Would Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey series qualify,
Probably yes. And I would add Josephine Tey, one of my favorites. Maybe she was a little later? Somehow the term cozy doesn't quite fit...I like how I.J. describes it: "Golden Age." The settings were classy and elegant, and so were the detectives.
And speaking of Lord Peter Wimsey....and Marsh's Inspector Alleyn (though I confess I have not read those and have seen only one of the TV dramatizations which I didn't much care for)...now there you have the precedents for Elizabeth George's aristocratic Thomas Lynley. Direct descendant of the classic cozy! :)
It only just occurred to me. Only Lord Peter had the very intelligent and resourceful Harriet Vane instead of Lady Helen....a much more complex and interesting character. If George had created a Harriet Vane she wouldn't have had to bump her off. But then, Tommy's got Havers. :) He doesn't need yet another willful, stubborn woman in his life!
Perhaps my favorite Tey novel was "Brat Farrar." Brilliant idea, brilliant story. A"caper" turns into a deadly game. Hm. Might be time to re-read some Tey. "To Love and Be Wise" perhaps foreshadows Ruth Rendell's "A Sleeping Life."
I think THE DAUGHTER OF TIME had the most profound impact on me. To this day, I'm convinced that Richard III was innocent. In fact, I believed that Shakespeare thought so, too, but was forced by Tudor censorship to write the play the way he did. I spent a good deal of time reading between the lines. :)
I haven’t read Tey, is she still available? I liked George but felt her later books were a bit muddled, however for the pure reading pleasure I would nominate Sayers. I think she had better literary skills.
Didn’t she undertake some translations – was it Dante? I remember one English Lit. teacher quoting ‘that critics portrayed her as “a lonely little petunia in the onion patch of detective fiction.”’ LOL, funny that I should remember that after all these years..
Years ago there was a TV adaptation of "Brat Farrar", I don't remember when, but probably saw it on PBS. That was my introduction to Tey. The characters in the book seem younger than the way they were portrayed on screen, but book and show were both quite good. I wish I could find that one on DVD somewhere.
The characters in the book seem younger than the way they were portrayed on screen,
I remember that production also, and that it was quite good---faithful to the story, anyway. But the TV characters were detinitely older looking! Still, I seem to recall that the protganists were young men---probably in their 20s ? Possibly you can get that DVD on Netflix.
I don't read many cozies, as I am drawn to realism in my fiction, but one series that's held my attention over the years is Mary Daheim's 21-book-long (and counting) collection of "Alpine" books, set in the Cascade Mountains foothills of western Washington state. They're not only good-humored, well-paced murder mysteries with a lively community and rich recurring characters, but most of the books offer intriguing history lessons that draw salient parallels to present times. I enjoy them as long as I don't try to read more than one every few months; I need my near-daily despair fix.