A good book detective requires three things:
1) To be single
2) To have a good friend, constant companion, and loyal assistant all rolled into one
3) To like to cook
Many years ago, when still a child, I read a Mary Higgins Clark detective book. In the middle of an investigation the detective returns home one evening and starts to make dinner. Her dinner included endive. I didn’t know what endive was but I did know this was fancy. I didn’t get it. Why was she taking this time when people are dying and scary things are happening all around her to cook dinner? Even more importantly why, as a single person, was she bothering to cook this involved dinner? Come on, get some takeout, put together a cheese and tomato sandwich, I thought, this is ridiculous. (I know, I know — Brynne thy name is Hypocrite.) The character never got around to eating her dinner. It was interrupted by someone calling her to go out somewhere…or something like that. It was an awfully high number of years ago that I read this book so some of the details have slipped — like maybe it was a different author.
Getting back to the case. This plot line is (so I’ve deduced) a standard for this genre (which could be part of the reason I like it so much). Reading about Elvis Cole and Joe Pike finding (and usually killing) the bad guys in L.A. between meals seems nothing but natural. The food isn’t just a throw together either. Time, thought, and valuable descriptive paragraphs go into the food. Now, if you will recall the second requirement from above, this is often where a loyal companion re-enters a scene. Joe often munches on a vegetarian version of Elvis’s carnivorous meal while drinking a beer and looking out at the canyon.
Which isn’t always what happens, many of these meals are eaten solo — just like the hard to the world, joke cracking, independent investigator preparing them. Which also seems just right to me now. (See, my character has grown since those early books in the series. Gone are the days of reckless laughter. I’m tough now. Just like a P.I. in a series.)
Of course, sometimes the meal is shared by a guest character, the current love interest, or perhaps the client.
Which isn’t what happened with my mini mushroom lasagna and salad. Remember I’m tough now. But, just in case my loyal investigating partner happened to knock on the front door there was enough to share while we gazed out over the roof of the apartment complex next door.
Okay, so there’s a fourth thing every good book detective requires:
4) An awesome house