That I stole my tagline, “Cozy mysteries with romantic interruptions,” from Dorothy L. Sayers. Sayers was the author of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries; published primarily in the 30s, the Wimsey mysteries are prime examples of the “Golden Age” of British detective fiction.
Wimsey is an aristocratic sleuth who takes up detecting as a hobby after he returns to England after World War I. While I love all the books, in the early ones Wimsey is a bit of a flat character. It isn’t until the series introduces Harriet Vane, a mystery writer wrongfully accused of murder, that he becomes fully dimensional. Though Sayers swore she’d never have her sleuth involved in a romance, she spins out a wonderful one over several books that culminate in the marriage of Harriet and Peter. In fact, Sayers got so enthusiastic about the love story that she was accused of having a crush on her own character, a topic I addressed in my Rosemary D blog.
The last book in Sayers’ series, Busman’s Honeymoon, carries this subtitle: “A Love Story with Detective Interruptions.” So with a little tweaking, it became a way for me to define my stories. But let’s call it an homage, shall we?
I don’t know about you, but I really need some romance in my mysteries. (I need some mystery in my romance, too, but that’s a post for another day.) Giving your detective a love interest humanizes him or her, and it gives readers something else to wonder about—will they get together or not?—besides the murder. And it keeps us turning pages. As much as I respect Sayers’ formidable skills with a mystery, it was the love story that kept me coming back to the books.
My own “saucy sleuth,” Victoria Rienzi, has not one, but two love interests. There’s her old love, now working as a chef in her parents’ restaurant, and a new guy, a rough-around-the-edges woodworker from New Orleans who may not be what he seems. Each one is a likely suitor for my character; each guy has his own brand of appeal. But which will Victoria end up with?
Well now, that’s a mystery isn’t it? And you’ll have to stay tuned to find out. . .