I thought I'd quickly explain why the Carpenter stories are as they are. :)
Way back in December of 2004 I found myself in a very emotional situation. The end result of the situation was to remind me just how much I love my wife (as a side note, in August of 2011 we had our 32nd anniversary), and I developed an urge to write about that.
So for the first time in a number of years I set out to write fiction, intending to produce two or three short stories and be done with it. Well, it's now seven years later, and though I'm not producing at the initial feverish pitch (for a while I was turning out 65,000 word novels in two weeks), I'm still writing - I'm currently at work on The Night Shift, the latest Carpenter novel.
So these did not set out to be mysteries. Darvin's a PI almost by accident; I had nothing in mind at the time but giving him some way of supporting himself which didn't involve punching a clock. The first focus was the romance, and he only began detecting when someone pointed out that if I was going to keep writing about him, he needed to actually handle a case now and then. :)
I can't write hard-boiled stuff - I know, for I've tried. I can write Darvin, Cecelia, and Darlia Carpenter. And because the whole point in the beginning was to write about my marriage, that's always been a very important part of the stories. And that's why there's so much family stuff, as opposed to the usual run of mysteries. :->