Saturday, November 9, 2013

Reader Poll - Kids in Mysteries

By Ellery Adams

This post will be short and sweet, but the topic has come up several this year, so I thought I'd throw it out to you and collect some opinions.

When an author has a series with a romantic element, readers expect (at some point) for the romance to lead to a permanent commitment. In many books, this usually means a long engagement and finally, an action-packed wedding.

But what about after the wedding? If the couple in question is young enough to start a family, the next progression would likely be the arrival of a baby. But does a baby belong in the mystery world? How about kids?

In my new series, the Book Lovers' Resort mysteries, the heroine is a single mom with six-year-old twin boys. I knew from the moment I starting writing that series that this woman needed children, but when I think of my other heroines having kids, I can't picture it.

Do you have a favorite mystery series that includes kids?

Or do you think the kids should stay in the background or as very minor characters with little space devoted to them?

Or do you think they should stay out of mysteries altogether?


Liz Straw said...

Aarrgh, yes there is a series I like where a single mom has a two or three year old son. I cannot think of it at this time nor is it accesable. (Some day when my bookcases are done, hopeflly in the next couple of weeks). Anyway she refinishes furniture and resells - most of which she finds in dumpster, alleys, etc. Some of the language if I recall makes it a bit on the hard side of cozy, but it is still a cozy. There is also a couple of mom series, but I never got into them; can't really say what turned me off of them, but it wasn't the fact there were kids. I shouldn't have anser this after taking a muscle relaxer! Lol

Aurian said...

Hmm I don't think I want to continue reading a series I love, when the heroine gets pregnant and we get all the details about that, and later about nursing and whatever. Now the heroine has plenty of time to leave her shop to her great assistant to go sleuthing, but when there is a little child to take care of? I think the series should end at that point, with a HEA.

Now, a new series where there are grown children, yes that could work. But the children have to be smart, and help out and not whine, but also be real children, which is really difficult to write. Most people I know also don't want to read romances with children, but it all depends on the author and how she works it in.

So, a real challenge Ellery.

Marina Sofia said...

Then of course there are the series where a child is the hero(ine): I'm thinking the budding chemist Flavia de Luce, who is of course almost unbearably precocious and yet very appealing.
I live in France currently and the French are very enamoured with crime fiction (the 'polars'), so they start their kids early on the 'black series', with lots of child characters being reluctant or eager detectives. My sons love them and I find them excellent reading even for grown-ups.

Anonymous said...

Craig Rice wrote a book called 'Home Sweet Homicide' where the kids were the ones helping solve the murder while the detective on the case was falling for their mother. It's doable and this was a good book but, in most, the kids stay in the background and present another story element. Mom's trying to solve the crime while little Jimmy is in the principal's office for fighting. So mom is trying to put food on the table, keep the kids out of trouble AND solve the crime.

Dru said...

Liz, it's the "Daring Finds" series.

Elaine Viets has a series (Josie Marcus) where the single mom of a teen daughter recently got married.

Donna Andrews's Meg Langslow has twins

Sara Rosett (Ellie Avery) series has two children

Elaine said...

The Mommy-Track Mysteries by Ayelet Waldman are very good. I definitely think a sleuth with kids can work. It can make the sleuth seem very normal. Cozy mysteries are those mysteries where a normal, everyday person is finding the clues and solving the mystery, and mothers have a lot of clue finding abilities.

Laura S Reading said...

Maybe I am partial but I like the mysteries where dogs and cats (or even a horse) help solve a mystery.
I also like the long romance or even up and down romance, on again off again, instead of the bonded forever part of the story.

CindyD said...

JA Jance had Joanna Brady have a baby. I was really mad when Jance skipped the baby years and advanced the series to when the baby was a toddler! I wanted to see how Brady combined being sheriff and a mother.
Children are okay with me.

Anonymous said...

There is a funny series about a woman who runs a haunted B and B who has a precocious daughter. (by e. copperman ?) She solves mysteries with the kid's 'help.'

Kathleen Chrisman said...

Leslie Meier's Lucy Stone mystery series has been working for many years. She has a family. Also Joan Hess's Clair Maloy series, she has a daughter. Most recently I've read Lee Hollis's Haley Powell series, she has two school age children. I think that kids work in a series as long as the kids are worked into the stories and don't just show up at bed time.

Elaine said...

Also Diane Mott Davidson's series is about a single mom. I believe it works.

Anonymous said...

Aunt Dimity series has kids who are just kids - not sleuths or anything. They are not in the way of the story.

Book Dragon said...

Meg has twins?!?

It really depends on the writer, the Mom's profession and how the story is told. I have Stay at Home Dead but I haven't read it yet. This time it's the Dad that stays home

Kristin A. said...

This is a very interesting topic for me as a youngish mom (33, that's still young, right?) of three (ages almost 8, 5, and 3). I really enjoy Laura Alden's PTA Mysteries. Our sleuth, Beth Kennedy, has two elementary aged kids, and certainly their involvement in the plot is minimal, but I enjoy having them in the background and seeing Beth juggle demands of work, home, and sleuthing, I agree with you, that as a reader I like to see my characters grow and evolve in all areas of their life and relaltionaly, by and large, they do only in terms of on again/off again dating, which quite frankly gets old. I have yet to read a cozy with a married protagonists and although Beth in the PTA Mysteries is as well (she's divorced), adding in the mom element is fun for me due to where I am in my life. Quite honestly, I would love to ready more cozies with characters that line up with my own reality.

I wonder what that would look like to have a protagonist marry and become a mama in a series. Perhaps a book with her fairly far along and then the next with the baby several months old? I think it would be a really fun idea to explore. Potentially sleuthing while on bed rest? Lots of phone calls and visitors and just laying back observing and piecing conversations together? Could be very cool.

MrsSW said...

I prefer no children.