Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Mix of Romance and Murder

Our theme for February, Partnerships, brought to mind book and TV series where the main characters are a couple who solves crimes in the manner of Nick and Nora Charles from Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man series.
Though the Hammett books were more in the true mystery genre tone, most people will remember the movies, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, which tended toward the lighter side. Smart, funny, and urbane, the movies brought more people to the books and vice versa.
So what mystery books in today’s bookstore/library shelves carry on the tradition of either a married couple or a male/female partnership in a personal relationship? TV series?

The most popular series that comes to mind is J.D. Robb’s futuristic Death series. Though not married when the first book debuted in 1995, New York police lieutenant Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Rourke—no first name—balance their relationship with her job as a cop. These novels are far darker than The Thin Man books and movies, and the fact that the latest addition is number 45 confirms their popularity.

Catherine Coulter is another female author writing a male/female team in her Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock FBI Thriller series, with a mere 22 entries. Again, these two are not married when the series begins, and the relationship builds as the series progresses. In real life, I doubt the FBI would allow a married couple to work together on the same case, though they can both work for the FBI. But alas, this is fiction, and a writer can do pretty much what she wants, claiming artistic license.

Faye Kellerman, another female author writes the Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series. He’s a cop, she’s an Orthodox Jew who helps him solve crimes. I haven’t read any of this series, but it’s an interesting premise. It also reminds me of the Harry Kemelman series about a rabbi in Marblehead, Massachusetts, who solves crimes using the Talmud. Since I grew up in the next town, I read that series and loved it. I noticed that they’ve been released as ebooks after all these decades.

But I digress.

Another series of novels made into TV shows with husband and wife team comes to mind―Mr. and Mrs. North, taken from the 26 books by Frances and Richard Lockridge and starring Richard Denning and Barbara Britton in the second reiteration. I doubt many people remember this TV show from the 50s, but I do. In reruns, of course.

In the late 70s, early 80s, Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers starred in Hart to Hart, a husband and wife team who find themselves in the role of amateur detectives. It was a huge success and though not based on a book series, it was written by Sidney Sheldon, one of the master fiction writers of his time.

I would be remiss not to mention my series, the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, with a black cop and a psychic entertainer who join forces and mix a bit of woo-woo with some tried and true police procedures. Initially, they dislike each other, but that doesn’t last long because I find that formula cliché. So far, there are four books in a series I never expected to be a series.

Reverting to those mentioned above, the bottom line, in more ways than one, is that series sell. If you start one, you’d better like your characters enough to let them grow and evolve, because they may be around for a long time.

Jot your favorites in the comments section. (Any written by men?)



Polly Iyer is the author of nine novels: standalones Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and Indiscretion, and four books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, Backlash and The Scent of Murder. A Massachusetts native, she makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. You can visit her website for more on Polly and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

17 comments :

  1. Let's not forget Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott from Robert Galbraith's novels (even though Robin married someone else at the end of book 3). Waiting for book 4 (Lethal White) not knowing what to expect. ;-)

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    1. I remember The Cuckoo's Calling when it came out, but I didn't realize it was the beginning of a series. Must look into it.

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  2. I love Tasha Alexander's Lady Emily and Colin Hargreaves series, and Anna Huber's Lady Darby and Sebastian Gage, and Anne Perry's Thomas and Charlotte Pitt.

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    1. Thanks, Diana. Historicals are not on my radar, but they are on others' who will enjoy the suggestion.

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  3. Jeanne M. Dams writes the Dorothy Martin series (hubby is a retired police inspector). I thought about the Pitts too. The Robin Paige historical mysteries have a sleuth couple. Let's hear some more and we'll make a list!

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  4. The Death On Demand series by Carolyn Hart is another one.

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    1. Good ones, Dani. Though I concentrated on hard core crime series, I love the additions made by my fellow bloggers.

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  5. Hi, Marlene Ezell here. I have to use anonymous to post because for some reason my phone won't let me do otherwise. I have enjoyed the books by J. D. Robb, Catherine Coulter, and Faye Kellerman. I enjoyed this blog.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Marlene. I know you're a very eclectic reader, so I appreciate your input.

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  6. I have read most of the Faye Kellerman books. They get better and better with each one, and I really like the unique partnership of Rina and Decker. I also like the partnership of Kensie and Gennaro in the series by Dennis Lehane that included Gone, Baby, Gone. While I do enjoy a light-hearted story sometimes, I am more drawn to stories that have a harder edge without the typical romantic issues that are in romantic suspense.

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    1. How could I have forgotten Kenzie and Gennaro by one of my favorite authors? Shame on me. Thanks for reminding me. I've read them all. Must tackle the Kellerman series.

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  7. I remember Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man movies, as well as Mr. and Mrs. North in the 50s. Obviously, partnerships work. Nice post, Polly. I see some books listed that I'd like to read. :-)

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    1. I see we both go way back, Linda. I've got a list of books from this post too. Wish I read faster. I don't.

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  8. Agatha Christie wrote a few novels set after WWI featuring Tommy & Tuppence, Thomas Beresford and Prudence Cowley who go into the "adventuring" business together. You don't hear much about them anymore compared to Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, but I thought those novels were pretty good.

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    1. There were a lot of English couples in mysteries in my research, most of them trending cozy.

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  9. I'm listening to one of Faye Kellerman's later books and am not enjoying it as much as I did the books between number 5 and ten. Not sure where this one is in the later lineup, but the title is "Murder 101." I have been disappointed in this one. The writing is not as tight as the books she wrote in the 90s. Too much repetition of information and facts about the case each time Decker talks to someone else.

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    1. A friend of mine said the same thing about a recent Kellerman book. The one you're mentioning is #22 of the series. As a writer, I worry about my series losing steam, and I've only just now finished book 4. Won't make it to #22, but I hope I know when to cut the cord.

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