1. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    159
    Location:
    England, UK

    The Inspector, the Sergeant, and the Romance

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Seren, Sep 23, 2017.

    Hi, everyone!

    Lately, I've been thinking about writing a romantic mystery series in which a detective inspector falls in love with her sergeant. To my knowledge (although I may be looking in the wrong places) this doesn't really get done in mystery fiction - if the detective is in love with someone, it's often the forensic pathologist, the criminologist/profiler, or someone else who's helping on the case but isn't on the police force.

    Perhaps there is a reason for that, because I haven't been able to turn up any research myself about romantic relationships between inspectors and their sergeants. I'm assuming they're a bit of a no-no, much like the boss and the secretary/PA, given the fact that they have to work together on cases and the inspector is further up in the police force hierarchy than the sergeant. But I don't know how strict the police force (anywhere) is on this or what the punishment would be. A slap on the wrist? Having your rank stripped? Or being booted out entirely?

    As I'm setting this in a fantasy world I am at the liberty to make my own rules, but it would be a good starting point to have more concrete idea of what they are in this one. Does anyone know? Or have you read/seen any mysteries in which the inspector and the sergeant (or any other country's equivalent) fall in love?
     
  2. SnapFandango

    SnapFandango Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2017
    Messages:
    124
    Likes Received:
    24
    Well, the major issue for the sergeant is that she will have to take orders off her lover, multiple times, every day. So I give the relationship one hour.
     
    Seren likes this.
  3. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2016
    Messages:
    2,488
    Likes Received:
    4,016
    I would be surprised if most modern police departments (in the U.S. at least) don't have a policy in place that restricts fraternization between officers and anyone up their direct chain of command. The potential liability for sexual harassment lawsuits alone would make it a hard no go especially for a government agency, I'd think. There are a lot of good comments of why dating someone who reports to you is morally dicey and in most cases not a very good idea.

    https://workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/8701/why-are-romantic-relationships-with-someone-who-works-under-you-discouraged
     
    Shenanigator and Seren like this.
  4. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    159
    Location:
    England, UK
    Interesting! Thank you for that. Do you think the specific comments about others thinking that the employee is being treated favorably would still apply in this situation? The inspector probably wouldn't work with any of the other sergeants, just that sergeant, who would be further up the hierarchy than any of the other people they worked with on their cases.

    To be honest, if I can think of a way to make it work by putting my sergeant in a different role, I will. But I really like the idea of them working THAT closely on their cases together, and they could be some of the rare people to keep their relationship out of the workplace...
     
  5. SnapFandango

    SnapFandango Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2017
    Messages:
    124
    Likes Received:
    24
    This is a point. In all likelihood you would be separated the moment people realised, to ensure that you are not offering favours, like a quick bang behind the local off licence.
     
    Seren likes this.
  6. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2016
    Messages:
    2,488
    Likes Received:
    4,016
    Honestly, I would struggle to believe that there would be any organization with such a clear chain of command that would allow them to even start a relationship in the first place, let alone allow them to continue to work together. I think the only way you could make it work is if their personal relationship is completely on the down low and not a single person from their workplace knows about them being together.

    I think the reason you're not finding mysteries or romantic suspense with this scenario is that it would be disallowed in most if not all police departments, not to mention the military, fire departments or other organizations where public safety is at stake.
     
    Seren likes this.
  7. SnapFandango

    SnapFandango Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2017
    Messages:
    124
    Likes Received:
    24
    Is this a straight couple? Because people would be on the look out for a straight couple more than gay, given likelihood?
     
  8. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    159
    Location:
    England, UK
    Yeah, a straight couple, the female being the inspector and the male being the sergeant. Now I'm wondering if there's some other way I can make him investigate really closely with her without being part of the police force, but I don't know if anyone can really beat the amount of time spent working with the inspector that the sergeant does. If her sergeant was someone else, every time she interacted with her sergeant, a part of me would die inside unless I had her interacting with the love interest pathologist/criminal profiler/someone else every single day.
     
  9. SnapFandango

    SnapFandango Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2017
    Messages:
    124
    Likes Received:
    24
    I have an idea, he could be your local, friendly flasher, who happens also to be an expert at reading people (in the psychological sense) so he is brought on the team, and he gets them to open up by opening up and hypnotising them with his pendulous testicles.
     
    Seren likes this.
  10. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    Messages:
    5,864
    Likes Received:
    10,730
    Location:
    The great white north.
    I'm going to go ahead and ignore you now, if that's all right with you.
     
    Seren likes this.
  11. SnapFandango

    SnapFandango Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2017
    Messages:
    124
    Likes Received:
    24
    each to their own.
     
    Seren likes this.
  12. SnapFandango

    SnapFandango Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2017
    Messages:
    124
    Likes Received:
    24
    The problem is, that the male consultant (Psych-whatever) bought in under a female copper is a bit of a trope now. It is hard to know how to subvert that trope.

    EDIT: I would add that the UK has a plethora of great side-kick cop shows. For me the best relationship is in Lewis (better than Morse) But I kinda assume that is your inspiration?
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
    Seren likes this.
  13. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,460
    Likes Received:
    11,664
    I think there's a lot of dramatic tension in forbidden love. If you're okay with having them on the DL, and including the moral ambiguity of the situation into the characters, I think it could be great for the story.
     
    Seren, Laurin Kelly and Homer Potvin like this.
  14. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2016
    Messages:
    2,488
    Likes Received:
    4,016
    Not sure how with would translate to the UK, but in the U.S. sometimes different law enforcement agencies will team up on a case, like an FBI agent working a case with a local law enforcement officer. In that case you wouldn't be running into fraternization because they don't work for the same agency, even if one outranks the other.
     
    Seren likes this.
  15. SnapFandango

    SnapFandango Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2017
    Messages:
    124
    Likes Received:
    24
    Alas we are boring. There might be specific teams bought in for specific circumstances (e.g. counter-terrorism), but we do not have an FBI proxy.
     
    Seren likes this.
  16. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    10,545
    Likes Received:
    17,821
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    I was going to say that too. The forbidden love element can add so much to the story: furtive glances, secret rendezvouses, innocent comments from third parties that maybe aren't so innocent after all. And it can provide a natural arc to the relationship. Somebody could find out, maybe somebody blackmails them, they breakup when they realize that their careers aren't worth it (and eventually overcome that), maybe one of them gets suspended (which would be an easy layup as far as third act turning events go). You could get some legs out of that, and it should dovetail nicely with whatever crime or event the story is centered around.
     
    Shenanigator, Seren and Laurin Kelly like this.
  17. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    15,254
    Likes Received:
    13,074
    I think that Annie Cabot was Inspector Banks' sergeant in the Peter Robinson mysteries, and they dated. I know that at some point she transferred away, possibly because they were dating. And I would swear that there was at least one more--one of those series that was, I think, televised on PBS. It may come to me.

    Which is not to say that you can't do it. Just wanted to mention it in case the idea that it hasn't been done was critical to you.

    Edited to add: OK, I think that the second one was the Elizabeth George Inspector Lynley mysteries, and I was wrong--I was thinking of Lynley and Havers, but I don't think that that was ever a romance, just a conflict leading to a friendship.
     
    Seren likes this.
  18. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    159
    Location:
    England, UK
    Wow, I didn't actually realise that trope was - well, a trope. I made it that way not so much because I wanted the male to work under the female, but more because I was pretty set on the female being the inspector, which left the male to be the sergeant. Yes, Lewis is my inspiration for them being an inspector and a sergeant! I love the working relationship between Lewis and Hathaway, and they're depicted working together almost 24/7, which is why I was hopeful about making an inspector-sergeant relationship like that into a romance.

    Yeah, just rolling with the forbidden love thing is an option (and having you voice it has made me a bit more confident about it.) But I was hoping to make it a four-book series, and I think I would personally start getting tired of the forbidden love thing all the way through if it was so forbidden that they had to be as careful as I think they'll have to be. They'll always have to be at one another's houses, I think, when they're growing their relationship, and even when they're doing that they'll have to be careful...

    ...and then @Homer Potvin said this and now I actually do have a better idea of how it could work. Now I'm conflicted (which is much better than being completely stumped :)).

    That's the kind of thing I was thinking of as an alternative, as I've seen it happening in books set in the US, but as @SnapFandango says, I don't think we have anything like that at all.

    Oh, interesting! I'm sure I was looking at the Inspector Banks books last night on Amazon! I can't remember if I sent a sample to my Kindle or not, but if I haven't, I certainly will now! No, I don't mind it being done. It was after I'd had the idea that I realised I couldn't find anything on it - the more people who've done it, the better! Then I might actually have a clue about what I'm doing.:superlaugh:
     
  19. SnapFandango

    SnapFandango Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2017
    Messages:
    124
    Likes Received:
    24
    In answer to this, I think it is a great place to start, but I am concerned that any hint of sexual relationship between Lewis and Hathaway (which was a potential) would have destroyed their camaraderie in a flat minute. My point is that the romance might actually undermine a great relationship. Another trope I would avoid is the woman juggling her personal life and work, it provides drama for an episode, but then it is just distraction from the drama and the audience finds it tedious. This is what I would do, she would be, maybe a widow who has thrown herself into the job, and he would be younger and keen, and it would be more of a nurturing relationship, without romance?
     
    Seren likes this.
  20. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    159
    Location:
    England, UK
    The romance is a must for me. I'd rather either try to work out how I'd write a forbidden romance or compromise the idea of them being an inspector and a sergeant than not have any romance at all.
     
    SnapFandango likes this.
  21. SnapFandango

    SnapFandango Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2017
    Messages:
    124
    Likes Received:
    24
    Gotcha, I would still go with the independant older woman and the younger keen subordinate, and allow it to simmer, maybe it is an extension of their work relationship, but gradually they became a crux for each other. Just my thoughts.
     
  22. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    159
    Location:
    England, UK
    Okay, I just thought of this:
    It's very much a forbidden romance to the core in the first book and most of the second. Then the chief superintendent finds out but sees how well the two work together (and I was planning for him to be a fatherly figure to the inspector, so he has a soft spot for her and he doesn't really want to sack her) so he just turns a blind eye. Obviously this is very unprofessional and he's risking his own job, too, if anyone finds out. However, this means that a little bit of the suspicion/stress is now lifted, and they only have to be careful in front of the PCs, the other detectives and sergeants within their branch of the police force, and anyone else higher up in the force if they ever become involved with a case or come into their little office. Otherwise, all three of them would lose their jobs. But perhaps this arrangement would give them a little bit more flexibility for the later books because they wouldn't have to worry about anything small that the chief super observed between them. And if I wanted to give them a proper happily ever after at the end of the series, I could retire one or both from the force so that they could tie the knot. Thoughts?

    Interesting idea. :)
     
  23. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2016
    Messages:
    2,488
    Likes Received:
    4,016
    I like it! I could imagine that even when they're unable to work together in a professional capacity, they'll be able assist each other off the clock unofficially.
     
    Seren likes this.
  24. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    159
    Location:
    England, UK
    Sorry to revive an old thread, but I just wanted to let you know that I've written the stories (yes, all of them -- but they're quite short).

    I kept the roles as inspector/sergeant, set it in England in 2185-2186, and settled with the romance being forbidden. In fact, after realising that instead of avoiding a forbidden romance, it could be really interesting to embrace it, I went an extra mile and introduced a fictional law that made their relationship illegal. Like, prison sentence illegal. Just to rack up that tension. :superlaugh:

    I still have a lot of editing to do, but I'm pleased with the way the core of the plot has turned out across the books. It would never have happened without everyone's help, so thank you. :)
     
    Shenanigator and Iain Aschendale like this.
  25. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2017
    Messages:
    4,886
    Likes Received:
    8,761
    My first question would be, who would be your audience for this? It may be a tough sell for some women (see below).

    This. This exactly.

    I see Homer's point, and I'm sure it would probably play well to a lot of guys. For a lot of women, though, it would be a really tough thing to sell and make believable. Here's why:

    Speaking as a woman who works with all guys in a male-dominated profession where you work extremely closely with someone for long hours...the idea of the story turns my stomach. When you are a woman working in a profession that's nearly all male, you are often falsely accused of sleeping your way into the job. It's one of the things your rivals, should they choose to play dirty, spread rumors about to try to discourage or distract you from the job. So you're extremely careful not to give anyone any ammo.

    You have to work really, really hard to show that your resume and qualifications are what put you there, and there's no just damn way you jeopardize all that hard work with a workplace romance. It's just a total no-go.

    The only way the story would be believable is if what I said above is heavily included in the plot. She can't just be swept off her feet by the guy. If she cares about her career at all, which she'd have to just to get through all the hazing that usually happens when you're a chick working with all guys (which has occurred in law enforcement, because some of them have made the news for hazing incidents against female colleagues) she's going to resist, big time. You just don't risk throwing away all those years of hard work on a romance.

    And with the boss? Oh hell no.

    The only way it would work is if one of them were transferred to another department and then the feelings were realized or acted on. ETA: That would be believable, having been there myself. It wasn't until after the project was finished and we were no longer working together that I went out with the guy. (But he definitely wasn't my boss.)
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2018
    Seren likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice