Hey, Will, are you sure about this--fewer cozys? I attended Malice Domestic the last two years and it seemed like every book I picked up was a cozy. Lots of vampires and cats. Are there statistics available?
I'm guessing 65 people showed up for one book signing session at Malice this year, and 61 of them lined up to meet Charlaine Harris. Her fans were amazing, some carrying eight or ten books with them for her to sign. I asked a fellow writer--both of us twiddling our thumbs--what Ms. Harris wrote about. I was told, "Friendly vampires."
I have noticed that my mystery publisher, Bantam, seems to be publishing less cozies/traditional mysteries right now. (That, of course, can change in the future.) I don't know what is the breakdown of St. Martin's Minotaur's list compared to the past. NAL/Berkley Prime Crime/Signet is producing a healthy slate of cozies. Llewellyn's Midnight Ink, a relative newcomer, seems to be specializing in the cozy arena as well. But many other smaller presses--Hard Case Crime, Akashic, etc.--seem to be specializing in hard-boiled/noir books. Harlequin's Mira has an emphasis on thrillers. So, Will, you might be on to something. (One way to help quantify it might be to dig up the publisher's catalogues from 10 years ago and compare to this year's.) We may be in darker times right now, spurring a demand for darker stories. I think that there are plenty of excellent writers of traditional mysteries but I'm not sure if many are being marketed that widely.
The most recent cozies that strike me as good and that are also hugely popular are the Mma Ramotswe stories about a ladies' detective agency in Botswana. The author is Alexander McCall Smith. The books have all the gentle, simple, charming attributes of cozy mysteries with none of that nasty violence and bad language. And they are full of hope. Or nostalgia. :) My guess is that there is a very large audience for such books.
Every time I turn around I hear about the death of this genre, or the death of that one. I don't think cozies are dying. It's like fashion. Today no one wants them, tomorrow they can't get enough. It all changes at the drop of a hat.
I include myself in the cozy mystery writers of America. Check out my website www.jdwebb.com
Cozies can still feature murders, just exclude the description of the blood evidence. Two books out and a third due in December.