One of my formative mystery series was Robert B. Parker's Spencer series. Things in that version of Boston were bad. There were rich people, cops who were good and bad, a thriving mob, and a lot of grey. What noir mostly teaches you is that everyone is out for themselves, that you celebrate the small moments of justice because they are rare. And that often the people you thought you were helping have bigger secrets of their own to protect.
It's hard to keep friends, it's hard to gain family. And even if you do, friends and family become a thing they can use against you.
When we first met Veronica Mars her mom had disappeared, her best friend had been murdered, and she been roofied and assaulted. She had lost friends and social status. She didn't always do the right thing, but you understood that she was focused on writing wrongs. Wallace called her a marshmallow. Meg told her she might want to think about forgiveness. This came up again and again. Veronica is bad at forgiving.
In mystery, as in many long running series, stasis is the enemy. No one is safe, not even the spouses. It sounds braggy to say I watched the whole series expecting one of the three credited cast members to die. I confess, I felt pretty sure for much of it that it would be Keith. That is until the wedding actually happened. People often mock the guaranteed happy or optimistic ending in romance. But part of the reason I think so many genre readers crave it is that moments of happiness in so much of the rest of fiction are harbingers of doom. I've watched fictional spouse die a day after the case was solved enough that I knew. The second the wedding finished I braced myself.
One of the things noir and Neptune often do is not just give you red herrings, but there are so many legitimately bad people, each operating on their own set of rules, that the question isn't who is the baddie, it's how many can you stop?
I made it through the first three seasons of "Veronica Mars" only having loyalty to Veronica. I wanted her to find love and happiness, but learned early on, along with Veronica that it was fleeting. Your first love may dump you in case you're related. Your next might be using you to make his escape. And after that people over and over may never quite be what they seem. So I loved Logan when Veronica did, and thought she should dump him when she did.
Military hero Logan, been seeing a therapist Logan, I was okay with Veronica marrying him. And God I hate Neptune for taking him away from her. Yes, Veronica is a marshmallow maybe, but gooey is not a state she gets to rest in. And it's hard to make friends who don't understand why you have to consider their possible murder status. Veronica has known the world was full of evildoers for quite some time. That the people you like and admire are just as likely to be untrustworthy. But it's hard to make friends like that. It's hard to love like that. Which is why it's more heartbreaking when it's taken away.