Every sleuth must have a vehicle, from Nancy Drew’s blue roadster to Lord Peter Wimsey’s Daimler. (You can take a quiz to match famous sleuths to their cars here.) Stephanie Plum, as we know, can’t hold onto a method of transport. During the series her vehicles, both owned and borrowed, have been stolen, burned, exploded, repossessed, lost, crashed, and defiled by animals more than thirty times.
Wickeds, when it came time to choose a vehicle for your sleuth, what did you pick and how did you choose?
Edith: My farmer Cam Flaherty has an old Ford pickup truck she inherited from her great-uncle Albert. She’s a farmer, she has to have a truck! Robbie Jordan in southern Indiana has an old Econoline panel van. I have no idea how that popped into the series, unless it’s because she wanted something she could easily put her bicycle into, but that’s what she drives. Maybe it’ll break down in the next book and she can get a Mini-Cooper like Jessie’s (yes, I do covet that car) or a little Prius C with a bike rack. Rose Carroll in 1888 doesn’t own a buggy or a carriage, but she rides a bicycle around town, and her beau David drives a lovely Bailey buggy.
Jessie: Dani Green is tiny and she drives an MG Midget that ends up being attacked by some exotic wildlife in Drizzled with Death.
My sleuth in Live Free or Die, Gwen Fifield,drives a Mini like I do. Truth be told, she got hers first because I had always wanted one but still had too many children at home to fit them all into one.
In my book that will be releasing in September, Whispers Beyond the Veil, protagonist Ruby Proulx has more experience of carriages, carts and bicycles than automobiles since the story is set in 1898.
Liz: Stan’s got an Audi left over from her corporate days. Although many of her former colleagues purchased cars that would look good to whoever saw them, she genuinely likes the Audi brand. However, she doesn’t drive as much as she used to, since most everything she does is within a three-mile radius. She’s become accustomed to walking or biking around, especially since she has to work off all the pastries from Izzy’s gourmet sweet shop. Or driving around with Jake in his truck. She’s thinking about getting a new ride, though, and wants something that can easily fit their growing furry family and deal with winter. She’s got her eye on a Subaru Crosstrek.
Barb: Julia didn’t have a vehicle in the first two Maine Clambake Mysteries. She’d come from Manhattan and was taking the family tour boat to work everyday, so she borrowed her mother’s car when necessary. However, after she cracked up Mom’s car twice (once her fault and once not), her mom told Julia to get her own transportation. Thus, they both followed a time-honored Maine tradition and bought “winter beaters,” old cars intended to be disposed of as soon as an expensive repair becomes necessary. Julia’s Caprice barely works. The heat is intermittent and it can’t be driven very far, so I think there may be a new vehicle in her future.
Julie: Ruth Clagan drives the same car I do–a 2004 Scion xB. Green. I love my car, which has less that 50,000 miles on it. It is perfect for a clock maker, since you can haul a lot. When I bought my car, my family made fun of me, until they sat in it. The headroom is amazing. Ben, the handsome barber next door, drives a Volkswagen bug from the 70’s named Betty, which also echos a car from my past–one that my college roommate owned. You couldn’t turn the heat off, so in the summer I’d stick my feet out the windows when we took rides down to the beach. Ah, memories.
Sherry: Sarah Winston needs something big to haul around all of her garage sale finds. When I had to decide what kind of vehicle to give her, I thought about all the fun trips my friend Nancy and I had going to garage sales in her white Suburban. So that’s what Sarah has. Hers is about ten years old but it’s taken her on some exciting adventures.
Readers: Do you have a favorite fictional car?
When I started the Liss MacCrimmon series, I gave Liss my car, a 2002 P T Cruiser, but in the first book, Kilt Dead, it was sabotaged and ended up floating down a river. I’m still driving mine. I don’t know what Liss drives now. I just call it a car and her husband drives a generic pickup truck.
I had a PT Cruiser, too. Now my daughter has it. She hates it, but it’s transportation.
My heroine in Witch City Mysteries, Lee Barrett, proudly drives an almost-new, sweet Laguna blue Corvette Stingray. A Nancy Drew fan, she chose the “blue roadster” as soon as she could afford it. Detective boyfriend Pete drives an unmarked Crown Vic and Aunt Ibby has a big, dependable Buick. Lee’s deceased husband, Johhny Barrett was a NASCAR driver, so she has an interest in cars.
I love the homage to the blue roadster!
My protagonist, Max drives a Corolla (we have a Corolla and a Rav 4) and her boyfriend, Jake drives a pick-up–I don’t think I’ve ever said what kind. In previous unpublished (so far) books, I have a character (Irma Jean) who drives an old blue pick-up and her mother drives a pink Cadillac.
I’m not sure what my favorite fictional vehicle is. Although the Batmobile is a good suggestion, lol.
There’s a lot of protagonists driving the same make of car as their creators! I don’t think I’ve ever said what kind of a pickup my protagonist’s boyfriend drives, either. I know Julia’s sister Livvie drives an ancient minivan and the Snugg sisters across the street drive a Subaru wagon. Subaru’s are the most common car in Maine.
I love all the cars Ranger has in the Janet Evanovich books.
I agree with Liz, a Subaru Crosstrek for New England winters; but I could also see Stan driving a Hyundai Veloster.
A new car for Stan! Let’s start a pool.
I was always intrigued by Ellery Queen’s Daimler. It just sounded so exotic. When I finally saw a picture of one, I loved the “Roman Nose”. The Batmobile is a great choice, too!
Those old Daimlers are amazing works of design.
Loved Nancy Drew’s blue roadster – later convertible. Enjoyed the article on cars. Will be looking for Gwen Fifield mysteries – I also drive a mini.
You won’t be disappointed. Live Free or Die is hilarious.
I must admit, I don’t pay much attention to cars – in books or in real life. They just don’t interest me that much.
However, I did think of Jessica Fletcher when reading the opening since she never drove in the TV series. Granted, when she was in Cabot Cove, she didn’t need to. Everything was right there.
That is one of the joys of the village mystery–everything right there.
Herbie the VW Bug.
And the Mystery Machine. How could I not, Scoody Doo is my childhood hero.
I love those movies. I wouldn’t complain about owning Herbie.
None of my characters care much about driving. I think I gave Meg (Orchard series) a Honda in the beginning, and nobody’s mentioned it since. Nell (Museum) has a car but really prefers to commute by train. Maura in Ireland inherited a big black something-or-other that has to be at least 20 years old and is built like a tank–not the best way to learn to drive on Irish roads. As for me? In y heart of hearts I’ve been coveting a 1966 Mustang convertible since they were new. Red, of course.
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