Cozy Review & Guest Post: The Body in the Back Garden


The Body in the Back Garden (A Crescent Cove Mystery) by Mark Waddell

The Body in the Back Garden (A Crescent Cove Mystery)
by Mark Waddell

About The Body in the Garden

The Body in the Back Garden (A Crescent Cove Mystery)
Queer Cozy (“Quozy”) Mystery
1st in Series 
Setting – The fictional town of Crescent Cove on Vancouver Island, Canada
Crooked Lane Books (August 22, 2023)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1639104402
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1639104406
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BN582M9W

In this queer cozy series debut perfect for fans of Ellen Byron and Ellery Adams, Luke Tremblay is about to discover that Crescent Cove has more than its fair share of secrets…and some might be deadlier than others.

Crescent Cove, a small hamlet on Vancouver Island, is the last place out-of-work investigative journalist Luke Tremblay ever wanted to see again. He used to spend summers here, until his family learned that he was gay and rejected him. Now, following his aunt’s sudden death, he’s inherited her entire estate, including her seaside cottage and the antiques shop she ran for forty years in Crescent Cove. Luke plans to sell everything and head back to Toronto as soon as he can…but Crescent Cove isn’t done with him just yet.

When a stranger starts making wild claims about Luke’s aunt, Luke sends him packing. The next morning, though, Luke discovers that the stranger has returned, and now he’s lying dead in the back garden. To make matters worse, the officer leading the investigation is a handsome Mountie with a chip on his shoulder who seems convinced that Luke is the culprit. If he wants to prove his innocence and leave this town once and for all, Luke will have to use all his skills as a journalist to investigate the colorful locals while coming to terms with his own painful past.

There are secrets buried in Crescent Cove, and the more Luke digs, the more he fears they might change the town forever.


My Review:

I can't lie--my first thought on seeing this was "oh, crap! He's beat me to it." And that was just the cover, which looks an awful lot like what I've been imagining for A Coastal Corpse. Then there's the whole thing about a gay main character... oh well!
The book is a nice read. The mystery is well laid out, though I had a pretty good idea where we were headed fairly early on. It was fun to follow the clues and watch Luke performing an interesting mix of bumbling into stuff and smart research, all the while falling over himself because he's got a serious crush on that Mountie...  

The romance element was a significant part of the story, but handled well. I thought the level of angst over falling in love was about right, with Luke's bigger concern being what his relationship to Crescent Cove will be in the future. He has some work to do to put his Toronto life in order so that he's free to live where he wants and be who he is. I also see potential for complications in future books.

This is very much a cozy mystery, with characters and relationship of top importance, and the corpse no one you're going to much regret. Our main character has good reason to be poking around on his own, in addition to his calling as a journalist, and for the most part does a good job of keeping on the right side of the law in his interference. There was a little unreality in the degree to which the Mountie is willing to let Luke in on stuff, but it's easy to forgive.

My recommendation:
If you like a light cozy with a dollop of romance, this is for you!

And now, a guest appearance by author Mark Waddell! 


Queering the Cozy Genre

Mark Waddell


An early reader of my debut cozy confessed in their review that, when they saw that the protagonist was named Luke, they assumed it was short for “Lucretia.” Such is the power of genre conventions—so many cozies have female protagonists that readers come to expect one, even if the name doesn’t quite add up.

Genre fiction is defined by its tropes and by its adherence to those same conventions, but there’s value in pushing those tropes into new territory. My debut cozy, The Body in the Back Garden, is one of many engaged in that pushing. It belongs to a subgenre of quozy, or “queer cozy,” mysteries that have started to appear more frequently. Recent examples include Renovated to Death by Frank Anthony Polito, Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies by Misha Popp, Zac Bissonnette’s A Killing in Costumes, and Rob Osler’s Devil’s Chew Toy. Even more are on the way, including C.J. Connor’s Board to Death, out the same day as my own debut! All of these books center around characters whose queerness is evident, but not the most important thing about them. They aren’t stereotypes or caricatures of queer people, like those that sometimes appeared in stories from an earlier time. Instead, they’re relatable and complex, and they wind up involved in the same shenanigans you’d expect to find in any good cozy—dead bodies, dark secrets, and maybe a hint of (queer) romance as well.

When activists and authors began “queering” pop culture and literature in the 1980s and 1990s, they did so by challenging or subverting certain kinds of representation in the works they examined. Assumptions about what is normal or expected often form a silent and unquestioned foundation for the stories we tell, stories that then perpetuate those same assumptions. A queer perspective challenges this self-reinforcing system and presents alternative readings. The act of queering something doesn’t focus solely on sexuality or gender identity, however. Helen Oyeyemi’s Gingerbread and Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, for example, both start with well-known stories and then spin off into wildly imaginative directions that force their readers to question what those stories were really about in the first place. Likewise, queer cozies hold up a mirror to the genre as a whole and reveal new perspectives that transcend the tropes and conventions we know so well.

My own attempt to queer the cozy genre isn’t just rooted in the identity of my protagonist as male and gay. It also follows in the footsteps of many other authors who, in recent years, have brought greater diversity to a genre that used to be extremely white and mostly British. Some of my favorite examples include Alexia Gordon, whose Murder in G Major features an African-American classical musician trying to exonerate an Irish ghost, Mia P. Manansala’s sumptuous depictions of Filipino food and culture in her Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mysteries, and Vaseem Khan’s Baby Ganesh Agency Investigations series, in which a Mumbai investigator solves dastardly crimes with the help of a baby elephant. I was inspired by these authors, and many others, to create a setting for my story that was both diverse and inclusive, filled with characters who exemplify a wide range of identities and experiences.

At the same time, I wanted to write a book in which not all of these diverse experiences are necessarily positive. Luke Tremblay, my protagonist, was disowned by his family when he came out to them. This old, buried pain is still very much part of his story when he returns to Crescent Cove, a charming little seaside village on Vancouver Island, following the untimely death of his Aunt Marguerite. His feelings about the town, and about his aunt, are complicated. He mourns her death at the same time that he resents losing touch with her for twenty years. His fond memories of summers spent in Crescent Cove are juxtaposed with the unexpected horror of finding a dead body in the garden of his aunt’s cottage. And then there’s the handsome Jack Munro, Luke’s old childhood friend, who dealt with his share of homophobia and racism before ending up in charge of the local RCMP detachment. All of it forces Luke to wonder whether people like him ever really end up with the happily-ever-after.

Some readers might believe that a queer cozy isn’t for them if they aren’t queer themselves. This, however, is the kind of thinking that queer works of fiction strive to challenge. I grew up consuming stories about straight characters engaged in opposite-sex romances because that’s all there was, at least as far as I knew. There were elements of those stories that didn’t quite resonate with me, but then, that’s true of every single story I’ve ever read. The whole point of fiction is to open windows onto unfamiliar landscapes. Imagine how boring it would be if every book was about someone just like you. Where’s the fun in that?

Queer cozies are pushing the familiar conventions of a beloved genre into something more vibrant and inclusive. Now, more than ever, we need stories like this.


Thank you, Mark, for an excellent essay on what it means to have queer characters. I've long been battling the "sweet young thing" requirement for the mystery protagonist and am now writing more diversity in other ways, as well. I appreciate your insights and perspective on that.  ~~Rebecca


About Mark Waddell

Mark is originally from Calgary, Alberta, and grew up on the cold, windswept Prairies of western Canada. Fleeing southward, he earned a Ph.D. in the history of science, medicine, and technology from the Johns Hopkins University and then worked as a professor at Michigan State University for fifteen years. Finally, he persuaded his amazing husband to move to Vancouver Island, where they now live.
When he’s not writing stories about murderous Canadians, he plays the viola in the Civic Orchestra of Victoria, walks his dogs along the seashore, and thinks up interesting ways to kill people.

Author Links

Purchase Links:
PenguinRandomHouse – U.S.    PenguinRandomHouse – Canada
(includes links for Amazon,, etc.)
    B&N    Amazon


August 15 – Cozy Up WIth Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 16 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

August 17 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW  

August 18 – StoreyBook Reviews – AUTHOR GUEST POST


August 20 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT

August 21 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

August 22 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

August 23 – Rebecca M. Douglass, Author – REVIEW, AUTHOR GUEST POST

August 24 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 24 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

August 25 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews– AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 26 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

August 27 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

August 28 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – REVIEW

August 28 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

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  1. I don't think you have any need to worry about Coastal Corpse, and anyway, it's ready to go. If you were still on your first draft, well, then you might need to look further into the genres Mark talks about in his interview - which was extremely interesting. But I'd quibble about the white English cosy tradition. I've always thought Hercule Poirot was gay - but that would have been banned in England at that time, so Christie could easily go xenophobic and make him Belgian. You couldn't do that now!


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