Best crime fighting (or committing) duos

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Tags: 
  • 1. Spenser and Hawk......Robert Parker
  • 2. Elvis Cole & Joe Pike.....Robert Crais
  • 3. Burke & Max.....Andrew Vachss
  • 4. Holmes & Watson......Doyle
  • 5. Kinky Friedman & Ratso.....Kinky Friedman
  • 6. Wolfe & Goodwin.....Rex Stout
  • 7. Dave Robcheaux & Clete Purcel....James Lee Burke
  • 8. Patrick Kenzie & Angie Gennaro....Dennis Lehane
  • 9. Skink & anyone paired with him....Carl Hiaasen
  • 10.Travis McGee & Meyer.....John MacDonald
  • 11.Jim Chee & Joe Leaphorn....Tony Hillerman
  • 12.Easy Rawlins & Mouse....Walter Mosley
Author Comments: 

I thought while reading Dennis Lehane's "PRAYERS FOR RAIN" that most of my favorite mystery novelists (with the obvious exception of Chandler & Hammett) have a pair of protagonists. I thought a list might be in order for those of us that enjoy this genre. I left off all of the Dame Christie's creations because they never appealed to me after I reached puberty. Likewise anything by Ellery Queen. The list ranges from the ridiculous (Kinky & Hiaasen) to the sublime (Doyle & MacDonald) and most points intermediate. For those of you that like hard-boiled Vachss is in a class by himself. Lehane is the best newcomer.

Wish I could make a more informed comment on this list, but the only entry I'm at all familiar with is Conan Doyle's Holmes and Watson. I guess I read them partly because they're so famous and partly because most of their adventures occur in short stories, and I'm big on short stories. I have The Complete Sherlock Holmes Short Stories, in one volume, published by John Murray of London in 1928 (April 1971 reprint). They seem to be endlessly re-readable: I'm very gradually going through it for the third time. Which reminds me: another such volume you absolutely must have and read if you have any interest in science fiction, or in Victorian/Edwardian fiction for that matter, is The Complete Short Stories of H.G.Wells. It contains only a few mysteries, but it's one of my essential books. If I were to be stranded on a desert island and could have only two books with me, one would be Shakespeare and the other would be the Wells.

I would probably pick Shakepeare also, along with the one volume Holmes omnibus. I have tried to read H.G. Wells (THE TIME MACHINE comes to mind) but can't seem to stick with it. I'll give it another shot. I became hooked on 1st person detective fiction because of Holmes & Watson. I too return to reread them every few years. If you are interested in things Victorian you may want to see the movie TOPSY-TURVY. I suggest you read Nicholas Meyers THE WEST END HORROR before you see it though. Thanks for the tip on comments.

Yes, THE TIME MACHINE is long - practically a novel - but I urge you to give his short stories a try; they include sf, fantasy, horror, humour, and slice-of-life/social criticism. Of course, many of them are a bit dated now, but, for me, that just adds interest.

Thanks for the movie recommendation, but which TOPSY-TURVY do you mean? - the '99 one about Gilbert and Sullivan? - even if you don't mean that one, thanks for letting me find it, it looks great. Regarding the Meyer book, I'm not sure I'd want to read a Holmes story by anyone other than Conan Doyle.

By the way, have you seen this list?

Yes, I was referring to the 99 release. As to Meyers, he was better than anyone except Doyle. The WEST END HORROR was written about the theater and included characterizations of Gilbert, Sullivan, George Bernard Shaw, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde. It is worth a read for this alone, although you will be appalled by Shaw's thoughts on Shakespeare.

Ah! - now I see the connection. I'll keep an eye out for it. (Hell, I find myself making promises like that A LOT at The Listology. I'm going to have to round them up and really do something about them.) And you haven't said whether you'd visited that other 'detective' list I linked above - click on the words "this list".

Yes I checked out the list. See my comments.

Excellent list! Easy Rawlins & Mouse might be my favorite duo, of the ones I'm familiar with (which is a bit less than half of your list, to be honest). I've only read a couple Travis McGee books, and I don't recall a character named Meyer, so I assume he/she appears in the later books? I think Skink & Jim Tile qualify as a duo, rather than just pairing Skink off with the hero/ine(s) of any given book. And I'd add Donald Westlake's John Dortmunder & Andy Kelp. And of course, Batman & Robin as imagined by Frank Miller in The Dark Knight Returns (comics for grownups).

And while I have your attention, do you want to be an editor? As an editor, you'd be able to post stuff to The Listology home page (as often or as rarely as you like). E-mail me if you might be interested.

Meyer was Travis' economist friend that owned the houseboat (delightfully named "JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES")in the slip next to McGee's "BUSTED FLUSH". Yes Jim Tile should partner to Skink. When I posted this list I couldn't recall his name. As for Westlake, I shamefully admit I have not read anything by him. Perhaps I should try it. By now you will see my E-mail regarding the other message.

Since our tastes overlap with Hiaasen and Mosley, I'd guess you'd like Westlake. His Dortmunder books can only be described as "comic crime capers." While each stands alone, I'd recommend reading them in order because then you can enjoy the little historical references to other capers. I believe these are the Dortmunder books in chronological order:


  1. The Hot Rock
  2. Bank Shot
  3. Jimmy the Kid
  4. Nobody's Perfect
  5. Why Me?
  6. Good Behavior
  7. Drowned Hopes*
  8. Don't Ask*
  9. What's the Worst That Could Happen?*


The starred books are my favorites. In fact, if you don't want to commit to all 9, read those three first, in order (you do have to read at least two other Dortmunder books first to fully appreciate What's the Worst That Could Happen?).

Would the HOT ROCK book be the basis for the 70s movie of the same name?

I believe it was, although I've never seen it. After reading and loving the Dortmunder books, I was quite disappointed to find out that the movie is out of print, and very difficult to find. I even tried places that specialized in hard-to-find rentals, to no avail. Have you seen it? Was it any good?

BTW, if this is the movie you were talking about, it was definitely based on the book of the same name (but I still haven't seen it). However, I can safely say that Robert Redford is miles away from my mental image of what Dortmunder should look like.

Yes I saw the film at a campus theater in the early 70s. It was recently shown on a local cable channel (here in Central Ohio)called Video Plex. The film was fun and as I recall had a great cast. With exception to Hiaasen, all of my favorites write 1st person stories. As I remember Westlake did not, but at your suggestion I am willing to try his work.

sk, I hesitated over whether to offer you this link because it looks like it might be so interesting as to come dangerously close to luring you away from us. But, obviously, I've taken the risk. Don't forget to come back, or Jim will never forgive me.

bertie, Thanks for the link, I have bookmarked it. No worries regarding luring me away. The Mystery genre is just one of my interests, probably because the field draws such fine writers. The Listology allows me to see what others are reading, seeing and listening to. I feel this site is unique and I miss it when I am away for any time.

Sigh of relief! I know what you mean about missing TL, even though the longest I've been away is a couple of days.

Btw, you still owe me a list of your favorite short sf stories. I ain't gonna let you forget:-D

I certainly recall that. Give me a little time to get the real world into perspective. (Where does it say that one's success is proportional to the number of hours you spend working?)