Six Best Suspense Duos
In a lot of my favorite suspense and detective fiction, there is one main protagonist around whom the whole story revolves. Right now, I’m reading the latest Sue Grafton book. Kinsey Millhone is a great example—she does it all. But as much as I like the lone wolf, the hard-driving investigator who puzzles out the crime and dodges the bullets all by him- or herself, I have a soft spot for well-written duos. The romantic pairs tug at my heartstrings while leaving me at the edge of my seat, and the nonromantic buddy pairs prove that two heads are often better than one: usually one guy comes out thinking while the other comes out swinging. Though I know that there are more examples out there, the six pairs below are my faves (in no particular order), and I hope that the stories keep coming.
1 King and Maxwell (David Baldacci): Ex–Secret Service agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are impressive on their own and dynamic as a pair, with romantic tension throughout. All six books in the series are solid, the last from 2013. I’m not certain if Baldacci will write any more in the series, but hoping so
2. Sharpe and Donovan (Carla Neggers): Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan are FBI agents, and what a perfect pairing. He’s a smoldering Irish hothead and she’s a contemplative ex-nun; they’re not true FBI partners but always work together on the case in one way or another. The Irish thread woven through the stories doesn’t hurt either. Great couple, great reads.
The pairing does not have to involve romance. Good partnerships are good partnerships. The characters should balance one another, each emphasizing his or her specific gift, and both keeping their eyes on the prize of catching the bad guy.
3. Rizzoli and Isles (Tess Gerritsen): I love all of these books, set in Boston and featuring a cop and a coroner. Gerritsen writes both characters beautifully, and the women balance each other: Rizzoli, the cop with the crazy family, FBI husband, and small child; and Isles, the coroner with the truly disturbed mother, the failed romance with a priest, and the clear, thorough vision as she does her job. I enjoy every pairing of these two and all the intrigue swirling around them
4. Cole and Pike (Robert Crais): These PIs are the ideal balance for each other, the perfect partners, though both are fine alone. Cole is the wisecracker and Pike the hands-on, hard-boiled guy. The later books are the best, including The Sentry and Taken, but all of the books are awesome reads, the partnership true and the pace exciting
5. Bosch and Haller (Michael Connelly): This pair is not as developed as the others, as Harry Bosch started out on his own and is quite the maverick. But the recent addition of Mickey Haller, Bosch’s paternal half-brother, has provided a new dimension to Connelly’s books. Bosch is still the door-kicker, the guy who angers just about everyone in authority, but his lawyer brother has his own talents, and together they make an interesting and very successful crime-fighting pair
6. Liska and Kovac (Tami Hoag): Nikki Liska and Sam Kovac are a great pair of Minnesota homicide detectives. For me, Hoag gets so much of the behind-the-scenes cop bickering right that I truly enjoy every aspect of her books. Liska and Kovac ring true, and like every good partnership, they balance one another and are in sync while being very human individuals.
I like romantic tension in novels, but I also appreciate those without it. All of these pairs mesh enough and occasionally clash enough to be real and entertaining, and each is different and unique. They are my favorites, and I’m always looking for more to add to the list.
About Janice Cantore
Janice Cantore is a retired Long Beach police officer who now writes suspense novels to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired. Her twenty-two years of experience on the force lend authenticity to her stories. Crisis Shot is the first title in her Line of Duty series. Janice also authored the Cold Case Justice series—Drawing Fire, Burning Proof, and Catching Heat—the Pacific Coast Justice series—Accused, Abducted, and Avenged—and the Brinna Caruso novels—Critical Pursuit and Visible Threat. She also writes a blog about police work.