• A sailboat trip up the Inside Passage and . . . a stowaway cat
Two cousins get together to investigate the death of a favorite uncle and to honor his legacy by fulfilling his dream to recover Aztec gold. They are thwarted in their efforts by greedy family members, a jumble of challenging clues, a prank from the grave, and unscrupulous treasure seekers.
What begins with a letter from the deceased leads to a wilderness adventure and ends with revealed secrets and a confession.
Cozy, Snuggly or Just Kinda Comfortable?
by Charlotte Stuart
The cozy mystery has been described as a “gentle subset” of crime fiction, a comfort read that doesn’t rob you of sleep due to excessive violence. They appeal to our inner Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys, and their sheer numbers speak to their popularity. An easy read, a familiar formula with enough twists and turns to keep readers engaged, but no shocking surprises to make a reader afraid to turn the page. You know that no matter what happens, everything will be okay in the end.
All of my books get labeled as cozies, even though one of my series violates the rule that the protagonist should be an amateur detective. In my “Discount Detective Mysteries,” private investigator Cameron Chandler is an employee of Penny-wise Investigation. Initially I resisted the cozy label for this series, mainly because I didn’t want to set unrealistic expectations for readers. But readers and reviewers are convinced they are cozies, so I’ve analyzed the ways in which all of my mysteries fit somewhere on the cozy spectrum:
- They are lighthearted, with humor and banter throughout.
- They have happy endings that don’t leave you wondering whodunnit.
- My protagonists have pets. In the Macavity & Me Mysteries, the cat (Macavity) plays an important role in the day-to-day life of the main character.
- I like to think my protagonists are someone the reader would like to have tea or coffee with.
- My plots are character driven.
- I write series. I want readers to feel like they are visiting old friends
- There is no graphic violence or sex.
There are, however, ways in which my mysteries deviate from the traditional cozy:
- My “communities” are larger than a village. Although hopefully recurring characters provide a sense of community.
- Sometimes my protagonists travel, even to other countries. But so far, no English villages have been involved.
- I usually have a serious theme underlying the humor. For instance, in the Macavity & Me series I write about chimera research, nonprofit fraud, phobias and Aztec treasure.
- There is no focus on crafts, hobbies, recipes, seaside cottages, English gardens, flower shops, Victorian houses, talking animals, or other similar cozy themes.
- Rather than the typical cozy length of 50-60,000 words, my books run about 75-80,000 words.
- My titles aren’t punny. Although I’ve been told my Macavity book titles are not only strange, but too long.
Even though most readers are able to list the components of a cozy mystery, the “rules” for writing mysteries, including cozies, have evolved over time. In 1930 the Detection Club put together a set of rules members agreed to live by. Members included Agatha Christie as well as writers who wrote more traditional mysteries. The oath they had to take to become members was written by Dorothy L Sayers:
Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence, or Act of God?
In addition, they had a list of 10 Rules that included some “commandments” which illustrate how ideas that once seem unique become overused tropes. For example:
- Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.
- Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.
- No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
- All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
The first three rules listed above seem quaint rather than overused in today’s market. And number four has experienced a comeback. The paranormal cozy is today a very popular subgenre. In addition, intuition isn’t as out of fashion as it was in the heyday of the “little gray cells.” This shows that no matter how specific the rules, definitions and expectations do change.
After I accepted the cozy label, I still wanted to carve out a niche for myself. So, I wrote several blogs on the Cozy 2.0. Then, at one point I did talks and wrote blogs and articles about “one genre, five categories” to distinguish the different types of humor a reader could expect from authors. From the laugh out loud kooky humor of a Carl Hiaasen to the dark humor of Caimh McDonnell. With cozies being comic, Robert Parker’s Spenser amusing, and the edgy quality of a Sue Grafton in between.My conclusion is that most readers don’t want to spend time slicing and dicing types of humor and are satisfied with broad labels. If so, I hope they will accept my Macavity books as “cozy 2.0” or “not your mother’s cozy.” Like other readers, I enjoy settling in with a good traditional cozy, a cup of tea and a shortbread cookie, but at times I prefer a mug of coffee and a kinda comfortable if not totally cozy read. Just don’t take away my shortbread cookie.
About Charlotte Stuart
Charlotte Stuart PhD is an award-winning mystery writer who got her start in academia, left a tenured faculty position to go commercial fishing in Alaska, spent a frustrating year as a political speech writer, enjoyed time as a management consultant, and survived several years as a VP of HR and training.
Her current passion is for writing mysteries with complex characters and twisty plots. Books in her Macavity & Me Mysteries have won a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, a gold Global Ebook Award, and a Firebird Book Award for humor. Two were NYC Big Book Distinguished Favorites, one was a finalist in Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion contest, and Not Me! is currently a finalist in the Chanticleer Mystery and Mayhem competition.
Charlotte lives and writes on Vashon Island in the Pacific Northwest and is the past president of the Puget Sound Sisters in Crime.
Social Media Links
Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?