Survival Can Be Deadly by Charlotte Stuart

Murder Mysteries that Bump Your Funny Bone
Charlotte Stuart

Lists of humorous mysteries that you find online lump mysteries together whether they employ blatant, exaggerated situations to create humor or rely on shock comparisons for dark humor. Carl Hiaasen versus Caimh McDonnell. But if all you see in a review is a reference to their “humor,” how do you as a reader decide what to read?
I’ve been working on a matrix to identify authors based on their type of humor. So far, I’ve come up with five main categories – one genre, five categories.
Kooky: This category encompasses the “outrageous situation” that usually includes some very quirky characters and unique descriptions. Such as Hiaasen’s crazed, one-eyed, ex-governor of Florida who lives on road kill.
Comic: This includes the benign, non-offensive humor found in most cozies and capers. In can include the inept sleuth, some physical humor, and often relies on wordplay and conservatively idiosyncratic characters. Like Donald Westlake’s Dortmunder series.
Amusing: Less overtly humorous than the Kooky or Comic, but with humorous themes that may run throughout the book. These themes are often character driven but may involve a combination of action, language and characters. A prime example is Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series.
Edgy: More complex and nuanced humor, sometimes only intermittently employed. It often includes the use of irony, satire and dry humor. Characters are frequently nonconformists. For example, Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum has been described as “a Jersey girl with Bette Midler’s mouth and Cher’s fashion sense.”
Dark: Dark humor is not always easy to identify because it is often the product of intermittent sarcasm, irony and exaggeration. But just as a resounding whack on your funny bone can cause momentary numbness or pain, dark humor, like the tragicomedy it is, gives us pause, registering somewhere on the humor continuum because of the incongruity it represents. The wood chipper scene in Fargo captures the essence of dark humor, challenging our value systems by making light of a topic considered taboo. Joseph Wambaugh’s self described “gallows humor” in his books about cops on the job is an example of this category.
I find it interesting that the titles of books often suggest which category they belong in. For instance, who would expect dark humor in a book titled Squirm or What’s the Worst Thing That Could Happen? And cozies in the Comic category clearly suggest their positive outlook and let the reader know to expect a happy ending. The Cat Who… Cajun Fried Felony. Death by Darjeeling.
Although it’s more difficult to identify Amusing titles, the key is that the humor doesn’t come first, it doesn’t dictate the tone of the title. Rather, the authors hint at place or context, but with a light touch. The Judas Goat. The Janus Stone. Too Many Cooks.
When it comes to Edgy titles, you begin to get glimpses of social and cultural commentary. Righteous. Tripwire. Farewell My Lovely.
Finally, if you pick one of the Dark titles, you will get what you should have expected. A Stab in the Dark. I Have Sinned. The Keeper of Lost Causes.
Of course, not all titles tell the full story. And sometimes they can be completely misleading. Who would expect Nuclear Jellyfish to be about a sociopathic, serial killer?
The bottom line is that all humor writers are not alike. They may bump our funny bones, but with different levels of intensity. As I continue to develop my matrix and find ways to distinguish between types of humor in mysteries, I hope to help readers more quickly identify which humorous writers they prefer and, in turn, help writers refine their target audiences.

Survival Can Be Deadly: A Discount Detective
by Charlotte Stuart

I really enjoyed this story . . . The mystery itself was quite interesting . . . I will definitely watch for more by this author.
~Carla Loves to Read
This book is so funny, it reminds me of the early Stephanie Plum mysteries, but not as wacky. The mystery was well-paced.
~Diane Reviews Books

About Survival Can Be Deadly 

Survival Can Be Deadly: A Discount Detective Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Walrus Publishing (September 10, 2019)
An imprint of Amphorae Publishing Group
Paperback: 308 pages
ISBN-10: 1940442265
ISBN-13: 978-1940442266
Digital ASIN: B07Q8TKP7T
When single mom and recent widow Cameron Chandler takes a much-needed job at Penny-wise Investigations, a detective agency conveniently located in a suburban shopping mall, she grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Her first case is to locate a runaway girl, something her predecessor had been pursuing before he disappeared. Following in his footsteps, the trail leads to a survivalist camp on a remote island in northern Puget Sound. Armed with only a Swiss Army Knife and her quirky on-the-job training as a suburban sleuth, Cameron uncovers more than she bargained for. She soon finds herself in a fight for her own survival in this lighthearted mystery set in Seattle and the San Juan Islands to the north.

About Charlotte Stuart

In a world filled with uncertainty and too little chocolate, Charlotte Stuart, PhD, has taught college courses in communication, gone commercial fishing in Alaska, and was the VP of HR and Training for a large credit union. Her current passion is for writing lighthearted mysteries with a pinch of adventure and a dollop of humor. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys watching herons, eagles, seals and other sea life from her Vashon Island home office.

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  1. What a wise decision to give her a Swiss Army knife! 💜💜💜

  2. I like the idea of a store front detective job!

  3. I look forward to reading this book as it is set in Seattle and the San Juans. It sounds like a lot of fun. Love the Swiss Army knife on the front.


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