“One Night in the Hill Country” – A Cozy Thriller?

One Night in the Hill Country adj3One Night in the Hill Country” –

A Cozy Thriller?

Have I inadvertently created a new sub-genre?


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A novella, “One Night in the Hill Country.”

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“One Night in the Hill Country” –

A Cozy Thriller?


Category – Vermont

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I certainly didn’t (don’t) want to offend anyone. And I know mysteries already have a category called cozy mysteries, with lots of followers.

What’s happened though, is I’ve tried to peg my newest fiction piece, a novella titled “One Night in the Hill Country” – and what I’ve come up with is this:

I’m writing a cozy thriller!

Below, I show the process of how I (reluctantly) came to that conclusion.

I mean, really, isn’t it easier just being a thriller? (smiles)


First, This is a Thriller, Not a Mystery

One Night in the Hill Country med“One Night in the Hill Country” features a woman protagonist, but also features the point-of-view of not only the villain, but supporting characters.

Even more essentially, as per this article, “In mystery novels the reader is only given information and clues as the protagonist learns them.”

As also pointed out in another article, “Thrillers have action.”

And, in a thriller, “the audience is waiting for something significant to happen. The protagonist’s job is to prevent the speeding bus from exploding, or the aliens from eating the crew.”

So I think it’s fairly safe to say, “One Night in the Hill Country” is a thriller.


So Why is My Work a “Cozy Thriller” ?

Wikipedia has a nice general article about cozy mysteries.

Similarities :

1) Though sex and violence is in my work, “sex and violence are [definitely] downplayed.”

2) “detectives in such stories are nearly always amateurs..and frequently women” – Sam (Samantha) was a police officer handling children in trauma, but not someone in the field directly fighting crime.

3) “typically have a contact on the police force” – Sam make contact with Sheriff Mike Sullivan, but wishes, once she and the four children with her are in deep trouble, she could be in “more” contact with him.

4) “The cozy mystery usually takes place in a town, village, or other community small” – this story is set in a small family vineyard in the Texas Hill Country, a short ways outside a small town.

5) “generally members of the community where the murder [crime] occurs, able to hide in plain sight, and their motives—greed, jealousy, revenge—are often rooted in events years, or even generations, old. – definitely fits the antagonist and his sister.

6) “supporting characters in cozy mysteries are often very broadly drawn and used as comic relief” – ditto several, but not all, of the supporting characters. – this then applies, inversely, as support for being a thriller.

However :

“The precise boundaries of the sub-genre remain vague…”

And there are definite differences, which is why I think, in the case of “One Night in the Hill Country,” the work is Cozy Thriller.

Thriller Distinctions :

1) “The murderers in cozies are typically neither psychopaths nor serial killers, and, once unmasked, are usually taken into custody without violence.” – there is definitely a psychological thriller element to this work.

2) “supporting characters in cozy mysteries are often very broadly drawn and used as comic relief” – ditto several, but not all, of the supporting characters. – thus, this then applies, inversely, as support for being a thriller.

3) The murders take place off stage, and frequently involve relatively bloodless methods such as poisoning and falls from great heights. – violence is on-stage, though of a muted nature vs many thrillers.

4) The antagonist is known, and the problem is stopping that character from inflicting more harm.

5) Pace is quick and propelled structurally via short chapters, shifting locations, and multiple point-of-views.



I think there’s enough variation that, possibly, it’s quite valid to think a new niche may be in the works.

One that blends some of what’s a thriller, with what’s in a cozy mystery.

Or at least it’s interesting to think about (smiles).

Thanks so much!



For an eight chapter, 3000 word sample, please see my post : One Night in the Hill Country, a Thriller : 3000 Word Sample .


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Sheila & Adan
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  1. The cozy category is really huge right now. If you feel good about writing for that audience, go for it!

    I can’t write cozy. Its just not in me.

    No matter what I write, its always dark, gritty, violent, and sensual


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Totally up for a new genre, Felipe! I have one of my books (Pull the Trigger) which I wished to label as a cozy thriller… so now apparently I can!
    Thanks for the suggestion and I’m going to pick your book soon. Sounds very intriguing 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pull the Trigger, have to remember it. If you have a link to it, come back & post it here 🙂

      I think, as pointed out, there are def “thrillers” and there are def “cozy’s” – but, like working with flowers, there’s some interesting blends one can create.

      Now whether other folk will like or accept them, that’s a separate thing. But I think there’s nothing lost trying out creative ideas, esp if they’re bubbling inside us 🙂

      Shari Hearn writes some very neat small town Kindle Worlds books that very much blend thriller, mystery, and cozy. Check her @ShariHearn – I read “Overdue” & it comes pretty close to fitting the blend, I think.

      All the best Stef, come back leave us a link 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Felipe for Shari’s shout out – I’m going to have a look at it this evening, it sounds very interesting!

        Here’s my Pull the Trigger: http://bit.ly/1s4S12j
        It’s available for free to KU users!

        Have a look at it, and if you find intriguing I can give it to you for free – anything for an honest opinion from a fellow cozy thriller writer 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • Cycling and target shooting, huh? Nice 🙂 Naw, I can get it via KU, have placed it on my list (only have a handful ahead of you right now, short list, hahaha – bigger problem’s I ead so slow cause of daily PT, writing, serial releases, grandson, oh, and eating 🙂 )

          Yeah, Shari’s book is just plain a lot of fun, plus has action, romance, mystery, and more than anything, lots and lots of great humor. Here’s my review of it : http://www.amazon.com/review/RK27K55RHQP3E/

          And thank you for posting ur link, will def get to it, sounds fun with all the intricacies in the blurb!

          Have RT’d your pin on Twitter also 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for mentioning Overdue. I agree that a cozy thriller category would be a good one to have. And thanks for all the info about mystery v. thriller that you shared.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks Shari 🙂 Yeah, it was interesting how the two differed. Made it easier to see where some work really is a blend. There’s a new thriller-mystery on TV called Family, and I think it fits that dual identity pretty well. 🙂


    • Oh I agree. Like with Susanne comments, fits more as a thriller. It was just fun to see, with having so many young children in the story, and being set in a kinda enclosed small town setting, what parts of it might be cozy-like 🙂

      I hadn’t realized you’d read it! Or my 65+ years are already erasing random bits of memory 🙂

      I’ll def have to remember you liked it AND keep you on your toes 🙂

      Thanks Christoph, very glad you stopped by!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. When I think about a cozy mystery, I think of a hot cup of tea and curling up in a couch to read. I wouldn’t think of cozying up to a thriller. A thriller keeps you on your toes. No warm or cuddly feelings. To the words “cozy” and “thriller” might actually be opposites, and not combinable. Just a thought.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you’re right in the absolute pure sense. It just intrigued me that I kept seeing cozy elements in this particular thriller, so I laid out the pros and cons to see how they fit. Combining the two and curling up in a couch would probably mean also curling my toes and spiking my tea 🙂

      It was fun rolling the idea around in my head though – really glad you stopped by & commented, thanks Susanne 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s great that you have given such thorough thought to where your novel fits. I’ve worked with authors who had no clue what genre their fit into beyond broad categories – e.g. romance.

    I do have some trouble with wrapping my head around cozy thriller. Cozies are characterized by fun and thrillers by intrigue. Perhaps it is because I prefer dark thrillers that make you question humanity and I read cozies for the lack of thought I have to put into them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhhahah, that’s quite a distinction tween the two 🙂 I was drawn to the comparison cause I have a multigenerational cast of characters, plus they’re in a small setting.

      I think the term cozy “kinda” fits my thriller work, maybe in the odd way an old Bob Hope unwitting-detective comedy was also a thriller 🙂

      It was def fun delineating the two and seeing where they touched, parted, and overlapped.

      Pure genres, I think, being constructs, are probably pretty rare. Thanks so much Sanna for coming by & commenting, I really appreciate it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I definitely like the breakdown and thought process. I’m a bit of nerd and I loved reading the “definitions” for for various subgenres. Bookcountry.com had a really great genre map that I would refer to when I would get stuck of where does a book fit. While visually there new genre map is more fun, I thought the old “periodic table” style had more information.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice breakdown of genre and how you got to the conclusion you did. I admire the thoroughness with which you’ve thought about it!

    These days there’s much more room for different subgenres and styles, and it’s great that that’s created a space for your story. And there’s something appealingly contradictory in the phrase ‘cozy thriller’.


    • Thanks Andrew, glad you liked it. Yeah, I thought it was kinda cute, yet accurate, about combining the two components, cozy and thriller. I was really curious if, comparing the two genres, a sort of combo hybrid might actually exist. It was a closer fit than I’d even first figured.

      Liked by 1 person

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