Romance in Mystery Novels

Posted May 16, 2019 / Discussions, Features / 6 Comments

When writing my review for You Owe Me a Murder, I came to the realization that romance plotlines rarely work for me in mystery or thriller novels. I started to think hard about why this is the case, because I generally welcome romance from any kind of book that I can. A lot of books feel like romance is missing when it doesn’t exist, just because it’s my preferred genre! Here are some of the reasons it doesn’t work for me in this genre and some of the exceptions to the rule…

(1) I don’t trust anyone

A good mystery novel makes you second-guess everything and everyone. I like the books where there are a bunch of red herrings and mysterious elements, so I never know what’s true and what’s conjecture. I go into these books incredibly wary of each character because you never know who could be the villain or murderer. Because of this, I almost never get invested in specific characters in mystery books. That’s a whole other topic, I’m sure, but that certainly means that romance is not on my mind. When the MC trying to solve the mystery grows closer to another character and they start to fall for each other, I don’t trust the ship. What if that person is the murderer?! I’m not falling for that. I will not ship them in the slightest because I’m afraid that I could be sad or disappointed by their heel turn (to use a wrestling term, LOL). I don’t trust anyone in mystery/thriller novels, which means I will likely never invest my shippy feelings into a romance.

(2) I’m too focused on trying to solve the mystery or guess what will happen next to waste energy on caring about a ship

When said characters are getting to know each other and falling in love, my brain is whirring in a million opposite directions. It IS because I don’t necessarily trust the romantic partner, but it’s also because I’m dying to know whodunnit. I want to solve the mystery and spend the vast majority of the book guessing what might happen next. Who is the murderer? Why did they do it? Is this guy or girl being sincere? I’m not taking the time to even READ these chemistry-building scenes; I legitimately find myself skim reading anything that doesn’t directly have to do with the crime at hand.

(3) I’m more likely to enjoy the romance if it’s more of a thriller than mystery

I’ve noticed when compiling this list that there are a few instances where I enjoy the romance in a book within this larger genre of mysteries and thrillers – that’s when the book is more of a thriller than a mystery. There are a lot of books that blend between mystery and thriller, where there’s some kind of murder to solve. The books that fall on the thriller side instead tend to have better romances for me. Maybe that’s because they’re less murder and whoddunit focused, and more about the characters’ journey. Don’t get me wrong: it’s silly when characters stop to make out in the middle of a chase scene, but I prefer that to me thinking that the love interest is the murderer.

Not Shippable Mystery Romances

Rare Mystery/Thriller Romance Gems

What do you think? Are you able to enjoy the
romance elements of mystery/thriller books,
or are you too stuck in the whoddunit to care?

6 responses to “Romance in Mystery Novels

  1. Romances in thrillers/mysteries bother me because, shouldn’t the characters be more concerned about the crazy stuff happening than gazing into each other’s eyes? Especially thrillers, if people are being murdered left and right. Like, just wait until it’s done! I feel like this happens a lot in YA thrillers.

  2. tonyalee

    I think this depends on the GENRE. Romantic suspense I like. But it’s also written in a way that the romance plays a part, ya know? But I agree, in regular mystery/thriller, it takes away from the main plot.

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