Apr 142016


The term petite usually refers to a woman who is 5’4″ or less.
Let’s talk about some Petite Protagonists that can back a punch. 

I never really thought too much about the heights of cozy protagonists until the start of this year. I was reading Foreign Eclairs by Julie Hyzy and realized again the White House Chef, Ollie Paras, is just 5’3″. Then I picked up For Cheddar or Worse by Avery Aames and cheese shop owner, Charlotte Bessette was just 5’4″. I knew this from reading all the previous books in both series which now have sadly ended. But it got me to thinking. I made myself a note – Pint Size/Petite Protagonists – Research. That’s what I started to do, but soon decided to go right to the source. I emailed the authors and asked them to answer a few questions about our favorite cozy characters. This is just the first post I plan to do with their answers.

Julie also writes the Manor House Mysteries, Grace See Red comes out June 28, 2016. She wrote a post back in December telling us that Ollie’s journey with her as the author was coming to an end. You can read it here. Stay up to date with Julie and her books on her webpage here.

Avery Aames is a pen name, she also writes as herself, Daryl Wood Gerber. Book 5 in the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, Grilling the Subject, will be released on August 2, 2016. Her new suspense/thriller novel, Girl on the Run, was just released on April 9. Avery/Daryl information and news can be found on her webpage here.

Ollie and Charlotte are just 2 of these fantastic vertically challenged heroines. They are joined by Maxine “Max” O’Hara who stars in the Brewing Trouble Mysteries by Joyce Tremel. Max is a certified brewmaster and owner of the Allegheny Brew House and quite an amateur sleuth. To Brew or Not to Brew was released in December and Tangled Up in Brew will be out in October. I really enjoyed the first book in the series. You can read my review here.  Stay up with what’s brewing on Joyce’s webpage here.

We also have Julia Snowden, Manager of the Snowden Family Clambake, from Barbara Ross’s Clambake Mystery Series. The latest book in this series was Fogged Inn. It takes place in the off-season so we meet some new characters. I have enjoyed every book in this series. If this series is new to you, start with the first book, Clammed Up.  Find our more about Barbara and her books on her webpage here.

The latest Soup Lover’s Mystery just came out this month. A Clue in the Stew, has 5′ 4″ Lucky Jamieson hosting an event with a famous author. Set in Vermont, soup is great any day, mixed with murder these stories are always a tasty treat. There are 5 books in this series starting with A Spoonful of Murder, followed by A Broth of Betrayal, A Roux of Revenge, Ladle to the Grave, and the new A Clue in the Stew. Check out Connie’s webpage to find about more about her and her books here. She is also at work on a new mystery series, written as Connie di Marco. The Madness of Mercury comes out June 8 from Midnight Ink.

Jillian Hart is the perfect petite protagonist in the long running Cats in Trouble Mystery Series. She is also 5’4″ and has gone through so much in the first 7 books in this series. The Cat, The Collector and the Killer hits shelves on August 2, and I can’t wait to see what trouble she and the cats get into next. Love cats and mystery but haven’t tried these yet? Start with The Cat, The Quilt, and The Corpse, then you will want to read them all. Visit Leann’s webpage to learn more about her and her books here.

Kiki Lowenstein, standing tall at 5’3″, has been around the cozy world for a long time. Joanna Campbell Slan introduced us to her back in 2008 in Paper, Scissors, Death. Kiki loves her scrapbooking and she put herself into some perilous places,  Joanna is hard at work on Glue, Baby, Gone, the 12th story in this series. She is also offering quite a deal with Shotgun Wedding Bells. Buy One/Get One Offer–With this title, you’ll also automatically get a free copy of “Tear Down and Die,” the first book in a new series. You can find out more about Joanna and her books on her webpage here.

The Farmers’ Market Mysteries feature 5’3″ Becca Robins.  She sells her jams and jellies at the Farm Market her sister manages. Sadly this is another series that has ended. I really loved these stories. Just because they have ended doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this protag’s adventures. Paige does have 2 new mystery series. The Cracked Spine: A Scottish Bookshop Mystery came out on March 29 and To Helvetica and Back (A Dangerous Type Mystery) was released January 5, 2016. You can find out more about Paige and her books on her webpage here

Kelsey Cambridge is the museum director in the Living History Museum Mysteries by Amanda Flower. The first book, The Final Reveille, featuring a Civil War reenactment came out last year. The 2nd book, The Final Tap, comes out May 8th and  it’s maple sugar season! This pint sized sleuth has found herself in a sticky situation. Amanda Flower also writes the Magical Bookshop Mysteries. The debut, Crime and Poetry,  was just released this month. Check out her webpage here to find out about all her books , even those written as Isabella Alan.

The last petite protagonist I am featuring today is Val Deniston from the Five-Ingredient Mysteries. Former cookbook publicist has come to Bayport and works at the Cool Down Café at the local fitness club. She is also working on her own cookbook. We also meet her curmudgeonly grandfather. By Cook or By Crook, is the first installment in this series, followed by Scam Chowder. Final Fondue will be out June 28, 2016. Find out more about Maya and here books on her webpage here

These protagonists may be “vertically challenged” but they sure can take care of themselves for the most part when it comes to tracking down murderers. I happen to know some pint-sized young women who have chosen law enforcement as their profession in real life. One is a State Trooper and another graduates college next year with a degree in Criminal Justice. I have seen them in action and know they can handle their jobs as well as a full size man. So why not have this happen in our cozies.

In both cases, backup is always a good idea. Whether is be another squad car arriving or your boyfriend/brother/best friend/detective/ or some other fantastic character showing up for the assist. All I know is that I am fine reading about the crimes, I don’t need to be in the middle of them. I will leave that to these fantastic protagonists.

This is not a complete list. If you know of other Petite Protags please share them in the comments below. 


I am giving away 1 copy of Foreign Éclairs
and 1 copy of For Cheddar of Worse

Do you notice the height of the amateur sleuth when you are reading?  

Leave a comment telling me below and then fill out this form to enter the giveaway!

Contest will end April 28, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.


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  34 Responses to “Petite Protagonists”

  1. I have read most of these authors and have not really noticed mysteries they had petite protagonists. I am interested in character & plot/setting so unless they enter a situation where being vertically challenged person was a real liability, it doesn’t matter much to me.

  2. I don’t usually pay attention to the height of characters.

  3. Don’t forget about 5’2″ Abby Knight from the Flower Shop Mysteries!

  4. I tend to notice a character who is very tall more than one who is short.

  5. When I read a novel and it mentions their height I am interested greatly since I am 4’10”. It is rare to have a character who is small. I do not like the term vertically challenged at all. It is insulting.

  6. When I read a book for the first time I take in all the characteristics about the people in it. Having a daughter who is only 5 feet 2 inches I know that people who are small in stature develop other ways to make up for it. Thanks for sharing this topic on your blog. robeader53@yahoo.com

  7. I can’t say that I ever noticed the height.

  8. I always notice because I’m trying to get a visual of the character in my mind. I am 5’2″, so petite protagonists stand out to me!

  9. I don’t usually pay much attention to height, unless it’s mentioned several times and is an integral part of the character (talking about not being able to reach something, or people looking down at her, etc.).

  10. No I have not noticed the height.

  11. I tend to notice it only when the author makes a point of it repeatedly. One thing I do notice, if the protagonist is short, is whether the author/narrator mentions her difficulty in reaching things. I find that authors of average height or taller don’t always realize that we short women need to stand on a stool or a chair to get things off a high shelf, for instance.

  12. Hannah Sweenson is always described as tall.

  13. I am surprised to find that height has been a characterization I missed. I usually don’t pay close attention to that. I acknowledge the character being female or make, but I often picture the lead as me… I really get involved in the story.

  14. Fun post! Since I am 5’1″ when I stand up real tall, I have mostly written tall protagonists. Even though each of my lead characters has elements of myself, I didn’t want people to think I was writing ME. But chef-carpenter Robbie Jordan in my well-received Country Store Mysteries (which I wrote as Maddie Day) is 5’3″ – and she takes care of herself quite well. ;^)

  15. I always pay attention to the descriptions of the characters when I start the book so I hopefully have a good picture in my mind. I am 5’4″ (and a half!) and that used to be average, not petite.

  16. Without the height of the character it’s hard to get a complete picture of them. If in the readers mind the character is 6’4″ then the author has them hiding in a suitcase because the character is actually only 4’8″ it would totally rune the entire story for the reader.

  17. While at 5’3, she’s still taller than I am. I really didn’t notice it a lot. I can’t believe I haven’t read any of these or have them in my stash. I feel like I will never catch up on the cozies especially when I enjoy them so much. Thanks for this opportunity.

  18. I usually don’t notice the height unless the girl is tall. Two of the tall characters that come to mind are Lee Woodard from the Chocolate mysteries my JoAnna Carl and Hannah Swenson from the cookie shop mysteries by Joanne Fluke.

  19. No, I never pay attention to how tall or short the person is.

  20. I don’t care either way just as long as the author has given me enough description to picture them in my mind. Sometimes it’s funny the scrapes the shorter characters get themselves into…. 🙂

  21. Do remember that Goldie Bear was only 5′ to the giant “JERK” I love cozies

  22. I never pay attention to their height.

  23. Many of the books I read often have protagonist that are on the tall end. Usually I really dislike reading with protagonists who are short, because usually they’re “shaped like children” and can usually pass as boys. I’m small myself and baby faced, however, I have never been able to pass as a boy and could never pass as a child. So it’s usually something that annoys me, as it seems like such a strange thing to do. I often find this most often in YA and fantasy.

  24. I love some of those titles.

  25. I think I notice they’re short or tall, but not the exact height. However, I shall read more carefully now. 5’4″ is a good height 🙂

  26. Yes, as a 5’2″ woman, I tend to notice the height of the ladies.

  27. As I am only 4’9″, I look for heights and root for us little ones

  28. This is a good selection of books.

  29. Usually, I don’t pay attention to the height of the person.

  30. Kinsey in the Alphabet series by Sue Grafton

  31. Joanna Brady in the Joanna Brady series by JA Jance

  32. Betsy Devonshire in Monica Ferris’ series.

  33. I agree that height doesn’t equate to power, but there’s no denying that it can be more diffucult to defend oneself against a bigger, brawnier opponent. At least, that’s what my PI protagonist, 5’3″ Angelina Bonaparte, thinks. A smaller person, especially a woman, has to work a bit harder, but that’s no problem for Angie. Thanks for the column!

    “Create a standard for yourself and not a limit.” ― Israelmore Ayivor

  34. There are some advantages to being short. NOt many. But seems easier to hide. KNow an older lady who is 4’6″ and she is dynamite. 76 and skilled in martial arts. Has a led foot. Never had a ticket been in an accident. And a real go-getter. So does size really matter? Not really. It’s attitude. Personally I prefer height. But that’s mainly because i hate to sow and hemming dresses was a pain. Looks like some really great reads. I look forward to these books. Enjoyed this post. Appreciate the giveaway & the info. Thanks

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