Tag Archives: Mayhem Parva

Mayhem Parva & Other Cosy Quotes

Mayhem Parva is a fictional village setting, coined by mystery historian Colin Watson. In his book A Snobbery With Violience;  Watson reviewed mysteries by writers from the first half of the 20th century – why they were popular and what their books say about the prejudices of the time. But all of that sociology aside Mayhem Parva is:

“The setting for the crime stories by what we might call the Mayhem Parva school would be a cross between a village and a commuters’ dormitory in the South of England, self-contained, and largely self-sufficient. It would have a well-attended church, an inn with reasonable accommodation for itinerant detective-inspectors, a village institute, library and shops – including a chemist’s where weed killer and hair dye might conveniently be bought.”

John le Carre adds this about setting:
“If you describe a Secret Service and impose upon it the same ground rules of behavior as you would upon an English country house, you quickly get the reader with you. So these are bits of ammunition that are available to an English writer, and properly used, are pure gold, in my experience.”

And finally Diana Rigg (Remember her as  the marvelous Mrs. Peel from the Avengers?) while hosting Masterpiece Theatre had this to say:
“A cozy mystery refers to stories that take place in closed, often serene settings. An unexpected act of violence shatters the peace. A small group of characters falls under suspicion and a heroic detective arrives to solve the crime. Are usually solved within a short period of time, a week or two at the most.   In general the solution is usually in plain sight from start to finish. And the killer has been onstage throughout. Motives are clear and simple. Somebody hates fears or envies somebody else or else stands to inherits a lot of money. One by one suspects are considered and eliminated, although the detective will occasionally find himself in a blind alley.”