The mother archetypes of crime fiction
(From Crime Reads. Link to the complete article given below)
There are precious few happy kids of loving mothers in crime fiction. Perhaps that’s inevitable, since crime fiction shows us flawed individuals, at times of great crisis. Fiction in general might offer up Mrs Bennet, Marge Simpson, Marmee Marsh, Molly Weasley and Lorelei Gilmore but in the mystery world it’s slim pickings. Until you turn to the dark side, that is . . . True villains abound. With them, though, we also find more nuanced portrayals of mothers, struggling, out of their depth, trying but failing.
I’ve written lots of mothers in the course of twenty-odd novels. My aristocratic lady detective packed her heir and spare off to boarding school after WW1 without a backward glance. In my modern novels, mothers of the protagonists seem to be either dead, overseas or pretty awful. So when I made Donna Weaver, the protagonist of Go To My Grave, the only child of a loving single mother I foresaw fun of a kind I’d never had before, writing two-hander scenes for the pair of them with in-jokes and acts of affection. Then I realized that for Donna to be in true peril as the story unfolds, she had to be alone. I packed her mum off to a wedding expo and we all had to make do with texts and phone calls.
But here’s a different kind of fun: With honorable mention going to Livia Soprano, Margaret White in Carrie, Erica Donato in Triss Stein’s Brooklyn series, and Corrinne Dollenganger, in Flowers in The Attic, this my personal top seven.