Saturday, May 29, 2010

Romance with your Murder?

As an acne-covered teenager, I squealed with delight at the scene on television. Nancy Drew, frightened at the sight of a bat in her room (in Transylvania, I believe) rushed out, clad only in her nightgown, into the waiting arms of Frank Hardy.

Yes! Forget Ned. Forget the Bayport/River Heights commuting time. Forget the fact that Nancy was not a damsel in distress, but a strong detective in her own right. Forget the fact that these were completely fictional characters, and there must have been some other plot elements going on in that episode. They belonged TOGETHER!!!!

(Forgive the caps and exclamation points--still channeling my inner teen.)

There's nothing like a good murder to stir up those amorous feelings, or at least that seems to be the case in the mystery/suspense genre. I moved from Frank and Nancy to Remington and Laura, Lee and Amanda, Booth and Bones, Monk and Natalie (still upset that didn't turn into something), and Chuck and Sara. I also loved the married couples--Hart to Hart, and the standard that inspires so many: Nick and Nora.

Cozy series also play the romance card, often with a relationship budding over several books. Donna Andrews' Meg Lanslow met her paramour in the first in her bird series, and is working on twins now. Laurie King somehow drew me into a romance between a semi-retired Sherlock Holmes and his 15-year-old apprentice (although she was not fifteen at the time), although I really wished she had drawn that out a bit longer. (Yes, tease me, then make me suffer.)

While the genre of romantic suspense blends equal parts romance and suspense--both requiring an intense emotional expression and an emotionally satisfying ending, a romantic cozy often moves more slowly, similar to the 'will they ever get together' dynamics of the television boy-girl detective team. A recent, but highly unscientific poll on the Absolute Write message board seems to support that, with the majority of respondents saying they liked romance in their mystery, especially when it was not overdone. But there are other, more humorous interpretations.


  1. Great post! Especially after looking at the poll and its, um, analysis, shall we say? That romance card is what keeps us coming back for more books, or to watch the next episode in a series.
    I just read a romantic suspense novel where the mystery had a more powerful impact than the romance and I started to skip over the romance parts Just didn't care after a while - and for me that is so wrong!
    While we are talking famous partners there is the one, the only Miss Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Sigh!

  2. Most definitely I like romance with my murder. But I agree with Kathy that it needs to be balanced properly.