Famous Crime Duos on Both Sides of the Law

#MysteryMonth special to The Booklist Reader

Jenni L. Walsh is an author of historical fiction. Her two novels, Becoming Bonnie and Side by Side (out on June 5 from Forge Books), imagine the iconic Bonnie and Clyde through Bonnie’s eyes. You can visit her at jennilwalsh.com and follow her on Twitter at @jennilwalsh.


When discussing crime duos, many would argue that Bonnie and Clyde top the list. For me, what makes a duo iconic is whether they can stand the test of time. Eighty years later, the partners-in-crime are still the source of discussion and speculation. Did Bonnie Parker have a child? Was Clyde Barrow abused in prison? Were the “kids,” as their family referred to them, hoping to find land on which to quietly live out their lives? Their stories have been told in the loosely based 1967 film and in nonfiction, but I realized, never before was their realistic crime spree story told as fictional book. My novel, Side by Side, delves into their twenty-seven month life on the lam through Bonnie’s first-person perspective, giving answers to the questions that intrigued me about their story.

But there are other morally questionable, timeless duos that appear in crime fiction—as well as teams of good guys who continue to intrigue readers with their detective skills and impeccable sense of justice. To follow are my favorite pairs, as well as the narratives that made them famous.



Robert Redford and Paul Neuman as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Born as Robert LeRoy Parker and Harry Longabaugh, this pair of outlaws were shrouded in mystery. In the early 1900s, as leaders of the Wild Bunch gang, they joined forces to rob banks and trains in the Wild West, eluding the Pinkerton detectives and other lawmen. Some say the duo died during a shootout with Bolivian authorizes, while others believe that the Sundance Kid survived—a theory that inspired David Fuller’s 2015 historical mystery, Sundance.


Tov Kronsteen and Rosa Klebb

Written into the crime world by Ian Fleming, the duo went toe-to-toe with James Bond in what the author had at one time planned to be his final Bond novel, From Russia with Love, in which Kronsteen and Klebb set out to assassinate the British Secret Service agent. Fortunately, for readers, Fleming decided Bond would live to see another day and continued the series for another nine books.


Nick and Amy Dunne, unhappily tethered, appeared in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and sparked an incredible rise of domestic crime suspense novels. At the onset, Nick and Amy are the blissfully married couple who have it all, but when Amy goes missing, they fall under the scrutiny of detectives Jim Gilpin and Rhonda Boney and their façade begins to crumble. In interviews, Flynn has said her novel was originally inspired by the (now solved) mysterious disappearance of Laci Peterson.



Myrna Loy and William Powell as Nick and Nora Charles, 1934

Nick and Nora Charles are the wisecracking, cocktail-loving, married duo from Dashiell Hammett’s 1934 mystery novel, The Thin Man. Set during the last days of Prohibition, the retired private detective and his young wife are drawn into the investigation of the disappearance of a former client. While Hammett never wrote a sequel, the novel and the 1934 adaptation of the film were wildly popular, spurring six more films and later, a television series.


Marti MacAlister and Vik Jessenovik star in Eleanor Taylor Bland’s Marti MacAlister Mystery series. Bland, one of the first African-American crime fiction authors ever published, made her debut with Dead Time in 1992. That and the twelve books that followed feature Marti, a female African-American detective, and her Polish-American male partner, Vik. Though she published her last book in 2005, Bland’s mystery legacy continues with the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award.


The Hardy Boys, Frank and Joe Hardy, became the ultimate goody-goodies upon their 1927 debut and have since been featured in over 350 volumes, along with various television adaptations and parodies, video games, board games and graphic novels, all of which have cemented their popularity as teenage partners against crime who focus their amateur sleuthing skills on various crimes in and around their small town. Look for the beloved duo’s latest cases in the ongoing Hardy Boys Adventures series, or one of the countless volumes inspired by it.



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2 Comments on "Famous Crime Duos on Both Sides of the Law"

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  1. Suzanne.robinson@nashville.gov' Suzanne Robinson says:

    The picture of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in this post is incorrectly labeled. It is Robert Redford not Robert Duvall.

  2. 3ntw3rf3n@gmail.com' Stephen Plotkin says:

    Robert Duvall?

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