Partners in Detection: Crime-Solving Couples

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Detective interviewing a young pensive woman in his office

By Katherine Sharma

We’re heading towards the final weekends of family barbecues, end-of-summer trips and last-of-summer reading indulgences. So why not combine family and mystery themes with detective fiction that features married teams? After all, the detective couple is a cherished tradition.

The era of mystery classics gave us Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence Beresford and Dashiell Hammett’s Nick and Nora Charles. More recently conceived sleuthing couples range from Anne Perry’s Charlotte and Thomas Pitt in the foggy streets of Victorian London to Lt. Eve Dallas and husband Roarke fighting crime in the futuristic New York of the “in Death” series by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts). Closer to our current time and place, there is the husband-wife team of Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock in the FBI Thriller series by Catherine Coulter and Faye Kellerman’s LAPD Lt. Peter Decker and his Orthodox Jewish wife Rina Lazarus.

Detective with beautiful woman in black and white, noir styleWhat do couples have to offer readers that the lone detective can’t deliver? Well, there is the spice of romance (yes, married people are still lovers, even outside of fiction) and the opportunity to add character interest–either extra tension/distrust (when the couple is in a rough patch) or amusing banter/camaraderie (when things are copacetic).

Second, a sleuthing couple allows the author to combine mystery-solving styles to good effect; for example, one may be emotionally and socially intuitive, while the other is more scientific or legalistic. (If you assumed that the first description fits the wife and the second fits the husband, remember that good writers confound stereotypes.)

Finally, the plot tension with a crime-solving couple is literally doubled as each half of the duo risks both personal safety and that of a loved one by confronting evil. For some more partners in detection, check out


Katherine Sharma’s family roots are in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. But after her early childhood in Texas, she has moved around the country and lived in seven other states, from Virginia to Hawaii. She currently resides in California with her husband and three children. She has also traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and Asia, and makes regular visits to family in India. After receiving her bachelor’s degree. in economics and her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan, Katherine worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor for more than 15 years. She then shifted into management and marketing roles for firms in industries ranging from outdoor recreation to insurance to direct marketing. Although Katherine still works as a marketing consultant, she is now focused on creative writing.

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