My article about being a real-world Nora Charles (the wife-sleuth in Nick & Nora) is live at mystery writer Marilyn Meredith's blog.
Below is an excerpt with a link to the full article at the end. At the end of the article, I offer additional resources about real-life married PI teams, as well as a link to Pursuit Magazine, a free online magazine for professional private investigators that is managed by a real-life husband-and-wife team—handy info for writers crafting sleuth tales and characters!
Nicks & Noras in the Real World: The Thin and the Thick of It
by Colleen Collins
Shaun and Colleen: Husband-and-Wife PI Team (image is copyrighted)
Most of you know about Nick and Nora Charles, the husband and wife private detective team in Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man. William Powell and Myrna Loy played Nick and Nora in the 1934 movie of the same name, the first in the popular six-film series. While wise-cracking, canoodling, and imbibing martinis, they also managed to solve a murder or two.
Before my husband returned to being a criminal lawyer, we worked together for over a decade as a real-life private eye team. Even today we sometimes still work cases together for his law practice.
As much as I like to think we held our own in the Nick-and-Nora wise-cracking department, only one of us drank martinis, and we never solved a murder, although we investigated and solved a few attempted murder cases. However, just as Nick and Nora had their terrier Asta, we worked cases with our Rottweiler Aretha, who has sat on innumerable surveillances, helped serve legal papers, and once climbed part way up a mountain where we investigated the scene of a “ski” crime.
HOLLYWOOD VS. REAL-LIFE: GLITZ VS. GRUNGE
Hollywood movies often show the sparkling highlights of a case, whereas the day-to-day digging for evidence can be a grind, sometimes with no viable clues surfacing for weeks at a time. And the film version of surveillances is fiction at its finest—it’s rare that a sleuth-mobile can follow a subject’s vehicle for hours on end. Yours truly has been a PI since 2003, and only once did I successfully follow a subject’s vehicle for hours...and I credit that singular success to the subject not being the brightest mental-bulb on the planet.
Pros and Cons of Being a Married PI Team
For the most part, both my husband and I found sleuthing together to be fun. We had our tense moments, but we enjoy each other’s company and like to make each other laugh, plus there’s nothing like the thrill of cracking a case.
DIFFERING WORK STYLES: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE ARE YOU CRAZY?
My husband and I fit the “opposites who attract” category. He’s a big-picture person, I focus on the details. He can wing it on little data, I like to be overly prepared. Our strengths can work amazingly well together; other times, we can drive each other more than a little nuts.
Here’s one example of how our traits mesh well...
This article is copyrighted by Colleen Collins—if you wish to re-post or use elsewhere, please contact the author. Also, do not copy, distribute, or otherwise use any images noted as copyrighted or licensed. Images in the public domain are free to use.
June 2016 release: How Do Private Eyes Do That? (2nd edition)
"If you're looking for the lowdown on private investigations, this is it."
~Bill Crider, author of the Truman Smith mystery series