Nick and Nora Charles: Masters of Mystery Monday


Dashiell Hammett’s Nick and Nora Charles

Aside from Hammett’s detective Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), the husband-wife couple of The Thin Man (1934) was nearly as popular.

Although based upon the single book (he wrote no sequels to it), the Nick and Nora duo were featured in 6 films, from 1934 through the ’50s (later films added a boy to the mix – but it doesn’t spoil the fun, esp. since there was no child protective services back then).

The appeal of Nick and Nora Charles: they are each bright, witty, sophisticated, and unfazed by danger.  Nora is definitely the Watson to Nick’s Holmes, but she has spunk and intelligence.  Lots of drinking goes on, which understandably provides more humor.  Their interaction as husband and wife is affectionate and playful, but not sappy.  WordPress is giving me a hard time today with embedding video.  Here’s a video link to a composite of scenes to give you an idea (let’s hope this works):

Want the answers to last week’s quiz?

1. Jessica Fletcher, a mystery writer/amateur detective on the long-running Murder, She Wrote, lived in which town (whose per capita murder rate would have been the despair of local real estate agents)?

J) Ann Arbor, MI

K) Intercourse, PA

L) Cabot Cove, ME

M) Martha’s Vineyard, MA

2. Nate the Great, a “soft-boiled” kid detective from a popular children’s series, eats a favorite food when he needs to think out a case.  What is it?

Q) hot dogs

R) pancakes – who knew they were brain food?  Sometimes he shares them with his dog, Sludge.

S) Doritos

T) broccoli


3. What experience during World War II helped Agatha Christie learn so much about poisons?  It was actually during WWI (sorry, typo) when Agatha Christie worked in a hospital dispensary and learned a great deal about medications, overdoses, and their effects.

4. True or False: Sherlock Holmes was married at one point.  Both True and False (bear with me here).  In “A Scandal in Bohemia,” Watson writes:  “He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer.”  While Holmes was never cold toward women, he simply wasn’t interested in them romantically.  Doyle made him a confirmed bachelor in the series.  However, William Gillette, a famous American actor how wrote and starred in a stage play about Holmes, wired Doyle for permission to “marry off” the detective.  “You may marry him, or murder or do what you like with him” was Doyle’s reply.  So Holmes does get married, at least in Gillette’s play (and probably elsewhere).

Be your own “Master of Mystery: take this week’s quiz!

1. What is the name of Nick and Nora Charles’ dog?
  • Spike
  • Sherlock
  • Asta
  • Astro
2. What made the t.v. detective series Columbo different?
  • The murderer is shown planning and committing the crime at the beginning of the episode.
  • Peter Falk has a glass eye.
  • Half the cast of Star Trek appears as a guest star at one time or another.
  • Columbo uses high-tech equipment.
3. True or False: Edgar Allan Poe wrote detective stories.
4. What nationality was Hercule Poirot, and why did Agatha Christie make that choice?

Hope you’re enjoying the quizzes.  So, who’s your favorite detective, either in film or books?  I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for joining me today.  See you soon!



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6 thoughts on “Nick and Nora Charles: Masters of Mystery Monday”

  1. Clay MorganClay Morgan

    I love Columbo and still occasionally watch DVDs of the old series or later movies. Couldn’t the answer to the second question be both 1 and 2? Site’s looking great.

    • kbowenwriterkbowenwriter

      Hi, Clay –

      Actually, the first 3 choices pertain to the series, but (my personal opinion) what makes it distinctive is the fact that we already know who the murderer is, so the viewer involvement shifts from determining the murderer (and possibly beating the detective to the answer) to seeing how Columbo will trap him. Love how he wears down the bad guy/girl.

      Thanks for your input!

  2. Anne ParisAnne Paris

    I realize that this doesn’t “count,” but those curious to know what a married Sherlock Holmes might be like should check out Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell books, starting with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.

  3. kbowenwriterkbowenwriter

    Absolutely! That’s one of my favorite series. Any fan of Sherlock Holmes will want to check that out. Thanks, Anne, for your comment!

  4. celesteceleste

    site looks great – no clue about the answers to current quiz, but looking forward to seeing answers!

    • kbowenwriterkbowenwriter

      No “clue” huh? Haha. Thanks, Celeste, for stopping by!


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