(This article also appeared on the Cozy Mystery Magazine blog.)
I love cozy mysteries. . .okay, I just love mysteries, period. I have since I was a kid. Now I'm privileged to write cozy mysteries. I also watch as many as I can on television, as long as they hold true to what I believe is important to cozy mysteries--no graphic violence. I don't want to go to bed at night with gruesome images of bloody crime scenes in my mind.
The other night, hubby and I watched a 1945 black and white Sherlock Holmes movie starring Basil Rathbone. Although the personality of this particular Sherlock Holmes wasn’t totally in keeping with Doyle’s books, there were many things I liked about the movie, including how the directors handled the violence of the murder, which was done with shadows.
The movie had no splattering of blood and guts. No gruesome shots of human innards. The director used the reactions of the characters to portray the horror of the murders. For instance, when a police officer and Sherlock go to the coroner to observe the body, all we see is a woman’s face and sheet-covered body. When the sheet is pulled back, the camera focuses on the police officer’s expression. It’s his reaction to the body that indicates the awfulness of the crime.
Traditional cozies don’t show scene upon scene upon scene of the details of the blood, guts, and gore. They don't get deeply into the heads of freaky serial killers. They don't usually show the terror the victims experience as they're being murdered. There might be a brief description of the murder, but the brutality of crime scenes, and the weirdness of the criminals, comes more from the reactions of the characters. And some cozy mysteries have no murder at all, just an interesting crime.
In other words, I don't have to skip pages in a book or close my eyes until a scene in a movie or TV show is over. That lack of spilling guts and spurting blood is one of the reasons I love cozy mysteries.