A Perfect Match: Psychologist-detectives on the case

There’s something about the endeavor of psychology that lends itself perfectly to crime fiction.  Psychologists seem to be able to plumb the depths of human emotion in a way that gives them unique crime-solving insights, to which the rest of us mere mortals can only aspire.  We want to know their secret.  Why else would there be so many amazing mystery and suspense series featuring psychologists as the investigators?undercurrents

Here are a few of my favorites psychologist/detectives:

  • Daphne Matthews (by Ridley Pearson, first book in series Undercurrents):  Daphne is the forensic psychologist working with partner Lou Boldt in this series, which is set in Seattle.  She and Lou have some heavy-duty, on-and-off romantic chemistry, but crime solving always comes first.
  • Alex Cross (by James Patterson, first book in series Along Came a Spider):  Alex C. lives in Washington DC, and is a psychologist who has worked both for the homicide division and the FBI.  He is thoughtful, athletic, and involved in his community, the Southeast section of the city. 
  • Alex Delaware (by Jonathan Kellerman, first book in series When the Bough Breaks):  Alex D. is a retired child psychologist, with workaholic tendencies, and a somewhat ambivalent relationship with his girlfriend Robin.  His relationship with his detection partner is the more stable one; he and Los Angeles Police Department detective Milo Sturgis are a dynamic team.
  • Tony Hill (by Val McDermid, first book in series The Mermaids Singing): Tony lives in Northern England, and is dealing with a difficult childhood, an attraction to video games, and, as with Alex D., an ambivalent approach to women.  He is a clinical psychologist, and does criminal profiling of repeat offenders such as serial killers.maisiedobbs2
  • Maisie Dobbs (by Jacqueline Winspear, first book in series Maisie Dobbs):  While not a professional psychologist, Maisie uses psychological tools learned under her mentor, Dr. Maurice Blanche.  Set in London and Southern England in the period between World War I and World War II, these plots involve unresolved business from the first war, and tellingly display the toll the war took on the country.
  • Alan Gregory (by Stephen White, first book in series Privileged Information):  Alan is a successful psychologist in Boulder, CO, who solves crimes with his fiancée/wife, District Attorney Lauren Crowder.  Part of the complexity of Alan’s crime solving lies in the fact that many of the cases he work on involve his own clients.

And, if these sound interesting to you, there are many more psychologist/detectives to choose from!   ~ Ann G.

2 thoughts on “A Perfect Match: Psychologist-detectives on the case”

  1. Great list. This last week they started up Jeff Golblum on Law and Order Criminal Intent as a character who is, if not a psychologist, at least very astute that way (I think his CV has a psych degree, but he has just returned from a 7 year sabbatical which will yield all kinds of curious little details, I am sure, if the character lasts.) Pretty good: JG looks like he’s having fun with it, anyway. But he’s got nothing on Tony Hill

  2. Psychologist detectives–what a great topic for a booklist! I got my mother hooked on the “Maisie Dobbs” series, and will share this list with her!

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