I do agree with Kate that mysteries usually start with something needing to be solved. There’s sometimes a little bit of an opener, like Clue before the first body drops, or a police procedural where the characters get introduced (or if it’s a series, the newest personal issue comes up), but they get to the dead bodies pretty quick. ((If I remember correctly from the other classes, this is the Becky that dies))
Yes, they do, but often there’s a first chapter of laying groundwork in relation to the MCs before the whole dead-body thing starts. I was just looking over Jennie Bentley’s “DIY” series and her FIRST book starts with the series heroine in NYC at her “normal” job as a textile designer (or something like that), with her (we soon find out) cheating crappy boyfriend… and THEN she gets the letter that she’s inherited her aunt’s Victorian home in Maine (or wherever–it’s been a couple years since I’ve read the series).
As Ellen doesn’t usually write cozies and has no cozy series going, this would be considered the first in the series (if it does indeed become a series) so it works fine with not having the actual mystery in the first chapter.
There was also a Yoga teacher cozy series I read and it had a similar set-up. The female protagonist ends up inheriting her mother’s or aunt’s yoga studio out of town/out of state, and the opening chapter sets up who she is and how she deals with the news of her inheritance (the trigger) , which forces her to move (the change) and take over the studio… and the dead bodies show up from there.
My RWA chapter-mate, Jean Harrington, pens the cozy Murders By Design mysteries (set here in Naples, FL) https://www.goodreads.com/series/81140 and her first book starts out in chapter one with the interior designer gal working her usual job–which stays her job throughout the series. It’s in Chapter Two she stumbles over her client’s dead body.
So it can work either way. The cozy set up can be the MC doing the usual which leads to the discovery of a murder, or the MC can be called out of her normal life into a new life, which leads to a discovery of a murder…
//Interstellar Adventure Infused with Romance//