What about the spouses of series' detectives? First of all, there aren't that many. Most of the men and nearly all of the women detectives are single. And if there is a spouse, they are usually little more than a domestic diversion--there for atmosphere at best. Or get killed off or divorced (Wexford). Or the gymast that was married to one of the Dutch detectives.
Can you think of any examples of spouses that are interesting, developed characters? Nora Charles, of course, to start the ball rolling.

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There's Guido Brunetti and Paola - okay she tends to show up mostly in the domestic setting but I think she's reasonably fleshed out in some of the books - perhaps not totally but at least she's not just somebody just making dinner and mopping fevered brows.

Ingrid's husband in Helene Tursten's books is also there, fairly well established, although not concentrated on - and a person in his own right.

Now if somebody could explain why the only ones I can think of immediately are connected to food - well....
Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti and his wife Paola were the first to come to my mind as well. The interplay he has with her, and his children in the earlier books, is part of what makes them so interesting. I'm just starting C.J. Box's newest book "Free Fire." Joe Pickett's wife and daughters role is greater in some books more than others, but they are significant to the character. You do see his wife's character grow and change as well as the girls grow up. Personally, I like a character who has a family. The lone, depressed, alcoholic or can't keep a relationship detective gets a bit tiriing. It's nice when some of them have real relationships.
Freeling's Piet and Arlette Van der Valk.

Hambly's Benjamin January and his wife, Rose Vitrac.

Blunt 's John and Catherine Cardinal.

Cockey's Hitchcock Sewell and his ex-wife and sometimes bed-partner, Julia.

White's Dr. Alan Gregory and his wife Lauren Crowder.

Scoppetone's Lauren Laurano and her life-partner, Kip Adams.
Oh shame on me for not coming up with the last one (Scoppetone). I just read the first in that series.
Now there is another intesting subject. Series where the partners function as spouses. Thanks.
I always enjoyed reading about Steve Carella's deaf wife Teddy in Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series. She seems to ground him, and her appearances really add to the books' appeal for me.
Good one.
Robert Parker's Spencerhas had a chick thru the years, a Jewish lawyer-lover. Darn, I can't think of her name just off...

I don't read him anymore, mostly just don't have the time...
Susan Something, I think. Me either. Somehow, they got too formulaic.
Susan Silverman---yes, that's it. Too formulaic.
Matt Scudder's girlfriend/wife Elaine in Lawrence Block's books is a great character. In the course of the series she stops being a hooker, opens an antique shop, and eventually (I think) marries Matt. Throughout, she's a distinct, unique character.
In Lev Raphael's Nick Hoffman series, his spouse Stefan is a writer with lots of angst.
I always enjoyed the Mr. and Mrs. North series by Richard and Francis Lockridge, and also Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence mysteries.
The Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. Emerson is not as dominant a role as Amelia but he is certainly a force in most of the books. (yeah I know they are not hard boiled or anything but you did not specify that cozies were not allowed. David Hewson's series in Rome also includes couples although I am at a loss for the names at this point. Two of the main characters in PJ Tracy's Monkeewrench series seem to be moving towards being a serious couple too although it is not cut and dried or anything. In the latter two series both halves of the couple are major players in the books and in solving the cases. John Dunning's Bookman series also has a couple who work together but he is by far the more dominant in solving most of the cases. I am sure there are others I have forgotten.


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