Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


There should be a course entitled “How to Get Rid of an Unwanted Love Interest” offered to mystery authors.

Apparently every male detective (barring Catholic clergy and overweight New York eccentrics) needs a girlfriend/wife/love interest to spice up the novel and prove the detective’s masculinity.  That’s all well and good.

But the problem is–how do you get rid of that pesky woman when the author no longer wants/needs her? What to do, what to do.  Well, here are the ways three authors handled it.

Jeremiah Healy took the Road of No Return. When the first John Francis Cuddy novel was published, Cuddy is a newly bereaved man, his young wife having died shortly before the story begins.  After a few books Cuddy becomes romantically involved with another woman, and they have a serious relationship over the next several books.  But then she is killed in a plane crash (never mind all the other people who had to die along with her), and Cuddy is alone again.

William G. Tapply chose to go with Who Can Understand A Woman Anyway? His Boston lawyer/detective is divorced when the series opens and stays unattached for a while.  Brady Coyne finally meets someone special, they are together for a number of books, even moving in together, but in the last novel she leaves him.  No explanation, at least none that made sense to me.

Stuart M. Kaminsky made the hero of the Lew Fonesca books A Man Who Will Hurt Forever. In the first book Lew has just relocated to Florida to escape the memories of his wife’s death by a hit-and-run driver.  Later on, when he does meet a woman, he’s obviously unable to commit to any type of meaningful relationship with her, and eventually she moves away.

I can’t think of similar situations involving female detectives. Sharon McCone starts out single in Marcia Muller’s series but meets and then marries her lover.  And Kinsey Millhone (Sue Grafton) and V. I. Warshawski (Sara Paretsky) have had a man or two in their lives, but they don’t become the problem for the women detectives that the women seem to be for the male detectives.

There are definitely exceptions to the male detective generalizations above.  Susan Silverman in the Spenser series, Kerry in the Nameless Detective series, and Zee in the J. W. Jackson series, to name just three.  But still, that being said, female romantic interests in the lives of male detectives don’t seem to hang around for very long.

Ladies, beware!


Leave a Reply