Genre dilemma

I have a dilemma. I’m not sure what category of the mystery genre my novels belong to.

My stories don’t involve murder. So far, only one of the three even involves an actual crime. The next two I plan to write have no crimes in them at all. The Finnegans face a classical puzzle, assemble clues, chase down dead ends, and make intuitive leaps. They uncover the perpetrators, and the innocent see some sort of justice in the end. The mechanics are just like in most conventional mystery novels, but mine don’t involve crimes.

I’ve tried using the term “ultra cozy” in my query letters, but I’m not sure that has any kind of definition that is understood in the industry. Certainly it hasn’t prevented a handful of agents to ask for partials, but I don’t think the term automatically identifies the nature of my stories to an agent.

I’d like to think that if I could come upon the right name for my type of stories, I could focus my query attempts better. The genre of “mystery” is awfully broad, and I’m afraid my unconventional stories get lost in the vastness of it. “Thriller” isn’t right either.

I’m writing the kind of stories I would like to read. I’ve heard that many times when authors explain why they started writing. I suspect there is a market for my type of stories. The Hetty Wainthrop mysteries of BBC television are an example of this sub-genre. I think the #1 Ladies Detective Agency also shows that mysteries without murders in them can find readers (though I think the voice and characterizations in that series of stories is the real draw).

So I persevere. If any of you have any suggestions for a genre name, please do me the courtesy of letting me know.

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