What is it about Wisconsin and cozy mysteries? From dangerous Door County to mysterious Mineral Point, the Dairy State is home to strange and wondrous tales. Why do so many Midwest mystery authors place their novels in this land of lakes, fish fries, and brandy old-fashioneds?
Perhaps it’s our combination of practical thinking along with innovation—we solve problems! Or, maybe it’s the state’s stunning natural beauty. Otherwise, it could be the many colorful characters who reside here.
I grew up in this state; I think it’s all of the above.
Wisconsin is unique
Wisconsin and the Midwest are special locations. Its citizens possess self-effacing humor and strong points of view—may they never lose those qualities.
I read the James Herriot “All Creatures” novels when they were released in the ‘70s. The stories featured small-town Brits living in a unique location during a specific time; I’ve always believed cozy mysteries about Wisconsin and its people are similar to Herriot’s books. (The Herriot novels aren’t mysteries, per se, but they contain cozy mystery narrative elements such as humor, small-town locations, and interesting characters.)
Wisconsin is the perfect location for cozy mysteries and amateur sleuths. The state offers a fantastic sense of place. Plus, its citizens are compassionate; they want to help when others suffer distress. The Dairy State’s geography offers great settings, too. From Lambeau Field to Door County, from the Northwoods to the Driftless Area, the diverse locales are characters in themselves.
And the unpredictable weather? Bad weather is a perfect conflict device for novelists. An author never underestimates the plot-twisting power of snowy roads or thunderstorms that make the lights go out. Dame Agatha Christieshould have placed a few stories in Wisconsin!
Favorite Wisconsin Mystery Authors
Some of my favorite Wisconsin or Midwest cozy writers include Kathleen Ernst’s Chloe Ellefson series; the Northern Lakes Mysteries by Jeff Nania; and the Dave Cubiak Mysteries written by Patricia Skalka. Also, the Christine DeSmet Fudge Shop Mysteries are delicious!
On my blog, I will be interviewing some of my favorite authors, introducing their books, and offering mystery writing tips, too.
The Backyard Model Mysteries: Cinnamon, Wisconsin
The Backyard Model Mysteries take place in Cinnamon, a fictional tourist village in central Wisconsin. (But Mel Tower, the main character, regularly travels the hills and dales of the state’s backroads.) Mel is a retired fashion model—“B” list, always an outsider in the industry—who moved back to her beloved burg.
Mel was never a supermodel, but she discovers she has a superpower, of sorts. She can read body language. All those years of being a mannequin gave her skills of observation; she recognizes n’er-do-wells. Who better to spot “posers” than someone who worked in the business
During the three-book series, Mel falls in love with a Northwoods sheriff, a fellow who thrives on “pine-scented Northwoods air and church spaghetti,” according to her.
While she solves whodunits, she also falls in love the handsome fellow. But can they make their long-distance relationship work? Or will separation and amateur sleuthing put too much pressure on the pair?
Read the Backyard Model Mysteries to find out!
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As an added bonus, I LOVE to thrift shop. (I live in a fixer-upper, and thrifted finds are part of the decorating plan.) I share thrifted treasures—everyone in Wisconsin loves a good thrifting day—from various spots in the area.
Take care, readers. Glad you’re here.
I hope you enjoy reading the wonderful cozy mysteries set in this beautiful state!