Pioneering Women in Detective Fiction

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Pioneering Women in Detective Fiction

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Jan 8, 2007, 8:09 am

First, we have Maisie Dobbs, a maid turned Cambridge student turned nurse in the Great War turned private investigator....I've only read the first in the series but I enjoyed it thoroughly and will read more.

Although they don't qualify as "historical" they certainly transport us to another place which seems to exist in a different time as well: Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Ramotswe series, No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, set in Botswana. Again, I've only read one, so can't speak to how well they hold up as they go along, but I'm going to give Precious at least one more go.

Mar 18, 2009, 4:31 pm

I love Maisie Dobbs. I also enjoy Molly Murphy, by Rhys Bowen. She's an Irish woman who became a detective when she immigrated to America. Set in the early 1900s.

Mar 18, 2009, 4:33 pm

P.S. The first book in the series is Murphy's Law. Another good series is the midwife Susan Brandt, by Victoria Thompson.

Jun 3, 2010, 9:53 pm

If you want to go back to medieval times, there are several pioneering women. I'm currently reading the first in Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death series, which features Adelia Aguilar, a 12th century "doctor to the dead." Educated in the coroner arts in Salerno, she is sent to England to investigate the murders of 4 children. Jews are being blamed for the deaths, so Adelia encounters prejudice not only against them but also the unheard-of
(in the England of the time) idea that a woman could be a physician.

Abr 5, 2012, 11:53 pm

I just finished The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katherine Green. Green is considered the mother of mystery fiction (she wrote her book 8 years before Doyle wrote A Study in Scarlet. I understand he went out of his way to make sure to meet her when he visited America. It was clearly inspirational to Doyle. I understand that Agatha Christie based her Hercule Poirot in part on Green's Mr. Gryce, and Miss Marple on Green's Amelia Butterworth. I really enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.

Jun 7, 2012, 7:00 pm

Other pioneering woman in detective fiction is Catherine Pirkis and, of course, the Baroness Orczy. Pirkis' detective is Loveday Brooke, the subject of a series of stories published about the same time that the Sherlock Holmes stories appeared. Orczy's character, Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, is another character worth reading (the stories are available online at Project Gutenberg).