Crime Solving Couples by Carol Perry

by Barb, suffering the 75 degree temps in Key West

Please welcome Friend of the Wickeds (FOW), Carol Perry, author of the Witch City Mystery series from Kensington. Today is release day for her latest, Murder Go Round! Congratulations, Carol –and take it away!

Carol Perry, Gulfport

Thanks for sharing my special book birthday for Murder Go Round! It’s the fourth book in the Witch City Mystery series where all the action takes place in Salem, Massachusetts—the magical city of my birth. (Born there on Halloween eve, as a matter of fact.) In this one, my crime solving couple, Lee Barrett and Pete Mondello, along with Lee’s Aunt Ibby and O’Ryan the cat, get involved with murder (of course,) involving an old carousel horse, a silver Russian samovar and the late Tsar Nicolas II.

Quite serendipitously, I received an invitation to serve on a panel of mystery writers at the upcoming MWA Sleuthfest next month in Boca Raton, Florida. The assigned topic: “Crime Solving Couples.” I immediately began thinking, remembering, reminiscing about all those wonderful detecting duos I’ve enjoyed over the years in books, TV, movies, and yes, even radio.

murder-go-roundAt first, the couples that came to mind were the married, or at least romantically involved, men and women who worked—sometimes in beautiful harmony, sometimes from opposite starting points– to bring the baddies to justice. Think Dashiell Hammett’s Nick and Nora Charles; Richard and Frances Lockridge’s Pam and Jerry North; Sidney Sheldon’s Jonathan and Jennifer Hart; and more recently, Kathy Reichs’ Dr. Temperance (Bones) Brennen and Seeley Booth; Anne Perry’s Charlotte and Thomas Pitt; Dennis Lehane’s Kenzie and Gennaro.

I began asking friends and family, fellow writers, strangers I met in line at Barnes & Noble—“Who’s your favorite crime solving couple?” Everybody has one—usually more than one—most often, a lot more than one! I found myself saying “Oh, yeah. That one! Me too. Loved it!” The list grew. Carolyn Hart’s Annie and Max Darling, Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence Beresford: Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy and Dan Sullivan; Margaret Maron’s Judge Deborah Knott and Deputy Dwight Bryant. The titles kept on coming. Some of the stories take place in the past, some in the present, a few in the future. It seems that there’s no end to the possibilities we writers have in creating couples who solve crimes.

My heroine, Lee happens to be a scryer. (She sees images, often unwelcome ones, in reflective surfaces.) Pete, the man in her life, is a straight-arrow, just-the-facts-ma’am police detective who isn’t comfortable with things paranormal. Throw in her cat, O’Ryan, who used to be a witch’s “familiar” and poor Pete is surrounded by high strangeness. So Pete and Lee approach problems–like murder–from different angles. (Liz’s Stan and Jake seem to work that way too, as do Barb’s Chris and Julia.)

Not all of the couples who fit into this category are of the one man, one woman variety. Think of Holmes and Watson, Batman and Robin, Cagney and Lacey, Carolyn Haines’ Sarah Booth Delaney and Tinkie Richmond, Martha Grimes’ Richard Jury and Melrose Plant– and I’m so looking forward to Jessie’s Beryl and Edwina series!

The more I’ve thought about this, the more possibilities for mystery plots have suggested themselves. Some men and women solve crimes together, but never quite reach “couple” status, even though there’s sexual tension throughout the adventures. Think Scully and Mulder in “The X Files,” Maddie and David in “Moonlighting”

What a rich field of ideas for writers! Couples can combine their varied methods of mystery-solving as Pete and Lee do in Murder Go Round. In the Bones stories, Temperance approaches the problem from a scientific angle while Booth sticks to legal procedure. Combining two personalities for crime solving offers a neat kind of a BOGO for writers. Maron’s Judge Deborah must try not to get involved with Deputy Dwight’s investigations which might wind up in her courtroom. We get to double the tension of the story as each of the pair has his/her own “moments of danger.” Banter between the two, whether loving, scary or amusing, helps to advance the plot and develop the characters.

Wickeds, fellow writers and readers, who are your favorite crime solving couples? I’m envisioning a mile high pile of sleuthing duo books to add to my TBR collection.


36 Thoughts

  1. Welcome to the top end of the blog, Carol! You named a lot of couples there. I am particularly fond of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne. Best of luck with the new book.

      1. Ok, Carol, I am going way back to when I was a little girl living in a beautiful country house, called Foley Lodge, near Newbury, England. Enid Blyton was a famous children’s author there, and I would stay up late reading her “Adventure” books. There were two ‘couples’ who solved mysteries, but I didn’t think of them as couples for they were two sets of brothers and sisters who spent summer holidays together: Dinah and her brother, Jack, who bickered a lot; Phillip and his sister (whose name will come to me as soon as I hit “send.”)
        Each summer they would stumble on some mystery and solve it by the time the holidays were over. As with your books, I couldn’t wait for the next one!
        Your Witch Series is a grown up version of these, with great characters and splendid plots that aren’t filled with too much blood and violence. Plus that little touch of magic that slips in each one.
        Keep ’em coming!


  2. Thanks for visiting, Carol! I love the phrase “high strangeness”! I love the Ruth Galloway novels by Elly Griffiths. The interplay between forensic archeolgist Ruth Galloway and DCI Nelson is a such a pleasure to witness.

    1. So glad you named this duo. They certainly are different so amazing when working together.

  3. Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane.

    You may have hinted at an alternate definition of couples: what do you make of a duo, most often an amateur sleuth and a law enforcement professional, who butt heads again and again over a series of books? There may or may not be hints of romantic attraction, but they may not act on it (leaving the reader guessing). Are they a couple? If not, what would you call that relationship?

  4. Welcome, Carol! Congratulations on your fourth book and thanks for being here with us to celebrate! I love that you were born on Halloween Eve in Salem! I also love Julia Spencer Flemings Russ and Clare.

    1. Thank you Sherry! It’s a really good birth date! Always a party no matter where I am. Heading for the library to get reacquainted with Russ and Clare.

  5. Happy BB, Carol! I love your series. I guess my favorite crime-solving couple would have to be Nick and Nora Charles, probably because I’ve never been able to figure out how they’re able to solve mysteries while imbibing in so many alcoholic beverages. And, of course, they are ably assisted by that adorable fox terrier, Asta. Woof!

  6. I love all of the above…I’m happy to see you mentioned Tommy and Tuppence as they seem to be one of the forgotten couples. The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Christie always had a “partner” too.

  7. I love sleuthing duos! I’m a big fan of Annie and Max Darling and Dandy Gilver and Alec Osborne.

    I’m also finding a great deal of joy in a new sleuthing duo I was introduced to in a book I got for Christmas – A Quiet Life in the Country by T E Kinsey. It’s a widowed lady and her lady’s maid who’ve retired to the country. The first book teases with various stories about their past travels and the maid’s skills in martial arts. The relationship is one of equals and they’re utterly devoted to one another. It’s a very charming series.

  8. One of my favorite crime-solving “couples” would have to be Ellie Haskell and her housekeeper, Mrs. Malloy, from Dorothy Carnell’s Thin Woman series. I also enjoy Laurie King’s series featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. Your series sounds interesting and I love all things “magical.” I am hoping to get to Salem this fall.

  9. Nick and Nora Charles sprang immediately to mind for me. I know it’s not a book, but another favorite is Scarecrow and Mrs. King from the 80’s show.

    Congrats on the new book!

  10. I didn’t realize your book was coming out today- I just hustled over to order it! A bright spot on a dreary winter day!

    Some of my favorite couples were mentioned above but I also love Myron Bolitar and Win Lockwood from the Harlan Coben novels ( not a romantic couple but a great duo!) and also Vicky Bliss and John Smythe by Elizabeth Peters and I also had a soft spot for Hart to Hart- another great 80’s show!

  11. Congratulations, Carol!! Julie named two of my favorite crime solving couples. Of course, I’m partial to my own dual sleuths, Kyle and Lyssa, The Penningtons Investigate. Also, I recently read one of Canadian author Cathy Ace’s academic mysteries and loved the way newly married Bud Anderson and Professor Cait Morgan interact.

  12. I cut my (adult) mystery teeth on Pam and Jerry North. Many of the couples mentioned in your post are favorites of mine. I also love Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James. I’m not sure if this counts as a “couple”, but Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. I know they aren’t married, but they certainly work as a duo.

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