This is meant to be a fun post, I hope. :)  But with a somewhat serious intent---keep reading.  During some other discussions, I.J. Parker and I both concurred that we really did not like Lady Helen Clyde, the wife of DI Thomas Lynley, who got bumped off by Elizabeth George in "With No One As Witness."   A shocking demise,  especially since Lady H was pregnant, but it served to remove a character who had come to seem....well, superfluous, as well as downright aggravating.   Her husband and friends all adored Lady Helen, but to me she seemed for the most part a frivolous, vacuous, spoiled woman whose main interest in life was shopping.

 Whether or not this vapidity was an act, it did grate on some readers' nerves. Deliberately?  I had to wonder how long George had it in mind to take Lady Helen out. From the start, or later on when she no longer had an interest in developing the character.

Then I thought of another character who has also gotten my nerves no end: Spencer's girlfriend Susan Silverman in   Robert Parker's  series.  A woman who showers before sex, in case she might seem human, and eats like a damn bird.  You can be sure she never drops a piece on food on her immaculate clothing, or burps or....anything. How in the world did a guy like Spencer come to be besotted with a princess like Susan Silverman?  Is this a joke? 
Or does she serve some other purpose? (To give class to Spencer, the way Fred Astaire was meant to give class to Ginger Rogers?)

Someone else mentioned being annoyed by Holmes' Watson, although without him,  as Jon Loomis has pointed out, how would we ever know Sherlock Holmes at all?  So irritating or not, he's essential.

So. now I would like to invite all who are interested  to name their "favorite annoying character" (or characters)  in a murder mystery/detective novel.  It can be the detective, of course,  or a partner/sidekick, or a wife/girlfriend/boyfriend---someone who regularly appears in a series. Tell who, tell why. :)  That's the fun part.

 Because my other  "serious" question is (and as writers you can perhaps shed some light on  this one)---is the creation of really annoying characters intentional on a writers' part?  I don't mean just the characters who annoy the detective---but characters who are liable to rub readers the wrong way, to raise hackles, even when they are liked by the detective? 

Naturally someone is always getting the detective's' goat---that's par for the course, it seems, in every detectove  novel, usually a superior officer, or some nosy journalist  whom nobody can stand.  I'm talking about characters that you as a reader would perhaps like to throttle--- a character you've got to put up with.  :)

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Well, you can make an argument for realism. There are annoying people in our lives. In George's case, it casts a peculiar light on Lord Linley, who has the makings of a hero, yet adores this silly creature. It makes him less intelligent than we would like our lead detective to be. On the other hand, maybe he's just human after all, and love is blind. I really don't know what George was up to. One tends to suspect her of being a bit overwhelmed by British aristocracy.

Off the top of my head, the most irritating character to me is not Watson, but Holmes himself. He's a supercilious prig of a man with effete mannerisms and a total lack of emotion. I do not read Arthur Conan Doyle or any of his imitators.
I'm in the middle of Jane Haddam's latest Gregor Demarkian novel, and Demarkian's wife Bennis Hannaford would have me running for the nearest exit. But as LJ points out, it's only realistic. I have known many marriages that mystify me.
Jane Haddam's latest Gregor Demarkian novel,

Don't know this author or series. I'll have to check it out.
the most irritating character to me is not Watson, but Holmes himself. He's a supercilious prig of a man with effete mannerisms and a total lack of emotion

Perhaps that was why Jeremy Brett was considered the "quintessential" TV Holmes. :)
So how do you feel about Laurie R. King's Mary & Sherlock mysteries? I've read a few of them, and although I think Laurie King is really a fine writer---I have very much liked some of her other suspense and detective novels very much---I just can't suspend disbelief enough for the ones where Sherlock Holmes is actually married! To a woman! I can just imagine the discomfort this causes some the true Sherlock aficionados!
Ah, yes. That boggled my mind also. Laurie King can be a very good writer, but what made her think Holmes would make husband material? I haven't read her Holmes books. It's possible it was King's way of introducing a liberated woman detective and show that she can be smarter than Sherlock.
It's possible it was King's way of introducing a liberated woman detective and show that she can be smarter than Sherlock.

I think that's exactly it, I.J.
I liked Lady Helen. But then, I like Sophie Kinsella's Shopoholic series. Call me shallow, but I think it's damn good comedy.
I liked Lady Helen.

Well, we are told that she is very gentle and kind. I think the idea is that underneath her seemingly frivolous "Lady Helen" exterior is a serious and compassionate person. But somehow George didn't really get that across---at least not for me. Though it seems that "Tommy" needed someone like her, light-hearted and sunny, to alleviate the stresses of his work. Now, there's nothing wrong with enjoying a shopping spree now and then.....but Lady Helen was always heading for Harrod's! I liked her better after she was gone! Still, I never imagined that George would do away with her!
It's true. Her character could have been developed more - she was fairly flat and vapid. Her dialogue often made me laugh, though. I like to laugh.
I'm a big fan of mystery author C.J. Box's series about Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett, and each book features a deliciously nasty appearance by Pickett's snobbish, husband-swapping mother-in-low Missy Vankeuren-Longbrake. Missy doesn't like him, doesn't think her daughter married well enough, and labors in sneaky little ways to separate Pickette from his family. Meanwhile, she constantly trades in one rich husband for the next, believing in "trading up" as if spouses were SUVs. Most of the books feature one delectably snide exchange between the two, and those are made even more compelling by the fact that Pickett's wife is caught uncomfortably in the middle and even swings a little to her side when he's away on a job too long or otherwise disappoints him. The Picketts' two daughters are often dragged into the psychological chess games as unwilling pawns as well.

The character, and the tension she creates, works well because Missy is no one-dimensional villain. She can be generous, and sometimes steps up when the economically shaky Picketts are most in need. It's those little touches of humanity (and, sometimes, frailty) that make the inherent evil in her so fascinating. Because that's how most bad people really are — evil, but rarely all evil.
Jim -- Just wait till you see what happens to Missy, and the Missy/Joe dynamic, in next year's book, COLD WIND. If you think Pickett's caught in the middle now.....
Sweet! I met Chuck Box at his Seattle Mystery Bookshop signing a few months ago, and told him flat-out that Missy should be his next primary nemesis — that it was about time that the two of them locked horns if a life-or-death showdown. He nodded and smiled in a way that made me think that he had already been thinking about that.


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