Where are my lady detectives at? (Part 1)

Mysteries that feature strong heroine characters are my catnip. Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy novels were enjoyed with milk and cookies after school. When I was in college, Veronica Mars scratched the itch (if you’re not familiar it’s a television series that features a girl detective from a town called Neptune).

After college, I’ve been turning back to books. They’ve been hard to find because they exist in a weird genre fiction ghetto that is a cross between chick lit and mystery. I’ve been digging into backlists and seeking out clues to where I can find some of these hard-boiled dames.

My case notes so far have revealed:

Rhys Bowen’s The Royal Spyness Series

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Name: Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie/Alias: Georgie

Age: Twenty-something or how her relatives describe her: Should be married to a prince by now.

Known Acquaintances: Darcy O’Mara—handsome playboy with a secret. Belinda Warburton-Spokes—socialite man eater and aspiring clothing designer, also friend.

Too much family to speak of. She’s 35th in line to the English crown, after all!

The Case: It’s hard earning an honest living for yourself when you are a distant relation to the crown in pre-World War II era England. Too aristocratic to be a shopgirl, but not aristocratic enough to have three square meals reliably—Lady Georgie decides to disguise herself as a maid and clean her royal friends’ mansions to earn some money. Little did she know that this would set off a chain of events that will end up with her trying to solve a murder, clear her brother’s name, and save her family estate!

Would I hire her for a case? Lady Georgie knows how to be discrete (she has to when she’s solving mysteries on behalf of the Queen!) and she has a lot of useful connections, including a former copper Grandad. I would hire her in a pinch.

Would I have a drink with her? Certainly! I gobbled up this series in a few months because she was so much fun to spend time with! Wine only, though. She gets a little tipsy imbibing cocktails.

Status: This is a long series, make sure to take out at least two or three at a time.

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran

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Name: Claire DeWitt /Alias: N/A

Age: 20ish, 30ish. Hard to tell, the life of a detective ages you so.

Known Acquaintances: Constance Darling—mentor and New Orleans detective, murdered. Tracy and Kelly—former friends from her hometown Brooklyn. One missing, the other not speaking to her. Not a lot of people friendly with her right now, she has a reputation for being difficult. Family—wealthy at one point, but living beyond their means. Not in the picture now.

The Case: Claire is called to New Orleans to investigate the murder of a respected DA who went missing some time after Hurricane Katrina. She takes the case which disturbs both old ghosts and new. If you’ve watched True Detective, that would give you a taste of how this case unfurls.

Would I hire her for a case? She’s a hardboiled PI who throws herself into a case with little thought to the damage that she inflicts on herself or others, “I’d shot four people. I’d killed two. None were in self-defense.” She also has a very bizarre investigation style that is a mixture of French philosophy and mysticism. She looks for fingerprints and other physical clues, but she also pays attention to the metaphysical to lead her investigation. Nope, I wouldn’t hire her. I would get the answer, but probably get damaged in the process.

Would I have a drink with her? She’s a bit pickled as well as hard-boiled. I like remembering my nights, so rain-check!

Status: Two in the series so far, hopefully more to come!

Where are my lady detectives at? (Part 1)

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