A couple of weeks ago I started a collection of mysteries that were solved by couples who were romantically involved. The diary, Love & Murder covered the couples, Nick and Nora Charles, Tommy and Tuppence, Lord Peter Whimsy and Harriet Vane, and Clare Fergusson and Russ van Alstyne. I made the seeming mistake of asking for help. Two weeks, and much research later, I present the following series as suggested by readers. This is still not a comprehensive or complete listing of love and murder mysteries, but it is all I am willing to investigate. And while I tried to restrict the list to romantically involved couples who solve mysteries, a few others may have snuck in while still more have been left out.
I hope in the future to take a closer look at the crossover between the romance novel and the mystery novel which will include hits and misses. What do you think? Does JD Robb write a romance novel with some mystery in it? Or are they really mysteries with a little romance thrown in? I am using JD Robb's work as an example because the romance was fairly graphic, especially for a mystery novel, as opposed to the more suggestive and less explicit romance of Anne Perry's characters. Again, what do you think about the romance elements in these books and in the ones of Part I?
DCI Alan Banks and DS Annie Cabbot
I am starting with this one because I just re-read it while working on a future WWII diary. Involving a possible crime that took place during the war, it demonstrates some of the issues that crime solvers, who are romantically involved, could encounter.
Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe EmersonWhen a boy finds a skeleton buried in a dried-up reservoir built on the site of a ruined village, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks is brought in by his arch-enemy Chief Constable Jeremiah “Jimmy” Riddle to head what looks like being a dull, routine investigation. It turns into anything but. With the help of Detective Sergeant Annie Cabbot, Banks uncovers long-kept secrets in a community that has resolutely concealed its past.
One former resident, now a writer, reveals her memories of Hobb’s End, the village that died before the reservoir was built. Her first person narrative, touched with both innocence and irony, takes us from 1941 to 1945, recreating another age, an era of rationing, of Land Girls, of American airmen, of jitterbugging and movies. And of murder.
As Banks and Annie unravel the deceptive and disparate relationships of half a century ago, suspense heightens and the past finally bursts into the present with terrifying consequences.
- Peter Robinson
Amelia and Radcliffe Emerson loathe one another on sight, but after he is taken ill and she helps to keep his excavation going, they grudgingly begin to respect one another. Evelyn is attracted to Walter, but is convinced she will never marry because of her soiled reputation.
Once the mystery is solved, Amelia plans to stay in Egypt and conduct her own archaeological expeditions, with Emerson at her side...as her advisor and as her husband.
Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus
Peter Decker is a fictional character in a series of mystery novels by Faye Kellerman. A lieutenant in the LAPD, Decker is assisted in solving crimes by his Orthodox Jewish wife Rina Lazarus.Mary Russell and Sherlock HolmesWhen he meets Rina, a young widow, during an investigation at a yeshiva in The Ritual Bath, he is compelled to explore the religion for himself and eventually to become a religiously observant Orthodox Jew. Decker, though raised Baptist by his adoptive parents in Florida, discovers as an adult that his birth parents were Jewish, which makes him Jewish under traditional Jewish law as well. All the books in the series are rooted in, or at least include, Jewish themes.
Major characters in the books include Rina's two sons by her late husband, Jacob and Samuel Lazarus; Cindy Decker, Peter's daughter from his first marriage; Rina and Peter's daughter Hannah Decker; and Peter's police partner Detective Marge Dunn. Decker's daughter from his first marriage, Cindy Decker, a teenager in the earliest books, eventually follows her father into the police force and is the main character of two of the later books, Stalker and Street Dreams.
Laurie R. King
The stories are set between 1915 and the late 1920s, mainly in England but extending to Scotland, Wales, Palestine, northern India and California. They begin with fifteen year-old Mary Russell (she was born on 2 January 1900), who runs into a middle-aged individual she realizes is, in fact, Sherlock Holmes - the former consulting detective of Baker Street, now retired to Sussex, where he keeps bees. However, in the form of Mary Russell's memoirs, Sherlock Holmes stays in the stories mostly through the influence he has in Russell's life.
Laurie R. King strives to clarify this, and is quoted on her website, "I did not write Sherlock Holmes stories, I wrote Mary Russell stories". Holmes plays a considerable role at first as Russell's closest friend, her calculating and idiosyncratic mentor, and as time and circumstance conspire, the Great Detective takes up the role of companion detective. During that time, Russell and Holmes come to have a great respect for one another. Seven years from their first meeting, the two negotiate a marriage agreement, and are married in 1921.
Laurie R. King
Edgar Award winning A Grave Talent introduces us to SFPD officer Kate Martinelli.
Kate Martinelli is a wonderful creature—human, driven, compassionate, and still skilled with a handgun. Unfortunately, when she debuts in "A Grave Talent" she is also seriously closeted. Although she lives with her lover, Leonora Cooper, in a fantastic house on Russian Hill (a very upper class neighborhood of San Francisco), she is completely closeted from all of her coworkers in the San Francisco Police Department.Molly Murphy and NYPD Captain Daniel Sullivan
Molly Murphy always knew she’d end up in trouble, just as her mother predicted. So, when she commits murder in self-defense, she flees her cherished Ireland, and her identity, for the anonymous shores of America. When she arrives in new York and sees the welcoming promise of freedom in the Statue of Liberty, Molly begins to breathe easier. But when a man is murdered on Ellis Island, a man Molly was seen arguing with, she becomes a prime suspect in the crime.Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina
Gaius Petrius Ruso and TillaMarcus Didius Falco is the central character and narrator in a series of novels by Lindsey Davis. Using the concepts of modern detective stories (with Falco as the private investigator, roughly translated into the classical world as a "private informer"), Davis portrays the world of the Roman Empire under Vespasian. The tone is arch and satirical, but the historical information provided is carefully accurate...
Falco met his wife, Helena Justina, the divorced and patrician daughter of a senator, while on an investigation in Britannia (The Silver Pigs), but their very different circumstances made their relationship difficult. After a series of successful missions for the emperor, Falco has risen to a certain level of respectability – he has achieved equestrian rank (One Virgin Too Many) – and he and Helena now live together with their two daughters, in an arrangement acceptable to his in-laws.
Hobart Lindsey and Marvia PlumGaius Petrius Ruso is a divorced and down-on his luck army doctor who has made the rash decision to seek his fortune in an inclement outpost of the Roman Empire, namely Britannia. His arrival in Deva (more commonly known as Chester, England) does little to improve his mood, and after a straight thirty six hour shift at the army hospital, he succumbs to a moment of weakness and rescues an injured slave girl, Tilla, from the hands of her abusive owner.
Now he has a new problem: a slave who won’t talk and can’t cook, and drags trouble in her wake. Before he knows it, Ruso is caught in the middle of an investigation into the deaths of prostitutes working out of the local bar. A few years earlier, after he rescued Emperor Trajan from an earthquake in Antioch, Ruso seemed headed for glory: now he’s living among heathens in a vermin-infested bachelor pad and must summon all his forensic knowledge to find a killer who may be after him next.
Who are the true barbarians, the conquered or the conquerors? It’s up to Ruso—certainly the most likeable sleuth to come out of the Roman Empire—to discover the truth. With a gift for comic timing and historic detail, Ruth Downie has conjured an ancient world as raucous and real as our own.
Richard A. Lupoff
Phryne Fisher and Lin ChungCalifornia insurance claims investigator HOBART LINDSEY and girlfriend/cop MARVIA PLUM have appeared in a string of cases that always seem to involve an obsessive collector of some kind, be it of comic books, classic cars or old time radio.
Adding to the charm of this series is the continuing relationship of one of crime fiction's longest-running interracial couples (he's white, she's black).
Richard A. Lupoff is a mass-culture historian and critic, having written extensively on everything from to Buck Rogers to Edgar Rice Burroughs, and novelist (mostly crime and science fiction), and also something of a obsessive collector himself, being the proud owner of thousands upon thousands of vintage paperbacks, comics and Lord-knows-what-else. He's also, fittingly enough, the author of The Great American Paperback, which draws upon his life-long interests, and actually uses scans from some of his collection.
- The Thrilling Detective Website
Eve Dallas and RoarkeThe Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher is the main character in Australian author Kerry Greenwood's series of Phryne Fisher detective novels. Phryne (pronounced fry-nee) is a wealthy aristocrat who lives in St Kilda, Melbourne in 1928. She is a 28-year-old detective who, with the assistance of her maid Dot and Bert and Cec (who are wharfies, taxi drivers and red raggers), solves all manner of crimes. Phryne is no ordinary aristocrat, as she can fly a plane, drives her own car (a Hispano-Suiza) and sometimes wears trousers, while maintaining style and class. A nice touch is that her personality seems to match exactly that of her 4th century namesake, Phryne.
Phryne was not always rich, having been born into a poor family in Richmond, Melbourne. During World War I several young men between the 'title' and her father died, thus making her an Hon with an enormous fortune. After finishing school, Phryne ran away to France where she joined a French women's ambulance unit during WWI, receiving a reward for bravery and a French war pension. She then worked as an artist's model in Montparnasse after the war. After several years here and there, Phryne moved from England to Melbourne temporarily to investigate for a family friend. She enjoyed the lifestyle so much she stayed on permanently. Through the course of the books, Phryne collects a personal maid, Dot; two adoptive daughters, Ruth and Jane (whom she rescued from slavery); a cat, Ember; a dog, Molly; and two loyal servants, the Butlers. She also has relationships with a string of lovers, most notably Lin Chung, a wealthy Chinese man (whom she rescues in the city one evening). Lin is the only lover with whom she maintains a relationship for more than a few books and even goes so far as to make a deal with his grandmother that when he is married she be allowed to continue a relationship with him. So far Phryne's life is going swimmingly.
It is the year 2058, and technology now completely rules the world. But New York City Detective Eve Dallas knows that the irresistible impulses of the human heart are still ruled by just one thing-passion.Annie Laurance and Max Darling
When a senator's daughter is killed, the secret life of prostitution she'd been leading is revealed. The high-profile case takes Lieutenant Eve Dallas into the rarefied circles of Washing-ton politics and society. Further complicating matters is Eve's growing attraction to Roarke, who is one of the wealthiest and most influential men on the planet, devilishly handsome... and the leading suspect in the investigation.
Carolyn G. Hart
At Annie Laurance's Death On Demand bookstore on Broward's Rock Island, South Carolina, murder most foul suddenly isn't confined to the well-stocked shelves. Author Elliot Morgan's abrupt demise during a weekly gathering of famous mystery writers called the Sunday Night Regulars is proof positive that a bloody sword is sometimes mightier than a brilliant pen.With Annie in the unenviable position of primary police suspect, the pretty young mystery maven and her wealthy paramour, Max Darling, embark on an investigation into a classic locked-room mystery with high stakes. For failing to unmask a brutal and ingenious killer could mean prison for Ms. Laurance. While success could mean her death.Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James
- Barnes & Noble
Goldy and Tom ShulzDuncan Kincaid and Gemma James are Scotland Yard detectives who work together to solve crimes. When Crombie first introduces them in her 1993 novel, A Share in Death, Duncan is a highly respected detective superintendent; Gemma is his newly assigned sergeant. Over time, Gemma, the single mother of young Toby, becomes a detective inspector.
Duncan and Gemma experience a number a changes in their personal lives that coincide with their crime solving efforts. They first become friends, then lovers. Duncan experiences the death of his ex-wife, Victoria, only to discover soon afterward that he is the father of Victoria's son, Kit. Gemma and Duncan then decide to marry and blend their households.
Diane Mott Davidson
Meredith Mitchell and Alan MarkbyGoldy Schulz, a small town caterer who also solves murder mysteries in her spare time, is the main character of Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Schulz series. At the start of the series, Goldy is a recently divorced mother with a young son trying to make a living as a caterer in the fictional town of Aspen Meadows, Colorado. As the series progresses, new characters are introduced that change Goldy's professional and personal life. It has been noted that Aspen Meadows closely resembles a real Colorado town, Evergreen. Evergreen is where Mott Davidson currently resides with her family.
The series has now reached 16 books. The first 12 books interwove recipes with the novel's text. When a dish is first described in the novel, the relevant recipe followed within the next few pages. Double Shot, the 12th novel, marked a change in the publishing of these recipes. In Double Shot, all recipes are compiled and printed at the end of the novel.
- Small Demons
Charles Lenox and Lady JaneGranger's strong debut features Meredith Mitchell, a British consular officer who encounters murder during her Oxfordshire holiday, and contemplative chief inspector Alan Markby. Throughout their investigations of two well-plotted village murders, the two sleuths--working for the most part separately but along parallel paths of detecton--stand out as realistically portrayed, mature characters whose motivations for solving the case are nearly as interesting as the crime itself. Indeed, this is one of those volumes to be savored by connoisseurs of characterization since the murder cannot be unraveled without gaining an understanding of the inner lives of those connected with the events. Meredith's duty visit to attend the wedding of her goddaughter, Sara, swiftly becomes anything but an ordinary nuptial occasion when Meredith finds a bloody ox heart tied to the gate of the house bearing the message "Welcome Home Sara." From there the inquisitive godmother discovers one by one that the locals are not all that they appear to be, including the charming local potter Philip Lorrimer, Lorrimer's theatening elderly neighbor, Sara's glamorous movie-star mother, the all-too-suave fiance and of course, the bride-to-be herself. It takes Meredith a bit longer to begin to understand the enigmatic chief inspector, whose attraction to her is delicately drawn by Granger. This novel establishes Granger as an author of considerable promise.
Judge Deborah Knott and Sheriff's Deputy Dwight BryantOn any given day in London, all Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, wants to do is relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book. But when his lifelong friend Lady Jane asks for his help, Lenox cannot resist another chance to unravel a mystery, even if it means trudging through the snow to her townhouse next door.
One of Jane’s former servants, Prudence Smith, is dead – an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects something far more sinister: murder, by a rare and deadly poison. The house where the girl worked is full of suspects, and though Prudence dabbled with the hearts of more than a few men, Lenox is baffled by an elusive lack of motive in the girl’s death.
When another body turns up during the London season’s most fashionable ball, Lenox must untangle a web of loyalties and animosities. Was it jealousy that killed Prudence? Or was it something else entirely, something that Lenox alone can uncover before the killer strikes again – disturbingly close to home?
Catherine LeVendeur and EdgarJudge Deborah Knott and her husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, are back home in Colleton County amid family and old friends. But the winter winds have blown in several new faces as well. Lt. Sigrid Harald and her mother, Anne, a well-known photographer, are down from New York to visit Mrs. Lattimore, Anne's dying mother. When the group gathers for dinner at Mrs. Lattimore's Victorian home, they meet the enigmatic Martin Crawford, an ornithologist researching a book on Southern vultures. He's also Mrs. Lattimore's long-lost nephew. With her health in decline, Mrs. Lattimore wants to make amends with her family-a desire Deborah can understand, as she, too, works to strengthen her relationship with her young stepson, Cal.
Anne is charmed by her mysterious cousin, but she cannot shake the feeling that there is something familiar about Martin . . . something he doesn't want her or anyone else to discover. When a string of suspicious murders sets Colleton County on edge, Deborah, Dwight, and Sigrid once again work together to catch a killer, uncovering long-buried family secrets along the way.
Charlotte and Inspector Thomas Pitt1140 Anno Domini:
A wealthy countess lies dying at the Convent of the Paraclete, brutally beaten by unknown assailants. Despite entreaties, she is unwilling to name her killer. Beautiful Catherine LeVendeur, the Paraclete's most learned young novice-scholar, vows to find out the identity of the woman's attacker.
When her beloved Edgar comes to lead her from the convent to a life of the flesh, Catherine is torn between her quest for justice and the pledge she made him. Catherine doesn't want to break any of the vows she's made-and if she abandons her crusade for the truth, others will die, and the convent she loves may be destroyed...
William and Hester MonkI loved Anne Perry’s early Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries for the detail of the era as well as the mysteries themselves. Even the secondary characters, like Charlotte’s mother, sisters and great Aunt Vespasia were captivating. Set in the late Victorian era (1880s & 90s) these books followed the adventures of Charlotte, a daughter of the upper middle class, and her husband, Inspector Thomas Pitt. Although the son of a gamekeeper and a cook, he was raised on the estate of a nobleman sharing and enjoying the education of the son of the house.
In accurately depicting the time, Perry made it come alive as she demonstrated the restrictions placed on young, and old, women. Newspapers were considered unfit for their eyes, and discussion of war, murder or sex was strictly prohibited. Class and society are exposed and examined in the series as it deals with prostitution, poverty, usury, politics and all of the other social ills of the era.
Her first Pitt mystery, The Cater Street Hangman, written in 1979, introduced us to Charlotte Ellison, the rather outspoken middle daughter of three. Inspector Pitt is the officer assigned to investigate the murder, by garrote, of Lily Mitchell, a maid in the Ellison household. She is the third young woman to be murdered in the same manner in the same neighborhood. The author sets up enough potential suspect to keep the reader guessing and fully engrossed in the tale.
- Monday Murder Mystery: Anne Perry
In the first of that series, Face of a Stranger, we are introduced to William Monk in 1856 as he regains consciousness after a terrible accident has left him with no memory of his past. It is only through a receipt in his pocket that he is able to find his way to his home. Running a bluff, he struggles to solve the murder of a young nobleman who was a hero of the Crimean War. It is during his investigation that he crosses paths with Hester Latterly, a strong woman who had been a nurse alongside Florence Nightingale during that war. I enjoyed the thought of a detective who did not know who he had been but suspected that he might not have liked himself. The mysteries were well done and were set much earlier than the later Victorian Era mysteries of the Pitts and they seemed somehow grittier.
- Monday Murder Mystery: Anne Perry