(Extremely) Unauthorized Relationship Advice Inspired by Crime Fiction: Part 1

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

A few months ago, I realized that while I had read plenty of domestic suspense involving terrible relationships, and enjoyed quite a few stories of detective couples solving crimes, the genre may not be the best source for relationship advice. I immediately began to imagine what relationship advice these characters might give to those experiencing similar dilemmas, thus inspiring the following blog series.

In honor of the month of love, MysteryPeople presents unauthorized (and frequently ill-advised) relationship advice from fictional characters. Our first installment features Hammett’s Nick & Nora on drinking with your partner, James M. Cain’s Phyllis on how to get out of a relationship quick, and Daphne du Maurier’s Mrs. de Winter on adjusting to life as a second wife. Readers should not take the following relationship advice – but y’all just might enjoy reading it!


Dear Nick and Nora,9780679722632

My husband and I have long enjoyed a drink or two, and we like to consider ourselves the life of the party. With that said, one can’t survive by gin and tonics alone, and I worry that we’re moving from casual drinking territory to becoming full-on drunkards. How do I introduce a little more variety, and health, into our daily life?

  • Alcoholic in Austin

Dear Alcoholic in Austin,

My husband and I do enjoy a good drink, and we like to be productive while drinking. Maybe you and your husband could take up a little night work to get more done in between (or during!) drinks. My husband and I also have a dog, so we have built-in exercise in our daily lives. Really, though, dear – you shouldn’t be worrying! Drink as much as you like! That’s what Nick and I always say!

  • Nora Charles

You can find Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

double indemnityDear Phyllis,

I am trapped in a loveless marriage by a man who has failed in his business as much as he has failed in our relationship. Times are hard, I know, but I deserve a richer, more glamorous life than my current one. As I am still unencumbered by children, I’d like to ask your advice for how to (profitably) extricate myself from my marriage.

  • Burdoned in Bermuda

Dear Burdened in Bermuda,

Do you have insurance? If your husband’s business were to experience a sudden fire, I’m sure that any damages you receive could go toward repairing your marriage, and freeing you to move to a new place. And if your husband were to experience a sudden accident…Well, just think on that one for a minute, and I’m sure you’ll come to the logical conclusion.

  • Phyllis

You can find James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

rebeccaDear Mrs. de Winter,

I recently found myself engaged to a sad-eyed widower, and I worry I can never fill the hole left in his heart and household by his first wife. Even after her death, her things and gaze dominate the estate she left behind. Should I leave my fiance to grieve, or should I continue to usurp the former mistress of the house in her own abode?

  • Engaged in Idaho

Dear Engaged in Idaho,

As you’ve chosen to ask my advice, I presume you are familiar with my own tale. My husband’s seeming grief over his first wife turned out to be relief at her passing and the end of her cuckoldry, yet our housekeeper’s love for her former mistress lived on, culminating in her destruction of our home. I would thus recommend a slow introduction to your fiance’s household, with enough time for any dependents or servants to properly let go of past attachments. Otherwise, you could be facing the destruction of your property, if not your relationship.

  • Mrs. de Winter

You can find Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

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