First we have a pandemic. Then along comes a nationwide protest over a heinous act, the protests being usurped by rioters. We need a portal into a world of peace, a portal that, unfortunately, doesn’t exist. What we do have, however, is the escape-hatch novel.
The escape-hatch novel has no room for serial murderers lurking in the alley, lizard aliens dining on humans, or evil shadows slithering across the bedroom floor. It’s a place filled with likable and often unique characters. It’s the cozy mystery. For us animal lovers, it’s best when populated with animals.
Here are three well-known cozy writers who love animals and who are holding the hatch open for you:
“The Cat Who” books by Lilian Jackson Braun will keep you amused with Qwill, a journalist, who escaped from a big-city newspaper with his two Siamese cats to a small town in Moose County, which is “400 miles north of everywhere.”
The people in these books are quirky, as are Koko and Yum Yum, the two cats who somehow always help Qwilleran solve crimes. If you’re a fast reader, consuming a book a day, you’ll have 29 days of pleasure.
The “Joe Grey Mysteries” by Shirley Rousseau Murphy are a personal favorite, and so I’ve now read nearly all 21 of them. The main characters are an opinionated tomcat named Joe Grey, his sweet tabby ladylove, Dulcie, and the impulsive tortoiseshell called Kit, who’s quite the chatterbox.
These speaking cats, who converse with only a few chosen humans, solve murders while also amusing themselves and us. You’ll fall in love with the kitties and with the author’s writing ability.
Rita Mae Brown’s “Mrs. Murphy” series takes place in a small Virginia town and features Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, the cats, and Tee Tucker, a corgi dog. We’re made privy to their conversations with one another, though Harry, their owner, never hears them.
Even so, they always take part in solving whatever mystery Harry sets out to solve. Often, the high points are the humorous episodes of animal spats. The series has 30 books, but then there’s also Brown’s “Sister Jane” series with hounds (13 books) and the new “Mags Rogers” series with a dachshund (2 books so far).
Last year a back problem locked me down in bed for months. Being a writer, I told myself a bedtime story about Honey, a pretty little farm cat who experiences tragedy. I helped her via her best friend, Chaser, a border collie, who leads her through a forest to safety where she has kittens, one of whom is Pilgrim, a black kitten with strange beginnings and who narrates the story of growing up surrounded by danger and beauty as they seek a perfect clearing in the forest. I invite you to escape into this poignant tale of three cats and a dog who are the “Whispers in the Forest.” They’ll remain in your heart as they have in mine.
Just so you know, I have supplied you with 96 escape hatches.