This is a guest post by Michelle Cox, author of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series. She is sharing her favorite female investigators of all time!
I have to admit, I prefer female investigators. Women make perfect sleuths for obvious reasons. First, they are usually blessed with a brain that naturally multi-tasks. Second, they often operate on instinct, an important asset in any investigation, criminal or otherwise. Third, their nurturing dispositions sometimes make them privy to information or secrets not always shared with the opposite sex. And, fourth, they have an inherent penchant for romance. All of the above might sound incredibly sexist, as well as being impossible to prove, but they certainly make for great fiction. Let’s face it, women are just more interesting to read!
There are tons of delightful female investigators sleuthing their way through the mystery genre, but of course I have my favorites. And upon a closer perusal, I’ve come to realize that they all possess a few common elements, namely: intelligence, independence, wit, and a soft-spot for a certain partner-in-crime, as it were.
Rhys Bowen’s Lady Georgiana Rannoch
First up is Rhys Bowen’s Lady Georgiana Rannoch, scurrying about London in the 1930’s. An impoverished royal, Lady Georgiana works as a maid, often uncovering srumptious mysteries in the process, and likewise as an intermittent spy of sorts for the Queen herself. The intrigues in which Georgie finds herself are classic who-dunnits, always pleasantly mixed with a dash of humor and of course, romance, provided in the form of the dashing Darcy O’Mara.
Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs
Also in England during this same era resides Jacqueline Winspear’s ever-popular Maisie Dobbs. Maisie transforms herself from maid to WWI nurse to private investigator under the tutelage and guidance of her wealthy employers. She is of a much more serious bent that Lady Georgie, to be sure, having endured and witnessed so many tragedies at the Front, including the loss of her first love. She is spunky and independent, however, and as she begins a new life as an investigator, she discovers that there might just be love on the horizon yet again in her friendship with the elegant James Compton of the Royal Flying Corp.
Kerry Greenwood’s Miss Phryne Fisher
On the other side of the globe, but roughly in the same time period, is Kerry Greenwood’s Miss Phryne Fisher. Phryne is an Australian lady detective in the 1920’s, devoted to fashion, alcohol, and just about anything racy and provocative. She is a thoroughly modern woman, taking lovers as she likes and indulging in whatever takes her fancy. Despite her predilection for amorous affairs, however, Phryne has more than a fondness for Detective Jack Robinson, estranged from his wife and consequently off-limits. The resultant sexual tension is agonizing, and, it turns out, Phryne has a heart after all.
Lauren Willig’s Amy Balcourt
Set much earlier during the Napoleonic era, Lauren Willig introduces us to a whole garden of female sleuths, although “spies” would probably paint a more accurate description. In the first book of the series, it is Miss Amy Balcourt to whom we are introduced, a young English woman on the trail of the Purple Gentian, a famous spy in the French Court. When Amy gets her wish to travel to Paris in the hopes of joining his league of spies, she instead meets up with the annoyingly charming, devilishly handsome, Lord Richard Selwick, who oddly bears a remarkable resemblance to the Purple Gentian himself. As Amy inadvertently wedges her way into the chase after Napoleon and his agent, Delaroche, what follows is a deliciously sexy, suspenseful romp.
Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody
And no round-up of female detectives would be complete without Elizabeth Peters’ impenetrable Amelia Peabody, a young Victorian lady who unwittingly finds herself an amateur sleuth whilst travelling in Egypt. Her sharp intellect and witty humor make her a delight to read, especially when we find her sparring with grouchy Egyptologist, Radcliffe Emerson, with whom she becomes reluctantly entwined, in more ways than one. Let’s just say, it’s not only an errant mummy who’s lurking in the shadows in the dead of night.
Who is your favorite female investigator?
Share in the comments below!