To provide some personal statistical analysis I reviewed the mysteries I have read and reviewed since January 1, 2000. From the 629 books, including fiction and non-fiction, I settled on 41 series. In most of them I have read 2 or more books in the series. The series go back as far as Sherlock Holmes. Most are series that had books in the 1990’s or more recently.
As I am sure readers are aware statistics can tell many different stories depending on how they are assembled and arranged. I certainly acknowledge my mystery reading is not done with the intent of putting together a scientifically reliable cross-section of the mystery world. As well I am trying not to write lengthy posts. If any reader wants a full list of the 41 sleuths and authors please send me an email.
Overall there were 21 sleuths with spouses and/or children as characters. Breaking it down further there were:
1.) 11 sleuths with spouses and children;2.) 9 spouses with no spouse but with children; and,
3.) 1 sleuth with a spouse but no children (William Monk and Hester).
Out of the 22 sleuths without spouses and/or children I made a further division:
1.) 16 of the sleuths had no family involvement; and,2.) 6 of the sleuths had significant family involvement other than spouses or children.
The last group of 6 refers to such sleuths as Russell Quant created by Anthony Bidulka. The Saskatchewan gay detective has been engaged but never married. While having neither spouse nor children Anthony has made Russell’s mother an important character in the series.
There were 7 series I was reading whose authors commenced writing them before the 1990’s. Of these 7 sleuths there were 5 sleuths with neither spouses nor children in the series. They were Adam Dagliesh, Sherlock Holmes, Spenser, Nero Wolfe and Napoleon “Bony” Bonaparte. Of the quintet I do not recall any of them having a significant role by other family members. Two of them, Travis McGee and Rebus, had a child. I appreciate that while Spenser and Susan Silverman were definitely a couple I never saw in the books that they considered themselves as a common law couple. Arbitrarily I have placed Bony in the category of having neither spouse nor children because, though they existed, I have not seen them play any role in the books I have read in the series to date.
Of the 34 series starting in the 1990’s or later there were 17 sleuths without spouses and/or children. Adjusting the analysis to consider significant other family characters it would be 11 sleuths without families.
Every study needs to define its terms. I describe sleuths with families as including spouses, children and significant other family members. Based on my personal parameters:
1.) 2 of the 7 sleuths earlier than the 1990’s were sleuths with families; and,2.) 23 of the 34 post-1990 sleuths were sleuths with families.
In 6 days on December 28 I am going to write a further post about sleuths with families devoted to Saskatchewan mysteries. Of that sub-genre 8 of the 10 authors, including all 3 series, have sleuths with families. As a bonus I will have explanations from some of the Saskatchewan authors on why they have sleuths with families.