10 of the greatest fictional double acts
August 11, 2014, Article by Beau Merchant in Books
Every story needs a hero. And a villain. But why limit it to just one? Every so often, a story comes along with a duo so strong that it’s impossible to think of one half of the team without the other. Here, in no particular order, are ten of our favourite fictional literary double acts…
What better way to kick off than with quite possibly the greatest detective duo in all of literature? Whilst Sherlock may not quite be the most-filmed fictional character of all time (that honour belongs to that pesky Dracula guy), his adventures with Watson have been brought to life many times over the years, with the likes of Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett and, most recently, Benedict Cumberbatch all donning the famous deerstalker. But despite all the TV and film versions, it’s the books that will always be the real stars. The incredible chemistry between Holmes and his trusty companion is what drives these stories along, helping to make them truly timeless.
Bonus fact: The Sherlock Holmes Museum, officially at 221b Baker Street in London, is actually at number 239. Cool.
Cato and Macro (created by Simon Scarrow)
Cato and Macro, or Quintus Licinius Cato and Lucius Cornelius Macro, to be precise, have starred in twelve stories together since Under the Eagle was published back in 2000. The no-nonsense, all-action heroes have done battle across the globe, all in the name of the Roman Empire, and this is sure to continue in their thirteenth adventure, Brothers in Blood, which is out this October.
Eli and Charlie, the Sisters Brothers (created by Patrick deWitt)
We loved Patrick deWitt’s second novel, The Sisters Brothers. Narrated by Eli Sisters, it charts his mission to assassinate a mysterious stranger, accompanied by his brother Charlie. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2011, this puts a new spin on the classic Western in a way that is violent, funny and utterly engaging.
Mr Croup and Mr Vandermar (created by Neil Gaiman)
Two of the most memorable characters from Neil Gaiman’s masterpiece Neverwhere. The short, fat and scheming Croup and the gangly, slow-witted Vandermar are the grotesque pair of assassins that haunt poor Richard Mayhew as he struggles to survive in London Below. They’re truly, properly horrible.
Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee (created by J. R. R. Tolkien)
In a fictional universe full of intricate and fascinating relationships, it’s the friendship between a Hobbit and his gardener that is at the heart of the Lord of the Rings story.
Bonus fact: the name Gamgee comes from a type of surgical dressing invented by surgeon Joseph Sampson Gamgee in the nineteenth century. Fancy that.
The first husband and wife team on our list, Wilde and Chase have been travelling the globe on epic adventures for several years now, with their 10th adventure, Kingdom of Darkness, out at the end of August. If you’re looking for a blockbuster read, McDermott’s books should be next on your list.
Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist (created by Stieg Larsson)
Scandi noir has been hugely popular over the past few years, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was one of the titles that really helped to kick this trend off. Apparently over 75 million copies of the Millenium trilogy had been sold by the end of 2012, which in all honesty is ages ago, so who knows how many have been sold by now. A bloody lot though, that’s for sure. It’s fair to say Salander and Blomkvist have been pretty popular then, and once you get reading these books it’s easy to see why.
Ok, so not strictly a duo as they are the same person, but this classic by Stevenson is one of the most fascinating studies of a split personality disorder order ever written.
Bonus fact: according to some sources, Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in something between three and six days whilst on a massive cocaine binge.
Jonathon Payne and David Jones (created by Chris Kuzneski)
Action-packed stories that will knock your socks off and make you laugh along the way, Kuzneski’s Payne and Jones series has been hugely successful on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond.
Oh, and if you’re a Kuzneski fan, his other series, The Hunters, will be hitting the big screen soon.
A bit of a different husband and wife team than Wilde and Chase. We can’t really have a list celebrating fictional characters without sticking a bit of Shakey in there can we? From one of his darkest works, Macbeth is the man who gives in to his wife’s goading and commits dastardly regicide. We all know how that turns out for him. Oh, and don’t say his name out loud if you’re an actor. Bad stuff will happen.
Fred and George Weasley (created by JK Rowling)
Twin brother wizards who set up a joke shop. That’s living the dream, right there.
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