A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about “Literary Deal-Breakers”–plot elements or types of characters or settings that make one not try a book, not matter how well-recommended, or put a book down unfinished. On a more positive note, I though I’d talk about “Literary Deal-Makers”–types of stories or characters or settings that will cause one to actively seek out a book.

I know there are certain story elements that appeal to me across genres. I’ve always loved stories about married couples whether in mysteries, romances, classics, historical fiction, or plays. The Scarlet Pimpernel, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Spiral Path, The Real Thing, Laurie King’s Mary Russell series, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Busman’s Honeymoon, Len Deighton’s Bernard Samson books, An Ideal Husband. Modern setting or historical, happy ending, tragic ending, or something in between. If I hear a book or play or movie described as an examination of a marriage, I’m likely to seek it out.

I also like stories about ex-spouses or lovers reuniting. The Philadelphia Story. Persuasion. Much Ado About Nothing. Bath Tange. Raiders of the Lost Ark.

And I’ve always had a weakness for spy stories. Whether it’s the moral ambiguity of John Le Carré or Len Deighton, an espionage-laced historical romance like Mary Jo Putney’s Petals on the Wind, a play filled with double-crosses like Tom Stoppard’s Hapgood, or a television series like Spooks/MI-5, if I hear “spies” or “espionage,” my attention is caught.

It’s not surprising that these interests mesh in the Charles & Mélanie books. They also continue to influence the type of books (and movies, plays, and tv shows) I seek out.

What about you? What type of plot premise or character or setting makes you seek out a book? Do your “deal-makers” work across genres and eras?

Be sure to check out the Fraser Correspondence. I’ve just posted a letter from Simon Tanner to his actress friend Cecily Summers, which catches up on what happens with Manon after Cecily helps her escape the Tavistock Theatre early in Beneath a Silent Moon.