Some people appreciate that my fictional private eye Andy Hayes, a self-proclaimed “lout in recovery,” finally has a girlfriend he’s committed to–Columbus State English professor Anne Cooper. Others have suggested that I take Anne on a long walk off a short pier in the nearest central Ohio lake. For better or worse, romances in recurring series, especially featuring tough guy (and girl) private investigators, are usually less than monogamous. On Valentine’s Day, here’s a few that have survived the test of time, and gunfire.
_Nick and Nora Charles. Created by Dashiell Hammett in his novel, The Thin Man, the wisecracking crime-solving couple were the subjects of a successful film by the same name, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, and five sequels, along with a radio series and later a TV show.
_Spenser and Susan Silverman. At its best, the relationship between the Boston private eye and his psychologist girlfriend was a study in warm repartee and mutual appreciation. At its worst, it was boring and saccharine to the point that long passages of dialogue were enlisted in the treatment of insomnia.
_ Columbo and Mrs. Columbo. As far as I can tell, we never actually see the wife of Columbo, the rumpled L.A. police detective who wore suspects down with a thousand-and-one “Just one thing I can’t figure out” questions per TV episode. But she was mentioned multiple times to the point she became a character of her own. I also learned recently she was given her own, very short-lived TV show, “Mrs. Columbo,” played by Kate Mulgrew (known to some as Capt. Kathryn Janeway, the first female Star Trek captain, and to others as the inmate “Red” on Orange is the New Black).
_Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott. The tension between Strike, the private eye created by J.K. Rowling, and his able assistant Robin is present on almost every page. Their short-term prospects don’t look good, especially with Robin’s college-era beau Matthew in the picture. Down the road, it will be interesting to see what kind of magic Rowling weaves between them.
Nominations for your favorite mystery couples are now open!